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Here's how your iPhone just got a whole lot better
Apple announced a series of improvements to its flagship phone's camera, messaging app, and keyboard
 
Little changes, big improvements.
Little changes, big improvements. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Apple didn't announce an iWatch, television, or any other new hardware at its annual developers conference. But it still managed to give fans plenty to be excited about. When the company releases iOS 8 for mobile and OS X 10 for desktop in the fall, users will gain a whole new Apple experience based solely on software improvements.

Forget Snapchat — use iMessage
Apple's messaging app is its most popular, so it's no surprise that iMessage has received quite a few upgrades.

One of the big ones is the ability to tap and hold to quickly take snippets of audio, video, and picture. Just like Snapchat, items sent with the quick trigger will disappear after a while.

As many have already pointed out, you can also now leave or mute group message threads, a feature that is desperately missing right now. There's a "detail" view for each message thread, which means all the pictures in a thread will be grouped together for easy searching. You can also see the location of your friends on a map, if they grant access to that information and share it.

While Apple never mentioned Snapchat, or any other messaging app, it might have just killed the momentum of its competitors.

Answer phone calls on your computer
Apple made a big deal of connecting the Mac and iPhone (and iPad). The company took out much of the hassle of coordinating multiple connected devices.

For example, devices using OS X 10 and iOS 8 will "just sense" each other and work together. A call coming in on your iPhone will show up on your Mac, and you'll be able to reply to standard SMS messages without using iMessages.


(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The heightened coordination should improve workflow, enabling you to start a document on one device and move to a different one halfway through. If you're working on an email on your Mac and move to the iPad, you'll be able to flick up on the lock screen to finish the email and send from that device.

In terms of the big picture, this type of functionality is confirming Apple's commitment to fitting form to function. The company has stated in the past that a touch screen laptop doesn't make sense because it's just too awkward to use in practice; if you can seamlessly move between different devices, then the company doesn't need to compromise its laptops or tablets. That differs from the direction Microsoft has taken, whose Surface line of tablets is meant to compete with laptops.

Photos, photos, photos
There are more photo-editing features coming in iOS 8. Its editing suite will include the ability to algorithmically change the lighting and color of photos, a more complex version of the slider that makes a picture lighter or darker.

Photo edits will soon be synced across iCloud, which means that you don't have to worry whether you're picking up your phone or tablet. The updated changes should instantly be available on secondary devices.


(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Additional iCloud storage for large photo collections will soon also be cheaper, starting at $0.99 a month for 20 gigabytes.

Easier typing
Typing on an iPhone should be even easier with a new predictive keyboard in iOS 8. The interface will show a list of word suggestions above the keyboard, taking a page from Android phones.

The keyboard will also offer smart predictive answers as well. Say someone sends you a text with a question in it. Without touching the keyboard, it will automatically suggest an answer based on the text. It will also personalize the response based on how formal the relationship is with the correspondent. A suggested reply to your best friend might be, "Awesome," while a boss might get, "Yes."

For the first time, Apple will also be allowing third party keyboards to be used system-wide. That means Swype, a very popular keyboard for Android, and many more will soon be available for iPhone users.

 
Tyler Hayes is a freelance writer living in Southern California. He's just as obsessed with discovering new music as he is with trying new technology.

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