iOS 9 became available to download and install on iPhones and iPads around the world in September, and since then Apple has released several incremental updates to fix bugs and add improvements and features. The latest was iOS 9.2, which brought the new News app to the UK and added new emoji. Read on to find out how to get iOS 9.2 on your device, whether your iPhone or iPad will be able to run iOS 9, and everything you need to know about iOS 9 including features of the upcoming iOS 9.3.
Updated, 8 August 2016: Apple has now released iOS 9.3.4 - a security patch - and we're pretty sure that this will be the final update before the public launch of iOS 10. Jump to our iOS 9.3.4 section to find out about the security vulnerability this update fixes, and why you need to install it now.
Main sections in this article:
- iOS 9.3
- iOS 9.2
- iOS 9.1
- New apps
- iOS 9 bugs
- iOS 9 release date
- iOS 9 design and interface changes
- iOS 9 new features
- iOS 9 small additions
- Which iPads and iPhones can run iOS 9?
- iOS 9 pre-event rumours and leaked screenshots
In this section we look at the point updates to iOS 9 as they appear, and the security patches and new features they include. Traditionally point updates contain far fewer major changes than 'full number' updates, but 9.3, for example, was highly significant in its own right.
The last time we updated this article we predicted that, unless major security holes appear, iOS 9.3.3 would be the last version of iOS 9. Well, it looks like another major security hole did appear, because Apple has rolled out one last final (probably) update: iOS 9.3.4.
If you're hoping for some new features, prepare for disappointment: it's merely a security patch. But it sounds like one that's well worth installing nevertheless. The Software Update section of Settings informs you that "iOS 9.3.4 provides an important security update for your iPhone or iPad and is recommended for all users".
Apple's release notes for 9.3.4 offer a little more detail. It transpires that the security hole could have allowed dodgy apps "to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges" as a result of a memory corruption issue. (Apple credits the discovery of this problem to the jailbreaking collective Team Pangu, incidentally… and also includes a fix in 9.3.4 that shuts down Team Pangu's jailbreak for iOS 9.3.3, according to MacRumors. There's gratitude for you.)
It seems to be a pretty small and quick-to-install update. So, unless you're a jailbreaker, it makes sense to get this installed at your earliest convenience.
And we really do think this will be the last update until iOS 10 launches.
iOS 9.3.3 fixes & new features
Apple has pushed its latest update to iOS 9 through to everyone that has an eligible device. The new 9.3.3 update doesn't bring any new features, but addresses a lot of security holes and small bug fixes. For example, a hack was found to force-restart your device through the Calendar app - this has now been patched.
Initially at its launch, as per coincidence, iBooks and PDFs were having problems after users upgraded to iOS 9.3.3. Apple has since resolved the issue and pinned it down to be server-related.
This could very well be the final update some devices will see, such as for the iPhone 4S and iPad 2.
With iOS 10 around the corner, it would seem Apple have polished iOS 9 with 9.3.3 and wish to move on to iOS 10. Upon updating our iPhone 5s, we found the latest update bring fast annimations and improve our iPhone's speed; thus improving user experience.
Apple has released a small update for iOS users addressing a number of bugs affecting iPhone SE users, along with a handful of other changes. Since its launch, early adopters of the iPhone SE have been plagued by Bluetooth issues, with audio issues occurring whenever the smartphone was connected to a Bluetooth speaker, headset, etc. This update fixes that, along with a number of other sound-related activities including streaming music and GPS voice navigation.
iOS 9.3.2 also introduces the ability to run Apple’s colour changing NightShift feature while in Low Power mode, a feature that was originally available in the iOS 9.3 beta but was removed by the company with its final release.
The new version of iOS prompted an iTunes update too, with the most current version, iTunes 12.4, now available to download. While it isn’t a huge update, Apple has gone to some lengths to make the notoriously confusing-to-use iTunes a little easier to navigate. How? The company has reintroduced the sidebar menu for navigating the My Music section, allowing constant access to playlists while browsing your iTunes library.
