iOS 8 Release Day: What You Need to Know

Apple iOS 8

It’s September, which means it’s time for Apple to release the latest version of its mobile operating system.

If everything goes according to plan, everybody who owns an iPhone, iPod or iPad (or at least certain generations of those devices) will have the ability to download iOS 8 for free once it becomes available Sept. 17. In reality, the crush of people attempting to download the software will almost certainly lead to delays, device crashes, angry Tweets and Facebook postings, and furious promises to switch allegiances to a Google Android device.

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What does iOS 8 offer for all that hype and effort?

A revamped Photos app that reportedly makes it easier to search for specific images, and includes new editing tools; a Messaging app that allows users to include videos; a revamped keyboard; greater integration with iCloud; and Health, an app that stores fitness information.

A new Family Sharing option allows up to six members of a family to share e-books and other items purchased from the App Store. This new hub gives parents an additional layer of control over what kids can download, which could prevent tykes from purchasing hundreds of dollars’ worth of digital goods without an adult noticing (“A request to buy this app will be sent to your parents”).

On the developer front, the iOS 8 SDK will offer a variety of toys, including third-party support for Touch ID (which allows iPhone users to access their device via a fingerprint), a camera API, HomeKit and HealthKit for building home- and fitness-related apps that sync tightly with iOS devices, and new tools for creating games.

Apple is also encouraging developers to build iOS apps in Swift, the company’s new programming language.

In other words, iOS 8 offers lots of new things. But it might behoove iPhone and iPad owners to wait a day or two before downloading, to avoid the crush.

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Image: Apple