Apple already released the second beta version of iOS 8.1, its first major update for iOS 8 that’s expected to bring various important features advertised for iOS 8, but which were not part of Apple’s initial software release. Ars Technica has listed the main features coming in iOS 8.1, which is expected to be made available to users later this month, likely following Apple’s iPad and Mac event.
Some of the things iOS 8.1 will bring will be device-specific (at least at first), such as the Apple Pay support for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and likely for the iPad Air 2, as well as the Touch ID support for the upcoming tablet. Others will be more generic and will reach all iOS 8-compatible devices, including Handoff features, iCloud Drive and bug fixes.
Apple Pay will be available to previous iOS devices including iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5, but only once the Apple Watch is released, as these devices will have to be connected to a Watch to make contactless payments.
Most Handoff (continuity) features already work on iOS 8 and Macs running a Yosemite beta version (which is also nearing its official launch,) except for SMS messages. Once iOS 8.1 and Yosemite are released, users will be able to deal with incoming and outgoing SMS messages directly from a Mac that’s in proximity of an iPhone on top of iMessages.
iCloud Drive is also a feature that’s not exactly available to iOS 8 and Mac users, but should be “fixed” once iOS 8.1 and Yosemite are released (it’s likely the two updates will be released simultaneously) – the feature doesn’t need iOS 8.1, but activating it before Yosemite is released may negatively impact your iOS and Mac experience.
As with any other iOS x.1 update, iOS 8.1 should bring plenty of stability and bug fixes, which may be more important than ever this year for Apple. iOS 8 adoption has stagnated following the many issues that surrounded the iOS 8 launch and subsequent minor updates, and Apple is expected to further patch things in iOS 8.1 to convince more people to jump on iOS 8. One important category of users that might be worried about upgrading to iOS 8 is made of iPhone 4s and/or iPad 2 owners who’re dealing with various iOS 8 performance problems.
The company is also expected to release iOS 8.2 and iOS 8.3 in the future.