Many were predicting that Apple would unveil a prototype of the iPhone 6 at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference. Unfortunately, no new hardware was on show.

However, we did get a look at IOS 8, the new operating system that the iPhone 6 will run, and which will be available for the newer Apple phones, iPods and tablets. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, IOS 8 will be available in the Autumn of 2014. New iPhones and iPads are expected to be released shortly after the release of IOS 8.

We also saw Apple’s new operating system for the Mac, OS X Yosemite. Not much is yet known regarding new features of this OS, but there is the ability for a Mac running it to “detect” an iPhone, and allow users to respond to calls and messages from the screen of their Macs.

What are the key new features of IOS 8?

Besides the usual ‘skin’ refresh, IOS 8 will also include:

  • Developers access to previously locked parts of the IOS operating system, such as the keyboard, fingerprint scanner and cloud storage. It meant that you could not download and use alternative keyboards, and only apps developed by Apple had access to iCloud and the fingerprint scanner. This change should see a deluge of new and interesting apps being developed for IOS 8.
  • Apps will now be able to “talk to each other” in a much better fashion. For example, you’ll be able to apply an instagram filter to your photo and tweet it, all without leaving the photos app. Alternatively, you can now make modifications to native apps, such as downloading a “share on pinterest” button and adding it to Safari. This is a big development, as previously there were a very limited number of third party companies that were integrated into IOS, such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • iCloud is getting several improvements, as Apple tries to take on Dropbox and Google Drive in the cloud based document storage and syncing spheres. iCloud will now include a visible file system where you can clearly see which files you have stored there, and open them in capable apps on your portable device or Mac.
  • iMessage will see several new features under IOS 8. You will be able to send audio and video messages over wi-fi or a mobile data network, which will expire after two minutes unless you choose to keep them. There are also improvements to group chats.
  • Creators of internet connected home devices, such as door-locks, thermostats and lightbulbs, will be able to connect to HomeKit and Siri. HomeKit is a new service that will allow iPhone owners to manage their domestic devices remotely – using Siri to do so.
  • Apple’s new ‘healthkit’ – a centralised app to contain all of the health and fitness statistics gathered by other apps.
  • Apple is also introducing a new programming language for developers to write apps for IOS, named Swift. It is intended to be quicker and easier to learn.

With these changes, it seems that Apple is trying to ensure that IOS is still as appealing as possible to third party app developers. Previously, IOS was quite a strict and limited environment. Compared with Android, there were a lot of limitations on what could be done regarding app development.