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When iOS 8 drops this fall, we will see a lot of big changes to the way the system runs. Users will be able to set a third-party system wide keyboard, Family Sharing will make it possible for members to download each other’s purchased content, and Photos will get in-app editing capabilities. Oh, there’s more. Much more.

One big update we are looking forward to involves changes to Messages. With iOS 8, we will be able to record voice messages, send videos faster than ever, control group chats, and more. Practically everything we’ve always wished were possible with Messages will come true in iOS 8.

Messages Voice Recording

Starting with voice recording, in iOS 8, Messages will include the ability to record snippets of audio right inside the app. You can then send the clip to whomever you are texting with so they can play it back on their iOS device. Touch and hold the microphone button to start recording. When you are done, let go. Then swipe up to send it. To play back audio in Messages, you only have to lift your device to your ear and it will automatically play. When you are done, lower your device and it will stop. Of course, if you don’t want to hold your 10-inch iPad to your ear, you can simply press the play button on the screen.

Apple will make it possible for you to send videos with one touch. Instead of accessing the camera, taking video, confirming the clip, and then sending it, users will be able to quickly access the camera feature to record a clip and send it seamlessly without all the extra steps.

Messages Group Chat Control

With iOS 8, users will have more control over group chats. You’ll be able to name a conversation, like “Band Practice,” or “Camping News.” I often times have multiple group conversations with the same people, only about different subjects. This will help me keep messages organized so I can quickly go back to them later.

You’ll also be able to add or remove contacts from the group message at any time. If you’ve already started a conversation and realize you want your mom involved, add her. If your brother decides he doesn’t want to go on the family trip, you can remove him so he won’t have to hear all the updates unnecessarily. If your part of a conversation is over, feel free to leave it whenever you like.

I regularly end up in group chats with people who have a lot to say. If I’m busy doing something, but am part of a group chat, it can get annoying to hear dozens of notifications that distract me. With iOS 8, users will be able to set individual Do Not Disturb restrictions on chats. This allows the messages to come through, but you won’t hear them. Then, you can go back later to see what the fuss was about.

Messages Location Sharing

Messages will also be equipped with location sharing. If you are meeting friends somewhere, you can share your location so they know where you are at any given time. You’ll be able to share for just one hour, share until the end of the day, or share indefinitely, for as long as you choose to. Your chat buddies can share their location as well, so you’ll always be aware of each other’s whereabouts. It’s like Find My Friends on a more personal and temporary level.

Messages At A Glance Attachments

When the update goes live this fall, Messages will include the ability for users to see, at a glance, all attachments in a conversation on one screen. Instead of scrolling up and up, trying to find that picture your sister sent you of the couch she wants to buy, you’ll see all her sent pictures on one screen for quicker access.

Speaking of pictures, with iOS 8, users will be able to send multiple pictures and videos in one shot. Currently, users must select photos and videos to send, one at a time. With the update, multiple selections can be made at once.

iOS 8 will be compatible with iPhone 4s and newer, iPad 2 and newer, and iPad mini and newer. The software update will launch this fall for free.

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