iOS 8 beta round-up: All the hidden features and changes found during testing

Although Apple announced all the major software changes coming to iPhone and iPad this autumn when it unveiled iOS 8 in June, the company has since released five developer betas of the mobile operating system.

With two months of betas now out there for the world to browse and pour over, there have been, naturally, some discoveries. More specifically, several smaller changes and features have been spotted by developers during the beta-testing period.

Pocket-lint has therefore combed through the most interesting tidbits and included them in a round-up, below. We also touched upon the big improvements Apple has confirmed, essentially giving you a complete overview of what to expect when iOS 8 finally releases for consumers.

Keep reading to learn more.

iOS 8: Hidden features and changes

Beta 2

Let's start with the second beta of iOS 8 that released on 17 June, because it brought a number of improvements to the software introduced on 2 June.

Notifications: A new "Allow Notifications" setting is available for each app, letting you mute notifications on a fine-tuned basis.

Battery: The Battery Usage by App menu under the Settings app includes an option for how much battery a phones used with no cell coverage available.

Podcasts: Apple's Podcasts app has become a default app pre-installed on iOS devices, meaning you can't delete it after upgrading to iOS 8.

Safari: The Safari web browser includes a new pinch to tab view.

Photos: The Photos app offers a "iCloud Photos" popup that activates Apple's new iCloud Photos feature, replacing existing Photo Stream settings.

App Store: Apple's App Store displays Family Purchases.

Messages: Messages icons for the camera and microphone are gray rather than blue. There's also a new setting to mark all messages as read.

Settings: There's a new "Raise to Listen" setting for Messages.

Privacy: The Settings app includes a Home Data menu under the Privacy menu.

Beta 3

Apple released the third beta of iOS 8 on 7 July. Here's what that beta included:

Find My Friends: New beta version of the Find My Friends and Find My iPhone apps. Find My Friends allows you to add a friends list to an iCloud account.

iCloud Drive: Popup window lets you upgrade to iCloud Drive. There's also an area for iCloud Drive within the iCloud menu of the Settings app.

Wallpapers: A new white/gray gradient wallpaper option is available.

Weather: The Weather app displays some information on the left. Previously, this information appeared on the right-side of the interface.

Wi-Fi calling: T-Mobile users can now access Wi-Fi calling instead of using a cell connection. It's enabled in the Phone menu of the Settings app.

Handoff: A new Handoff setting is under the General menu of the Settings app. It allows you to toggle the Handoff feature on/off.

Photos: Shared Photo Streams in Photos app are called Shared Albums. Plus, there's a notice for when Recently Deleted photos will be permanently deleted.

Messages: A new option in the Settings menu for Messages lets you auto-keep audio/video messages. Previously they would be auto-deleted after a bit.

Keyboard: A setting under the Keyboards area of the General menu in the Settings app lets you toggle the QuickType feature on/off.

Beta 4

Apple released the fourth beta of iOS 8 on 21 July. Here's what that beta included:

Tips: The new Tips app is included as a default app, giving you regular and weekly tips on how to use iOS 8.

Control Center: The Control Center has a new look. The black borders around the icons are gone, and icons turn white when activated.

Display Settings: Display & Brightness section is separated from Wallpaper now, with settings to adjust screen brightness, text size, activate bold text, etc.

HomeKit: The Privacy menu of the Settings app has added a new Home Data icon.

Mail: You can use the Mail, Contacts, and Calendars menu in Settings to assign gestures to different functions in the Mail app.

Health: The Calories section of the Health app features categories for Active, Dietary, and Resting calories.

Emoji Keyboard Icon: The icon for Emoji on the keyboard has a new look.

iCloud Photo Library: Under the the iCloud menu of the Settings app, you can select a length of time for pausing iCloud Photo Library.

Messages: The Messages menu of the Settings app lets you manage Message storage, including separate expiration options for audio/video messages.

Talk to Type: The Talk-to-Type option in Messages displays spoken text in real time now.

Suggested apps: There's a new area under Settings that allows you to toggle on Suggested Apps. The feature offers app suggestions relevant to location.

Safari: The icon for Bookmarks within Safari has a new look (see top image below).

Contacts: Under the Mail, Contacts, and Calendars menu in the Settings app, you can toggle off Favourites/Recents for Contacts in the App Switcher.

Keyboard: The option to toggle the QuickType keyboard on/off under Settings is called "Predictive" rather than "QuickType".

Spotlight: You can use the Spotlight Search menu in Settings to remove Voice Memos and Bing Web Results from search results.

Beta 5

Apple released the fifth beta of iOS 8 on 4 August. Here's what that beta included:

Health: Apple's Health app collects Spirometry data. The app also has new icons, the ability to export Health data, and privacy settings in the Settings app.

SMS Relay: A popup asks you to add your phone number for SMS Relay on your Mac - one of the new Handoff/Continuity features between OS X and iOS.

