Apple iOS 8: Ten tips, tricks and hidden features

Apple has just made the iOS 8 update for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch available for its users to download and install. It’s claimed to be the biggest update yet, bringing dozens of new features to the company’s phones and tablets.

But away from the headline features there are plenty of little updates to making using your iPhone easier and more intuitive than ever. It may look a lot like last year’s iOS 7, but follow this guide to understand just how much is new with iOS 8.

Reply to messages from banners

When a notification banner drops down from the top of the screen to signal a new text you can now reply right there and then, without switching to the Messages app. Swipe down from the banner to reveal a text input box, type out your message and hit send, all with whatever you were doing still in the background - perfect for firing off a quick reply while watching iPlayer or playing a game (which will automatically pause until you’re done).

Send self-deleting images, videos and audio

In iOS 8 you can quickly send images, videos and audio files from within the Messages app - you can also shoot video and photos there without opening the separate Camera app. Once capture, you can send the files immediately and they’ll be viewable on the receiver’s iPhone for two minutes, before being automatically deleted.

Although this sounds a lot like Apple borrowing features from Snapchat, we reckon it’s more to do with the space taken up on your iPhone and Apple’s servers - and you can always ‘tap-to-keep’ on anything you want to save indefinitely.

In the Settings app you can set your phone to automatically store images and videos received from contacts.

Blue/green camera app in messages

By now we’re all familiar with the green and blue received message bubbles on iPhone - blue messages are from fellow iPhone (and iMessage) users, while green are from users of other phones likes Androids. iOS 8 takes this a step further by showing the camera and microphone icons in green or blue to help identify if you’re communicating over text message of iMessage.

Share location through messages

Where in iOS 7 you could send your location to contacts through the Maps app, in iOS 8 you can send a map image showing your location. This image appears in-line in the conversation, but can also be tapped on to open in the Maps app.

Additionally you can share your location with specific contacts for a certain length of time (one hour, one day) or indefinitely. Doing this shows your location with each message sent, similar to how it appears sporadically during conversations on Facebook’s Messenger app.

Send last known location

The last thing your iOS 8 device does before running out of battery is record its location and upload this to iCloud, where it can be viewed through Apple’s Find My iPhone service. Handy if you’ve lost a dead iPhone in the house somewhere, but perhaps more useful if your iPhone has been stolen.

Group message threads

You’ve been able to send group messages in iOS for ages, but now you can give each conversation a name, such as one related to the topic being discussed.

iOS 8 also lets you leave group messages, and you can temporarily mute them if you find yourself bombarded with messages while at work or unable to reply.

Siri identifies songs

Powered by Shaza, Siri in iOS 8 can identify the music it listens to. Ask “what song is this?” or “what’s this song?” and Siri will listen using the iPhone’s microphone. Shazam is then used (without you needing to have the app installed) to work out what track it is, and by whom.

Siri will even start listening the moment you open it, but in a noisy environment it’s better to ask it to listen to get a quick response.

Images can be hidden, deleted photos can be recovered

Images stored in the iOS 8 Photos app can be hidden from view. A long press on an image opens the option to hide it, tap this and it will be taken out of the Moments, Collections and Year pages, and put into a new album called Hidden. This doesn’t let you passcode-protect your, ahem, private photos, but it at least removes anything from general view.

Also new for the Photos app is the ability to recover deleted photos. Deleting them now puts them in the trash can, which can either be emptied (and thus your photos are permanently deleted), or anything in the trash can be restored back into your library.

Detailed battery breakdown by app

A extra detail in the Settings app now lets you see how much battery each app has used up, and also how much your battery has drained when there’s been no cellular coverage. Useful if your battery is losing charge quickly and you’d like to know which app or game is causing your phone to work the hardest.

Delete entire songs with a swipe

A swipe left can be used to delete entire albums at once, not just individual songs as was the case in iOS 7. Useful if Apple decides to automatically give all 500 million iTunes customers an album they didn’t want...

 

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