As expected, Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) by talking about the next version of its mobile operating system - for compatible iPhones, iPads and the fifth-generation iPod touch (keep hanging in there, buddy).
For many, iOS 7 marked a pretty big change (for better or worse) when it touched down last year, but Apple reckons the rollout of iOS 8 this coming fall will be the biggest release in the platform's history.
There was a ton of stuff to digest from the keynote, with features vaguely split into two camps: consumer and developer. I reckon the best way to do this is put the feature names in bold and scribble a little about each of them. Ready? Go!
iOS 8 interactive notifications. iOS 8 invites you to interact with your notifications so you don't have to leave the app you're in. For example, you can pull down on an iMessage banner to compose a reply, or Accept/Decline a meeting request from the lock screen.
iOS 8 Safari for iPad. With iOS 8, Safari for iPad will offer a bird's-eye view of all open tabs, with an OS X 10.10-style sidebar housing things like bookmarks and favourites.
iOS 8 recent contacts. Double tap on your home button at present and you'll see, running from left to right, a list of all running apps, with a little preview window above each. That was something introduced in iOS 7, incidentally. However, you might notice there's a chunk of wasted space at the top of the screen. In iOS 8, it'll be filled with your Favourite contacts.
iOS 8 email. Funky iOS 8 email features include the ability to swipe a work-in-progress (or "draft", if you prefer) down and off the screen; perhaps you want to refer to an existing email in your inbox. You can also easily delete emails and mark them unread with a single gesture.
iOS 8 Spotlight. In iOS 8, Spotlight will include, for example, songs you don't yet own, so you're effectively searching, well, everything, rather than just the content on your iDevice. In the example at WWDC, searching for "X-Men" points you towards a local cinema for Days of Future Past, and iTunes if you're after one of the series' older movies.
iOS 8 keyboard. The iOS 8 keyboard features something called QuickType, with smarter predictive typing suggestions. It'll consider context, so if someone says: "Fancy dinner or a movie?" you'll be instantly offered the choice to insert "Dinner" or "A movie" into your reply. It can also sense formality, so it'll suggest different words for a business reply than a casual text.
iOS 8 Messages. Messages is the most frequently used iOS app, we're told. No surprises there, but interesting nonetheless. iOS 8 introduces options to name a thread, add/remove people from a thread, apply Do Not Disturb to mute notifications, and leave a thread. You can also share your location, and see an overview of shared pictures.
In terms of actual communication, iOS 8 iMessages invites you to easily insert a selfie, send an audio message, and embed video. With audio messages, you can simply raise your phone to your ear to hear messages, and similar to belt out a reply.
iOS 8 Enterprise. Supposedly 98% of the Fortune 500 uses iOS, and with iOS 8, Apple is going after the other 2%, specifically via per-message S/MIME, VIP email threads, auto reply, free/busy info in Calendar, and possibly some other stuff I didn't have time to note down.
iOS 8 Healthkit. The iOS 8 health stuff is slightly confusing, but I think basically we have the Health app, which ties together information from third-party apps, while Healthkit is the overall service, extending to sharing information with health professionals.
“We believe Apple’s Healthkit will revolutionise how the health industry interacts with people. We are proud to be at the forefront of this innovative technology with the Mayo Clinic app,” yells Dr John H Noseworthy, CEO of Mayo Clinic. Presumably he's worthy of, y'know, having a nose.
iOS 8 Family Sharing. For the first time ever, share purchases with up to six members of your family under the one credit card. Subsidiary users will need permission, so the bill payer will see pop-up messages like: “Jimmy would like to buy the app Minecraft Pocket for $6.99.”
iOS 8 photos with iCloud. In a nutshell: all iOS 8 photos will appear on all of your iDevices. You can also search pictures, with smart suggestions including location and time. "Smart Editing" controls allow you to amend light and colour, and perform auto-straighten and cropping. When playing around with photos, iOS 8 considers brightness, contrast, exposure, highlights and shadows, with viewable numerical values for each.
Incidentally, that means you'll probably need more iCloud storage. New iCloud plans were priced in dollars, with 20GB coming in at $0.99/month and 200GB at $3.99/month.
iOS 8 Siri. Start talking to your voice assistant by purring “Hey Siri”. In iOS 8, Siri will listen to songs and let you buy them from iTunes, while "streaming voice recognition" shows what you're saying - or what Siri thinks you're saying - in real time. Oh, and there's support for 22 new Siri languages.
iOS 8 Maps. Apple seemed to be aiming at China in particular, here. Not surprising, given its ludicrous population. Chinese iConsumers can expect vector-based maps, turn by turn navigation, lunar calendar support, predictive input, and enhanced weather data.
iOS 8 App Store. Some background first: the App Store has 1.2 million apps; it has 300,000,000 visitors per week; it's recorded over 75 billion downloads. “Mind-blowing numbers” indeed.
With the release of iOS 8, the App Store will let you explore categories, view trending searches, perform faster searches with the results displayed in a continuous scrolling list, and see related searches. There's also a new Editors’ Choice badge, while developers can sell App Bundles and include App Previews in the form of videos. Woop! Yayuh!
iOS 8 Extensibility. Essentially, iOS 8 Extensibility refers to the sharing of information between apps. For example, you can use Bing to translate text in Safari, or export a Safari pic to your Pinterest account.
Third-party apps are now welcome to pop widgets - yes, widgets - in the Notification Centre, and can be interactive. You might fancy upping your bid on an eBay auction, for example.
iOS 8 Metal. Apple's "Metal" is a brand new thingy pertaining to games. It does away with Open GL, bringing apps closer to the juice, basically, with less overheads and up to 10x faster draw call rates.
Epic (I think it was Epic) came on stage to show us some graphical stuff in the form of their Zen Garden app, and holy... actual... crap, it looks good, processing 3,500 butterflies in one particular scene.
iOS 8 Swift. This got one of the biggest reactions at the opening WWDC 2014 keynote. Essentially Objective-C is out, and Swift, a brand new programming language, is in. It's of more interest to developers than consumers, obviously, but aims to make building apps for iOS a faster, less stressful process.
Another couple of iOS 8 features I have noted down include system-wide third-party keyboard support (hello, Swype), and Touch ID APIs for third-party developers.
The iOS 8 beta is available today, with the consumer release following - presumably alongside the iPhone 6 - in "fall". As for iOS 8 compatibility, you'll need an iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad mini 2, or fifth-gen iPod touch.