Welcome to our iOS 8 release date, rumours and leaked images article. Here, we'll bring you everything we know about iOS 8, Apple's next iOS operating system for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. This includes speculation about the iOS 8 release date, rumours about the new features that may arrive with iOS 8, and leaked images and mockups of iOS 8 as we see them. We'll update this article frequently, so check back regularly for the latest iOS 8 rumours.

Update, 9th June 2014: iOS 8 is here! Or it's been previewed to the general public, at least. Read absolutely all the latest information about iOS 8's design and new features in our massive iOS 8 preview. We discuss when it will be made available for users to download in the rest of this article. 

iOS 8 release date: When will iOS 8 launch?

iOS 8 was unveiled to a global audience at Apple's WWDC 2014 event at the start of June, where Apple showed off new features in the next operating system for iPad and iPhone. (Among these: Family Sharing, interactive notifications, predictive typing and third-party keyboards, iCloud Drive, and a new programming language for developers.)

The first pre-release beta version of iOS 8 has now been made available for beta testers to download. But the final version won't be released to the general public until the autumn.

How to get the iOS 8 beta on your iPhone and iPad right now

It's most likely that iOS 8 will launch alongside new iOS hardware. Going by last year's launches, it's most probable that Apple will launch the iPhone 6 with iOS 8 some time in September, followed by the iPad 6 (and potentially the iPad Pro and/or iPad mini 3 if these do launch in 2014) a month or so later.

Follow our iPhone 6 rumours article for the latest information about when that device is likely to appear, and expect the final edition of iOS 8 to become available at the same time.

Pre-release speculation: The iOS 8 rumours

The release of iOS 7 caused a buzz among the Apple community in 2013, as it came with a radical redesign, bringing a new look and feel to the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch software. Now that the excitement has died down, users are looking to the future, imagining what could be in store for the next version of iOS, presumably called iOS 8 if Apple's naming convention continues.

We're certainly excited about 2014 as a whole for Apple, not least because CEO Tim Cook has revealed on multiple occasions that the company has "big plans" that it believes we are going to love.

Speculation about iOS 8 - which is believed to be codenamed "Okemo" after a ski resort in Vermont - skyrocketed as February 2014 arrived, with reports that Apple is working on a 'Healthbook' app for the new operating system, which could change mobile health and fitness tracking for good. Then, on 13 March, screenshots showing what is allegedly our first look at the app icons for Healthbook, Preview, TextEdit and Tips emerged, followed by further mockups based on leaked information about the rumours Healthbook app.

In April, new rumours about a possible Shazam partnership that could result in a song identification feature in iOS 8 emerged, followed by rumours of a 'Watch Utility' app, split-screen multitasking and high-definition audio playback in May. Read on to find out more about the latest iOS 8 rumours and to see the leaked images.

See our iOS 8 wishlist for a round-up of our most-wanted iOS 8 features. Plus, here's what we don't want to see in iOS 8.

Watch our video where we discuss what Apple might have planned for iOS 8, the iPhone and iPad:

When will iOS 8 come out?

Apple has traditionally used its Worldwide Developers Conference to unveil new versions of iOS, so we expect that tradition to continue this year. WWDC 2014 begins on 2 June, and Apple has already confirmed that we'll be learning about the future of iOS and OS X during the event. There's even speculation that Apple may use this year's WWDC to unveil the iPhone 6.

While we expect iOS 8 to be shown off for the first time in June, it's unlikely to be released to the public until the next generation iPhone comes out, probably in September. Between June and September, iOS 8 is likely to be in beta form for developers to test and begin working on their apps ahead of the public release.

Here's the first look at iOS 8 - a banner put up by Apple at its WWDC 2014 venue (via MacRumors)

Will my iPhone run iOS 8?

You should be able to run iOS 8 on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch when it arrives. However, Apple has been known to stop supporting older models with updates when several successors have launched.

Unfortunately, iPhone 4 owners might find themselves disappointed when iOS 8 arrives, if the latest rumours are to be believed. GottabeMobile suggests that Apple will not make iOS 8 compatible with the iPhone 4. iPhone 4 owners already miss out on some of the features in iOS 7, including turn-by-turn navigation, panorama photos, AirPlay mirroring and Siri, so it wouldn't come as too much of a surprise if it doesn't get iOS 8.

iOS 8 rumours: Split-screen Multitasking

Apple made some changes to Multitasking in iOS 7, but we'd like to see these changes go even further.

In May, 9To5Mac cited "sources with the knowledge of the enhancement in development" in a report that claimed that the iPad will get a new split-screen feature with iOS 8.

Like Microsoft's 'Snap' feature, iOS 8 will reportedly let iPad users run two apps at once, side by side on a screen, and will allow them to interact with both at the same time.

