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Get to know iOS 8: Spotlight, Siri, and notifications

Christopher Breen | Sept. 18, 2014
iOS 8 isn't the radical departure from previous versions of Apple's mobile operating system that iOS 7 was. While there exist brand new features, some of the most attractive elements of the latest OS are refinements to existing features. They include notifications, Spotlight searches, and Siri interactions. Let's dive in to see how the changes will affect you.

iOS 8 isn't the radical departure from previous versions of Apple's mobile operating system that iOS 7 was. While there exist brand new features, some of the most attractive elements of the latest OS are refinements to existing features. They include notifications, Spotlight searches, and Siri interactions. Let's dive in to see how the changes will affect you.

Quick Reply

If you're running OS X Mavericks on your Mac, you're aware of the ability to quickly reply to certain items in Notification Center. For example, if someone sends you a text message, you can respond to it just by typing in Notification Center — no Messages app necessary. Likewise, you can use this same area to enter a quick response to an email message or answer a FaceTime call.

iOS 8 offers a similar feature. In earlier versions of iOS you could see notifications on the lock screen or by swiping down from the top of a device's screen to expose Notification Center, but your interaction with those notifications was largely limited to reading them and then launching their host app by tapping on them.

With iOS 8, Apple brings greater interaction to notifications (and not just those issued by Apple's apps). For example, if you now receive an iMessage, you can reply to it from the lock screen or Notification Center. In either case just swipe left on the message to expose a Reply button. Tap Reply and a Text Message field appears where you can enter your text. Tap Send next to that field to send your message. Or if you receive a calendar invitation, similarly swipe it to the left and tap Decline or Accept to do just that. To delete any notification, just swipe it to the left and tap the X button to remove it. As before, in most cases you can launch a notification's host app by tapping on the notification. (Of course when you do this from the lock screen you'll have to unlock the device if it's protected with a passcode.)

Touching the people who matter

Another improvement brought with iOS 8 is the ability to quickly reach out to the people who matter to you most (or who have most recently been in contact with you). This happens when you invoke iOS 8's multitasking interface.

Double-click on your device's Home button and you'll see not only a carousel of the apps recently accessed on your device, but you'll also spy favorite and recent contacts as represented by round icons at the top of the screen. (You can assign Favorite status to contacts within the Contacts app and, on an iPhone, within the Phone app.)

 

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