iOS 8 download release date arrives

iOS 8 will be available to download from September 17, which is today, and looks set to drop in the UK around 6pm GMT.

The new mobile operating system will be compatiable with iPhone models from iPhone 4s and above, including the newly-launched iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus as well as the iPod touch 5th generation and iPad 2 and above.

However, it has been reported by Gizmodo that users who have applied iOS 8 to the iPhone 4s have found that it causes the three-year-old device to struggle with the running of various features such as Touch ID and AirDrop. The older hardware on the phone and the smaller screen size make it hard for iOS 8 to function to its full capacity.

How to get iOS 8

As mentioned, the iOS 8 update will be available to users with iPhone 4s and above, a fifth generation iPod touch or an iPad 2 or above. The update can be downloaded over the air with Wi-Fi or via iTunes on a PC or Mac.

For the former, a notification will pop-up on the screen when the iOS 8 software becomes available on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad in question. If this doesn't happen automatically then users can check whether the update is available by manually going to Settings>General>Software Update.

If choosing to update through iTunes, the device must be connected to a PC or Mac. If iTunes is up to date, which can be done by clicking on Help>Check for Updates, an alert for iOS 8 should appear once the device is plugged in via USB.

Once the update has been downloaded and installed, the device will restart.

As is the case with most iOS launches, iPhone and iPad users are being urged to back up their apps, photos and other phone data before embarking on the iOS 8 update.

To do this, go toSettings > iCloud > Storage & Backup.

In related news, the OS update has alreadycaused problemswith certain features of Dropbox and Carousel, with a compatibility issue causing the automatic updates to be disabled.

iOS 8: From the beginning

New iOS 8 updates were first announced in June at Apple's annual Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco, with many rumours and predictions made ahead of time proving to be correct, or at least near enough.

Further details on iOS 8 features have been unveiled in the wake of WWDC, such as the introduction of Safari AutoFill for apps on iOS that allows easier and faster logins, and the arrival of possible split-screen functionality for iPads.

A third beta update available to developers and other early adopters included a new iCloud Drive on/off toggle switch, the ability for iPhone to gather health data - such as steps taken, a recycle bin for pictures and improvements to the Weather Channel app.

Apple has also chosen to drop the Yahoo service from its weather app. Instead the mobile OS will use the Weather Channel for iOS 8. It is thought this will allow Apple to offer an improved experience to users.

iOS 8 beta 4 became available on 21 July, two weeks after the third, and brought with it a new tips app designed to help users get more out of the new operating system once it's officially launched.

The feature was mentioned at WWDC but this is the first time it has appeared on the OS available to developers and other early adopters. It initially provides users with six tips, with new ones to be released weekly.

Apple has also announced that an Ask to Buy' option will be added for in-app purchases in order to prevent children from downloading pricey extras and to prevent other incidents of mistaken spending.

Apple said in a statement: "We are always working to strengthen the protections we have in place, and we're adding great new features with iOS 8, such as Ask to Buy, giving parents even more control over what their kids can buy on the App Store."

iOS 8 beta 5, which was made available in early August,introduced integration of location information from the Maps app to the iPhone's Recents list and Spotlight search. This should make it easier to recall information such as addresses and contact details without having to re-enter the app and search for a location again.

It emerged that iOS 8 beta 6 was given to carrier partners for testing, reportedly because of how close Apple believes it to be to the golden master version of the operating system. The beta has reportedly been rejected, however, over issues with the YouTube app and Safari browser.

So what else is new?

Keen to tout the success of iOS 7, which boasts a 97 per cent satisfaction rate, iOS 8 was teased as a "giant release" at WWDC

The design hasn't changed too much, and follows the trend of generally looking cleaner and faster, and it's the little tweaks that are going to be talked about.

A refined notification centre now includes interactive alerts that allow users to reply to messages directly from the notification centre and from the lockscreen.

Safari for the iPad has also had a makeover of sorts, with a new tab view and sidebar. Then there's email, which now sports handy flagging and marking functions along with the ability to open multiple emails at once, swipe down messages to view the inbox and add calendar events straight from mail through a contextual drop down menu.

Group messaging is also much more interactive than before, with the added capability to name threads, remove people from conversations, leave a thread, share your location (for an hour, a day or forever) and send self-destructing audio and video recordings ala Snapchat.

One of the most talked about iOS 8 features, HealthBook, turned into a demonstration of HealthKit, a new app that allows third party app integration to bring information on health and fitness together in one place. It also aims to receive and transmit data from doctors checkups, allowing the health industry to better interact with users.

Siri has had a little makeover with the iOS 8, now integrated with Shazam and able to be used with purchasing iTunes content, streaming voice recognition and with 22 new dictation languages. Users can also talk to Siri without touching their phone. It will also be integrated with the new HomeKit feature, and with things such as home lighting, door locks and thermostats.

One of the things most people were looking for from the iOS 8 was multi-app functionality for the iPad, and they weren't disappointed. Dubbed the biggest release since the App Store, Extensibility is coming with the new

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and will allow apps to share and interact with each other. Extensions will live in a sandbox, allowing users to share between apps at last.

A list of apps that will make use of the Extensions feature created by MacObserver includes SwiftKey, Swype and Fleksy third-party keyboards developing iOS versions and 1Password with Touch ID, already available in iOS 8 betas.

QuickType will enable predictive text suggestions for the keyboard and learns from your habits, and third party keyboards will allow users to install default keyboards across the operating system.

For the App Store, iOS 8 will introduce the explore tab and top trending search. The most welcome change here will undoubtedly be app bundles, while users will also be able to preview apps via a video demonstration before purchasing.

Widgets will also be introduced, accessible from the notification centre, and Touch ID updates will allow further protection of logins and user data.

Apple also confirmed iOS will go on general release in the autumn, and will make its debut on the next iteration of the iPhone. Meanwhile, any iOS Developer account holders will be able to preview the software immediately.

Caroline Preece

Caroline has been writing about technology for more than a decade, switching between consumer smart home news and reviews and in-depth B2B industry coverage. In addition to her work for IT Pro and Cloud Pro, she has contributed to a number of titles including Expert Reviews, TechRadar, The Week and many more. She is currently the smart home editor across Future Publishing's homes titles.

You can get in touch with Caroline via email at