iOS 9 is Apple’s newest operating system for iOS devices like the iPhone and the iPad, introduced at the Worldwide Developers Conference on June 8.
iOS 9 is packed with more intelligence throughout, and delivers big updates to the apps customers use most — Maps supports public transit, a redesigned Notes app provides great new ways to capture ideas, and a beautiful News app delivers content that’s personalised to your interests,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “With our new iPad features, users can take advantage of the power of iPad, working in two apps at the same time with Split View, Slide Over or Picture-in-Picture.”
One of the biggest things we’re excited about is battery life. “Across the entire operating system, apps and key technologies have been made more efficient to trim battery usage wherever possible — so you get more battery life for the things you do every day. Thanks to ambient light and proximity sensors, your iPhone knows if it’s facedown on the table and prevents the screen from turning on, even when you receive a notification. And the new Low Power mode lets you extend your battery life even further,” noted Apple at WWDC 2015.
A major new feature of iOS 9 is called Proactive. This is a system-wide feature that allows your iOS device to learn your habits and provide recommendations to you based on place, time of day, and activity. How does Proactive work? Well, it’s a lot like Google Now. For example, if Proactive sees you’ve got a meeting at 2pm, it will alert you beforehand and notify you when you have to leave and the best way to get to the meeting based on current traffic conditions. If you like to listen to music at 7am when you work out, Proactive will automatically have your music cued up for you at that time when you plug your headphones in. If you like reading Flipboard at night before you go to bed, Proactive will pull of the Clipboard app automatically at your bedtime.
iPad Split screen Multitasking
A huge new feature of iOS 9 is limited to the iPad–split screen multitasking. In iOS 9 any recent iPad will support multitasking. The way this works is while using an app on the iPad you can swipe left from the side of your screen to pull up a SlideOver window. This window features any app of your choice. For example, if your main app is the Mail app, you can SlideOver the Messages app, which will appear as a column on the side of the screen. When using a SlideOver app only that app is usable. However as soon as your tap the divider, the iPad goes into multitasking mode and allows you to have two usable apps side by side. You can then position two apps on the single screen at the same time and use them both. It’s quite a cool feature and one that is going to make the iPad a much more desktop-like productivity machine.
The best keyboard EVER (iPad only)
My favorite new feature of iOS 9 is also one that is limited to the iPad. There’s a new QuickType keyboard that allows you to use the keyboard as a trackpad by placing two fingers on it and moving them around. Doing so will allow you to move the text entry cursor in any app around the screen. For example, in the Notes app you can place two fingers on the keyboard, slide them around, and watch the cursor on the note move around on the screen. This makes adjusting the cursor position on screen infinitely less frustrating than needing to tap its position on the screen to move it as you need to do now.
Picture in Picture (iPad only)
Another big iOS 9 feature (and one related to multitasking) is, again, iPad-only. Now the iPad supports picture-in-picture (PIP). So, if you have a video app you can encapsulate the playing video in its own window and then open up another app (such as Mail) to get some work done. The video will play on the screen floating above the other app. You can move the PIP around the screen to place it wherever you want and you can even adjust the size of the PIP window.
A surprise announcement was the new News app. That’s right, the loathed Newsstand app has been shutter in favor of News. The new News app is kinda like Flipboard, but pretty looking. With it you’ll be able to create a custom magazine tailored to your interest with content from major providers like The New York Times, Conde Nast, and more–in addition to smaller websites.
- New back buttonOne of the fairly major changes in iOS 9 will be that the interface will show you links to go back to the previous app. If you’re using an app and click a link that takes you to another app, a link to go back will appear in the upper left-hand corner of your screen.
2. Improved iCloud Drive access
New iCloud Drive app enables you to access the files you have stored in the cloud. The app doesn’t automatically show up on the home screen, but if you’d like it to, you can go into your iPhone’s settings and toggle the setting to make the app visible on the home screen.
