iOS 8.1 is now available, offering Apple Pay and other useful functions

Apple announced last week that it would make iOS 8.1 available to add Apple Pay to the newest iPhones in the U.S. Today it’s making good on its word. The software update is now available, but it includes a bit more than just Apple Pay, so even older iPhones and iPads will see benefits.

Photo by Tom Krazit/Gigaom

Photo by Tom Krazit/Gigaom

[company]Apple[/company] Pay is the spotlight feature here; make no mistake. With it, you can use an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus at retail stores simply by holding your iPhone and the Touch ID sensor near a supported point-of-sale terminal. Apple Pay also works for online purchases, so your phone or tablet doesn’t need to have an NFC radio in it.

Looking at the release notes on my iPhone 6 reveals several other fixes and functions too:

  • The Camera Roll is back but only for those who choose not to use Apple’s iCloud Photo Library, a new beta service.
  • SMS and MMS messages can be sent from an iPad or Mac through an iPhone
  • You can switch between using 2G, 3G and LTE networks in the iPhone settings. The former is a new option; I’ve used this in the past when facing congestion on LTE networks, as switching to 3G-only service has helped temporarily.
  • Passbook passes can be sent between devices using Apple’s AirDrop feature.
  • Keyboards gain a dictation option to use a third-party service as opposed to Siri.

Depending on your iOS device and mode,  the download could range in size. For my iPhone 6 it was 126 megabytes, so this isn’t going to be a massive upgrade or overhaul. Now it’s time to see if Apple has indeed cracked the mobile payment market in the U.S. with Apple Pay.