We particularly like Sam Beckett's Split Screen Multitasking concept. Split screen is something we'd love to see in iOS 8, as it would increase productivity significantly and is a feature we're constantly craving while using our iPad.

We'd also like to be able to close all of the open apps at once.

iOS 8 rumours: Healthbook

It is thought that many of the new features in the new version of Apple's iOS will be focused on health, perhaps with a Passbook-style fitness and health app that stores data from the rumoured iWatch.

In March, this image was leaked on Weibo and allegedly shows new Healthbook, Preview, TextEdit and Tips app icons, as spotted by 9To5Mac:

We assume that the Preview and TextEdit apps have the same functionality as their Mac counterparts, perhaps expanding iCloud compatibility. There's some confusion about what the Tips app is for though (presumably to provide tips... but what for?). Read on for more information about Healthbook.

Apple plans to introduce the aforementioned health and fitness tracking application with iOS 8 later this year, according to sources cited in a 9To5Mac report. This application is likely to work closely with Apple's rumoured iWatch, which the sources say is "well into development."

The sources claim that the iOS 8 app is codenamed 'Healthbook' and will be used to collect data such as how many steps you've taken, how many calories you've burned and the distance you've walked. The app will also allegedly be used to monitor blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate and more. In addition to the monitoring and tracking features, the report claims Apple's Healthbook app will offer users the ability to set medication reminders.

The rumours of a Healthbook app arrive alongside reports that Apple executives have been meeting with medical officials including the Food and Drug Administration. Apple has also hired several people from the medical field. Most recently, Apple hired former chief medical officer at pulse oximeter firm Masimo Corporation Michael O'Reilly.

Perhaps the strongest evidence to support the theory that Apple is looking into introducing a health app is the M7 chip it introduced with its latest iPhone. The M7 chip measures motion data, enables the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass, and, as pointed out by Apple when the chip was announced, enables a new generation of health and fitness apps.

In mid March, 9To5Mac released further information about the rumoured Healthbook app, based on alleged "sources working directly on the initiative's development". This information includes mockups created by a designer from the details leaked by the sources.

According to the reports, the Healthbook app's design will be based on the current Passbook design, with lots of tabs relating to various health categories. These tabs will be movable to enable the user to rearrange the app to suit their preferences. Tabs include an Emergency Card and health tracking for blood, heart rate, hydration, nutrition, blood sugar, sleep, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation and weight, the images suggest.

iOS 8 rumours: Watch Utility

iOS 8 has been spotted in screenshots purportedly taken on both the iPhone and iPad, all of which show a 'Watch Utility' app as well as those 'Healthbook,' 'Preview,' 'Text Edit,' and 'Tips' apps. We can only assume that the Watch Utility app is designed to help control, customise and use the rumoured iWatch.

iOS 8 rumours: Apple partners with Shazam for song-identification feature

Reports that emerged in April claim that Apple is working with Shazam to introduce a song-identification feature with iOS 8 that's based on the Shazam app, which uses the iPhone's microphone to listen to a song and determine what that song is.

The new Shazam integration in iOS 8 will also be closely linked to Siri, according to Bloomberg, which claims a user will be able to ask Siri "what song is playing."

The rumours about Shazam in iOS 8 arrive following widespread chatter about the future of iTunes as a whole, with some rumours suggesting that it's about to get an overhaul that could lead to the seperation of the iTunes app and iTunes Radio, and could even mean an iTunes app for Android.

iOS 8 rumours: High-definition audio playback

Apple could be planning to introduce high-definition audio playback with iOS 8, according to new reports. Mac Otakara suggests that all iOS 8 compatible devices will be able to play high quality 24-bit audio files through the Music App and third-party apps, and high-fidelity music will be available to download from iTunes.

Apple is working on a new version of its premium in-ear headphones first launched in 2008, to coincide with the high-definition audio playback announcement, the report adds.

iOS 8 rumours: New Touch ID features

During Apple's earnings call for the first quarter of 2014, CEO Tim Cook spoke about Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which was introduced in September 2013 with the iPhone 5s.

"The mobile payments area in general is one that we've been intrigued with - that was one of the thoughts behind Touch ID," he said. "But we're not limiting ourselves to that. I don't have anything specific to announce today, but you can tell by looking at the demographics of our customers and the amount of commerce that goes through iOS devices versus the competition that it's a big opportunity on the platform."

Cook's comments suggest that we should look out for new services that work with the Touch ID in future versions of iOS.

