Apple releases iOS 8 into the wild

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iOS 8 is available to download starting today

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The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 8, is now available to download starting today. The release brings with it a range of small but significant tweaks to the popular platform, as well as new developer tools. The software is compatible with the iPhone 4s and iPad 2 onwards.

One of the biggest additions to the mobile OS is Healthkit, a new app that monitors user vitals while interacting with select third party apps, including medical healthcare services, with the goal of providing a personalised experience, tailoring it to the specific needs of the user.

The update also brings some big changes to the platform’s keyboard, adding next word suggestions specific to both the user and recipient, as well as the ability to send pictures, audio messages and videos via a simple gesture. Once they’ve installed the update, users will also be able to use third party keyboards – including popular Android crossovers like Swype and SwiftKey.

Elsewhere, there are small tweaks to the App Store, better Photos and iCloud integration, improvements to Siri, and an added ability to instantly reply to messages without having to leave the app you’re currently using. iOS 8 also brings Notification widgets for third-party apps, as well as third-party app support for the Touch ID fingerprint sensors in the iPhones 5s, 6 and 6 Plus.

Some of the most significant changes have been made behind the curtains, with the new release bringing tools that improve communication between apps, paving the way for more complex iOS game graphics, and introducing a whole new programming language known as Swift.

The company's newly announced iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will run on the new software, but if you have an iPhone 4s or newer, or own an iPad 2 onwards, you can download the update starting today (if you don't get a notification, just navigate to Settings>General>Software Update). You can read more about iOS 8 in our coverage of the software’s announcement.

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