Apple iOS 8 release finally sees long-awaited Health app and new enterprise features

Apple has announced that iOS 8 will be the firm’s “biggest release since the launch of the App Store” with a barrage of new features including a Health app, iCloud Photo Library, various enhancements to Messages and new enterprise features.

Related: Cupertino looks towards fitness with iOS 8, but should consider a Retina-class Apple TV

The inclusion of a Health app inside iOS 8 will give considerable weight to the wide-held belief that Apple will release its own smartwatch in the coming months to take on the likes of Samsung and other Android manufacturers.

“iOS 8 offers simpler, faster and more intuitive ways to use your device with incredible new features like iCloud Photo Library, a new Messages app, the QuickType keyboard and an entirely new Health app,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “We’re also giving developers amazing new tools to make managing your health and your home from your devices an integrated, simple and secure experience.”

The Health app works by gathering information from a range of health apps and fitness devices before presenting a comprehensive overview of all the apps in one place. One example given would be to open a Nike+ app and pull information from other HealthKit metrics on sleep and nutrition to improve athletic performance.

iCloud Photo Library is another new app and it lets Apple device owners access all photos and videos anywhere and at any time with adjustments or updates that are made reflected across all devices.

Conversations in Messages, meanwhile, has made it easier to communicate with just a swipe of the finger to use the Tap to Talk setting that shares your voice, and the same swipe gesture can be utilised to share videos and photos within Messages.

A new QuickType Keyboard has also been implemented that is reportedly smarter, more personalised and takes context into account when composing messages to each individual person.

Enterprise customers will be pleased with an updated set of security and management features in iOS 8 that includes new productivity features such as expanded data protection for key built-in apps, out of office response settings, the ability to see a colleague’s availability, and support for Thread Notifications in Mail.

In addition to all this, iOS 8 gets a facelift compared to its predecessor, extended Spotlight capabilities that give richer results related to your location, and the convergence with OS X is present in the form of the Handoff feature that is a part of OS X Yosemite.

Apple has already released the iOS 8 beta software and SDK to iOS Developer Program members and owners of the iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, 5S; iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, iPad Air, iPad mini and iPad mini with Retina display; and the iPod Touch fifth generation can download it for free this autumn.