Apple iOS 8.1 software release points to the future and harkens back to the past: NFC-powered Apple Pay comes to iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users in the United States, while the unceremoniously dumped Camera Roll feature is resurrected.
The free software update, which can be installed on iPhones, iPod touches and iPads over the air or by connecting to Macs or PCs outfitted with the latest iTunes release, comes about a month after iOS 8 made its crashing debut (and was shortly thereafter patched). For the over-the-air update, head to Settings, General and then Software Update. At 126MB, this download won't force you to clear out storage space like the bulky 5-plus GB predecessor. It's not a bad idea to back up your devices first.
The most anticipated new feature is support for Apple Pay, a purported wallet killer that relies on near field communications technology and lets you pay for things by tapping on terminals at participating retailers (a growing list of which Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned during a press event last week to introduce new iPads and Macs).
Though for less cutting-edge users, just having the Camera Roll back will be reason enough to download iOS 8.1. with 8.0, Apple had forced customers to get used to a new photo organization system based on chronology. The software also delivers iCloud Photo Library in public beta for sharing photos and videos across devices via the cloud (you need to purchase storage space if you require more than 5GB).
Other new capabilities include Continuity, which enables users with iDevices and Macs running the Yosemite OS to more easily share content and features, now including SMS and Instant Hotspot.
Here's the full list of iOS 8/1 features and fixes:
*Apple Pay support for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (U.S. only)
*Photos includes new features, improvements and fixes
-Adds iCloud Photo Library as a beta service
-Adds Camera Roll album in Photos app and My Photo Stream album when iCloud Photo Library is not enabled
-Provides alerts when running low on space before capturing Time Lapse videos
*Messages includes new features, improvements and fixes
-Adds the ability for iPhone users to send and receive SMS and MMS text messages from their iPad and Mac
-Resolves an issue where search would sometimes not display results
-Fixes a bug that caused read messages to not be marked as read
-Fixes issues with group messaging
*Resolves issues with Wi-Fi performance that could occur when connected to some base stations
*Fixes an issue that could prevent connections to Bluetooth hands-free devices
*Fixes bugs that could cause screen rotation to stop working
*Adds an option to select between 2G, 3G or LTE networks for cellular data
*Fixes an issue in Safari where videos would sometimes not play
*Adds AirDrop support for Passbook passes
*Adds an option to enable Dictation in Settings for Keyboards, separate from Siri
*Enables HealthKit apps to access data in the background
*Accessibility improvements and fixes
-Fixes an issue that prevented Guided Access from working properly
-Fixes a bug where VoiceOver would not work with 3rd party keyboards
-Improves stability and audio quality when using MFi Hearing Aids with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
-Improves reliability when using handwriting, Bluetooth keyboards and Braille displays with VoiceOver
*Fixes an issue with VoiceOver where tone dialing would get stuck on a tone until dialing another number
Some features may not be available for all countries or all areas.