Apple releases iOS 8.1 with Apple Pay, iCloud Photo Library, SMS Relay & Instant Hotspot, bug fixes and improvements.

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As promised, Apple on Monday released iOS 8.1 for public consumption. Users who have an older version installed on their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad can now update to the latest software over-the-air, by choosing Software Update under Settings > General.

iOS 8.1 flips the switch on Apple Pay in the United States on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, as well as the newly released iPad Air 2and iPad mini 3.

It also re-enables the missing Camera Roll album in Photos and beta iCloud Photo Library (in beta) while bringing additional Continuity features like Text Message Forwarding between iOS 8 devices and Yosemite Macs and more.

Apple Pay, a headline new feature in iOS 8.1 supports mobile payments in apps, on websites and at select brick-and-mortar locations. On devices that don’t have NFC, like the iPhone 5s, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, Apple Pay only works when you buy stuff online and through apps.

To recap, here are the supported devices for Apple Pay:

  • iPhone 6 (in-app, online and in-store purchases)
  • iPhone 6 Plus (in-app, online and in-store purchases)
  • iPad Air 2 (in-app and online purchases only)
  • iPad mini 3 (in-app and online purchases only)

Although Apple’s marketing materials don’t make the distinction between in-app and online purchases, Safari is technically and app. Moreover, company executives did say during the WWDC keynote that Apple Pay will be supported by participating online stores through a browser.

Apple Pay is also coming to Apple Watch early next year, extending Apple Pay to over 200 million owners of iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s worldwide, Apple said in a media release.

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Another cool new feature: Text Message Forwarding.

It lets you receive text messages in the Messages app alongside iMessages on Macs running Yosemite and iPads and iPod touches running iOS 8.1. Text messages are actually routed through a user’s iPhone, allowing you to both send and receive SMS directly from a Mac or iPad.

Text Message Forwarding requires that both your Mac and iOS device be on the same Wi-Fi network and have Bluetooth turned on for proximity.

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iCloud Photo Library, a built-in service that puts your entire photo library in the cloud, is now available as a beta to everyone in iOS 8.1. Once enabled in Settings > iCloud > Photos, your device will automatically upload and store your photos and videos in iCloud and sync any changes between devices.

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You can elect to “Optimize Storage” to keep device-optimized versions of photos on an iOS device or “Download and Keep Originals”, which stores full-resolution photos and videos on your device. Just to clear up any confusion, iCloud always keeps your snaps and videos in their original resolution.

Your iCloud Photo Library is also available via a brand new Photos app in iCloud’s web interface, depicted above, using any Mac or Windows PC running the latest version of Safari, Chrome or Firefox. And in early-2015, a Mac edition of iOS’s stock Photos app will launch allowing for the complete end-to-end photo-syncing solution between desktop, mobile and the web.

iCloud Photo Library is great, but you’ll quickly run out of space as every iCloud account includes a meager five gigabytes of free storage. Apple’s iCloud storage upgrade pricingisn’t the most competitive: the firm is offering 20 gigabytes for 99 cents per month, 200 gigabytes in exchange for five bucks per month, 500GB for $9.99 per month and 1TB for $19.99 per month.

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Compare this to the $9.99 1TB Dropbox Pro plan (same as Google).

Microsoft is offering 1TB OneDrive bucket for seven bucks per month and they’re also throwing in Office 365 for that price. By the way, if you’re serious about iPhone photography you should consider Yahoo’s Flickr service, which includes one terabyte of free storage for your photos.

As mentioned before, iOS 8.1 also brings back the Camera Roll album which went missing in iOS 8. The Camera Roll album collates only the photos you’ve taken directly on the device or saved from Mail and other apps. The Camera Roll comeback makes the operating system compatible with applications that required it, such as WhatsApp.

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The problem stems, as many have complained, from the fact that iOS 8.0 has removed the system-wide Camera Roll album for no apparent reason. In addition to these features, iOS 8.1 contains bug fixes, performance enhancements and several improvements listed below.

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iOS 8.1 includes other nice-to-haves

A new Enable Dictation toggle in Settings > General > Keyboards (seen above) is now available. Moreover, you’ll notice slightly larger app icons when managing your widgets in the Notification Center. The iBooks icon has been slightly redesigned and there’s now an alternative way to access privacy settings on a per-app basis, through their respective pane in the Settings app, as pictured below.