However, it's not great news for everybody - there are reports of the iOS 9.3.2 update bricking some 9.7in iPad Pros. Affected users are presented with an "Error 56" message that prompts them to plug their device into iTunes, and according to Apple’s error code support document, the error is a hardware issue. Apple has since acknowledged the issue, and issued a statement to Rene Ritchie at iMore:
“We're looking into a small number of reports that some iPad units are receiving an error when updating the software. Those unable to restore their device through iTunes should contact Apple support.”
iOS 9.3.1 fixes & new features
On 6 April 2016, users uncovered a flaw (video linked) in the latest iOS 9.3.1 which allows you to directly unlock an iPhone without having to neither enter a passcode nor even use TouchID. The flaw was exploitable through Siri, but within 24 hours was successfully patched by Apple - the update takes place automatically and won't require you to update your operating system. Keep on reading to find out just what's new in iOS 9.3.
iOS 9.3 fixes & new features
Apple hosted an event on 21 March 2016 where it announced the 4in iPhone SE alongside the 9.7in iPad Pro and a flurry of new Apple Watch straps. Along with the new hardware announcements, the company also announced that iOS 9.3, which has been in beta testing since February (and Apple's biggest 'dot' update) was to be made available to the public on the same day (21/03/2016). To get the latest software, simply open the Settings app, tap General > Software update, install the iOS 9.3 update and the same principle applies to any new revisions to the software.
Apple announced the latest iteration of its iOS operating system via its own website, iOS 9.3, back in February and promises a handful of features that users have been longing for, for quite some time. It includes a ‘Night Shift’ mode that’ll adjust colours based on the time of day (and location of the device), producing colours warmer in the evening to combat the issue of blue light affecting your circadian rhythms, making it more difficult to sleep at night. The warmer colours should make it easier on your eyes in the evening, and make it easier to sleep when using an iOS device just before bed (as many of us do!).
The update also brings password protection, along with Touch ID support, to the Notes app, allowing you to keep private notes exactly that – private. Many users use the Notes app to store important snippets of information and sometimes even passwords, which is extremely insecure and could lead to your personal information being accessed if your phone (or iPad, or Mac) is stolen. Apple says that with the inclusion of password and Touch ID protection, users should be free to store personal data including financial details and website logins, without worry. Although we’re happy that Apple has decided to do this, we think it’d be better suited to other native iOS apps like the Messages app, for example.
Also in the iOS 9.3 update are a host of new 3D-touch enabled shortcuts for stock iOS apps, including the Settings and Weather apps. Force-pressing the Settings icon in iOS 9.3 will bring up shortcuts to the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Wallpaper and Battery settings menus, a feature requested by iPhone 6s and 6s Plus users since they were released in September 2015.
Alongside this, iOS 9.3 includes a number of smaller improvements to the iOS experience, including the following:
- The ability to switch to corresponding apps via the Wallet app
- Landscape support for more iPhones
- Siri support for new languages, including Hebrew, Finish and Malay
- The ability to duplicate a Live Photo as a standard photo when exporting images from the Photos app
- ‘Duplicate’ option in Photos app
- Taptic feedback when accessing the multi-tasking menu via 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
- Option to display Activity app data in the Health app
- New Workout data section in the Activity app
- iOS Education upgrades
- Enhanced Apple Music support in CarPlay
- iCloud for iBooks will sync PDFs and more
iOS 9.2 is now available for the iPhone. It offers improvements to Apple Music, making it easier to create playlists and save songs to listen to offline, as well as better browsing of Classical music.
There’s also a new Top Stories section in the News app.
And Mail has been improved, with Mail Drop now allowing users to send large attachments.
To download iOS 9.2 you need to visit Settings > General > Software Update. Alternatively you may see an alert on your phone that the update is available.
iOS 9.2 is also said to solve an issue with the iPad Pro suddenly going black and failing to respond, according to Apple. The company has updated it’s initial release notes with this claim. Apple had previously offered a fix that involved holding down the home and sleep/wake buttons – essentially restarting your iPad.
