Apple spent a significant amount of its WWDC 2014 keynote focusing on iOS 8, which takes the flat iOS 7 design and only rounds it out with new features
That means instead of a dramatic redesign, you can expect this year's mobile operating system update to tie everything together with the overarching theme of "convergence."
iOS 8 will feature tighter Mac integration while loosening the restrictions on Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensor. New software kits are also bringing once fragmented security and health gadgets together.
While there was no mention of an iPhone 6 or an iWatch at this year's WWDC, Apple seems to be setting the stage for a new wearable device by the time iOS 8 is ready for public release. Release date
Developers can get their hands on iOS 8 right now, but everyone else has to wait a few months for the official release date, estimated to be a little over three months from now.
History has taught us that iOS updates exit beta as soon as the new iPhone is ready to launch, and that has happened in September in years past.
Apple is making quite a few changes in its upgrade to iOS 8, but there's no reason to think that it won't be joined by the iPhone 6 and "new product categories" like an iWatch this fall.
When it comes to iOS 8 compatibility, Apple requires an iPhone 4S or newer and iPad 2 or newer to update to the latest software. Only the iPhone 4 is cut from the list.
Both the iPads mini and iPad mini 2 tablets and the forever alone iPod touch 5th generation are also going to work with the new iOS, just like they did with iOS 7. No one besides 2010's iPhone 4 is left behind.
It's important to note that all of these iDevices use Bluetooth 4.0, a low-energy version of the antenna that many wearables require for constant syncing.
Is that be an iWatch hint? Maybe. Either way, the compatible iPhones and iPads are powerful enough to handle Bluetooth-connected accessories and durable enough to take on Apple's tweaked software.
Touch ID for all
Up until now, Apple's fingerprint scanner has been limited to bypassing the lockscreen and buying iTunes Store content, but iOS 8 changes all of that as app developers get access to the five-digit login tool.
All sorts of apps will be able to use the biometric scanning home button instead of pesky passcodes. So far this only applies to the iPhone 5S, but Touch ID is likely to come to the iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2 later this year.
At WWDC, banking service Mint.com illustrated how third-party Touch ID authentication will expand beyond its lockscreen and iTunes confines.
Imagine, "Forget password" becoming a thing of the past as the pores in your fingertips act as a much more unique method of protecting your valuable data.
Of course, Apple went out of its way to say that even though you trust many app developers with your bank account data, they won't have access to your biometric information. It's locked away in the A7 processor.
SMS and phone calls on Mac
iMessages has been a wonderful cross-compatible tool for chatting on iOS devices and Macs - at least until you try to leave your iPhone behind for an Android.
Apple deserters, however, may be lured back to iOS 8 with SMS and voice calls being folded into iPads and Macs, just like blue iMessages currently pop up on Apple tablets and computers.
It's a pain to have to fetch your phone for a single SMS from an Android user, especially when you're sitting in front of a 13-inch MacBook Air screen that's fully capable of handling text messages and phone calls.
Of course, enabling text messages and phone calls to a Mac requires upgrading it to the newly announced OS X Yosemite, but that's a piece of cake since it'll be free and arrive around the same time as iOS 8.
Handoff and WiFi hotspot
iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite are going to be joined at the hip with the Handoff feature that lets you pick up where you left off between devices.
Starting a project or email on an iPad or iPhone will let you finish the task on a Mac with no annoying overlap. There's no need to reopen windows or rewrite text on the computer. And it works going the other way too.
What if you don't have access to the internet on your computer or iPad to get the job done? That's where the Instant HotSpot feature will come into play, easing the messy personal hotspot setup of iOS 7.
Group messages with voice and video
Group messages is also being enhanced for iOS 8 thanks to new features. You'll be able to add and drop people from conversations and silence non-stop incoming message annoyances via a group-specific Do Not Disturb toggle.
Sharing your location for a set period of time is also going to be a part of iMessages, essentially forking over the concept from Apple's underused
Like OS X Mavericks, these notifications can be dealt with in a few simple taps thanks to inline responses. There's no need to mess with the lock screen in order to take action right away.
iOS notifications have come a long way from taking up the entire middle of our phone screens, and iOS 8 makes them feel like even less of a nuisance.
Quicktype keyboard and extensions
Apple claims its iOS 8 keyboard is its "smartest keyboard ever," and there's no reason to doubt that since its Quicktype feature adds long-awaited predictive texting that's akin to SwiftKey and Swype.
The candidate row appears above the keyboard with three word-finishing suggestions and then next-word best guesses. It even varies depending on the app that's open to match your tone for each app, from casual iMessages to formal emails.
If someone asks you a question, Quicktype will also automatically offer choices like "Yes" and "No" and, optionally, learn your contacts to spell everyone's name correctly.
Better yet, Apple won't limit users to the pre-installed keyboard. "Extensions" finally bring Swype and open up iOS 8 to new third-party sharing options, photo editing tools, custom actions and notification center widgets.
There's always a lot of potential when a platform as large as Apple's opens up its ecosystem to outside developers. Look at what it did to the App Store.
Extensions by forward-thinking developers may be long overdue, but it'll finally be here with iOS 8.
iCloud may actually be useful
Prior to today, there was very little reason to use the ridiculously small 5GB of free space Apple included with iCloud. It was always easier to use a more capable and less expensive Dropbox account.
That all changes when iOS 8 launches alongside iCloud Drive, Apple's new rival to Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Microsoft OneDrive and the dozens of other file sharing services that have sprung up in recent years.
t still costs money over the 5GB limit, but at least more file types can be stored and synced. This includes documents, presentations, spreadsheets, PDFs and images.
