Events
Event Date Location

CIO Perspectives Boston 

08/06/2014 Boston MA

IT Roadmap Conference & Expo

08/06/2014 New York NY

OMMA mCommerce

08/07/2014 New York New York

CIO 100 Symposium & Awards

08/17/2014 - 08/19/2014 Rancho Palos Verdes CA

Mobile Insider Summit

08/17/2014 - 08/20/2014 LAKE TAHOE CA

Social Media Insider Summit

08/20/2014 - 08/23/2014 LAKE TAHOE CA

iMedia Agency Summit (Malaysia)

08/25/2014 - 08/27/2014 Kota Kinabalu Malaysia

The 6th annual Mobile World

08/28/2014 Seoul

iMedia Brand Summit (Australia)

09/01/2014 - 09/03/2014 Gold Coast Australia

iMedia Brand Summit (India)

09/03/2014 - 09/05/2014 Adao Waddo, Salcette India

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Tech Marketing Guide to B2B

News, video, events, blogs about Social Media Marketing for high tech business-to-business from IDG Knowledge Hub.

Tech Marketing Guide to B2B

News, video, events, ideas and blogs about Digital Media Marketing for high tech business-to-business from IDG Knowledge Hub.

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News, video, events, ideas and blogs about Advertising and Marketing for high tech business-to-business from IDG Knowledge Hub.

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News, video, events, ideas and blogs about Lead Generation Marketing for high tech business-to-business from IDG Knowledge Hub.

Tech Marketer's Guide to B2B

News, video, events, blogs about Technology Business and Marketing for high tech business-to-business from IDG Knowledge Hub.

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Apple will ‘set the world on fire’ with iPhone 6 sales

IDG News Service

Apple will “set the world on fire” with “unbelievably massive” sales of the next iPhone, analysts said this week.

“As well as they did with the iPhone this quarter, with all the rumors of a new iPhone [this fall], I was impressed with the results,” Van Baker of Gartner said about Apple’s second-quarter earnings released on Tuesday. “That tells me when the next generation comes out, they’re going to set the world on fire.”

On July 22, Apple reported it sold 35.2 million iPhones in the second quarter, a 13% increase over the same period the year before. The number was under Wall Street’s expectations of 35.8 million, but still surprising to some, Baker included, because sales have tended to droop in the quarter prior to the debut of new models.

Virtually everyone expects Apple to unveil at least one new iPhone, possibly several, in September and the following months, if only because of a rising tide of component leaks from sieve-like Asian suppliers. That smartphone, dubbed “iPhone 6″ by outsiders in lieu of any formal acknowledgement by Apple, will reportedly boast a larger 4.7-in. screen, with an even-bigger second model sporting a 5.5-in. display possible at the same time, or more likely, later this year or early in 2015.

Pent-up demand for a larger screen from Apple will trigger a buying spree, analysts have predicted. Smartphones with bigger displays are increasing their share of the total market, and are especially important in countries like China, where they serve as both phone and tablet substitute. Apple boosted the size of the iPhone’s display from 3.5-in. to 4-in. with 2012′s iPhone 5, but contrary to some expectations, used the same-sized screen for last year’s iPhone 5S and 5C.

And China, as Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly said, is the company’s best growth opportunity.

“But there’s a lot of pent-up demand among developed economies for a bigger iPhone, too,” Baker contended. “I think [the iPhone 6] is poised to do extremely well.”

Other long-time Apple watchers were on board, too. “I am extremely bullish about the iPhone 6,” said Ben Thompson, an independent analyst who covers the technology field from his Stratechery website. “It’s going to be unbelievably massive.”

Apple seems to be expecting the same: In the second quarter, it committed a near-record $21 billion to third-party manufacturers for components and equipment as they presumably geared up for a string of new product announcements this fall.

Those commitments, as Apple has regularly laid out in its quarterly filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, are pre-payments for outsourced manufacturing and the components those companies use to assemble products. As of the end of June, Apple had $15.4 billion in such commitments.