Update: iOS 9.2.1 - On 20 January, Apple released iOS 9.2.1, a small update that can really help speed things up if you're running an older iPhone, so we'd recommend updating. Specifically, though, Apple has noted that the update fixes an issue that could prevent the completion of app installation when using an MDM server.
iOS 9 bugs: Battery Freeze
iOS 9.2.1 did not, however, fix an issue that has been plaguing the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus and has hit headlines over the past few days.
Essentially, owners of the newest iPhones are finding that their battery life indicators are not updating, even when their battery has been charged.
Apple says that the problem occurs when you change the time on your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus or change timezones when travelling. It suggests restarting your phone and turning on 'Set Automatically' after navigating to Settings > General > Date & Time.
But that's far from an ideal solution to the problem so for now we're still waiting for a fix.
The latest iOS 9 update is iOS 9.1, which includes several changes and improvements and is the first major update to the operating system just one month after it was released. It introduces new emoji including the long-awaited middle finger, plus others such as a champagne bottle and a unicorn.
In addition to the new emoji, iOS 9.1 also brings the News app to the UK. You can find out more about News here.
There's also a new Live Photos feature that helps prevent the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus from capturing movements like raising or lowering the phone, a problem that we'd been encountering many times prior to the update.
There's also support for the Apple TV, which just became available to pre-order, and the iPad Pro
Read: Advanced iOS 9 tips
iOS 9 updates: What's new in iOS 9.0.2
Before iOS 9, iOS 9.0.2 was launched on 30 September. It fixed bugs including one that prevented the mobile data usage from being turned on or off for individual apps, an iMessage activation issue and iCloud backup problems. There was also a strange bug that could cause the screen to rotate when notifications were received.
iOS 9 updates: What's new in iOS 9.0.1
The first update to iOS 9 came not long after iOS 9 launched, on 23 September. It included lots of bug fixes, including one that prevented people from upgrading to iOS 9 at all because there was a glitch with the Slide to Upgrade screen.
In an unusual move, Apple has released a new app well in advance of WWDC 2016, which we expect to take place in June complete with our first look at iOS 10.
The new app, released on 20 January and available for free for iPhone and iPad, is called Music Memos, and is designed to let musicians and songwriters quickly capture, organise and develop their musical ideas.
"Musicians around the world, from the biggest artists to aspiring students, use Apple devices to create amazing music; the innovative new Music Memos app will help them quickly capture their ideas on iPhone and iPad whenever inspiration strikes," said Apple's head of marketing Phil Schiller.
Prior to Music Memo, musicians were using Voice Memos to capture their ideas, so Apple has created a new, dedicated app to make things easier. "Sometimes ideas come faster than I can get them into my notebook so I've used Voice Memos and Notes to quickly capture songs before they're lost," said singer and producer Ryan Adams in Apple's press release. "Music Memos is like if those two apps came together to form some kind of superpower for songs."
Apple has taken the idea of using Voice Memos on iPhones and iPads to capture ideas to a new level, meaning you can record any instrument (although acoustic guitar and paino work best) in high quality, uncompressed format. Music Memos can analyse the rhythm and chords of recordings, and it can even add virtual drums and a bassline. Better yet, Music Memos offers basic notation, too.
You can add names and star ratings to your recordings and ideas to help find your favaourites, and there's a tag system to allow you to find intros or verses, for example.
Ideas can be stored in iCloud, opened in GarageBand or Logic Pro X and if you're already part of Apple Music Connect you can share ideas with your fans there.
Talking of GarageBand, Apple didn't stop with just Music Memo. It also released a big update to GarageBand for iOS. GarageBand 2.1 for iOS now offers Live Loops inspired by DJ hardware controllers and drum machines, as well as a new Drummer feature and compatibility with the iPad Pro. Plus, there's now 3D Touch compatibility for GarageBand, too.
iOS 9 bugs
iOS 9's launch hasn't been the smoothest of affairs. First came the aforementioned bug with the Slide to Upgrade screen, which left some users unable to upgrade at all. Then there were issues with WiFi, unresponsive touchscreens, cellular data for individual apps, Bluetooth, iMessage, battery life and more. Plus, users were complaining about WiFi assist, which is turned on by default, because it uses mobile data to help speed up your internet connection.
