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iOS 8 FAQ: What we know so far about Apple's next-generation mobile OS

Macworld staff | June 4, 2014
Given iOS 7's major visual overhaul last year, it wouldn't have been surprising if Apple decided to take a step back and focus on small under-the-hood improvements in iOS 8. But that didn't happen: iOS 8 looks like it'll be every bit the game-changer that its predecessor was.

Family Sharing will also allow families to share family photo albums, calendars, and even the locations of themselves and their devices.

Alas, Family Sharing won't provide user accounts or profiles, a feature many parents have been hoping for since the first iPad. Apple still seems content with assuming that "multiple users" means "one iOS device per person." But even though Family Sharing won't help us better share a single device between multiple family members, at least we won't have to buy multiple copies of an app or tune — or all share a single "Purchasing Apple Stuff" account.

Built-in apps

I heard there were some new Photos features?

Yup! It's almost like folks at Apple saw our Photos wishlist. The Photos app is getting an overhaul that combines iPhoto for iOS's editing tools with a fully-functioning cloud-storage locker for your images.

For starters, any photo you take and store in the Photos app will be automatically uploaded to iCloud, where your images and video are stored at full resolution and in their original formats (JPG, PNG, Raw, you name it). All of those images will be viewable on any iOS device or on the Web; starting in early 2015, you'll be able to upload and view photos from your Mac, too. And the storage is going to be dirt-cheap: You get 5GB for free as part of your iCloud account; you can buy an extra 20GB of storage space for just $1 a month, and 200GB for $4.

Having all those images at hand might make you nervous about ever finding anything again, but luckily, Apple is adding a smart search feature and a Favorites button. The search field will initially prompt you with a collection of nearby photos, images taken at the same time last year (for nostalgia factor), and all-time favorites; but you can also search by date or time, location, or album name.

There will also be new editing features for images: Download an image to your device, and you'll be able to use a bevy of iPhoto-inspired features to crop, straighten, remove red eye, adjust lighting and contrast, and more. All of those edits sync across your devices, so that the fixed image appears in your library immediately. They'll also be non-destructive: if you decide you preferred your image unfiltered, you'll be able to revert it.

On top of that, iOS's new Actions options for developers means that your favorite third-party apps could provide filters and adjustments that you could use from within the Photos app.

What about the Camera app?

Apple didn't talk about it much on-stage, but the Camera app is getting its own fair share of improvements. Focus and exposure are now two separate controls; third-party developers will have full access to those settings. In addition, two new time-based features make their debut in Camera: a self-timer and time-lapse videos. The latter lets you record a video and then automatically creates a time-lapse from the data you've recorded, while self-timer gives you more flexibility when trying to take selfies with your back camera.


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