Earlier this week, Apple outlined many of the cool new features in iOS 8, but one part of the presentation may have eluded all but the most eagle-eyed watchers. As has happened in years past, Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, threw up a slide with a bunch of other new features surrounding the iOS 8 logo, without discussing many of them.
That doesn’t mean they’re not important, though. A number of the features are going to be cool additions to the iPhone, and here are my top 5 new features for iOS 8 that Apple quietly announced on Monday:
1. New capabilities for Siri
Siri is getting a number of new features in the release, including the ability to identify whatever music happens to be playing nearby using technology from Shazam. If a user likes what they hear, they can buy the song in question direct from the iTunes Store.
In addition, people can also enable a new voice activation feature, which will allow iPhone and iPad users to run commands using the assistant when their iPhone or iPad is plugged into a charger.
2. iPad panoramic photography
iPad photographers will be happy with the new ability to take panoramic photos with their tablet under iOS 8. While I can’t imagine trying to take a panorama with my super-heavy, fourth-generation iPad, I know there are plenty of people out there who prefer to take pictures with their iPad’s larger screen.
3. iBooks enhancements
Apple will start pre-installing iBooks as a part of iOS 8, rather than requiring that users download it separately from the App Store. It’s a clear move to compete with Amazon, which pre-installs its e-book reading software on models of the Kindle Fire. As a part of the update, iBooks will also automatically switch into a night mode under iOS 8, so that users can read in bed without searing their retinas.
4. FaceTime Call Waiting
Apple has been quietly updating its FaceTime internet calling service over the past year with a number of improvements, including the ability to make audio-only calls from the Mac, iPhone and iPad. iOS 8 brings another much-needed feature in the form of FaceTime Call Waiting, which is exactly what it sounds like. Now, users can leave one call behind, and pick up another.
5. DuckDuckGo integration in Safari
Privacy-conscious web surfers can now set DuckDuckGo as their default search engine in Safari on the iPhone and iPad. The search engine, which has made a business out of refusing to track users while they surf the web, grew in popularity following disclosures about government surveillance based on information leaked by Edward Snowden. With this new capability, people can use it instead of Google, Bing or Yahoo when searching the web on their phone.
As we’ve seen already, there are also some new features of iOS 8 that Apple didn’t officially announce yet, like giving users quick access to apps based on their location.
Unfortunately, most people will have to wait until the fall to try all of these features out. Warning: While it’s tempting to install an iOS beta on one of your devices, they’re frequently buggy and often aren’t worth the headaches they can cause.