What's really cool about the forthcoming iCloud-enabled iOS Photos app is that every picture and every edit is saved across all of your Apple devices automatically. Better yet, there are new tools and filters in iOS 8.
Apple didn't announce an iWatch-tied Healthbook app at WWDC, but it did unveil a more plainly named Health app and the developer-focused HealthKit API.
It's intended to bring together all of the fragmented health and fitness gadgets into one secure location, whether the fitness device deals with your heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar and cholesterol.
There's also an emergency card accessible from the lock screen, just in case.
Nike and the MayoClinic are on board with HealthKit in order to deposit health stats into the centralized Health app, and Withings' Blood Pressure Monitor was a part of Apple's WWDC presentation.
The more that existing products like the Fitbit Force and Jawbone Up24 join this initiative, the more iOS 8 users will find this to be the health equivalent to Apple's coupon and ticket stub-collecting Passbook.
Apple also plans to tie together smart home electronics with its HomeKit framework for connected devices so that you control everything without getting up off the couch.
Siri is also going to become a better listener with iOS 8 thanks to streaming voice recognition. Now the wavy lines and words that appear on screen will match what you're saying in near-real-time.
When voice search isn't feasible in a loud environment, you can turn to the more reliable iOS 8 Spotlight . Like its OS X Yosemite counterpart, it searches Wikipedia, the news, nearby places, the App Store and more.
Finding things, whether it's via Siri or Spotlight, shouldn't be a problem in iOS 8, as Apple is finally taking on Google's handy voice search.
Features being saved for iOS 9?
There's a lot going on with iOS 8, but chief among the changes Apple failed to implement is true split-screen multitasking, which Samsung and LG have offered on their Android tablets and larger phones.
Public transit directions via Apple Maps is missing in action as well, and Google Maps is benefiting the most from this. Hopefully its implementation was delayed to iOS 8.1 instead of next year's iOS 9.
Apps for photo previews and a TextEdit application, also previously rumored for WWDC 2014, didn't make an appearance either, and the status of Game Center is still unknown. Apple hasn't killed it off just yet.
As the iOS 8 beta begins to update with new features every month, there are bound to be more surprises leading up to the official release date, which is expected to happen in September.
Coupled with iPhone 6 and an iWatch, it should be enough to keep Apple users from defecting to Android, unless of course Google IO 2014 is a showstopper on June 25.
iOS 8: 10 things we want to see
So we're starting to get an idea of some of the major changes in store for iOS 8, still, there are many other things we'd like to see Apple change by the time iOS 8 rolls around later in 2014 - although in some cases we've got a sneaking suspicion Apple would disagree.
1. Change and hide default iOS apps
We'd love to be able to choose non-Apple alternatives for handling email, browsing and maps, but doubt it'll happen. However, Apple not providing the means to hide preinstalled apps you don't use is an irritant that goes back to the very first iPhone.
Even if there was a similar 'parental controls' trick for hiding apps to the one on the Apple TV, that'd be good enough.
2. A guest/child account
Apple's mantra is everyone should own their own device. That's lovely, but not everyone's pockets are as deep as those of Apple board members.
OS X-style user accounts are unlikely, but it can't be beyond Apple to provide a single-tap child account or a guest account that doesn't affect your settings and data, and doesn't retain settings or data of its own.
3. Better iOS app management
As of iOS 7, Apple automates app updates, but it should go further. Devs wrestle with iCloud app data, but this should be child's play to save and also (optionally) restore whenever you reinstall an app.
And the App Store itself should offer trials and paid version updates (rather than devs being forced to use IAP or 'replacement' apps as a workaround).
One of the weakest elements of iOS is inter-app communication. If a service bumps you to another app, you're not always returned when you've finished performing an action.
Worse, when making document edits across several apps workflow can be a nightmare with document copies in various states strewn throughout individual app sandboxes. Hopefully this is set to improve if the new API for data-sharing makes it into iOS 8. 5. Better document management
Following on from the previous point, iOS should introduce at least some kind of centralised access to documents. Right now, Dropbox is a surrogate file system because iCloud is a bunch of silos.
It's absurd that you can't easily attach documents within Mail in an OS that boasts a version number of 7. The lack of collaboration opportunities within iCloud document workflow is also disappointing.
6. Group FaceTime calls
This isn't specifically tied to iOS, but Apple's mobile platform is where FaceTime began life, and although the one-to-one model is great, it's about time you could call several people at once, rather than a group having to crowd around an iPhone.
7. iOS notifications like in OS X Mavericks
In OS X Mavericks, notifications are interactive - get a message and you can deal with it there and then, rather than leaving the app you're in. This is even more important on iOS, and so we hope Apple adds similar functionality on mobile. Google does it with aplomb, so we want to see the same here.
8. More Do Not Disturb options
Do Not Disturb gained extra power in iOS 7, enabling you to silence notifications only when a device is locked. Bizarrely, it still retains only a single schedule though. Is it beyond Apple to enable you to at least set one for weekdays and a separate one for weekends?
Apple's text-selection, cut, copy and paste seemed elegant when it was introduced, but only compared to disastrous equivalents on competing mobile systems.
Today, it comes across as awkward, and it's a barrier to usability for far too many people. We'd like to see a rethink from Apple and more usable and intuitive ways of dealing with text.
10. Two-up apps
We love the focus iOS provides, but there are times when we'd like to work with two apps at once. Much like messing with default apps, we doubt Apple will ever go down this path, but OS X Mavericks now has a more powerful full-screen mode for multiple monitors.
So there's perhaps the slightest hope a multi-screen mode might one day arrive for the iPad or a larger iPhone, and would be one in the eye for all those Samsung owners out there.