The new operating system for iPads and iPhones, iOS 8, boasts better interactive notifications, allowing users to reply to messages directly from their lock screens. It addresses a key gripe of many iPhone users by allowing them for the first time to use popular third-party keyboards such as Swype.
Apple also is trying to improve the quality of graphics on its mobile devices with a new iOS 8 feature called "Metal" that creates a more efficient way for game makers to tap into the 3-D capabilities of the processor on iPhones and iPads. The company also is introducing a new programming language called "Swift" in an attempt to help developers create applications more quickly.
Another new feature included in iOS 8 is designed to make it easier to type on the smaller screens of mobile devices. Called "QuickType," the tool will learn a user's language patterns and suggest ways to finish sentences. For example, if you start typing, "Do you want to go to," the phone will suggest "dinner" or "movie" as the next word. Currently, the suggestions are limited to spelling corrections.
That's because Apple is reprogramming its operating systems so it's easier for users to hopscotch from an iPhone to an iPad to a Mac and keep working on a document or Web page opened on another Apple device. Some of this interplay is accomplished through Apple's online storage service, iCloud, and a new "handoff" tool that ties the devices together. An iPhone located near a Mac will even automatically set up a wireless connection for the computer when it doesn't have one.