Also off the balance sheet was an additional $5.6 billion in obligations, mostly for acquiring manufacturing and tooling equipment put in place by Apple’s component makers and product assemblers.

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Worldwide Tablet Market Grows 11% in Second Quarter on Shipments from a Wide Range of Vendors, According to IDC

IDC PMS4colorversion  300x99 Worldwide Tablet Market Grows 11% in Second Quarter on Shipments from a Wide Range of Vendors, According to IDC

The worldwide tablet grew 11.0% year over year in the second quarter of 2014 (2Q14) with shipments reaching 49.3 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. Although shipments declined sequentially from 1Q14 by -1.5%, IDC believes the market will experience positive but slower growth in 2014 compared to the previous year.

“As we indicated last quarter, the market is still being impacted by the rise of large-screen smartphones and longer than anticipated ownership cycles,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC Research Director for Tablets. “We can also attribute the market deceleration to slow commercial adoption of tablets. Despite this trend, we believe that stronger commercial demand for tablets in the second half of 2014 will help the market grow and that we will see more enterprise-specific offerings, as illustrated by the Apple and IBM partnership, come to market.”

Despite declining shipments of its iPad product line, Apple managed to maintain its lead in the worldwide tablet market, shipping 13.3 million units in the second quarter. Following a strong first quarter, Samsung struggled to maintain its momentum and saw its market share slip to 17.2% in the second quarter.  Lenovo continued to climb the rankings ladder, surpassing ASUS and moving into the third spot in the tablet market, shipping 2.4 million units and grabbing 4.9% markets share. The top 5 was rounded out by ASUS and Acer, with 4.6% and 2.0% share, respectively. Share outside the top 5 grew to an all time high as more and more vendors have made inroads in the tablet space. By now most traditional PC and phone vendors have at least one tablet model in the market, and strategies to move bundled devices and promotional offerings have slowly gained momentum.

“Until recently, Apple, and to a lesser extent Samsung, have been sitting at the top of the market, minimally impacted by the progress from competitors,” said Jitesh Ubrani, Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. “Now we are seeing growth amongst the smaller vendors and a levelling of shares across more vendors as the market enters a new phase.”

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Apple gets patent for 3-year-old smartwatch design labeled ‘iTime’

IDG News Service

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office served up further evidence on Tuesday that Apple is designing a smartwatch when it awarded the company a patent for a wrist-worn gadget with a touchscreen and ability to communicate with a smartphone.

“The invention pertains to an electronic wristwatch,” wrote Apple in the filing for U.S. Patent 8,787,006, which was submitted in July 2011 but made public on Tuesday.

The patent doesn’t give much away about any commercial product that might be planned by Apple, but it does provide an insight into the way the company was thinking in 2011.

It describes “an electronic wristband to be worn on a wrist of a user” that has a receptacle for a “mobile electronic device.” That mobile device is a small display module that can be clipped into the wristband when needed.

The display portion is a mobile device in its own right and functions while not clipped into the wristband. Once connected together, the wristband and mobile device form a smartwatch that can communicate with a second device such as a phone, tablet PC or desktop computer. the patent said.

The wristband might include haptic sensors that allow for control with gestures “with one’s arm or wrist.”

“For example, the gesture might be a horizontal movement for one user input option (e.g., decline incoming call), and might be a vertical movement for another user input option (e.g., accept incoming call). For example, the gesture might be a single shake (or bounce, tap, etc.) of the user’s wrist for one user input option (e.g., accept incoming call), and might be a pair of shakes (or bounces, taps, etc.) for another user input option (e.g., decline incoming call),” the filing reads

In some of the drawings that make up the patent, the watch device is labeled “iTime,” although that name isn’t claimed as a trademark with the USPTO.

“Portable electronic devices are commonplace today,” Apple wrote in the document. “In some cases these portable electronic devices can be carried by a user with relative ease, placed in a pocket of user’s clothing, or clipped onto the user or the user’s clothing. Some portable electronic devices are small enough to be worn by a user.”