Plus, another bug spotted by users migrating from an iPhone 5, 5s or 5c to an iPhone 6S have found that an iOS 9 bug is making several apps appear zoomed in.
If you've discovered an iOS 9 bug and haven't yet updated to the latest version, that's the first thing you'll need to do, because it's likely that Apple has already fixed it. You can find out how to update by clicking here.
But be careful! Even Apple's update system has a bug in it, and that bug could make you really late for work. Macworld's own Ashleigh Allsopp discovered that the hard way when she chose the 'Later ' option after being prompted to update to iOS 9.1. Choosing that option will mean that your iPhone will automatically update overnight while you're sleeping, and will be finished when you wake up. But the problem is that you might not wake up – at least not on time. Choosing the overnight update will turn off your alarm, so make sure you do it on the weekend when you don't need to be up and out in the morning.
iOS 9 release date: iOS 9 is out now
At its September event Apple revealed that iOS 9 would be out on Wednesday 16 September and sure enough the iOS operating system was available to download just after 6pm in the UK that day. It was supposed to launch alongside the highly anticipated watchOS 2 but the latter was been delayed.
iOS 9 launch: Design changes
After the radical visual rethink in iOS 7 (and the ensuing backlash from users), Apple's designers calmed down for iOS 8. In terms of the interface, it's practically identical to later builds of iOS 7.
And that's largely what we expected from iOS 9 too. Because as iOS updates go, rapid change is the exception not the rule - and we can only imagine that Apple had its fingers burned by the reaction to iOS 7.
Sure enough, iOS 9 looks almost identical to iOS 8. But there are some small, crucial differences in the way it looks, and the way the interface behaves.
iOS 9 design changes: New typeface
Apple has replaced the Helvetica Neue system font that was introduced in iOS 7 with a bespoke font called San Francisco.
It's a subtle difference, but you can spot it if you look closely. Take these screenshots from the Settings app in iOS 8 (left) and iOS 9 (right). Look at the capital R on Refresh and Restrictions: the older font had more of a curl.
As well as a different typeface, iOS 9 deploys its typography in an airier, clearer way, with a little more space around the lettering. Have a look at the Reply options in the Mail app. Again, iOS 8 is on the left and iOS 9 is on the right.
You already know San Francisco without necessarily realising it: it's the system font from the Apple Watch, and was selected and designed specifically to be readable on a miniature screen. The general feeling is that Apple's move to a super-slim Helvetica variant for iOS 7 sacrificed readability of the sake of attractive visual minimalism, and iOS 9's San Francisco typeface should be easier to read as well as remaining easy on the eye.
iOS 9 design changes: New Shift key and other keyboard changes
This one sounds small, but you'd be amazed by the number of people who have complained about it.
The Shift key in iOS 8's default system keyboard is ambiguous. When it's on, it looks off, and when it's off, it looks on. Take a look for yourself:
In the top picture, the Shift key is off (look at the QuickType suggested words to confirm this - 'the' is not capitalised). In the bottom picture Shift is on - yet it's the same colour as the other keys on its row. Rather confusing.
We're pleased to announce that Apple has sorted this out in iOS 9. We thought it might involve a splash of colour when Shift was enabled, as you'll see in some rival platforms, but Apple remains committed to its minimalist principles. Instead, the entire set of keys change to lower- or upper-case, as the situation demands:
You'll also notice some new additions to the system keyboard: shortcut keys at the top right. These are for cut-and-paste commands (the scissors) and to-do list formatting (the tick in a circle) as well as more formatting options (the upper- and lower-case A).
This is what you get in Notes, at any rate. In a lot of cases, in fact, you'll just get the cut-and-paste options, and they will therefore be listed separately:
As they are (at the top left) in Notes if you tap the button:
Cut is obviously the scissors, and Copy and Paste are the next options along.
