The past week's news revolved entirely around the Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicked off with a keynote presentation on Monday morning. Much of the keynote was devoted to iOS 8, which will be available in the fall, almost certainly with the launch of the iPhone 6 (though they made no mention of the new iPhone during the presentation). Here are some of the notable enhancements of iOS 8:
iOS 8 introduces some big improvements to messaging. In group messaging, individuals can drop out of the conversation or choose a "do not disturb" option. Participants can also share their locations with the group. A new "tap to talk" feature allows you to send brief audio clips which can be heard simply by raising the phone to your ear. You can also view all attachments in a conversation in one place, rather than having to scroll back through the entire conversation.
This week was all about Apple's WWDC keynote, iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. Apple announced that the App Store would be getting a few enhancements including an Explore tab, and that developers will be able to offer app bundles for the first time. The company also previewed its new Health app plus many other upcoming iOS 8 features during the event. With all the focus on iOS 8 it was kind of a slow week for new App Store releases.
Here are this week's most noteworthy App Store and Cydia releases for 06/01/14 to 06/07/14. Apple's Free Game of the Week is Republique. The game will be available for free on the App Store until 06/12/14.
As usual, Apple did not have enough time to discuss every new feature built into iOS 8 during its WWDC keynote on Monday. Some of the new features were quickly displayed on a slide near the end of the presentation, and others are still being discovered every day by users testing the iOS 8 beta. Here's a quick look at some of the smaller but useful improvements coming to your iPhone and iPad this fall.
Up until now the Notes app has been fairly simple, but iOS 8 is going to change all that by introducing rich text editing. This will allow you to bold, italicize, or underline your text when using writing a note in the app. iDownloadblog also claims users will be able to add images to their notes, but their source seems a bit dodgy.
It is all but certain that the 4.7" iPhone 6 will launch this September, probably sometime in the second half of the month. iOS 8 will almost certainly debut on the iPhone 6, and Apple's iOS 8 page says "Coming this fall." This was also reiterated multiple times during the WWDC 2014 keynote presentation this past Monday. Additionally, Apple Store employees have had their vacation time restricted in late September, another indication that something big will take place at that time. Many analysts, including KGI Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo, have predicted a later launch date for the 5.5" phablet size iPhone 6 model, possibly around the holidays. A new rumor, however, suggests that it may come sooner than that.
In a research note obtained by MacRumors, analyst Brian White of Cantor Fitzgerald writes that the larger iPhone 6 may very well launch at the same time as the 4.7" model. White believes this due to his experience at Computex Taipei (one of the largest tech shows in the world) this week:
Another merger is getting closer to reality with news of the latest negotiations between Sprint and T-Mobile making headlines at Bloomberg. Sprint looks to acquire T-Mobile in a $32 billion deal that would create the third largest wireless carrier in the US.
The two carriers would boast 99 million subscribers combined, falling in behind AT&T's 108 million and Verizon's 120 million customers. SoftBank, which owns 80 percent of Sprint, is looking to create a more formidable competitor in the market. The news comes as other consolidation deals are being scrutinized in the industry, including AT&T's planned buyout of DirecTV.
The popular hardware company Razer has announced a new MFi (Made For iOS) gaming controller for the iPhone. Razer describes the "Junglecat" as a "light weight and ultra-slim" gamepad case for hardcore gamers. The controller is designed with portability in mind measuring in at only 20mm thin so it can easily fit in your pocket. The Junglecat also features a slide-out tray that houses its D-pad, ABXY action buttons and bumpers, which makes it around the same size as a standard iPhone case when it is closed.
What separates the Junglecat from other MFi controllers on the market is its companion app which allows users to customize their experience. For example, gamers can use the app to adjust the sensitivity of each individual button and remap them anyway they want. Razer also promises that the Junglecat will deliver the full "tactility and precision of a full-fledged" gaming controller.
The iOS keyboard made a star appearance at this year's WWDC, and for good reason. Not only does iOS 8 promise to bake new functionality into the virtual keyboard, but developers can release third-party keyboards for use on any iOS 8 device. Rumors of Swype integration with iOS were floated last year and now it looks like Swype will be just one of many custom keyboards available.
While Swype's patented tech allows for typing with one continuous gesture, examples of possible keyboard tweaks have been available in the jailbreak community for some time. From cosmetic keyboard changes such as Bloard to functional improvements like SwipeSelection the sky's the limit.
Apple has added DuckDuckGo as one of its search engines options in iOS 8 and OS X 10 Yosemite. The privacy-focused company said they were "thrilled to be included in Safari" on their official blog announcement posted on Tuesday. DuckDuckGo was designed to be an alternative to other search engines such as Google who are known for tracking its users.
The addition of DuckDuckGo is also another chapter in the long running feud between Apple and Google. Apple has been purging itself of Google products since it ditched its stock YouTube and Google Maps app with the release of iOS 6.
As usual Apple did not cover everything iOS 8 has to offer during its public keynote on Monday, but the company did display a graphic detailing the less important features at the end of its preview of its new operating system. One of the listed features that flew under the radar was "improved zoom for accessibility". Currently in iOS 7 users can navigate to Settings > General > Accessibility to activate the "Zoom" option which allows you to use a three-finger tap to magnify text on your display. In iOS 8 the Zoom settings will now allow users to open a magnify glass that can be positioned anywhere to enlarge a specific area of your display.
The magnify bubble can be enlarged to cover more of your display and comes with its own settings for you to configure. You can see the improved zoom feature at work (3:30 mark) during the 9to5Mac video posted below.
With over 1.2 million iOS apps available in the App Store, finding the best and most useful can seem like a daunting task. While the App Store app in iOS 7 has received many improvements, Apple has not stopped working to make the experience even better for mobile device users. iOS 8 promises to incorporate several enhancements to help users and app developers alike.
There are currently 300 million visitors to the App Store every week, so it's no wonder that 75 billion apps have been downloaded since 2008. There are also 9 million registered developers making apps for a total of 800 million iOS devices already sold. Apple CEO Tim Cook detailed the company's latest plans for the App Store at the WWDC 2014 keynote presentation this week.