You don’t need to order an iPhone 6 to feel like you’ve gotten a brand new gadget.
Apple’s much-anticipated operating system update, iOS 8, will be available for download Wednesday. First announced in June, the software upgrade will overhaul the function and feel of many Apple devices.
You’ll be able to install the update on the iPhone 4S, 5, 5C, or 5S; the iPad 2, the iPad Air, the iPad mini and both retina-display iPads; and the iPod touch 5th generation.
The new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus come preloaded with iOS 8. The new devices begin shipping Friday, and some of them have already started making the trek from China, MacRumors reports.
Left out in the system reboot: the iPhone 4, the original iPad and any older model of iPod Touch.
Here’s what is new in the upgrade:
MORE PHOTO EDITING TOOLS
With iOS 8, photographers will be able to straighten photos and adjust the exposure, color and contrast of their images. Apple is also adding a slew of new Instagram-like filters to its camera application.
A SMARTER DEFAULT KEYBOARD — AND MORE ADD-ON OPTIONS
Apple thinks it understands the way you text: iOS 8’s keyboard will feature predictive typing, suggesting words and phrases based on your past conversations. It will take your recipient and your message form into account — the smart keyboard will give you different words for an email to your boss than it would for a text to your best friend.
And if you don’t like the mind-reading keyboard, you’re not stuck with it. Apple’s opened up its keyboard to third-party developers, meaning you’ll be able to download hundreds of new options. There’s already a keyboard where a user can swipe instead of tap and one made entirely out of GIFs, Gizmodo reports.
MESSAGING THAT GOES BEYOND TEXT
The new operating system will allow users to send messages that include sounds recorded on the phone’s microphone or your location.
THE ABILITY TO DUCK OUT OF ANNOYING GROUP TEXTS
Sick of dozens of notifications from a group text message you don’t care about? Apple’s finally giving texters the option to leave a conversation — or at least silence notifications.
A PERSONAL TRAINER
iOS 8 will include Apple’s HealthKit app, a dashboard to record all your fitness data. The system lets health apps work together: data on your daily calories from a nutrition app and workout stats from your fitness app will be stored in one place, giving you a more complete picture of your health.
A SIRI WHO’S ALWAYS LISTENING
You no longer have to hold down the home button to activate Apple’s voice-directed personal assistant. Just say “Hey, Siri!” and you’ve got her attention. Plus, Siri come packed with built-in Shazam integration, so she’ll be able to tell you what song is playing when it’s on the tip of your tongue.
ACCESS A FILE FROM ANYWHERE
With iOS 8’s iCloud Drive, Apple gives users the power to access their PDF’s, spreadsheets and other documents from any of their devices — iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC. It’ll work a lot like DropBox, Google Drive and other device-agnostic file readers.
APPLE DEVICES PLAYING NICE
When Apple devices are signed into the same iCloud account, users will be able to “hand off” certain functions. If you open a Web page in Safari on your phone, you’ll be able to open the tab later when you’re on your Mac. An email you start writing on your iPad will automatically be saved for completion on your iPod Touch.
And when your Mac or iPad is connected to WiFi, it’ll be able to make and receive your iPhone’s calls.
Apple will soon let families share their digital purchases. Just like a family might share a CD or a paperback book, up to six people can now download a single purchase from iTunes, iBook and the App Store.
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