The Best New Features in iOS 8 That You Need to Try Out

iOS 8 is finally upon us.  As you frantically click or tap “Check for Updates” and wait for it to download and install, check out the new features you will be enjoying.

iOS 8 Notification Center Widgets

Widgets
I find myself checking the “Today” view in the Notification Center (accessed with a swipe down from the top) for a quick update on weather, traffic, and my calendar.  Now, 3rd party apps will be able to add their own section to the notification center, such as ESPN for sport scores!

Keyboards
Third-party developers will also be able to offer new keyboards in iOS 8.  For example, you may have heard your Android friends talking about Swype, which allows you to spell out words using a swiping motion over the keyboard.  Even if you don’t install a new keyboard, the new “QuickType” feature will predict what you’re about to type and save you some taps.

iOS 8 iCloud Drive

iCloud Drive
I already have a lot of cloud storage, so do I really need another solution?  iCloud Drive will be tightly integrated with iOS (and Mac OS this fall) allowing you to sync basically any type of file.  Apple has also recently dropped storage prices to as low as $0.99 per month.  It may be time to consolidate your Dropbox, Box, Copy, and SugarSync services into one solution.  Important note: This feature won’t become fully useful until Yosemite is released on the Mac, so if you rely on syncing your iCloud with your Mac, hold off on upgrading to iCloud Drive.

iOS 8 Health Kit

Health Kit
I love my health apps for tracking my activity, and it will be nice to be able to check my stats all in one place.  No more thumbing through FitBit, RunKeeper, and Nike+ to see how active I was for the day (and if I can pig out on some cookies tonight).  You can also set up an “In Case of Emergency” (I.C.E.) card that emergency responders can access from your phone’s lock screen (to access it from the lock screen, swipe left to see the passcode entry screen, then tap “Emergency”, then tap “Medical ID” in the lower-left corner).

UPDATE: We’re bummed to find out that Health Kit had a last minute “bug” that is preventing it from launching yet.  However, you can still setup your I.C.E. card for the lock screen.

UPDATE #2: While the HealthKit bug has been resolved, unfortunately FitBit has announced that they have no immediate plans to support the HealthKit platform.

iOS 8 Messages

Messages
Did you ever have one of your “friends” send out a mass “Happy New Year” text, only to receive “You too!” replies from strangers for the rest of the day?  You can now leave a group text conversation with iOS 8, as well as send videos, pictures, and voice messages more easily.

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