Apple Releases iOS 8.1 With Apple Pay and SMS Relay

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As promised, Apple has released its iOS 8.1 update, which brings back the much-missed Camera Roll, enables Apple Pay on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices and adds support for sending text messages from your Mac. With iOS 8.1, you can test the iCloud Photo Library beta. You can find the 117MB download in the Software Update settings on your iOS device. iOS 8.1 also includes a number of bug fixes for Messages, WiFi, Bluetooth connectivity, screen rotation, Safari and accessibility.  Previewed at last week’s iPad event, 8.1 is a major update for iOS users that is required to use Apple Pay on the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air, and iPad mini 3.

Setup instructions for Apple Pay initially leaked in the Passbook settings of the 8.1 developer beta. The service requires the user to have an approved credit or debit card on file in the Passbook app. Apple Pay can be used at any of Apple’s hundreds of merchant partners in the United States and in supported iOS apps that process payments. Only the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus can make payments at physical stores with NFC, as the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 are limited to using Touch ID for software transactions.

Continuity, an umbrella term for features that let iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite work together, gains a couple of additions in 8.1. SMS relay has been turned on, meaning that non-iMessages received on an iPhone will be synced to all Mac and iOS devices on the same iCloud account. You can also start SMS-based conversation threads from any device. Instant Hotspot is also enabled in iOS 8.1, which allows you to connect to an iPhone’s cellular hotspot directly from the WiFi menu of a Mac running Yosemite. Hotspots previously had to be turned on from the iPhone first.

iOS 8.1 also introduces the beta of iCloud Photo Library. As the successor to Photo Stream, iCloud Photo Library automatically stores every photo and video you take and makes everything available from any device and iCloud.com. It can be enabled under the iCloud section of Settings in iOS 8.1.   The original high-res versions of photos and videos are stored in the cloud and “lightweight” versions are left on the device by default to save storage. Apple only gives each user 5GB of free iCloud storage, so you’ll have to delete photos or upgrade to a paid storage plan once you run out of space. iCloud Photo Library will integrate with Apple’s forthcoming Photos app for OS X Yosemite and save edits across devices.

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