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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.

What's new in Safari and Mail?

Glad you asked. Mail is getting some more gestures, for starters. You'll be able to swipe left or right on a message in your inbox to mark it read or unread, flag it for followup, or swipe it all the way off the screen to delete it. While you could already mark contacts as VIPs (a feature added in iOS 6), Mail in iOS 8 will let you slap a VIP label on individual message threads. (Shouldn't that be VIT?) That way, you'll always stay on top of new replies to that thread, no matter who they come from. Exchange users will be able to set their out-of-office auto-replies from within the Mail app in iOS 8, too.

Mail in iOS 8 will get some new contextual power. While composing a message, you'll be able to swipe it down to minimize it, giving you access to other messages in your inbox in case you need to copy and paste something into your new email. And if you type something into an email that should go on your calendar, like a dinner reservation, Mail will toss up a notification that you can tap to add to your calendar.

Safari on iPad will get a cool new tab view that shows you all the tabs you have open and groups tabs from the same website into stacks. When you're browsing, a sidebar will be able to pop out on the left for your Reading List, bookmarks, and Shared Links (which work like RSS subscriptions), to further align Safari on iPad and the Mac.

What's going on with the Messages app?

There are a couple new exciting features coming to Messages in iOS 8. First is the app's new tap-to-talk feature, which will let you send quick sounds and voice memos to friends and family members. Like messages in apps such as Snapchat, those snippets will be temporary and disappear within a few minutes of being read unless you choose to save them. You'll also be able to send a quick video or multiple images to your contact (or contacts) of choice.

Speaking of multiple contacts, group texting in Messages is getting a huge overhaul. You'll be able to name your group conversation, easily add and subtract users to the conversation on the fly, and leave the conversation (or hit the Do Not Disturb button) if you're getting flooded with texts. In addition, you'll be able to share your location with a specific group inside Messages, giving them permission to find where you are for an hour, a day, or indefinitely.

Messages will also make browsing images and video in a thread much simpler; tapping the Details button will let you see any attachments you've saved in that conversation over time.


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