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  1. Computer Skills
  2. iOS 8
Computers

The 5 Best Features of iOS 8

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:

Apple's recent release of iOS 8 brings a wealth of new features to the table. It's no wonder that they already have a tremendous adoption rate. In this tutorial I'll show you the top five features, and how to get the most out of them. 

I will teach you how to:

  • Quick-reply to text messages
  • Install and use custom keyboards
  • Setup custom widgets in the notification center
  • Send an audio recording over SMS
  • Leave or mute a group message

Screencast

Quick-Reply to Text Messages

Receiving a text message whilst working in another application can be quite annoying. 

Having to close the current application, open Messages, reply to the message and then return to the original task is even worse.

Quick reply in the new iOS 8
Quick reply in the new iOS 8

The new quick-reply feature of iOS 8 removes this problem entirely. Now when someone sends you a text message simply pull down on the notification itself and a reply field will appear. Type a response and hit Send. The reply is sent without having to leave the current application.

Install Custom Keyboards

iOS users have long envied the Google Android's ability to add custom keyboards.  With the release of IOS 8 they envy no longer.

To install a custom keyboard, launch the App Store and download a favorite new keyboard. Once the keyboard application has been downloaded and installed, run it one time to let it initialize.

Go to Settings, then General. Scroll down and tap Keyboards. Then tap Add New Keyboard. Find the name of the keyboard you just installed and tap it to add it to the list of available keyboards.

Adding a newly downloaded keyboard in iOS 8
Adding a newly downloaded keyboard in iOS 8

From now on, whenever you have the keyboard open, tap the Globe icon in the lower left to toggle between the available keyboards.

Custom Widgets

Customizing the notification center is another great feature of iOS 8. You can add interactive weather, to-do lists, stock portfolios and so much more. It's pretty incredible. 

Many popular iOS applications have already released updates that include these new interactive widgets. Dropbox, Amazon Kindle, LinkedIn, and Evernote are just a few examples.

Use your thumb to swipe down from the top part of the phone near the earpiece. When the notification center drops in, make sure the Today tab is chosen. Scroll to the bottom and tap the Edit button. 

Adding a custom widget to the Notification Center
Adding a custom widget to the Notification Center

Use the list of available widgets to customize the Notification Menu. The green plus icons will add a menu item. The red delete icons will remove a menu item. The three bar icon on the right will adjust the sort order. When you have everything set, press Done on the top right.

Quick Audio Over SMS

NOTE: This will only work when sending audio to iOS devices with iMessaging turned on.

Sometimes plain text messages don't send the inflection, emotion, or general tone of what you're trying to convey. In these situations, sending a recording of your voice is a much better solution.

From the messages screen, choose compose new message or tap on an existing conversation. Hold your thumb over the microphone icon in the bottom right to start recording.

Sending audio over iMessages
Sending audio over iMessages

To send the recording slide your thumb upwards over the arrow then release it. The message will automatically be sent with no further action required. 

If you would like to review the message before you send it just lift up your thumb directly from the mic. Don't swipe in any direction. The recording will be shown in the message box. Tap play to review it before tapping send.

While recording if you make a mistake or would like to start over, slide your thumb to the left. Doing so will quickly discard the recording and allow you to start over.

Mute or Leave a Group Chat

There are few things in this world more annoying than being added to a group chat without your permission. To make matters worse, prior to iOS 8, it was very difficult to leave or mute these conversations. The constant barrage of notifications was enough to drive anyone insane.

To mute or leave these annoying conversations, launch Messages and choose the conversation you would like to modify. Click details on the top right, tap Do Not Disturb to stop all notifications relating to this particular group chat. Or feel free to leave the conversation altogether. 

Setting a single group chat to Do Not Disturb
Setting a single group chat to Do Not Disturb

Conclusion

In this tutorial I showed you some of my favorite new features in iOS 8. Adding custom keyboards and using them to reply to text messages without having to leave the program you're using is great. My personal favorite is the ability to leave those obnoxious group chats or, at very least, set them to Do Not Disturb. And they have topped all that off with custom widgets and easy audio in iMessages.

Upgrade your phone to the latest and greatest operating system from Apple and tell me what your favorite new feature is in the comments below.

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