Apple announced iOS 9 this past June at it’s 2015 Worldwide Developers Conference. This year’s tagline, “A better experience with every touch” confirms the speculation that iOS 9 intends to focus on improving stability over the introduction of new features. The last two or so versions, especially iOS 7, focused heavily on features (along with iOS 8 which was expected to further refine the iOS 7 experience), but overall stability has since diminished with more recent releases. So for this release, the average user could reasonably expect improvements to speed, the ever more relevant battery life, and overall stability. iOS 9 is expected to be released autumn 2015, most likely around mid to late September following previous release trends.
iOS 9 Public Beta 1
Apple released the first public beta of iOS 9 to the masses on July 9th. It contained the following improvements to existing apps, and new features:
The News application (which may not be uninstalled) adds a native reddit styled system to iOS devices. It works based on topics a user indicates interest in, and touts its ability to condense information from multiple sources negating the need for a user to switch apps. News also focuses on “the rich and immersive design found in print with the interactivity of digital media.” (Click on photos to zoom.)
Similarly to the OS X 10.11 “El Capitan” beta that is running concurrently, the Notes application is seeing some rather significant function overhauls. Notes may now contain photos, maps, and URLs, and users may also include drawings and native checklists. Users will be able to add content from basically everywhere, and the previous iCloud functionality will allow Notes to be by synced to other devices.
Maps will now be able to provide public transit information (Note: Public transit information is currently limited to the following select cities: Baltimore, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC, internationally in London, Toronto, and Berlin). Along with enhanced nearby location searching to find points of interest.
Passbook has received a re-brand as Wallet and now has greater integration with Apple Pay introduced in iOS 8. Wallet will have integration for store specific cards, and reward cards (Dunkin’ Donuts Perks included). Users may now double-home-click while on the lock screen to access Apple Pay.
Siri has once more received an update to find information on a widening range of subjects. Siri is now able to return results faster, along with a small GUI change. Siri can (in a limited way) interact with some apps to create reminders. Siri is also now powering a search system referred to as Proactive. Proactive appears as a new search area that can be found by scrolling through the apps screens all the way to the left beyond the home screen (Basic search is still available if you pull down on an app screen). However, when Proactive is used the system is already pre-populated with frequent contacts, nearby points-of-interest, news, and suggested apps. Proactive also permeates elsewhere within iOS 9. Plug in headphones, and the podcast you left off on will resume where you left off, email will suggest contacts that are frequently emailed together, received messages that include events will be pre-loaded into your calendar, and unknown callers whose numbers have appeared in messages will get a “Maybe: <this person>” tag. Overall a lot of small features that end up being pretty slick.
Performance & Security
In the context of performance, iOS 9 is expected to streamline the update process by reducing the storage footprint required to perform the update. Users installing iOS 8 on top of the latest release of iOS 7 were required to have 4.58GB of storage. Users installing iOS 9 will only require 1.3GB of free storage, and if this is not available iOS 9 will be able to uninstall and reinstall applications to create adequate space.
Apple has touted extended battery life as part of the benefits to updating to iOS 9. Settings now includes a “low power” mode to extend battery lifetime when critically low. What is unsatisfactory, so far, is that even with optimizations and this low power mode, Apple is boasting extended lifetimes of only one hour.
iOS 9’s focus on security changes the default system passcode from four to six digits, or 10,000 to 1,000,000 possible combinations. Two-factor authentication will also see greater integration regarding AppleID based services.
Users of Android devices who desire to migrate to an iPhone will be able to use a Migration App that will securely copy a user’s contacts, message history, camera photos and videos, web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, wallpaper, and DRM-free books. It will also suggest apps based on android downloads.
Other changes include:
- System font change from Helvetica Neue to San Francisco
- Settings are now searchable from within the settings application
- Keyboard capitalization is now decidedly less ambiguous
- Battery widget
- Apps can take greater advantage of Metal graphics APIs
iPad Productivity (Finally)
iPad-only productivity features include Split View, Slide Over, Picture in Picture, and new features to the QuickType keyboard.
iPad (certain models) will now have the ability to multitask beyond the double-home-click to quickly jump between apps. Users will be able to pin two separate apps to half the screen (Split View, only confirmed on iPad Air 2) and/or open a second application without exiting the one a user is already in (Slide Over).
Slide over works by sliding a small tab from the right edge of the screen while in landscape orientation.
Picture in Picture will allow users watching video or Face-timing with someone to be able to open other applications underneath a floating miniaturized version of the video screen.
QuickType (if you were not already aware) is the name given to the default keyboard iOS uses. The next release includes three additions to functionality: a shortcut bar, easier text selection, and keyboard shortcuts. The new shortcut bar enables easy access to functions like bold or italicize. Using two fingers while typing allows you to quickly move the cursor along text. Shortcuts will work across all keyboards (onscreen + wireless) and shortcuts will vary by app but common ones include search or app switching.
According to Apple iOS 9 will be available on the following mobile devices:
- iPod Touch 5th generation
- iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6+
- iPad 2, iPad 3rd generation, iPad 4th generation, iPad mini, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPad Air, iPad Air 2
Apple Software Beta Program: https://goo.gl/1p2iTZ
Apple iOS Preview: http://goo.gl/NVOGpi