This month’s Worldwide Development Conference keynote saw Apple unveil several new features coming to iOS 8. The trick that’s prompted the most enthusiastic response from the Twittersphere (and beyond) isn’t the improved photo storage. It isn’t even the ability to turn your phone into a remote control for your entire home. No, the thing that’s got the internet all aflutter is Apple’s announcement that users will now be able to leave group text messages.
There was celebration from anyone sick of hearing the constant vibrations from their partner’s handset as the family group text about the current episode of Game of Thrones rumbles on. Short of hiding the phone in a closet, nothing could be done to quell the nightmarish spectre of endless back and forth texting. The update allows users to mute the notifications if they want to catch up on the conversation later, or just leave the group chat altogether.
The fuss surrounding the opt out option has more to do with the fact it’s taken this long to add such a simple feature than because of any great technical innovation. For that, iPhone users are looking to some of the other new features coming to their devices as the fall release date approaches. Features like app icons popping up on the lock screen according to location, allowing users to easily access, say, the Starbucks app while in store. It’s not just major retailers - one Twitter reporter saw a lock screen-displayed app for a train station while standing on the platform.
Other improvements include Healthkit, a developer API that gathers and consolidates users’ health information from multiple fitness apps like Fitbit. The tool will help users accurately monitor health metrics by pooling date from third party apps. Healthkit has been tested with the assistance of the Mayo Clinic, giving it a doctor-approved credibility whilst helping to bridge the gap between patients, physicians and health-tracking wearables and software.
Siri is receiving the usual slew of updates. She is now available on voice command (with the phrase “Hey, Siri”) and has also added the popular Shazam song recognition software, 22 new dictation languages and streaming voice recognition. App security has been radically improved, too. Developers will now be able to access Touch ID for the first time.
Despite these major leaps forward, the subject on everyone’s lips is the ability to leave group messages. It just goes to show, you can come up with the most sophisticated voice recognition tool in history, but if you really want to impress your customers, give them the simple thing they’ve been asking for all these years. If it means they can switch off their family text marathon, they’ll be eternally grateful.