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Dive into iOS 8 with these handy tips for iPhone and iPad

In preparation of Wednesday's iOS 8 release, AppleInsider dug in and compiled a set of tips and tricks to help iPhone and iPad owners take full advantage of all the new features and functions baked in to Apple's latest mobile OS.

One of the most anticipated features rolling out in iOS 8 was actually introduced with the iPhone 5s, but has only now been opened to developers. With the latest iOS, Apple is granting access to Touch ID, meaning third-party apps like 1Password can finally take advantage of the fingerprint reading hardware.

Also a first is the ability to swap out keyboards for third-party solutions. Previously, Apple restricted users to the main iOS soft keyboard due to security concerns, but with iOS 8, users are able to download and try out custom solutions like Fleksy and SwiftKey.

On the app side, Apple's first-party titles get new features like quick image, audio and video sharing in Messages and deep email management in Mail.

Apple also added a slew of new Camera features to keep the world's most popular shooter up-to-date, including time lapse functionality, shutter timers and advanced exposure controls.

iOS-only features like Siri have also been drastically improved, with the virtual assistant now supporting "Hey Siri" hands free operation when plugged in to a power source. Voice responses have also been tweaked to sound more natural, while the backend has been enhanced with HomeKit integration for controlling smart home products.

In addition to Siri, users can now customize Notification Center with widgets created by third-party app developers. Powered by a corresponding app, widgets allow for bite-sized bits of information to be display in Notification Center, including the lock screen, meaning anything from sports scores to surf reports are only a thumb swipe away.

When OS X 10.10 is released this fall, iOS 8 will be able to integrate seamlessly through "Continuity" features like answering phone calls on your Mac, continuing text conversations and opening Web pages and documents through Handoff.

Apple's iOS 8 is available now as a free over-the-air Software Update.