2Don’t Expect a Major Design Change
The look and feel of iOS 9 will not be all that different from what customers will find in iOS 8. Apple has gone out of its way to make sure that people feel at home with the operating system, leaving its design nearly identical to that of iOS 8. In addition, the company has made it work with all of the devices that currently run iOS 8 to maximize adoption of its latest platform. In the past, iOS updates shed some device support. With iOS 9, no Apple mobile devices will be left out.
3News Is Brand-New for Readers
Apple will launch a new bundled application with iOS 9 called News. The app will combine all kinds of content from around the Internet and put it into a single program for users to access. Like competing app Flipboard, News will provide a curated list of topics and publications for users to access. The app replaces Newsstand, which never got off the ground and failed to appeal to publishers. Apple hopes that won’t be the case with News and has already signed on The New York Times, Conde Nast and other outlets to mitigate the chances of that happening.
4Notes Gets a Much-Needed Facelift
The Notes app has received a nice update. For one, the app makes it easy for users to create a to-do list that integrates with iCloud, so everything on one device is synchronized across others. In addition, iOS 9’s Notes app includes support for adding photos to notes and sketching thoughts on a particular item. There’s also an attachments browser so users can add files and other pertinent information to a note. It’s a much-needed facelift for an app that was becoming less useful.
5Maps Is Now More Useful for Non-Drivers
According to Apple, its Maps application has been used far more in the last several months than in the past, due in large part to the improvements the company has made to its accuracy. In iOS 9, however, the app has received an interesting new addition: support for “Transit.” What that means is users who don’t drive but want travel information for a subway, ferry or taxi can still use the app to find their way around town. In addition, a new Nearby feature lets users quickly see what’s around them and decide where to stop.
6So Long, Passbook; Hello, Wallet
Apple’s Passbook app was supposed to be the central hub for all things entertainment and events. However, it became a repository last year for credit cards as part of Apple Pay and has now been renamed Wallet. Besides the name change, Wallet will support Discover Card and store credit cards. Rewards cards from companies like Panera and Dunkin’ Donuts are also supported. One other useful addition: Double-clicking the Home button on a locked iPhone will provide easy access to Apple Pay.
7CarPlay Offers a Better Infotainment Experience
Apple’s CarPlay, the in-car infotainment system built by the company, is now more useful in iOS 9. For one, users won’t need to take out their iPhones in order to take control over a CarPlay installation. CarPlay also includes enhanced support for the car’s control buttons, knobs and touch screens. Plus, there is better integration with apps built into iOS. If CarPlay was a solid option before iOS 9, it’ll be even better after iOS 9.
8iPad Gains Quality Multitasking
One of the biggest software announcements at WWDC was the addition of higher-quality multitasking on the iPad. When users load up iOS 9 on the iPad, they’ll be able to view two apps at once with a new Split View feature. A Slide Over action lets users open a second app without leaving the one they’re in. Finally, Apple says that the iPad’s version of iOS 9 will include picture-in-picture viewing, which allows users to watch a video while still using another app. All in all, the iOS 9 update for the iPad seems like a much-needed one that will make using the slate much easier.
9QuickType Improves iPad Virtual Keyboard
Another interesting addition to the iPad is something Apple is calling “QuickType.” The feature makes the virtual keyboard more usable, allowing users to quickly bold, italicize, underline or copy-and-paste text. By using two fingers, users can turn their iPads into touch pads, floating around to select text and move it. And when a keyboard is attached to the iPad, users can employ standard shortcuts to move between apps, copy and paste, and more.
10Siri Becomes a Much Smarter Addition
Siri has arguably received the biggest improvement of any built-in app in iOS. The virtual personal assistant now searches more places and can respond to more natural language requests, such as “show me videos I took last year” or “remind me about this when I get to my car.” Siri will also provide relevant information based on location, a user’s activities or whom the user typically contacts. So, if a person goes for a run each morning and likes a particular song, Siri will start to automatically play, selecting songs after “learning” the user’s preferences.
11Here’s How You Can Check Out iOS 9
Apple is making iOS 9 available to developers immediately, which means there are some folks in the development community running the new operating system right now. For the rest of us, Apple is offering a public beta for iOS 9 in July with the caveat that it’s not a final build and could be buggy. A final version of iOS 9 will launch in the fall, likely to coincide with the introduction a new iPhone. Apple’s iOS 9 will be available as a free upgrade.