Apple’s new mobile operating system is packed with new features. But what makes iOS 8a big deal for business are the updated apps. Alongside interface tweaks, upgraded security and new ways to link your iPhone or iPad to your MacBook, iOS 8 features a slew of updated and upgraded apps that will make you more productive every day. The new OS update is currently only available to developers, with a wider release slated for later this year. While you wait for the update, read on to learn about five refreshed apps that will make you more productive.
Apple’s mobile-messaging app has been overhauled, with tons of handy new features added. For starters, a revamped notifications system in iOS 8 lets you quickly act on incoming messages and alerts so you can get back to work. When a new SMS text message, email or calendar alert arrives, you can now act on it from anywhere — even on the lock screen. For example, when a text message alert arrives, you can swipe down to display the keyboard, then type your message and hit send, all without leaving the app you're viewing.
And typing that message could get easier, thanks to better keyboard support in iOS 8. Apple is launching QuickType, predictive software that will learn how you type so it can suggest the next word. It can even differentiate between the casual typing style you use when talking to friends and the more formal language you use to talk to colleagues, and adjust its suggestions accordingly. Additionally, iPhones and iPads will finally support third-party keyboards such as Swype and SwiftKey, which also offer predictive text, as well as other useful features such as swipe-based typing; instead of tapping out a word, you just slide your finger over each letter to type more quickly.
Finally, iMessage supports new features to make group messaging more productive. You can now name your conversation to stay organized, add or remove individuals midconversation or leave the conversation at any time. Those are big perks for business users who use group messaging to communicate with employees and colleagues.
If you own an iPhone or iPad, you probably already use iCloud to sync your contacts, calendars, photos, music, apps and more in the cloud so you can access them across all your devices. Now Apple is launching iCloud Drive, a cross-platform feature that will help you access files and documents on your mobile devices. The feature is built right into the Finder in the new version of OS X, Apple’s desktop operating system. Just drag and drop a file into your iCloud Drive folder on your MacBook or iMac computer to make it available on any iPhone, iPad, Mac or Windows PC.
When you’re on an iPhone or iPad, however, there's still no way to view all the files stored in your iCloud Drive folder in one spot. To find files stored in iCloud Drive, you’ll need to open a compatible app. For example, when you open the mobile version of Apple’s Pages word processor, you’ll have access to all the documents you’ve stored in iCloud Drive.
A good email app can help you manage your inbox when you’re away from the office. Apple has revamped the Mail app in iOS 8 with a fresh interface and new gesture-based controls. For example, you can now flag and delete messages with a single swipe. There are also new multitasking features: When composing an email, just swipe down on a draft to minimize it and access other messages in your inbox. Then tap the bottom of the screen to reopen your draft. Another new feature is the ability to add events to your calendar right from your inbox, including meeting invitations and dinner reservations.
The other big change is a new feature that makes it possible to send very large files via email using a feature called Mail Drop. Most email services limit the size of email attachments to 25MB or less, but Mail Drop allows for the transfer of files of up to 5GB in size. When you send an attachment that's too large, the recipient will receive a link to a Web page where that person can download the file. That's a plus for business users who need to exchange large documents on the fly.
Siri, a voice-activated virtual assistant that’s built into every iPhone and iPad, can help almost any business user achieve a smoother, more productive workday. The advantage of Siri is that it enables you to perform all sorts of actions hands-free, so you can make a phone call, compose and send an email, find directions or add an appointment to your calendar just by speaking a few commands aloud.
The biggest change to Siri in iOS 8 is the ability to activate the Siri app itself using a voice command. Just say “Hey Siri” to launch it, even when your phone is locked and the screen is off. The downside is that the command only works when your phone is plugged in to a charger, apparently as a battery-saving measure. Still, the feature could make it safer and easier to issue voice commands in the car, especially when you need to place a phone call or retrieve turn-by-turn directions.
A new suite of features designed to boost your health and fitness levels may not seem like it has much to do with business. But think about it this way: The healthier you are, the more productive you are. Running a business means constantly juggling work and personal responsibilities, and your mobile device already helps you streamline most other aspects of your life. Why not let it help you stay healthy? That’s where Apple’s new HealthKit comes in. It’s essentially an aggregator app that helps pull in information about you from other diet and fitness apps — such as Fitbit and Nike+, two exercise-tracking apps — to give you a complete picture of your overall health.
HealthKit doesn’t stop there. It can also help you contact the right medical professional in case further care is needed. For example, if your blood pressure reading isn’t in the right zone, your local doctor’s office or hospital can be automatically notified. In fact, Apple is partnering with the Mayo Clinic and other health care providers to bring the technology to hospitals across the country. That could all add up to a healthier — and more productive — you.