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iOS 8 packs some snappy new features

Michael deAgonia | Sept. 18, 2014
It's almost fall again, and so Apple has released the next generation of software that powers its mobile lineup: iOS 8. As always, this is a free update, and it packs new features and enhancements, both obvious and subtle.

The Camera app now has five modes: Panorama, Square, Photo, Video and Time-Lapse. If you're on an iPhone 5S or later, you also have a Slo-Mo option as well.

Personally, the time-lapse option is the one I'm most interested in. Anyone who follows me on Twitter and/or Vimeo, knows I love time-lapse shots. Before this feature was added to the iPhone, I used a cumbersome multistep routine with a GoPro camera to capture the footage, and a third-party application on the Mac called Zeitraffer to process it into a movie. By adding the Time-Lapse mode, Apple has turned this cumbersome multistep process into one that can be accomplished with ease: Press the Record button in the Time-Lapse section to start and press it again to stop. You can trim the resulting video by dragging a pair of sliders on either end of the video previews.

Another new feature: The Photo and Square shooting modes now offer built-in filters to the right of the on-screen shutter. Tapping the Filters button, represented by a three circle graphic, gives access to nine real-time previews of the filters. If you like a filter, tapping on it results in a full-screen preview.

Siri

Apple's voice assistant, Siri, picks up a couple of tricks in iOS 8. It shows you exactly what you're saying as you're saying it and now lets you purchase iTunes content without launching the iTunes app.

But by far the most important feature update is the new Hey, Siri command. Now, when your iOS device is plugged into power, Siri listens for the command Hey, Siri. This is a feature I longed for years ago, and I'm glad it's here. I found the Hey, Siri command especially useful in two specific situations: If you work from home (or in an area where talking out loud to the phone isn't a big deal) or in the car. In fact, the Hey, Siri hand's free functionality may tide over some Apple fans who are waiting for their cars to support Apple's CarPlay technology.

A feature new to iOS 8 is Family Sharing, which allows you to consolidate up to six iCloud accounts under one credit card. All members under Family Sharing have access to each other's purchases, including music, movies, TV shows, books and other content bought from the iTunes store.

One of the benefits of Family Sharing is that each member can have his or her own AppleID and password. Apple also allows the creation of Apple IDs for children under 13 years old; but Restrictions and the Ask to Buy feature is turned on automatically for those accounts, and they need to be added to the family group by a legal guardian or parent.

 

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