iOS 8.1: Apple Pay, Instant Hotspot and More

iOS 8.1: Apple Pay, Instant Hotspot and More

Last month, Apple released iOS 8 to the public, prior to the official launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. However, some promised features were missing from the initial update. With the launch of iOS 8.1, these features have finally arrived.

Apple Pay

For starters, the new NFC chip included in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus allows users to make credit card payments via a new service called Apple Pay.

Apple Pay works by allowing the user to store digital copies of their credit cards (by taking a picture of the card) in the updated Passbook app in iOS 8.1.  Users then simply tap their iPhone to an NFC terminal, which are featured at many retailers around the United States. To verify the purchase, the user simply presses the Touch ID fingerprint scanner on their iPhone.

Apple Pay can also be used to make in-app purchases via Touch ID.

Instant Hotspot

With iOS 8.1, users with mobile data plans that include internet tethering can now use their iPhones and iPads (with 3G) to connect their Mac computers to the internet wherever they are.

Mac computers running OS X Yosemite can connect wirelessly to the user’s iPhone. The iPhone’s signal strength and battery life are then shown in the menu bar of the connected Mac.

SMS Relay

Another feature in iOS 8.1 is the ability to send and receive SMS messages on OS X Yosemite. This feature is part of Yosemite’s set of new ‘Continuity’ features.

iCloud Photo Library

iCloud Photo Library simply stores all of a user’s photos and videos taken on iOS devices via iCloud, and stores them on iCloud.com so that they can be accessed anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

The benefit of the iCloud Photo Library is that it frees up precious space on the user’s device by storing photos and videos in the cloud, rather than on the device itself. High-quality photos and videos are store in iCloud, while lower-quality version can be kept on the device and viewed at any time.

iCloud storage is a premium service. 20GB of iCloud storage costs $0.99 per month. Storage options range all the way up to 1TB of storage, which costs $19.99 per month.


Most of the above features require either OS X Yosemite or Touch ID to work. OS X Yosemite can be downloaded and installed for free via the Mac App Store. Touch ID is featured on the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and on the all-new iPad Air 2 and 3rd-generation iPad Mini.

Questions or comments regarding any of the new features included in iOS 8.1? Leave them in the box below!

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Amitabha is a freelance writer and editor. He studies Linguistics and Cognitive Psychology at New York University. His primary focus as part of the News for Shoppers writing team is on Apple-related news, announcements, tips and rumors. He can be found and followed on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+AmitabhaSarfati/.