“Additionally, accessories have been utilized to provide additional functionality to portable electronic devices,” it said. “There are, however, continuing needs to make portable electronic devices smaller and more portable. There is also a continuing need to enhance functionalities of portable electronic devices.”

While Apple hasn’t publically acknowledged it is working on a smartwatch, a number of leaks from the company have suggested one is under development.

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Google continues to play it close to the vest on mobile ads

VentureBeats

Before Google’s earnings announcement today, many investors and analysts were hoping for details on progress in building and monetizing the massive corporation’s mobile ad network.

It’s an area of Google’s business that continues to see a lack of sunlight, even though it may be the most promising sector that the company’s playing in today.

True to form, in its earnings announcement today, Google again reported mobile ad revenues in a bundle with other ad business lines. Paid clicks from ads served through Google’s AdSense for Search, AdSense for Content, and AdMob businesses (that’s the mobile part) increased approximately 9 percent over the second quarter of 2013 but decreased 5 percent over the first quarter of 2014.

But we really don’t know much about the volume, price, or profitably of Google’s mobile ad business.

“Google has tended to take a holistic approach to advertising,” IDC analyst Scott Strawn tells VentureBeat. They tend to talk about ad results in terms of many different devices, Strawn says, but he wishes the company would talk about mobile cost-per-click numbers specifically.

“They’ve been successful in search and display, but in fact, over time, monitization on mobile should be as good or better,” says IDC analyst Scott Strawn. “But we haven’t really seen more detail, and that’s what’s needed to give investors a greater level of comfort.”

And, of course, when a public company is vague on the results of a business line, the natural reaction is to wonder if it’s hiding an area of poor performance. That skepticism may be warranted. Strawn says he’s talked to Googlers who have said openly that Google was “caught off guard” by the rapid growth in demand for mobile ads.

And, Gartner analyst Andrew Frank says, the industry reasons to believe that Google is facing challenges in mobile.

“It’s an interesting place to watch, especially with the tradeoff about volumes going forward and pricing pressure on clicks, which have been fairly volatile,” Frank told VentureBeat.

Frank explains that the mobile ad market is ruled by a supply-and-demand dynamic: The number of mobile users is going up, but the amount of mobile ad inventory may be increasing even faster. When there’s more inventory than people to view or click, the price of the inventory goes down, and mobile ad profits decline.

Google CFO Pachette said during the earnings call that he “took issue” with a question from an analyst concerning specific results of the mobile ad business.

The research shows that consumers view content on multiple screens, Pachette said. “They might start something on a smartphone or tablet then watch the rest on a smart TV.”

“So it becomes a question of how much attribution to give to each of these elements in the chain of views moving toward a purchase,” Pachette said. “What really matters is that you have a footprint of all of these devices.”

Google doesn’t feel the strong sense of urgency that Facebook felt when it dove into the mobile ad business. Facebook has been successful in mobile ads, the numbers show. Two years ago, people were criticizing the social network for having “no mobile strategy.” Today, mobile ads contribute half of Facebook’s revenue.

Google, meanwhile, is taking its time in what it sees as a developing market. “There’s long runway going forward,” Pachette said today. “I don’t think we have to fear the saturation of smartphone penetration for a while.”

What businesses need to know about Touch ID and iOS 8

CITEworld

Apple introduced Touch ID along with the iPhone 5s and iOS 7 last fall. At launch, the technology was limited to two purposes – acting as a shortcut for a user’s passcode to unlock the device, and acting as an alternative to a user’s Apple ID and password when making purchases from Apple’s iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore.

With iOS 8, Apple is expanding the capabilities of Touch ID significantly by giving developers the APIs needed to use Touch ID as an authentication/authorization method in third-party apps. This is a powerful expansion of the technology, and one that could be applied to a wide range of different types of apps.

It’s easy to see the value of Touch ID in mobile commerce apps, as well as in mobile banking apps - PayPal was one of the first companies to express an interest in integrating Touch ID into its app and services. Password managers like 1Password from Agilebits are also prime uses for the technology. Apps that store confidential or sensitive information — like health and medical apps — can also benefit from integrating Touch ID.

