iOS 9 is Apple’s next iPhone and iPad update that brings a smarter Siri, public transit directions to Maps, true tablet multitasking and new built-in apps.
Unveiled yesterday, it’s Apple’s next big project between April’s Apple Watch launch and September’s expected iPhone 6S unveiling, and developers can download it today.
iOS 9 makes a big push for stability, a smaller download size and legacy phone and tablet compatibility. That older iPhone and iPad you have will work with this update if it runs iOS 8.
New iOS 9 features consist of redesigned built-in apps and premiers new ones. Here’s what to expect.
1. iOS 9 release date
iOS 9 for free will be available to the public either in July or later this year when it’s expected to launch with the new iPhone. Think: September.
It is, however, available today to those enrolled in iOS developer program, keeping with Apple’s same-day delivery pattern. Of course, becoming registered developer requires paying a fee.
2. iOS 9 compatibility
iOS 9 is to be more inclusive than previous iOS versions. Apple is choosing to make this update compatible with older iPhone, iPad and even iPod touch devices, too.
Okay, it’s not technically more inclusive just yet. Basically, if your dated hardware runs iOS 8, it can run iOS 9.When the rumored iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPad Air 3 and iPad mini 4 launch, then list will grow by two.
But overall, it’s good news, as older phones and tablets aren’t getting muscled out. The iPhone 4S and iPad 2 are safe, for now, and a few 30-pin dock devices live on.
3. A more proactive, smarter Siri
Siri in iOS 9 is getting the much-needed smarts to rival Google Now. Apple’s personal assistant understands the word “it” within context and brings proactivity to the operating system.
iOS 9 proactivity puts even more at your fingertips through Siri. It suggests appointments to add to Calendar and pulls up photos based on location and time with the sound of your voice.
Plug it into your car? It’ll bring up that audiobook you were listening to before. It’ll even tell you when to leave for an appointment across town, a feature that has made Google’s app for iOS a must-have.
4. Apple Pay expands
Apple Pay has been touted as a success, but so far has been limited to the US. That all changes when the mobile payment platform launches in the UK next month. Canada and China are rumored to be next up.
The official Apple Pay UK release date is happening in July and it’ll be backed by nearly 70% of credit and debit cards there, including Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland and HSBC.
Considering these newfound iOS 9 capabilities, Apple is renaming Passbook (the app where Apple Pay resides) to Wallet.
5. Apple News apps
In addition to getting rid of Passbook in favor of Wallet in iOS 9, Apple is replacing Newsstand with News, and it’s very familiar if you’re a fan of magazine-style news aggregators.
Apple News for iOS 9 is Flipboard, HTC BlinkFeed and Feedly wrapped into one app. It features a personalized feed and is coming to US, UK and Australia at launch.
6. Apple Maps
Apple Maps is sometimes unavoidable, even if you’re a dedicated Google Maps users. Siri and built-in apps still open directions up in the default navigation app. That won’t change.
The good news is that iOS 9 is going to make Apple Maps better, and maybe even tolerable. In its first major refresh since 2013, the app now includes long-awaited public transit directions.
7. Multitasking for iPad
iOS 9 brings true multitasking to its newer iPad tablets, and we’re not talking about the “multitasking” app switcher that premiered with iOS 4 back in 2010.
iPads will finally be able to handle more hefty productivity tasks. That’s to the delight of enterprise users who prefer iOS for personal use.
There are three ways to view multitasking windows on an iPad; Slide Over, Picture-in-Picture and Split View.
8. New iOS 9 keyboard
Apple launched what it called its “best keyboard yet” with the iOS 8 QuickType, and it’s trying to one-up that statement with the iOS 9 keyboard.
iPad’s on-screen keyboard now features a built-in shortcut bar, which flanks the next-word suggestions above the QWERTY letter keys. Cut, copy and paste to the left; bold, italic, underline and attachments to the right.
Cursor control is now easier with a handy (or fingery) slide mechanic when using two fingers. It basically turns the iPad QuickType keyboard into an trackpad. It’s way easier than hovering over the tiny cursor, trying to land in between letters.
Finally, shortcuts are coming to wireless keyboards so that you can interact with apps using their own built-in shortcut keys. Pressing and holding the Command, Option or Control key brings up the shortcut list.
9. Under the hood
New features are exciting and all, but iOS 9 needs to run better than iOS 8, which had a series of WiFi and battery drain problems from the get-go. Some users are still complaining.
Longer battery life is a chief concern of iPhone users, but they can squeeze out an extra hour thanks to a new Low Power mode. Apple says iOS 9 pulls switches you didn’t even know existed to save juice.
You may be able to install iOS 9 this time around without deleting all of your photos. It’ll take about 1.3GB, whereas iOS 8 needed massive 4.5GB of internal storage. That was awful on a 16GB iPhone.
CPU and GPU usage will be more efficient thanks to iOS 9, further improving performance, and security is said to be stepped up.