Just over a month after its initial launch, iOS 8 today received its first significant version update with the debut of iOS 8.1, which brings several promised features to iPhones and iPads.
The biggest of those may well be Apple Pay, which is the company’s NFC-based payment system. You’ll be able to hold your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, or the new iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 which will be heading our way soon, near a contactless reader at a retail shop to send a payment using a stored credit card or account – provided you’re State-side.
Additionally, Apple Pay will be useful for online shopping as well, letting you pay for an Uber car ride or purchase items from various stores using the Touch ID sensor for verification. They’d better work on rolling it out everywhere else sooner rather than later.
But for many wider Apple ecosystem vets, the more useful iOS 8.1 addition may be that of Continuity, which pairs with features in the newly-released OS X Yosemite to let you share content and functionality between your iOS device and Mac.
With Continuity, you can use Handoff to pass text, links, files, and more between your Apple devices, letting you start writing an email on the go and then finish it on your computer, for example. You can also answer calls on your Mac and send SMS and MMS messages from the Mac. And you can use your iPhone’s cell service to create a Personal Hotspot for use by your iPad or Mac.
Additionally, iOS 8.1 brings back the Camera Roll in Photos and adds a beta of the iCloud Photo Library, plus fixes an array of bugs ranging from crashes to connectivity issues.
All told, it sounds like a very significant update. With no early signs of hidden problems (as happened with iOS 8.0.1 last month), a prompt download of the 126MB update seems prudent.