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Mobile payments, smarter Siri, better maps and more
Will iOS 8 thrill?
iOS 8, codenamed Okemo, is widely expected to be previewed at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. It will be the first release since the major UI overhaul that was iOS 7, released in fall of 2013. There are plenty of rumors, some better founded than others, and lots of speculation about what will be added this year. Here are some highlights. Shown: a screenshot purporting to be of the iOS 8 home screen.
Rumors persist that Apple is preparing a mobile payments system. Today, you can use your Apple ID and on-file credit card info to purchase stuff at Apple stores (shown here in Apple’s schematic for Easy Pay). At least some observers believe Apple plans to extend this to let you use the same infrastructure to buy other stuff at other places.
Apple jettisoned Google as its source for mapping data in 2012, opting to create its own platform as a basis for location services. The new Maps app had a rocky launch. In iOS 8, Apple is expected to keep improving Maps’ accuracy; and supposedly reintroduce transit directions (to find subway stops, buses, etc), add support for indoor location services and directions via the Bluetooth-based iBeacon technology, and show off “augmented reality,” which adds information to a map or camera view of your surroundings.
Apple’s voice-powered personal assistant could get smarter in iOS 8. It could incorporate client-side voice processing (via software from Novauris Technologies, which Apple is believed to have bought in 2013) to use Siri without a network connection. Also in 2013, Apple bought Cue, a social search engine that creates personalized calendars from email and other user data. There’s also speculation, or hope, that Apple might release a Siri API for third party app developers, as Microsoft has done for its recently announced Cortana voice assistant.
Simplified Notification Center
The Notification Center design was overhauled in iOS 7. There is speculation that the next version will drop the “Missed” view, and simplify the user experience
Based on in-depth reporting by 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman, Apple seems to be readying a Passbook-like feature to collect, organize and store in one place a wide range of fitness and health data. Dubbed Healthbook, it will probably pull data from other third-party iOS apps, associated peripherals, and possibly some type of Apple “wearable” such as the long-rumored iWatch.
Apple has been edging toward letting apps communicate directly with each other in iOS. With iOS 6, Apple split off some functions from Springboard, the iPhone app launcher, into Backboard, which now handles a set of hardware events, such as touches, button presses, and accelerometer. The two communicate via the XPC interprocess communications primitives, also used in OS X. There is speculation that Apple may broaden this in iOS 8, opening a general way for apps to talk to each other and share data without opening security vulnerabilities.
Apple is said to be working with Shazam Entertainment to integrate Shazam’s music identification technology into iOS as Apple has already integrated Twitter. Today, Shazam is available as a separate app. It may be activated by your voice through Siri. Apple may also make iTunes Radio, a streaming audio service, available as a separate app instead of an iTunes store feature.
TextEdit, Preview for iOS
Sort of. Some reports say Apple is developing iOS version of the OS X apps, TextEdit and Preview. But you won’t be able to use them on your iPhone or iPad to actually edit their documents, images, etc. Instead, you’ll be able to view these Mac-created documents stored in iCloud. If you want to edit them, you’ll have to push them to Pages or iBooks. Shown, the Weibo screenshot, purporting to be of iOS 8, showing TextEdit and Preview icons.