We'll discuss the new features in Notes later in this article, including its new ability to easily create functional to-do lists.
One last change to the keyboard: tap and hold anywhere on the keyboard with two fingers at the same time, and you'll gain control of a 'cursor', which is handy for highlighting text (although seems quite tricky after a few goes):
The keys all grey out while this is in effect, and moving the fingers around on the screen moves the cursor around, selecting any text between it and the starting position you were in before doing the double-finger tap and hold.
iOS 9 launch: New features and enhancements
Apple likes to include at least one showy marquee feature each time it updates iOS, something it can whip up some hype around at the launch presentation: iOS 8 had Health, Continuity and Apple Pay (even though we still haven't got the latter on this side of the Atlantic), iOS 7 had Control Centre, Touch ID and (later) CarPlay, iOS 6 had Maps and Do Not Disturb.
Here are the new features in iOS 9.
iOS 9 new features: 3D Touch on iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus
Apple has introduced a brand-new screen technology called 3D Touch based on the Force Touch implimented on the Apple Watch, which lets you 'Peek' by pressing lightly, or 'Pop' by pressing harder.
For example, if you're browsing through your emails and see one you think might be interesting, you can 'Peek' to see what it says and if you don't want to respond, you can let go to go right back to your emails without pressing back. But if you do want to reply, you can click harder to 'Pop' to the email.
App icons now become shortcuts that let you choose exactly where in that app you want to go. For example, force pressing on the Camera icon will now give you various options, including the option to take a selfie (which we can imagine being extremely popular!). And you can press on the Messages app to quickly compose a new message or access a recent message thread.
Multitasking is easier than ever with 3D Touch, too. You can press on the edge of the screen and swipe to scroll through the apps you've got open, rather than double clicking the Home button.
3D Touch works with a taptic engine for precise haptic feedback you can feel, just like the Apple Watch and the trackpad on the new MacBooks. For more information about the iPhone 6s and 3D Touch, head over to: Apple unveils iPhone 6s an 6s Plus with Rose Gold and Force Touch
iOS 9 new features: Proactive personal assistant
As expected (see the pre-event rumours on the next page), the marquee feature in iOS 9 is a contextual, predictive personal assistant feature that Apple refers to as 'Proactive'.
Proactive is tied in with Siri, but it's a far more pervasive aspect of the operating system - if you're willing to let it, it will learn about your habits throughout the day and offer relevant apps and functions that suit what it expects you to do in any given situation.
Proactive will learn your habits and, like a well-trained butler, learn to anticipate your needs before you're aware of them, and respond to Siri queries, or offer quick links to apps or contacts, in context-appropriate ways. If there's one particular app you nearly always open at a particular time of day - the Weather app when you wake up, for instance - then Proactive will help you to do this, offering a little bubble to open the app with one tap. If you call someone habitually, you'll get a button for that at the appropriate time. It's partly a shortcut, and partly a reminder of what you normally do but might have forgotten.
You'll also notice that iOS offers news stories in this screen: these are based on your location - stories that are trending in your vicinity.
In humorous mode, Apple software exec Craig Federighi claimed that he habitually meditates as soon as he wakes, so showed his theoretical iOS 9 iPhone prompting him with a meditation app at the relevant time. (Like the Camera app icon, the icon for this app appeared in grey at the bottom of the lock screen.) iOS had learned that habit - it didn't need to be told to add the app to the lock screen.
Simialrly, if you regularly call someone at a certain time each week, or at a certain location, Proactive will offer that contact on the search screen accessed via a right swipe from the Home screen. iOS 9 will (in theory) know you want to call before you do, and make things much easier with its predictive help.
In the following screenshot, for instance, Proactive is offering a Now Playing shortcut to your music, because it's learnt that you usually work out at this time of day. Simply plugging in the headphones is enough for iOS 9 to know to jump to music. (It was implied that even the sort of music that is offered was based on predictive cues - ie, energetic music for working out - but we're not sure if that's part of the functionality.)