Business and productivity apps, especially those designed to provide secure access to a company’s corporate resources and cloud services, are also areas where Touch ID could be implemented. That raises questions for IT leaders in many organizations to ask themselves:

  • Is it a good idea to build Touch ID into our internal apps?
  • Should we allow, encourage, or support Touch ID in apps from cloud storage and collaboration vendors?
  • Are there reasons to avoid Touch ID, either in enterprise or third-party apps?

Given that it seems almost certain that Apple will expand the well-received TouchID to any additional iOS devices launching later this year, these aren’t hypothetical questions. They’re questions that organizations will likely face as soon as Apple releases iOS 8 this fall.

Touch ID and the Secure Enclave

At a hardware level, Touch ID includes two primary components: Touch ID Sensor, the fingerprint scanner built into the device’s home button, and the Secure Enclave, a coprocessor that is integrated into Apple’s A7 chip. The Secure Enclave is connected to the Touch ID Sensor and is responsible for processing fingerprint scans. Each Secure Enclave has a unique identity (UID) provisioned during the A7′s fabrication process that cannot be accessed by other iOS components, and that is unknown even to Apple.

Touch ID is actually just one function of the Secure Enclave. Additional functions like cryptographic protection for data protection key management were identified in the iOS Security Guide that Apple released in February. Additional details were discussed during the Keychain and Authentication with Touch ID session at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month, which can be streamedfrom Apple’s developer site (and a PDF of the presentation slides from the session is also available). Going forward, it seems clear that the Secure Enclave will be a key part of iOS security functions, beyond merely handling fingerprint identification.

It’s also worth mentioning that although the Touch ID Sensor is currently only available on the iPhone 5s, the additional functionality of the Secure Enclave is built into any iOS device with an A7 chip, which currently includes the iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina Display in addition to the iPhone 5c, opening the door for more security features down the line.

Touch ID and a user’s passcode

Apple hasn’t envisioned Touch ID as a standalone biometric authentication system (or part of a multi-factor authentication solution). That means that it isn’t a replacement for a passcode. An iPhone 5s user must supply a passcode to enable Touch ID and once enabled, Touch ID is effectively a shortcut or pointer to a passcode.

The value that Touch ID offers is that it boasts the benefits of a complex passcode without the hassle of typing it dozens or hundreds of times a day – it makes a complex passcode easier to use.

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Wall Street Beat: Transition to mobile, cloud hits tech earnings

IDG News Service

With Google, IBM, SAP, Intel and other tech titans reporting earnings this week, the focus is again on mobile and cloud technology. The general trend appears to be that the further a tech vendor has moved away from its legacy desktop-oriented products, the better its earnings are.

IBM has launched ambitious cloud and mobile initiatives—but the resulting products are not quite fully baked. IBM officials themselves acknowledge as much, with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty talking about “positioning ourselves for growth over the long term” in the company’s earnings release Thursday.

Earlier this year, IBM announced a global competition to encourage developers to create mobile consumer and business apps powered by its Watson supercomputer platform. Just this week, IBM and Apple said they are teaming up to create business apps for Apple’s mobile phones and tablets.

But such projects have a ways to go before they reach fruition. Meanwhile, IBM revenue growth is flagging. Its second-quarter revenue was US$24.4 billion, down 2 percent year over year. Profit jumped 28 percent year over year, to $4.1 billion, but that was mainly because it compares to a quarter when net earnings were unusually low due to a billion-dollar charge the company took for workforce rebalancing.

Though both revenue and profit beat analyst forecasts, at first blush investors appeared disappointed, driving down IBM’s share price overnight. IBM shares gained back ground Friday but in early afternoon trading were still down by $0.60 at $191.89.

SAP seems to be riding the transition to cloud while incrementally boosting revenue. The company Thursday reported that, though software revenue continued to decline, cloud-based sales rose.