In April, further reports about possible new Touch ID features was published by Re/code. According to the report's unnamed sources, Apple's head of e-commerce, Jennifer Bailey, has been interviewing executives in the payments industry. Re/code claims there are two positions at Apple that involve mobile payments, and that Apple's "ambitions" for the service are "very, very serious."

iOS 8 rumours: More new features

There are several additional new features that we'd like to see in iOS 8, and we've listed them (and the rumours surrounding them) below.

iOS 8 rumours: Notifications

One of the areas of iOS 7 that we expect to get addressed in iOS 8 is Notifications. We think that it feels a bit clumsy at the moment. For example, replying to an iMessage requires the launching of the app, rather than a simple dialogue box as in OS X's Notification Centre.

We'd like to see a universal control to clear all of the past notifications at once. In iOS 7, the user has to manually delete each app's entries.

We love Sam Beckett's interactive Notifications concept, as shown below. It's a perfect example of what we'd like to see in iOS 8 when it comes to the Notification Centre.

We'd also like to be able to quickly unsubscribe from app Notifications that we've accidently signed up to within the Notification Centre.

Apple made an interesting acquisition in 2013, for a small software house called Cue. Cue specialises in smart assistant programming. With Google Now becoming an increasingly impressive service on Android, it's possible that Cue could be how Apple will catch up. It could help Apple add smarter push notifications, providing us with the information we need when we need it.

iOS 8 rumours: Maps

Apple is still working to improve its Maps app, so we expect some updates and tweaks for the iOS 8 version of the app.

Maps is expected to get some big improvements in iOS 8, including significant data improvements including new points of interests and labels, as well as public transit directions and maybe even augmented reality, if a patent in Apple's portfolio relating to such feature comes into play.

iOS 8 rumours: Control Centre

We loved the addition of Control Centre with iOS 7, and we think Apple could take it even further in iOS 8. Perhaps Apple will give users more control over the Control Centre, by letting them decide which apps they want easy access to.

iOS 8 rumours: Multiple accounts

A sought after iOS feature from Apple is the ability to add additional accounts to iPads and iPhones. For iPads that are shared among a family, this would allow each member to have their own private iOS account, particularly useful for parents with young children for better parental control.

iOS 8 rumours: FaceTime

FaceTime hasn't seen much love from Apple in recent updates, apart from the addition of FaceTime Audio. We'd like to see Apple introduce the ability to call multiple people at once in FaceTime, for group calls. Skype already offers the ability to conduct group calls, so the addition of the feature for FaceTime would be a big plus for Apple users.

iOS 8 rumours: Default apps

We've been saying this for years, but we'd like to delete the annoying Apple default apps that we're not interested in or never use. It's unlikely that Apple will grant this wish, though.

iOS 8 rumours: Subscription service

An interesting idea shared with us by a colleague is the introduction of an iOS iTunes Store and/or App Store subscription service. The service could allow users to pay a set fee per month to get access to unlimited films, TV, books, apps and more (think Netflix or LoveFilm). We think this would be a brilliant idea that we could imagine many Apple users signing up to if it's priced right. It would be a huge blow for competitors, though.

iOS 8 rumours: Default third-party browser

Many of our colleagues use Apple Macs, but almost none of them use Safari as their default web browser; most favour Chrome or Firefox instead. So why does Safari maintain such a stranglehold on iOS? Because you still can't make a third-party browser the default. We'd love to see Apple add the ability to change the default browser to a third-party one in iOS 8.

iOS 8 rumours: Customised autocorrect

Since before iOS 7, we've been asking for the ability to turn off autocorrect on an app-by-app basis, to prevent those embarrassing errors that we so often see.

iOS 8 rumours: Battery life

Battery life issues plague iOS users. We asked our readers what they'd like to see in iOS 8, expecting whizzy features to be the most common answers, but it was battery life that took the top spot.

One of the ways Apple could help preserve battery life is to add a battery emergency feature to devices. How about a set of customisable actions set to kick in when your iOS device reaches 20 per cent power? Instead of just popping up with the warning, the device could be programmed to automatically lower the brightness, switch off 3G, Bluetooth and location services, and generally do everything in its power to stay alive.

[Read our tips for saving iPhone battery life in iOS 7]

iOS 8 leaked images

There are no leaked images of iOS 8 aside from those shown previously in this article yet, but as soon as we see them, we'll share them with you here. We'll also be keeping an eye out for convincing mockups that spark the imagination, such as the two concept videos shown earlier in this article.

Designer Nico Achkasov has come up with a concept he calls 'iOS 8 Infinity', in which he's redesigned the iOS icons to follow a grid system and specific colour palette. He created the new icons after many Apple users said they dislike the designs Apple has come up with for the icons.

Nico has taken away the gradients in many of Apple's icons and replaced them with the shine effect Apple recently ditched, though he's made sure to keep the icons 'flat'.

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