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Apple releases iOS 8.1 with Apple Pay support for iPhone 6 & 6 Plus, SMS relay, iCloud Photo Library

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Right on schedule, Apple on Monday released iOS 8.1, bringing the new Apple Pay e-wallet functionality to iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users. In addition, the update includes the new beta iCloud Photo Library, SMS relay and Instant Hotspot when paired with a Mac or iPad, and the return of the Camera Roll in the Photos app.

iOS 8.1 is now available for download in the Software Update section of native Settings app on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. The most prominent feature, Apple Pay, is currently restricted to the U.S. only.

Changes to Photos include the new iCloud Photo Library, and an alert when running low on space before capturing Time Lapse photos. iOS 8.1 also brings back the My Photo Stream album when the iCloud Photo Library is not enabled.

New features for the Messages application include the ability for iPhone users to send and receive SMS and MMS text messages from their iPad and Mac. The update also resolves an issue where search would sometimes not display results, and it fixes a bug that caused read messages to not be marked as read. iOS 8.1 also fixes issues with group messaging.

Other features, fixes and changes in iOS 8.1 include:

  • Resolves issues with Wi-Fi performance that could occur when connected to some base stations
  • Fixes an issue that could prevent connections to Bluetooth hands-free devices
  • Fixes bugs that could cause screen rotation to stop working
  • Adds an option to select between 2G, 3G or LTE networks for cellular data
  • Fixes an issue in Safari where videos would sometimes not play
  • Adds AirDrop support for Passbook passes
  • Adds an option to enable Dictation in Settings for Keyboards, separate from Siri
  • Enables HealthKit apps to access data in the background
  • Fixes an issue that was preventing the use of OS X Caching Server for iOS updates

Finally, iOS 8.1 also includes a number of accessibilities improvements and fixes. According to Apple, they are:

  • Fixes an issue that prevented Guided Access from working properly
  • Fixes a bug where VoiceOver would not work with third-party keyboards
  • Improves stability and audio quality when using MFi Hearing Aids with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
  • Fixes an issue with VoiceOver where tone dialing would get stuck on a tone until dialing another number
  • Improves reliability when using handwriting, Bluetooth keyboards and Braille displays with VoiceOver