- Mail app improvements
You’ll be able to access and attach files from iCloud Drive directly from the Mail app. (In fact, you’ll be able to add any type of attachment to an email message in iOS 9.) The operating system will also enable you to send more than five photos from the Photo app; in fact, you’ll be able to send as many photos as you’d like. The upgraded Mail app will also enable you to save attachments to iCloud Drive directly by tapping and holding an attached file, and will feature bulk actions like Mark All, Move All, and Trash All.
Photos app updates
In the Photos app, you can quickly scroll through photos by opening up an image. From there, you’ll notice a new thumbnail strip. You can slide your finger across it to navigate through the gallery. You’ll also be able to swipe down on a photo to dismiss it and go back to the Albums view. Additionally, you can hide multiple photos by selecting a photo, bringing up the Share Sheet, and selecting the photos you want to hide.
Because the iOS keyboard’s shift function has always been confusing — it’s difficult to know when shift is activated or not — Apple is introducing a simple fix. Now, when you tap shift, all of the letters on the keyboard will change to uppercase, and when shift isn’t activated, they’ll appear in lowercase. (If you don’t like the feature, can always turn off the lowercase keys in the Settings app.) The keyboard gains a separate section for flag emoji. And the edit functions on the iPad keyboard have been tweaked; an undo/ redo option shows up as the default edit function instead of the cut/paste tool. The cutting and pasting functions will pop up once you’ve highlighted text, replacing the undo buttons.
Better battery controls
Your ability to manage your iPhone’s battery life will also improve with iOS 9. The operating system will add a “Low Power Mode” that should give you up to an hour of extra battery life. It can be turned on in your iPhone’s settings, where you’ll also be able to see a detailed breakdown of which of your apps have consumed the most battery power. In the Notifications Center, you’ll see a new Battery widget that shows you how much battery capacity is left on both your iPhone and on a paired Apple Watch.
Siri is getting some minor improvements, with a design reminiscent of the interface on the Apple Watch. You can also turn on a setting that mutes Siri when you mute your phone. Additionally, when you activate the personal assistant, your phone will vibrate to indicate that she’s ready for a query.
8. Search improvements
iOS’s Search function is much-improved in iOS 9 beta 2, and brings both more results and a wider range of results for each search query. Additionally, in the settings for Search, you’ll see a list of installed apps with the option to toggle them on or off in search results. In the iOS 9 Beta 1, the menu showed only Apple search results and options like Bing Web Results, Documents, Found in Mail, and Safari Suggestions. Tapping on the Search bar in the Maps app reveals new options like Food, Drinks, Travel, and more. And when you look up a contact in Search, you’ll be able to call or message them directly from there.
- Faster Apple Pay access
In addition to accessing Apple Pay via the new Wallet app, you can also navigate to the mobile payments app from the lock screen by double-clicking the home button. From there you’ll be able to see your wallet, choose a card, and make a payment quickly.
New default apps
Find My Friends and Find My iPhone will be default apps, which will be automatically installed on your phone. Find My Friends also gains a Notification Center widget.
iOS 9 will also add more passcode options, and you’ll be able to choose whether you want to use a four-digit numeric code, a custom six-digit numeric code, or a custom alphanumeric code.
12. New video controls
When recording a video, you’ll be able to toggle the flash on and off. (Before, you could only turn the flash on or off before you started to record a video.) The change gives users more flexibility, and will enable you to change whether the flash is on or off as you go, rather than having to decide beforehand. From the settings app, you can also select recording resolutions and frame rates. You’ll be able to shoot 720p at 30fps, 1080p at 30fps, and 1080 at 60fps.
- Updated Podcasts app
The Podcasts app is revamped with new Mini player, like Apple’s Music app. It also gains a section to show you the unplayed podcasts you have, plus a newly-updated, bolder icon. The app’s layout has also been fine-tuned with iOS 9, and the position of some of the download buttons has changed.
Changes to the Health app
The Health app gains a landscape mode to show graphs of data. More significantly, it will gain a new “Reproductive Health” section that can track basal body temperature, cervical mucus quality, menstruation, ovulation test results, sexual activity, and spotting.