The maker of ERP (enterprise-resource-planning) software reported that revenue rose by 2 percent year over year to €4.2 billion (US$5.7 billion) in the quarter. SAP’s cloud subscription and support revenue was €241 million in the quarter, up 52 percent. Due to provisions for its patent dispute with software maker Versata, however, its net profit dropped year on year by 23 percent to €556 million.

As usual, Google was the earnings star of the week, reporting Thursday that its core advertising business fueled a 22 percent year-over-year increase in sales, to $15.96 billion. Profit was $3.42 billion, up almost 6 percent year over year.

It’s hard to say how much of this is due to mobile, since Google does not break out numbers for mobile and desktop ads. However, Google has been working on a range of projects designed to get its software on mobile devices. Many of those projects are years away from contributing significantly to the company’s bottom line, so for now the company essentially runs on its tremendous ad business.

One issue is that ads on mobile devices cost less than ads for other platforms and as a result, even as the company successfully makes the transition to mobile, the average cost-per-click of its ads went down by about 7 percent last quarter. Google officials say that as mobile computing becomes more imbued with work and recreation, ads on mobile platforms will become more remunerative.

Investors seem to agree, as Google shares rose Friday by $21.09 to hit $601.90 in afternoon trading.

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China has more people going online with a mobile device than a PC

Reuters

The number of China’s internet users going online with a mobile device – such as a smartphone or tablet – has overtaken those doing so with a personal computer (PC) for the first time, said the official China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) on Monday.

China’s total number of internet users crept up 2.3 percent to 632 million by the end of June, from 618 million at the end of 2013, said CNNIC’s internet development statistics report.

Of those, 527 million – or 83 percent – went online via mobile. Those doing so with a PC made up 81 percent the total.

China is the largest smartphone market in the world, and by 2018 is likely to account for nearly one-third of the expected 1.8 billion smartphones shipped that year, according to data firm IDC.

The increase in internet users was mainly driven by mobile, which grew 5.4 percent from the 500 million users at the end of 2013. The number of mobile shoppers surged 42 percent from December through June.

Chinese e-commerce is dominated by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd [IPO-BABA.N], which is preparing for a mammoth initial public offering widely expected to take place in September.

Alibaba’s biggest competitor is JD.com Inc, which specializes in business-to-customer e-commerce in a similar vein to Amazon.com Inc, and is 17.6 percent owned by Alibaba arch-rival Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Other online mobile services with rapid growth from the end of 2013 include music, video,gaming, search, and group-buying, all of which experienced double-digit increases.

The fastest growing services were mobile payment, where users shot up 63.4 percent, online banking, with a 56.4 percent rise, and mobile travel booking, which was up 65.4 percent.

But not all internet activity saw growth. Users of microblogs such as Tencent Weibo and that offered by Weibo Corp fell for the second six-month period in a row, by 1.9 percent to 275 million.

They numbered 331 million at the end of June last year before the government in September started clamping down on “online rumors” which it said threatened social stability.

Blockbuster mobile messaging apps such as Tencent’s WeChat have since become venues of choice for users who want to express views without fear of retribution.

Surface survives Microsoft cuts, but tablet strategy remains muddled

IDG News Service

As Microsoft announced its largest layoffs in its 39-year history — while saying it would press forward with its in-house Surface — analysts contended that the firm still hasn’t clearly stated its tablet strategy.

Earlier today, Microsoft said it would cut up to 18,000 jobs, or 14% of its work force, with the bulk of those layoffs coming from streamlining efforts after acquiring much of phone-maker Nokia.

The layoffs begin immediately, but as many as 5,000 will be left on tenterhooks for up to a year before knowing whether their jobs are safe.

Along with the layoffs, Microsoft also signaled an end to its experiment with Android, which powered the Nokia X series of smartphones. Nokia had kicked off the line prior to the deal’s completion.

“We plan to shift select Nokia X product designs to become Lumia products running Windows,” CEO Satya Nadella said in a message to employees.

