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Apple has officially pulled the wrappers off iOS 8. During a keynote speech at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, Tim Cook and a number of Apple executives detailed a suite of changes that the company claims add up to ‘the biggest release since the launch of the App Store’.

Leading the line is Health. This new app, extensively leaked and previously known by its codename HealthBook, pulls together key wellbeing information from different apps and compatible fitness gadgets. The idea is to deliver critical fitness metrics in one place.

To boost Health, Apple also revealed HealthKit: a set of developer tools will allow apps to share data.

That means the Nike+ app could draw down information about sleep patterns or nutrition from different sources, allowing developers to create more focused profiles about your health. Further details are likely to be revealed in the coming months.

iMessage has been given a major overhaul, with Facebook–owned WhatsApp a clear influence.

ios 8 quicktype wwdc

The revamp brings the option to begin a conversation with a single swipe, add and remove contacts from group chats as you go, browse images and video with a conversation more easily and a new do not disturb feature, perfect if you’re tired of endless notifications.

Apple has tweaked iOS’s keyboard too, with a new QuickType function to suggest phrases. Android owners will be more than familiar with this feature, which has been a cornerstone of Google’s platform for some time.

Apple is also set to allow third-party keyboards, although these will be heavily policed and require users’ permission to work across various apps.

The new iCloud Photo Library feature will let you see all your snaps no matter where you are, working seamlessly across Mac and iOS. And Family Sharing will let you snare content from different profiles without having to buy it again.

icloud photo library ios 8

iOS also dovetails much closer with Mac OS X now too. A new Handoff feature will let you start tasks on one device and finish on another without having to do a thing. You can even take calls and send texts on your Mac and iPad, as long as they’re close by.

iOS 8 is out in beta form for developers now. Apple will officially release the software in autumn, with iPhone 4S and iPad 2 and above getting the update.

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