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Apple WWDC: OS X Yosemite, iOS 8, Health and Messages apps unveiled

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Apple unveiled iOS 8, the latest version of its mobile operating system, at the Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, introducing a new app that helps users monitor their health as well as several new features that will improve how users message one another.

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The keynote event in San Francisco wrapped after about two hours of announcements that also included the unveiling of OS X 10.10 Yosemite for Mac laptops and desktops.

The Health app from the Cupertino-based tech company will allow users to keep, in one location, all of the information they gather from various health apps. Health will be able to work with apps from Nike, the Mayo Clinic and many others, said Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president.

Apple said it had improved its Messages app by adding several new features, primarily focused on improving group conversations. In iOS 8, users will be able to quickly add and remove others from group threads; they'll be able to mute conversations; or they can choose to remove themselves if they no longer want to receive messages from a group chat. The Messages app also will allow users to respond quickly to a text with  audio and video replies.

Apple is introducing a new Quick Type feature for the iOS 8 touchscreen keyboard. Quick Type will attempt to predict what users want to type by offering them three words that they can tap to add to their message. Apple said users will be able to install keyboards created by third-party developers.

Apple also said it is improving its iCloud service by adding iCloud Drive, which lets users seamlessly sync documents across their various devices. All photos can be saved within iCloud, allowing users to access them with an iPhone or  iPad, even if they are not stored on their gadget. Users will need space to accommodate all those pictures. Apple said it would drop the price of its iCloudstorage plans to 20 gigabytes for 99 cents per month or 200 GB for $3.99 per month.

Parents will be happy to learn that Apple will now notify them when their children attempt to buy an app or make any in-app purchases. Before the purchase goes through, grown-ups will be prompted to accept or decline.

Apple said developers will be able to create extensions and widgets for their apps that will work in iOS 8. These widgets will work in the iOS 8 Notification Center while extensions will work with native Apple apps, such as the Safari browser. To show what that meant, Federighi demonstrated a SportsCenter widget by ESPN and extensions that will give users the ability to use photo-editing features from third-party apps within the Apple Photos app.

The tech giant also unveiled Homekit, a protocol for makers of smart devices that will ensure their products are compatible with Apple devices as well as secure.

The company said iOS 8 will be available in beta to developers today and will be released to the general public in the fall.

Earlier in the event, Apple unveiled OS X 10.10 Yosemite for Mac laptops and desktops. Yosemite will include several additions that will allow owners to use their Macs the way they do their iPhones, including the ability to make and answer phone calls. Yosemite also will be available to developers later today and be released to the general public this fall.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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