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Note that certain iOS 8 features are only available in select markets.

The operating system is compatible with:

  • iPhone 4s
  • iPhone 5/5c
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone 6/Plus
  • iPad 2, 3 and 4
  • iPad Air and iPad Air 2
  • iPad mini and iPad mini 2
  • iPod touch (fifth-generation)

Tip: Don’t put iOS 8 on your iPhone 4S!

Apple has made it so that that iOS 8, which goes out to the public today, will work on iPhones reaching all the way back to the venerable 4S. Which is good! But as Ars Technica found out the hard way, subjecting your elderly iPhone to new software may not be worth it. At least not yet.

The 4S, which first hit the streets nearly three years ago, does its damnedest to keep up with the software designed for its bigger (and even biggerer) younger siblings. But it just plain doesn’t have the hardware to support some of iOS 8’s biggest features, like Touch ID, AirDrop, and the Metal graphics API.

And even with the stuff it can handle, the poor 4S gets winded pretty quickly. Ars points out that the phone’s guts offer about a quarter of the performance of the iPhone 5S, and an even smaller fraction compared to the newest iPhone 6. Apps launch more slowly—sometimes taking 50 percent longer to load—with herky-jerky transitions that hang and hesitate.

 

All of which is kind of secondary to the main problem: The 4S was the last of Apple’s phones with a 3.5-inch screen. That size was once considered the golden rectangle of smartphones. But everything is bigger in the future, including iPhones, and the added rows of buttons and bars that appear in many iOS 8 apps eat up valuable screen real estate on the great-granddaddy iPhone.

So yes, it’s entirely possible for you to download the brand new iOS on your brand-old iPhone. And by doing so you’ll get a lot of goodies like more keyboard options (finally) and fun widgets.Ars ultimately concludes that it’s a trade-off you should go ahead and make.

But to us, cramming that shiny new software into the 4S’s cozy yet slightly musty house is a tight fit that will leave phone and user alike groaning. New features like widgets and alternate keyboards are nice, but not at the cost of so much screen space and speed.

Have some pity on the old warhorse, and let it stay pleasantly outdated, for its sanity and your own. Or at the very least, just wait it out a while; there’s a good chance iOS 8.1 will do more to bring older devices along for the ride. [

Apple releases iOS 8, now available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch!

Apple has released iOS 8, the latest version of its mobile operating system, to the public on Wednesday after months of testing by developers.

iOS 8 has been months in the making and was unveiled for the first time in June, at Apple’s annual developers conference. Building on the foundations of iOS 7, iOS 8 can be qualified as a more opened version of the operating system, as developers are now able to tap deeper into the software and offer more powerful features to iOS users.

The update, available now as an over-the-air download (directly from your device) or via iTunes, brings several enhancements to iOS 7. Because this is a worldwide release, users who are trying to update or download iOS 8 might experience connectivity issues. If that is the case, we suggest you arm yourself with patience and try again a little later.

iOS 8 device compatibility

f you bought your iOS device in the last three years, then it is probably compatible with iOS 8. Devices compatible with iOS 8 are:

  • iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPad 2, iPad 3rg gen, iPad 4th gen, iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad mini with Retina display
  • iPod touch 5th gen

How to update

There are two ways you can update your iOS device. You can elect to do so directly from the device, or via iTunes.

Over-the-air update: if you want to update to iOS 8 directly from your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > General > Software Update. From there download and install the software. Make sure you are on Wi-Fi and your iOS device is plugged in to a power source.

Update via iTunes: As an alternative, you can launch iTunes, plug your iOS device to your computer via the USB cable and click “update.”

New in iOS 8

Although it might not appear as such at first sight, iOS 8 is a massive update for app developers and users alike. iOS 8 brings along an array of new features and APIs that developer can use to improve their applications and offer better, more powerful apps all around. Below are some of the new features you should look for in iOS 8.

  • Custom Actions
  • Sharing Options
  • Notification Center widgets
  • Support for third-party keyboards
  • Improved Messages app with new features
  • Family Sharing
  • Touch ID support for third-party apps
  • And much more…

From new features to more tools for developers, this is just the tip of the iceberg.