Apple’s iOS 8.1 update is now available to download. The biggest addition is the new Apple Pay service which goes live today alongside iOS 8.1. Apple Pay will allow iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3 owners to pay for goods within compatible apps by simply swiping a finger with Touch ID. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners will also be able to use their phones to tap card readers in participating stores to pay for goods using a combination of Touch ID and NFC. Apple Pay integrates into the existing Passbook feature on iOS 8.1, allowing you to setup and store credit and debit cards.
Apple Pay is available in the US today, and is expected to be made available in additional countries next year. More than 220,000 stores in the US will accept the contactless payments, including Nike, Mc Donalds, Office Depot, and many more. Airbnb, Uber, and Groupon are among the many supporting Apple Pay within apps at launch.
SMS from a Mac or iPad using your iPhone
Aside from Apple Pay, iOS 8.1 also supports all of the new Continuity features to let Macs work better together with iPhones and iPads. SMS from any device is now supported in iOS 8.1 and OS X Yosemite, allowing iPad or Mac owners to text friends without picking up their iPhones. This is particularly useful for reaching friends who aren’t using iMessage. iOS 8.1 also adds a new instant hotspot feature that will let iPads or Macs connect to an iPhone personal hotspot automatically if Wi-Fi isn’t in range.
Elsewhere, Apple is making some photos improvements in iOS 8.1. A new "recently added" photo view in iOS 8 has been replaced with the more familiar Camera Roll following user complaints. iCloud Photo Library is also getting updated in iOS 8.1, allowing iPhone and iPad users to store all their photos in the cloud with just a smaller version available on devices. This should help with storage issues, and could avoid future problems with large iOS updates.
Bug fixes should help with iOS 8 headaches
iOS 8.1 will also include the usual bug fixes and improvements to what has been a rather rocky release of iOS 8. Frequent crashing apps have plagued iPhone and iPad users, and Apple botched an early iOS 8.0.1 update that left thousands of devices with disabled cell service. Apple also had to delay the launch of its HealthKit apps after a last minute bug was discovered. iOS 8.1 should help ease some of the issues and Apple will be hoping it will improve adoption rates for its latest mobile OS.