If there's an appointment in your Calendar, iOS will intelligently remind you when to leave, based on local traffic conditions:
One last change that appears to come under the Proactive umbrella: when you receive a phone call and the caller's number isn't stored in Contacts, iOS 9 will intelligently look for that number in your emails, and offer hints as to who it might be. This is a fantastic idea that we really like, although some may dislike the idea of iOS combing through the contents of personal emails.
In general, Android fans will of course point out that they've seen this all before: it's a similar concept to Google Now, the predictive personal assistant feature that's been available for Android since 2012 and Chrome since 2014.
Indeed, the timing is a bit awkward for Apple: Google Now got plenty of attention at the I/O conference last night (28 May), and will soon be offering superior context awareness - if you're playing a song and ask "What's his real name?", Google Now will know that you mean the bloke singing, apparently - and a feature called 'Now on tap'.
As with Apple Maps a few years ago, Apple is taking on a successful and evolving target. Google has set a high standard to beat.
Read more on this subject: How to use Proactive in iOS 9. Or watch the Proactive features being demonstrated in this video:
iOS 9 new features: News app
More of a surprise than the previously leaked Proactive: Apple demoed a brand-new app called News for iOS 9.
News appears to be a little like Flipboard - you select sources and it draws in news stories from those sources automatically. Apple, one suspects, wants this to be your primary resource for news information, which will set alarm bells ringing in publishing houses and (perhaps more so) at Google HQ. Google is currently the main gatekeeper for readers' access to news data from publishers.
Apple described News as "beautiful content from the world's greatest sources, personalised for you". You pick sources, and you get a feed of those sources. More than this, News appears to be able to learn about your interests: it will show you articles from sources you didn't select if they match your interests (Machine learning analyses article content to hopefully show you only stuff you like, Apple said), and there's an Explore feature that shows you new channels that the app thinks you might like, plus more topics.
You can bookmark stuff for later, there are embedded videos, and you can search through the app's more than a million topics. It's impressive stuff - but will we bother to use it when we already have favoured news sources?
One last thing in News' favour: it looks great. What the company calls 'Apple News Format' optimises it for display in the app while still making it look like the outlet you're used to: their logo and style.
In a press statement, Apple boasted that Apple News Format "allows publishers to create stories that look beautiful and take advantage of the full power of iOS. Content can include photos and galleries, audio, video, maps and rich interactions such as parallax and animation. When publishers create their stories for News, content comes alive with custom fonts and intuitive Multi-Touch gestures. Apple News Format automatically customises the layout for each screen size, so News content looks great on both iPhone and iPad."
News rolled out in the US first, but here's How to get the News app in the UK (How to use the News app)
"News seamlessly delivers the articles you want to read in a beautiful and uncluttered format, while respecting your privacy, because Apple doesn't share your personal data," said Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice-president of Internet Software and Services. "We already have nearly 20 publishers representing more than 50 titles joining us, including Condé Nast, ESPN, The New York Times, Hearst, Time Inc, CNN and Bloomberg."
iOS 9 new features: Multitasking
This next one is only for the iPad, so iPhone owners should look away sadly. And it's the Holy Grail of iOS features, the one we've all been asking for for years: multitasking.
iOS 9 on the iPad lets you view two apps at once. In its simplest form, you activate this from any app by swiping inwards from the righthand side, whereupon you'll be offered a range of apps that can run in a sidebar view:
Pick one of these and you'll be able to view it at the same time as the 'main' app:
Swipe down from the top of that sidebar to go back to the app chooser pane.
In this simple form, however, you can't interact with both apps at once. You can interact with the sidebar app while viewing the main app, but as soon as you tap on the main app the sidebar vanishes back into the side of the screen. (Sipe inwards again from the right to get it back.) But if you're running the iPad Air 2, you can take multitasking to the next level.
When you run apps in Split view, both apps are active - you can interact with both at the same time, even scrolling them in opposite directions thanks to multitouch.