Surface, the tablet-one-moment-notebook-the-next hardware that Microsoft debuted two years ago, will survive, the company made clear.

“With a set of changes already implemented earlier this year in these teams, this means there will be limited change for the Surface, Xbox hardware, PPI/meetings or next generation teams,” wrote Stephen Elop, the head of Microsoft’s device division, in a separate, much longer email to workers.

Nor, apparently, has Microsoft’s Surface strategy changed.

“More broadly across the Devices team, we will continue our efforts to bring iconic tablets to market in ways that complement our OEM partners, power the next generation of meetings [and] devices, and thoughtfully expand Windows with new interaction models,” Elop said.

While some on Wall Street have urged Microsoft to dump the Surface — and the Xbox for that matter — to focus on more profitable services and software, industry analysts contacted by Computerworld today weren’t surprised that the tablet/notebook survived the cuts.

“I’m not surprised that Microsoft is keeping Surface,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, in an email today. “While it doesn’t fit 100% with ‘mobility and cloud,’ it’s close enough to keep it as it supports them driving their expanded definition of productivity by tying hardware, software and services.”

Others agreed.

“No, I didn’t think that they’d dump it,” echoed Wes Miller of Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash. research firm that focuses on the moves of nearby Microsoft. “Some people thought Microsoft would use this opportunity to ax the Surface, but it’s a big long-term bet for them. And the Surface Pro 3 sure seems to be a lot more popular than the earlier models.”

Microsoft started selling the third-generation Surface Pro 3 – an Intel processor-powered device that runs Windows 8.1 — last month, and will finish rolling out the line in two weeks. The Surface Pro 3 starts at $799, but costs $929 with a keyboard, a necessary add-on to fit the notebook replacement role that Microsoft markets.

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Delay Of Large iPhone Is The Best Possible News For Samsung

Business Insider

Until yesterday, Samsung’s worst nightmare was coming true.

Sales are down 10%, in large part because cheap Chinese Android knockoffs are cannibalizing the low end of Samsung’s mobile-phone shares. Apple’s sales are accelerating while Samsung’s are faltering. And Samsung’s one advantage over Apple — the fact that it offers two large-screen phones in the high-end market where Apple has none — is about to be wiped out by Apple’s new iPhone 6 phablet, expected in September.

And some consumers are likely holding off on buying large-screen phones as they wait to see what Apple will unveil in its fall launch. Samsung has cut its orders for parts for its Galaxy line in Q3 2014.

In short, Apple had Samsung exactly where it wants it: Losing sales, poised to lose share, and with consumers hesitant about buying a new Samsung until they see what iPhone 6 looks like.

But then last night we learned that Apple may not, after all, have a 5.5 inch version of the iPhone 6 ready to go. The 4.7-inch version is still coming, but the super-size iPhone 6 looks like it’s on hold.

As the comparison chart above showing the iPhone lineup next to Samsung’s products tells, a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 (reportedly is ready for launch) is only a tad larger than the iPhone 5S. It’s significantly smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note 3. If Apple only launches a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 in September, then Samsung will remain as the premier phablet maker for people who want large screens.

Apple was poised to deliver a killer blow to Samsung. But now it seems Samsung has gotten a reprieve.

The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 is delayed because it is turning out to be harder to manufacture because of touch-sensitivity issues near the edge of the phone. The phablet iPhone 6 may not arrive until next year, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. That explains why, for months, we’ve been seeing leaked iPhone 6 parts for a 4.7-inch phone but not a 5.5-inch phone.

This, basically, is the best news Samsung could have hoped to hear. It now has an extended window to persuade people who need to upgrade their phones that in fact, for maybe as much as the next six months, if you want a big phone you gotta go to Samsung — because Apple doesn’t have a really big phone.

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The Four Most Surprisingly Useful Features In iOS 8

Fast Company

It’s tempting to think of iOS 8 as a more polished version of iOS 7; when you first install the update, there’s no visual cue that anything is different. But iOS 8 packs a long list of new features, some of which we’re still digging up weeks later. But what else is really new and worthwhile here? After thoroughly testing out the new OS, there were four such features that really stuck out.

