Apple will be formally announcing the iOS 8.1 update today – the 20th of October. The update is expected to do away with most of the problems of the initially rolled out version of iOS 8. We have here listed some features that are likely to be present on iOS 8.1.
The latest version of the iOS mobile platform is off to a relatively slow start. The adoption rate of iOS 8, after over a month of its release, is around 47% – around 15% lower than the number of users who had switched to iOS 7, in a comparable time-span after its launch. The poor iOS 8.0.1 update did not help matters, and there were problems with the later update from Apple (iOS 8.0.2) too. Things are, however, likely to look up with the release of iOS 8.1, a full-blown update that would be unveiled today. Here’s an early sighter of the key highlights that this new update is expected to have:
- Return of the Camera Roll – In a bid to personalize the Photos application in iOS 8, the developers at Apple had done away with the Camera Roll feature. General users mostly did not take kindly to this tweak, with complaints and grievances pouring in at online iPhone app development forums and communities. In iOS 8.1, Camera Roll would return. That would give users a holistic photo-organizing, editing, and a picture-snapping experience. A customization mistake that would be set right.
- Coverage for all devices – The new update is not going to be focused on pushing the sales of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus only. It has been announced that iOS 8.1 would be available on every new Apple device – ranging from the 5th generation iPod Touch and iPad Mini (with and without Retina), to iPad 2, 3, 4 and iPad Air. In fact, owners of iPhone 4S and and iPhone 5 would also be able to upgrade to 8.1.
- Arrival of SMS Handoff – The much-hyped ‘Handoff’ feature of iOS 8 is expected to get a boost in the upcoming update. There has been a murmur of discontent among Apple fans and iOS app developers alike regarding the absence of SMS Handoff in the new platform – which gives the iMessages feature a sort of half-baked feel. With the launch of Mac OS X Yosemite also done, it would be only natural that Apple would let people use all the new features of iOS 8 across devices. ‘Continuity’ would finally bring iPhone, iMac and iPad completely under the hood.
- Apple Pay will finally launch – The news about Apple’s all new digital wallet, Apple Pay, created more than a flutter among everyone following the event. The iOS 8.1 update today is likely to be accompanied with the much-awaited arrival of this revolutionary mobile payments system. Since NFC would be available on Apple Pay (it isn’t on the new flagship iPhones), the adoption rate should be high enough. Retail biggies like Radio Shack, Starbucks and American Eagle have already thrown their weight behind Apple Pay.
- iCloud Photo Library would debut – This would be yet another attempt on the part of Apple to help users keep their photos properly organized on their iPhone handsets. It would become easy to find out which pictures are being saved in iCloud Photo Library, and which are being stored in the internal storage space of the phones. The idea of putting photos in the Collections tab was not a very smart one in the first place!
- Touch ID support on iPad Air 2 – Software analysts and mobile app development experts are not quite certain about this one – but Apple might very well spring a surprise. It would be an absolute delight for the early adopters of iPad Air 2 (launched at the Apple event on October 16) if iOS 8.1 brings the high-end TouchID sensors to the device as well. That would enable users to conduct digital transactions through their iPads too. In particular, receiving payments on the go would become a whole lot easier.
- SMS Relay on iPad – Routing SMS messages through iPhone 6/6Plus to iPads will become possible, if SMS Relay indeed comes with iOS 8.1. In fact, this feature should enable messages to be received on iMac systems as well. The secure storage facilities would ensure that there won’t be any chances of important SMSes getting lost or accidentally deleted.
- Requirement of significant free space – iPhone app developers worldwide feel that iOS 8.1 is going to be a relatively large update. The original iOS 8 platform had required 5.7 GB of space for getting installed – and while the new update should not require that much space, it would be advisable to get rid of old, unnecessary folders, photos and files, before going for the upgrade. It is reasonable to expect that most people would install iOS 8.1 through iTunes – negating the need for freeing up extra space.
- Activation of Instant Hotspot – Another classic example of how the launch of OS X Yosemite would help those who have upgraded their iPhones to iOS 8 to take maximum advantage of this platform. It would be an easy task to activate ‘Instant Hotspot’ on iOS 8.1-powered iPhones, with Mac systems upgraded to the new OS X version. As a result, users will be able to tether on their mobile handsets.
- Bug fixes – loads of them – Going by the features of the first and second beta editions of iOS 8.1, the new platform is sure to contain plenty of bug fixes. For instance, the heightened call drop problems (which cropped up in iOS 8.0.2) is likely to be solved. It would be great if Apple also tackled the issue of AirPrint incompatibility on all iOS 8 devices. It would be unreasonable to expect that iOS 8.1 would be a ‘perfect’ update, but it should strip off most of the glitches of iOS 8.
- Better experience for iPhone 4S users – iOS 8 is available on the iPhone 4S handsets, but working with it is close to a nightmare for average smartphone-users. The new iOS 8.1 update will iron out problems like device slowness and frequent crashes on older devices, and offer a seamless mobile-using experience. iOS 7.1 had been a huge improvement over iOS 7 on older phones, and iOS 8.1 is likely to be the same.
- Smoother gesture-enabled navigation – iOS 8.0.2 rectified a lot of bugs and problems, and the full-on iOS 8.1 update is likely to build on the good work. Mobile critics and professional iPhone app developers feel that the swipe features of iOS 8 are not quite smooth enough yet – a complaint that the new update will, hopefully, remove. People are also looking forward to being able to summon the Control Center on their handsets with greater ease. In a nutshell, iOS 8.1 is expected to make in-phone navigation a lot smarter.
- Faster pairing capacity with Bluetooth devices – A common complaint among all adopters of iOS 8 has been the difficulty (often, the impossibility!) of pairing their handsets with compatible Bluetooth gadgets. Reports have also come in about connection drops during file transfers. This would probably be one of the most noteworthy bugs that would be fixed in iOS 8.1. Usage of Bluetooth is high among smartphone users, and Apple cannot possibly gloss over this problem.
- A safer iCloud Drive – Safety concerns regarding the all-new Apple iCloud Drive are likely to disappear, following the release of iOS 8.1. In general too, app developers from all over had opined that people should upgrade to iCloud Drive only after Mac OS X 10.10 had been commercially released. Following the recent celebrity cyberhack on iCloud, it is certain that Apple would do its best to beef up security options.
Following the release of the new update, doing an iOS 8 jailbreak would also become possible – enabling users to install more third-party apps. iOS 8.1 is being released a couple of weeks earlier than what is generally the ‘Apple way’ of announcing new updates (iOS 7.1 had come in November). That is a telltale sign that the Cupertino company is concerned about the lacklustre adoption rate of its new mobile platform. It would be fascinating to see whether iOS 8 is able to bolster the interest of more people in upgrading their iOS devices.
An option to downgrade from iOS 8 to iOS 7 won’t be amiss either, right?
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