For example, Craig Federighi browsed Safari but kept Notes pinned to the side at the same time. (The amount of space each app takes up is adjustable, between 50/50 and two thirds/one third.) He could then easily pop into full-screen Notes to show off the QuickType keyboard toolbar.
Perhaps the most exciting application of all this is picture-in-picture video viewing. Federighi showed us a sports video, but then, deciding he wanted to look something up, was able to shrink it to a picture-in-picture thumbnail view.
Multitasking, as we said, is limited to the iPad; the splitscreen mode, and the ability to interact with two apps at the same time, is further limited to only the most advanced iPad, the iPad Air 2. (And presumably the iPad Air 3 when it launches, and maybe the iPad Pro...)
Also read: Multitasking on the iPad in iOS 9
iOS 9 new features: Updated Maps app
Long derided as the red-headed stepchild of Apple's software products (although take a look at our Apple Maps vs Google Maps comparison review to see how much ground Apple has made up on its big rival), Maps got plenty of attention at WWDC. It now boasts (at long last) access to public-transport directions, improved location detail and the ability to discover nearby business and other points of interest.
Craig Federighi announced that Maps in iOS 9 will provide public-transport maps and directions for cities including San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Paris, Berlin and (good news for Euston Road-based Macworld UK) London - not to forget more than 300 locations in China.
Maps also gains more the ability to search for businesses near a specific location, including photos, directions and whether or not the shop supports Apple Pay.
The new Maps updates will appear in iOS 9 and Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan.
For more on the updated Maps app, see How to use public-transport directions in iOS 9 Maps.
iOS 9 new features: Updated Notes app
Notes may not be the most beloved of preinstalled apps, but at WWDC it got a wholly unexpected makeover. It's now got some really nice new features.
As we mentioned briefly in the Design and interface section, Notes can now easily create to-do lists. You just tap the tick in a circle and it will enter the following paragraph as a bullet point, and then default to that for subsequent paragraphs.
Apple has also added a charming new feature that we can only describe as a digital scribble, although it will be useful in far more contexts than that implies. From anywhere in your note, tap the squiggle icon (to the right of the QuickType suggestions) and Notes will open a new window in which you can doodle to your heart's content.
There's a clever ruler feature: tap the icon and move the ruler wherever you want it, rotate it with two fingers and then draw along it with one of the other pen tools. And you can draw in eight different colours. The idea isn't to replace dedicated art apps, of course, just to allow you to quickly sketch out a basic concept for a colleague to look at.
iOS 9 new features: Low-power mode, and improved battery life
Another one we've been demanding for a long time. iOS 9 will add a simple low-power mode, helping us to eke out considerably more battery life from our devices, and is supposedly generally less power-hungry.
This is a surprise, in the Apple world, where we routinely expect OS updates to be more demanding than their predecessors. But iOS 9, as well as being compatible with all the devices that iOS 8 was (see Which iPads and iPhones will be able to run iOS 9?) is apparently more power-efficient too. Apple claims that iOS 9 gifts an iPhone 6 about an extra hour of battery life, typically - an impressive boost to existing hardware, although we'll obviously need to test this out.
Better still, Apple has added a simple low-power mode that reduces animations and other superfluous features in order to stretch battery life still further. Low-power mode is a single switch that "pulls levers you didn't even know existed", Apple says. And it should add about three hours to your battery life, the firm claims.
(We're not sure if those three hours are in addition to the extra hour you get simply for running iOS 9, or include it; at least one site has been quoting a total gain of four hours but the way Apple phrases it makes this unclear...)
But what functionality has Apple sacrificed to make battery life better, and what do you lose by triggering low-power mode? That too is somewhat unclear at this point, with Apple confining its remarks to the following:
"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."
More information, please, Apple!
iOS 9 new features: iCloud Drive app
Another update that was leaked/rumoured ahead of the event: iCloud Drive gets its own dedicated iOS app.
