iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

Apple says iOS 8 is the biggest iOS release ever. It might look the same as iOS 7 on the surface, but there are loads of new features and hundreds of tweaks. Here we compare iOS 8 with iOS 7 in screenshots, and show you some of the new features in iOS 8.

The final version of iOS 8 will be unveiled today at 6pm (UK time) with the iPhone 6 - see how to watch the iPhone 6 launch live and iPhone 6 launch live blog.

See also how iOS 8 compares to Android L in our comparison preview

We've compared iOS 8 using an iPhone 5c running iOS 8 Beta 4 (you can get the beta too - here's a beginners step-by-step guide) and an iPhone 5 running iOS 7.1. You can click on each of the images below to see larger versions.

The lock screens look exactly the same, apart from the new wallpaper in iOS 8 (on the right). This may not be the final wallpaper, but it will do for now.

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

Apart from the addition of the new Health app, there's nothing to differentiate iOS 8 when you're looking at the home screen either: (Note that the icons are not all in their default places here - these are working iPhones.)

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

iOS 8 screenshots: Control Centre and multitasking

Very subtle changes have been made to Control Centre. They make it much easier to see whether features are enabled or not. In the iOS 7 screenshot, only Wi-Fi is enabled. It's much clearer in the iOS 8 screenshot that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned on.

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

A very handy new feature is the addition of recent (and favourite) contacts when you double tap the home button:

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

iOS 8 screenshots: Settings and iCloud

There are lots of small changes in the way settings are organised. Various options have been moved around in the main settings menu. For example, wallpaper and brightness have been split into separate options (just as it used to be), and iTunes & App Store has been moved up and placed in a section with iCloud.

When you tap on iCloud, you now see your name and photo instead of 'Account', and when you tap that, you have to enter your Apple ID password in order to see more information. Below that is the new Family Sharing option, which allows one person to manage - and pay for - all purchases from iTunes and the App Store. Anything purchased is then made available to up to six family members.

Your remaining iCloud storage is shown below Family Sharing - this is more important than ever since instead of being merely for backups and synching, the new iCloud Drive works like traditional cloud storage where you choose which files to put in iCloud Drive.

Plus, there's the new iCloud Photo Library. This goes beyond My Photo Stream (which still exists) and lets you store and access your entire photo - and video - library in iCloud. Previously, there was no way to automatically send videos to iCloud so you could view them on other devices. Plus, My Photo Stream stored only the last 1,000 photos.

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

Unfortunately, unlike Photo Stream, iCloud Photo Library counts against your iCloud storage so chances are that the free 5GB isn't going to be enough. If you have too many photos. you won't be able to enable it (see far right screenshot below). The benefit of Photo Library is that it will free up local storage on your iPhone or iPad, as well as making all the videos and photos you've taken on all your iOS devices, at least those which are running iOS 8, available on any device where you're signed in with your Apple ID.

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

iOS 8 screenshots: Camera and Photos

The camera app has received a couple of extra features. On our iPhone 5c, it had gained a self-timer option at the top, offering a 3- or 10-second delay. There's also a brand new time-lapse mode, which takes videos such as this.

The Photos app has had a bigger makeover. It hasn't been made as easy to navigate as we'd have liked, but it does have a couple of great new features.

First is the new editing option which has a dial icon. Tap it and you get three new options: Light, Colour and B&W. You can tap each to get a slider and adjust the image. Tapping the list icon gives you even more options, such as the Saturation, Contrast and Cast options within Colour (below, far right).

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

In iOS 7, you could rotate an image by 90 degrees at a time. In iOS 8, you have much finer control, and an Auto option will try and straighten your image with just one tap (below, left). All edits are non-destructive, which is why there's now a yellow Done button instead of Save. Return to your edited photo at any time and there's a red Revert button which allows you to go back to the original.

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

Better still, there are two new albums: Recently Added and Recently Deleted. The latter is like a Recycle Bin which keeps deleted photos for 30 days, just in case you didn't mean to delete them. You have the option to recover individual shots (below, middle) or recover them all. If your goal was to free up storage space, you can hit the Delete all button - an action which can't be undone.

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

iOS 8 screenshots: Messages and keyboard

There are a couple of nice new features in Messages. One is the integration of Find My Friends. A new Details button (at the top of the right-hand image below) brings up the options seen in the set of three images further below. You can send your current location, which inserts a map, as well as choosing how long to share your current location. The Details screen also shows a list of recent attachements from that contact including photos and videos.

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

Another feature, which we'd previously used in Whatsapp, is the ability to hold the new microphone icon to record a quick voice message, then swipe upwards to save it (below, left). Note that, as in the screenshot above, left, iOS 7 cannot properly receive the new audio notes. When upgraded to iOS 8, there will be a waveform icon.

Another feature also seen previously in Whatsapp, you can now take a video and swipe upwards to send the moment straight to a friend.

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

A big new feature for the keyboard in iOS 8 is that it has been opened up to developers. This means you'll be able to use Swype-style input. Apple has added predictive input, shown below, right. This is context sensitive, so it might offer more casual suggestions when you're using Messages, and more formal words when in Mail, for example.

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

iOS 8 screenshots: Mail, maps and notifications

In Mail, there are new options when you swipe across the screen on a message. Instead of just being able to Trash or Archive a message (depending on the options selected in Settings) you can now Flag messages. Plus, a long swipe will automatically Archive or Trash a message, making the process quicker.

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

If you swipe to the right instead, you can mark an email as read or unread depending on its current status.

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

An important new feature is the ability to pull down a notification and respond right there without leaving the app you're in (above, right). So, you can reply to a message, or mark an email as read or archive it.

In maps, there's a small change. When getting directions, there's a new button called Apps. Tap it and you'll see a screen like the one below, right. It will let you plan a route using any mapping apps you have already installed, as well as a selection you could install from the App Store.

iOS 8 screenshots and comparison to iOS 7

We'll add more iOS 8 screenshots soon. What do you think of iOS 8? Let us know in the comments section below.