5 New Features Arriving in Apple’s iOS 8.1 Update
As announced by Apple at the company’s recent iPad-focused media event, the iOS 8.1 update will be released on Monday, October 20, the same day that the company releases its earnings results. So while Apple investors and analysts will be eagerly awaiting the Cupertino-based company’s financial report after market close on Monday, Apple users will be focused on installing and trying out the new features that will arrive in the company’s latest mobile operating system update.
Besides introducing several new features and bug fixes, the iOS 8.1 update will also return a popular feature that was removed in the original iOS 8 update. Here are the five major features arriving in Apple’s iOS 8.1 update.
The biggest new feature that will be enabled with the iOS 8.1 update will be Apple Pay, the iPhone maker’s first venture into mobile payments. Apple Pay will allow the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, and the upcoming Apple Watch to be used as a contactless payment method via Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. The new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 are not equipped with an NFC chip, which means the devices cannot be used to make purchases in physical store locations. However, users will be able to use the new iPad models to make in-app Apple Pay purchases using the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
As explained by Apple, users can store credit and debit card numbers in the Passbook app by either entering the card number manually or by taking a picture of the card. The card information is then encrypted and stored within a special Secure Element chip. Unlike purchases made with conventional cards, merchants will not be able to see the card information from transactions made with Apple Pay.
“With Apple Pay, instead of using your actual credit and debit card numbers when you add your card to Passbook, a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted, and securely stored in the Secure Element, a dedicated chip in iPhone,” noted Apple on its website. “These numbers are never stored on Apple servers. And when you make a purchase, the Device Account Number, along with a transaction-specific dynamic security code, is used to process your payment.”
However, before you rush out to make your first in-store purchase with your new iPhone, you may want to make sure that the merchant you are visiting is ready to accept Apple Pay. While over “220,000 locations” are ready to accept the new contactless payment method, there are many notable absences from the list of participating retailers. Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Belk, Sears, Kmart, H&M, and Bed Bath & Beyond are just a few of the retailers that have yet to announce plans to adopt Apple Pay. Meanwhile, there are also many stores that have plans to implement Apple Pay but still won’t be ready on October 20, including Disney, PetSmart, Staples, and Urban Outfitters.
SMS and MMS relay
Another major new feature arriving with the iOS 8.1 update will be the ability to have iPads and Macs send and receive SMS and MMS text messages that have been relayed from the iPhone. While iMessage has long been available on iPads and Macs, users will now be able to answer all of their messages from any device. As noted by Apple, “You can also start a conversation from your iPad or Mac by clicking a phone number in apps like Safari, Contacts, or Calendar.”
This convenient new feature is part of the broader set of Continuity features that Apple first unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this year. The SMS and MMS relay feature was expected to be rolled out with the original iOS 8 iteration, but ended up being delayed until the iOS 8.1 update.
Another Continuity feature that Apple users will gain with the iOS 8.1 update is Instant Hotspot. This feature will allow other devices to easily piggyback on their iPhone’s Internet connection.
“If you’re out of Wi-Fi range, your iPad or Mac can connect to your phone’s personal hotspot when your iPhone is close by,” noted Apple. “With the new Instant Hotspot feature, you’ll see the name of your iPhone in the list of Wi-Fi networks in Settings on your iPad and in the Wi-Fi menu on your Mac. Just select it and you’re connected. And when you’re not using your phone’s network, your devices intelligently disconnect to save battery life.”
iCloud Photo Library
Users of Apple’s iOS-based devices will also now have access to the iCloud Photo Library feature. As explained by Apple, the iCloud Photo Library is linked to a user’s iCloud account and will automatically store all of a user’s photos and videos in the cloud when the feature is enabled. In order to save storage space on users’ mobile devices, only the low-resolution versions are stored locally, while the original, high-resolution versions of photos and video are kept in the cloud.
Apple offers 5GB of iCloud storage for free, but shutterbugs can boost their iCloud storage capacity for an additional monthly fee. In the U.S., Apple users can get 20GB for $0.99 per month, 200 GB for $3.99, 500GB for $9.99, and 1TB for $19.99. Monthly storage fees for other countries and regions may vary.
Finally, as announced by Apple SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi at the company’s recent media event, the iOS 8.1 update will also reinstate the Camera Roll feature. Camera Roll, a feature that allowed users to access all of their recently added photos in one place, was eliminated in iOS 8 and replaced with a “Recently Added” section within the Photos app. However, as reported by Gizmodo, Apple decided to bring Camera Roll back after an overwhelmingly negative response from users.
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