Safari shows a new section for content blockers. You’ll also be able to request the desktop version of a site from the share sheet in Safari, and the browser also has an iBooks extension that can save a web page as a PDF. Additionally, Safari’s Reader Mode is now customizable, and you’ll be able to select the background color and typeface for the article you’re reading.
Handoff and Continuity updates
Handoff is displayed in the App Switcher screen with the second beta of iOS 9, while in the first beta, Handoff wasn’t available in the App Switcher. Additionally, Continuity in iOS 9 will enable users to pick up a phone call on their Mac or iPad even if their iPhone is at home using cellular data.
Better Voice Control
iOS 9 will also bring a brand-new Voice Control user interface, as Redmond Pie notes. If you don’t use Siri, or have an older iOS device that’s not compatible with Siri, then you can access Voice Control by holding down the home button. The operating system also gains a new user interface for Dictation.
To make room for the iOS 9 upgrade, your phone will be able to temporarily delete apps if you don’t have enough storage free. The device will automatically reinstall the deleted apps and data after the upgrade is completed.
In Settings, you’ll be able to search for what you’re looking for, instead of scrolling through all of the options. iOS 9 also enables you to group notifications by app, an option you can turn on from the Settings app. Other new options available in the Settings app include the ability to set Auto-Lock to activate after 30 seconds, to turn off all vibrations, to disable shake to undo, and to turn character preview off.
Users of the iPhone 6 will be able to see contact photos in Messages, a feature that was previously only available on the iPhone 6 Plus. Menus in iOS 9 will have rounded corners instead of the square ones found in iOS 8. The mute switch can act as a lock rotation switch, according to the MacRumors video, though TechnoBuffalo reports that the newly added switch inside the settings app appeared in beta 1 but not in beta 2. iOS 9 uses a new system-wide font, called San Francisco. It’s a font developed by Apple, and is used on the Apple Watch and OS 10.
Whats in for developers?
There are a lot of new developer APIs included with iOS 9 that will bring great new features to third-party apps. A quick look at these features gives us information on what we can expect from apps when iOS 9 is released in the fall.
Developers will be able to take advantage of multitasking on the iPad, optimizing their apps to be used with the three multitasking features: Slide Over, Split View, and Picture in Picture. Apps do not work automatically with this feature and require developer support.
Third-party apps can include a new Core Spotlight feature, allowing them to come up in searches on iOS 9. A search for “Maui” might bring up a travel app, for example, and an additional deep linking feature will send users to the appropriate place within the app.
Specific items on websites that are accessible from within an app can also be made available to iOS 9’s search feature, and links will take users back to a website or an app after searching.
Games are going to get a lot better. There are improvements to the tools developers can use to build iOS games, including SceneKit, SpriteKit, and Metal. Three new kits have also been introduced: GamePlayKit for creating complex rule-based games and realistic character behavior, ReplayKit for allowing players to record video of the games they’re playing, and Model I/O, a 3D model framework.
With App Thinning, apps can be optimized for specific devices for the first time, which will allow them to take up less space on your devices. You won’t need to download all the iPad files for a game if you’re playing on an iPhone, for example. That means faster installs, faster launch times, and more storage space left for other apps and content.
There are new data points in HealthKit that apps can contribute to (reproductive health, UV exposure, water intake, and sedentary state), and apps can now use Safari features like Reader mode and Autofill. News Publishing features will let third-party content creators optimize websites and stories for the new News app, and third-party apps can offer transit directions and enable Flyover.
Improvements to CloudKit and HomeKit also promise to bring exciting new features to third-party apps in iOS 9.
iOS 9 works with all devices that are able to run iOS 8, including the older A5-based iPhone 4s and iPad 2. Compatible devices include the iPhone 4s and newer, the iPad 2 and newer, and the original iPad mini and newer.
iOS 9 is currently available to developers. The first beta was provided on June 8, just after the Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple plans to offer a public beta of iOS 9 in July, with a public release following in the fall.