This app lets you view files stored on the service. (Mac users can easily examine the iCloud Drive folder in Finder, but iOS 8 iPhone and iPad users currently have no easy way of accessing iCloud Drive content.)
iOS 9 new features: HomeKit
We expected HomeKit to be the centrepiece of WWDC 2015, but that honour went to Apple Music. Nevertheless, we heard about the ways iOS 9 will be able to monitor and control connected-home appliances and sensors.
iOS 9 adds support for windows shades, CO and motion sensors, and security systems. You will be able to access your home remotely via iCloud, securely.
iOS 9 new features: HealthKit
Apple also announced some relatively minor updates to the HealthKit SDK (although those affected may consider the elements related to reproductive health rather more than minor).
iOS 9 adds water intake tracking, plus other metrics, to HealthKit, as well as UV exposure.
iOS 9 new features: Smaller additions and tweaks
As well as the above, Apple has made a number of smaller changes that should also improve your overall iOS experience.
One feature that we're looking forward to is the introduction of Wi-Fi Assist, which appeared recently in iOS9 beta 5 (not the public beta, sadly!). Wi-Fi Assist aims to maintain a strong online connection when connected to a Wi-Fi network, and if you're using a network with poor signal or slow speeds, your iPhone will automatically switch to your cellular data connection. This is a great idea in principle, but with so many users having capped data contracts, it could become quite expensive. With this being said, you'll be able to disable the function by opening Settings, then heading to the "Cellular" sub-menu.
Apple Music has also been in Apple’s sights, with various parts of the music streaming app undergoing re-designs only months after its initial launch. The most noticeable change is apparent within the More Options menu, accessible by tapping the Ellipses (three dots) next to any song or album. Where Apple would've provided you with 10 options in iOS 8, in iOS 9 this has been cut down to six options without removing any kind of functionality - some old options are now icons, etc. This should make the app a bit more user friendly after the app was branded "uncharacteristically complicated by Apple standards" after its launch in June.
Another app that has had a facelift in iOS 9 is the Apple Watch Activity app. Admittedly, it’s not a huge redesign, but the Activity app in iOS 9 looks a lot more simplistic, offering a new way to view and interact with your activity history. In iOS 8, you’re given a monthly view of your activity, displayed on a day-to-day basis using the three rings we’ve all come to know and love using the Apple Watch. However, in iOS 9 you can choose instead to display workouts only, and days where you’ve worked out will be marked with a green circle. It’s not a game changer, but for those focussed on improving their general health and fitness, it may nudge them in the right direction.
Although this feature has been available on the iPad since day one, iOS 9 brings an additional option for the Side Switch of the iPhone. Up until now, the iPhone's side switch has been used exclusively to mute and un-mute your device, but in iOS 9 you'll have the choice between toggling mute or your lock screen orientation.
iOS 9 launch details: Which iPads, iPhones and iPods will be able to run iOS 9?
Each time Apple updates iOS, it adds a couple of new iPads and iPhones to the list of compatible devices, and knocks one or two older ones off.
Well, that's what it normally does. But this year Apple changed the record. iOS 9 is compatible with all the same devices as iOS 8 (plus, presumably, the iPhone 7 and other new devices that will launch in the autumn).
Which means you can get iOS 9 if you've got any of the following devices, which are compatible with iOS 9:
- iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2
- iPad mini, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3
- iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus
- iPod touch (fifth generation)
iOS 9 will launch to the general public alongside a new iPhone (or set of iPhones) in September and will of course be compatible with them. Most likely it will be followed by new iPads a month later, and again, will work with them.
A final word on updates: rather brilliantly, Apple listened when we complained about the vast size of the install file for iOS 7 and iOS 8, and this time around it should be a lot easier to make the update. Apple boasts that installing iOS 9 will take up only 1.3GB of your device's free space.
Also read: How to use Apple's Notes app in iOS 9 | How to get the Apple News app in iOS 9 | How to use Proactive in iOS 9 | How to search in iOS 9 | How to use public-transport directions in iOS 9 Apple Maps | Multitasking on the iPad in iOS 9
On the next page: the iOS 9 rumours we heard ahead of the launch. See how right (or wrong) we got it!