1) Audio Messaging

I’m not fond of dictating my texts, yet I find the new quick audio feature in Messages to be addictive.

Activated by holding down the microphone icon, the feature immediately starts recording an audio message, which is then sent by sliding your finger up on the screen. If you misspoke (or are having second thoughts about drunk voice-texting your ex) you can use the familiar leftward swipe gesture to delete it before it sends. I suspect that once people try it, the tap, hold, and flick-to-send routine will become familiar.

Sending audio text messages isn’t for every situation–it’s still awkward to dictate messages while standing in line at Chipotle–but there are a lot of lazy situations in which it’s perfect. I found using it around the house, audio being a lot more convenient when doing chores. And because it doesn’t transcribe the note into text like Siri, there’s no need to correct spelling, which is especially nice when you’re behind the wheel.

2) Predictive Texting

Making texting even easier is the predictive text capabilities of the new keyboard. It’s one of the most noticeable new additions, thanks to the hard-to-miss row of words it appends right above the keyboard.

The QuickType feature–which lets you a few letters and tapping a word, typing a few more letters and selecting another–is a toss-up. Some might like it, while others might ignore it in favor of the way they’ve always typed on iOS. The place really comes in handy, however, is when replying to incoming messages.

For example, my wife sent me a few questions from the store and instead of having to type the answers, the choices were pre-populated. For the times messages are utilitarian in nature, the predictive text will be your best friend. Answering questions will be a delight, plus the predictive element learns how you speak to different contacts and tailors the responses accordingly. In this regard, messaging with iOS 7 will feel like a huge chore once you’ve used iOS 8.

3) Better App Store

After six years the App Store has seen its fair share of criticism. It’s also pretty clear the App Store is too big too do a good job and make everyone happy. The updates made to it in iOS 8, however, are pretty nice.

Visually, icons are bigger and items are spaced a little better, but overall it remains similar. The biggest complaint–which Apple is trying to address–is discoverability. Third-party apps make the iPhone experience. In iOS 8, surfacing new apps in the App Store feels a lot easier.

Google’s Play store has a similar problem: Once you highlight dozens of apps in different ways, the results can be overwhelming for users. One way the iOS 8 App Store tries to change this is by making it easier to drill down into specific interests.

There’s a new “explore” button now which combines previous efforts into one area. Front and center under explore is apps “Popular Near Me,” while the categories underneath help to separate the sub-division out more. Tapping “Music,” for example, produced a long list including “Apps For Learning Music,” “Lyrics,” and “Radio.” All very different types of apps that still fall under the broad music category.

Another subtle, but helpful addition is under the search button. Without typing anything, the first thing you see is a list of trending searches. This has already proved useful, not to mention interesting. Revision: Once you search for something, the store displays a list of items related to your query, further improving app discovery.

The tweaks might seem small, but they could be enough to help people find apps they might not have otherwise.

4) Spotlight

Spotlight finally feels like it’s reached the level of maturity it was destined for since its introduction. Integrating things like App Store searches, iTunes music, nearby places, and news rounds out thesearch box nicely.

In practice, it’s the first time I feel like I have a go-to place on iOS to quickly type things and at least get close enough to what I’m looking for. I was concerned Safari had too many desktop metaphors to be a useful mobile browser, but in combination with Spotlight’s new capabilities, the two work well together.

Spotlight in iOS 7 often came up short, focusing mostly onlocal search. Now in iOS 8, if I search for an app I need, it doesn’t matter if it’s on the phone or not because Spotlight will find it on the app store if it’s not local. Same for music, it doesn’t matter if a song is in my library or not because searching will still find it in iTunes.

The important improvement in Spotlight is that I don’t have to think about whether I need to search online or locally on my phone because the two are much more intertwined now.

I’d still love to see more refinement and work on Spotlight going forward, but in practice it’s much more useful than it’s ever been before.

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