We've long known that iOS 8 was a powerful (mostly under-the-hood) upgrade. But on its official launch day, Apple announced a few new features that really take the operating system to the next level. And you won't even have to hunt very hard to find them!
The most significant new thing coming to iOS 8 is a mobile payments system called ApplePay. For iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users, ApplePay will let you place your phone near a beacon and confirm your identity with Touch ID in order to make a purchase. The system stores all of your payment information in Passbook, but it does not store your credit card numbers. Instead, it creates unique device IDs for each card, including the cards you already have on file with the iTunes Store.
For other iPhone users, ApplePay's functionality will be more limited. While the device hardware won't allow for NFC-powered payments, you can use the ApplePay system to make one touch payments in a whole host of apps and locations, from Disney to Whole Foods to the Apple Store itself. If you lose your phone, you can also disable ApplePay with Find My iPhone.
New Navigation Features
With the larger screen sizes of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple is introducing a number of new features that make it easier to find your way around iOS 8. The most noticeable will surely be the horizontal mode which allows you to navigate the device more seamlessly. The iPhone Plus will also allow for two-pane navigation, and it will get some tiny design tweaks, like showing avatars next to texts in the Messages app.
Apple is also introducing a new gesture called Reachability. It's dead simple. If you just double tap the Home button, the whole screen slides down so that you can reach the content on the top of the screen without using two hands.
The new M8 motion coprocessor and barometer mean that the iPhone 6 can collect more data about your movements, namely distance. That means that the iPhone 6 will know how far you've walked as well as how much elevation you've cleared. The technology also knows if you're running or cycling or climbing stairs or whatever. More data!
Of course, since the new hardware is specific to the iPhone 6, users with older iPhones won't get to enjoy it.