Photos: Photos app displays when you last synced to iCloud. You can also store full resolution photos in iCloud and keep optimised versions on iPhone.

iCloud: Icons for iCloud Drive, Backup, and Keychain have a new look under the iCloud menu of the Settings app. The main iCloud icon is different too.

Brightness: The Brightness toggle is no longer in the Wallpaper menu of the Settings app but rather the Display & Brightness menu.

Extras

Here's a round-up of other recently-discovered features in iOS 8, culled from various forums across the web:

Credit card scanning: In iOS 8's Safari, you can use your camera to scan in credit card numbers when making online purchases.

Hide images: You can now hide images and videos in the Photos app by holding your finger on a photo to bring up an options menu.

Delete messages: New options let you delete stored messages after a set period of time of 30 days or one year.

Recent Photos: A new feature in Messages displays recent photos for quick access.

Save attachments: A new Details menu for contacts within Messages displays all of the photos and attachments and lets you save them in batches.

Weather: Apple pulls weather data from The Weather Channel instead of Yahoo and offers 9-day weather forecasts along with more summary details.

Battery life: A new Settings option allows you to view battery usage by app.

Siri: You can say "Hey Siri" while an iOS device is plugged in to activate Siri. You can also ask Siri to download an app from the App Store.

Photos: The Photos app has new organisational options for "Recently Added" and "Recently Deleted" photos.

Panoramic mode for iPad: Panoramas, previously only available on the iPhone, are available for the iPad.

Focus controls: Focus and exposure options have been separated.

Timer mode: There's a new timer function for photos. You can set it for 3 seconds or 10 seconds.

Safari: Safari includes an option called "Request Desktop Site," which lets you run the desktop version of a site.

Search: You can select DuckDuckGo as your default search option in Safari.

Delete albums: You can delete albums from the music app with a left swipe.

Playlists: You can add songs to Playlists from already existing Playlists.

Notes: You can finally insert photos into the Notes app.

iBooks: iBooks is a preinstalled app on iOS devices, and there's also a new auto night mode as well as an organisation option for grouping books.

FaceTime: The preview window of FaceTime is on the right side of the iPad screen, and the iPhone version removed the Favorites, Recents and Contacts bar.

Notifications: Under the Passcode settings, new toggles let you access Today and Notifications View on the lock screen.

Grayscale mode: A Grayscale mode under Accessibility options morphs the entire operating system into black and white shades.

Speak Screen: A Speak Screen mode under Accessibility will speak the contents of the screen with a two-finger swipe gesture.

Screen capture: You can capture video from an iOS device directly on a Mac - when your device is plugged into a Mac - via QuickTime.

iTunes Radio: When listening to iTunes Radio, the Control Center offers a "Buy" button to purchase a song.

Peer-to-peer AirPlay: iOS devices can stream content to the Apple TV without a shared network connection.

And that's it.

Keep in mind that hidden features found in iOS betas might not actually appear in the final version of Apple's mobile operating system. The company could simply be conducting early tests of something it may want to roll out at a later time or ultimately ditch altogether.

That said, most of the features listed above will more than likely make it to the consumer version of iOS 8 this autumn. Many of them were probably just too small or trivial to highlight at WWDC. Continue reading for a summary refresh of all the software features Apple has publically announced.

iOS 8: What do we know for sure?

You can learn all about the announced features coming with iOS 8 through Apple's dedicated iOS 8 page or the keynote video below (from the company's Worldwide Developer Conference). We've also provided a brief summary of features after the video, though we only included the big ones.

Among the major changes are the ability to add a voice to text messages, send a video of what you're seeing in real-time, and share a location via Messages. Notifications will also have helpful shortcuts that let you respond to and manage things faster.

Speaking of faster, Apple has improved the keyboard with a feature called QuickType. It offers contextually appropriate words. The Mail app has been improved too: it includes swipe gestures that let you swipe to mark an email, etc. As for Spotlight, it'll now give suggestions from Wikipedia, places, etc.

Another big feature is Family Sharing, which lets you share both apps and content with up to six people in your family. Sharing features have also expanded to iCloud Drive, an online productivity suite that will let you store and work on files from the cloud on any Apple device.

Apart from the new cloud changes, in regards how you manage documents and even photos stored on your mobile devices, Apple debuted something big at WWDC called HomeKit. It's a new feature that will gives you a streamlined way of controlling supported devices in your home through Siri.

Apple also notably added calling to the iPad and Mac, letting you answer calls and then transfer to another device. Another seamless experience coming to iOS 8 is the Health hub that'll presumably work nicely with the company's rumoured fitness watch.

Last but not least, the Camera app has gained a new time-lapse video mode, and iOS 8 will let you activate Siri with the following voice command: "Hey Siri." Siri further features integration with Shazam, support for streaming voice recognition, and the ability to purchase iTunes content.

Oh, and there's a feature known as Handoff. It allows you to transfer tasks between iOS and OS X.

iOS 8: Release date

Apple will release the next version of iOS, called iOS 8, this autumn. The most recent rumour has claimed the company will introduce the next iPhone alongside iOS 8 at a press event scheduled for 9 September.



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