iOS 9 delivers big improvements to Siri, Maps and tablet multitasking.
Last night, Apple treated an eagerly awaiting audience to the first glimpses of iOS 9 – the forthcoming update to its iPhone and iPad operating system.
Hosted at Apple’s annual developer conference (WWDC 15), Tim Cook and his band of merry men each took their turn to reveal rousing details about the work they’ve been cultivating in preparation.
Whilst it was Apple Music that ended up hijacking the show, more information of which is to come, it’s iOS 9 that we’ll look to first.
From what was presented, we can all expect the foundations of iOS to be elevated, with enhanced intelligence regards to Siri, Maps and true tablet multitasking, as well as the introduction of a new native app.
iOS 9 release date
Those on Apple’s iOS developer program need not wait a single moment, iOS 9 is already available to download and test drive.
A public beta is scheduled for release in July, however the complete version (the one most of us need to worry about) won’t be ready until this autumn – in tandem with the launch of iPhone 6S.
iOS 9 compatibility
iOS 9 boasts wider compatibility than previous iterations of iOS, older generations of iPhone and iPad (to an extent) won’t be left out in the cold. Although, updates to iOS are optimised for newer devices, and thus may not perform as seamlessly as you’d like on ye olde iPhone.
Siri on iOS 9 promises to be smarter than ever before, complimented by a fresh new UI.
Now 40% faster and 40% more accurate, your fallouts with Siri are likely to be few and far between. It can help you out with more topics than ever, like locating a specific photo or video in your photo library.
Siri’s integrated location and time-based knowledge has seen some notable enhancements, allowing you to set reminders that trigger once you get into your car, for example.
If you’re viewing something in Safari that you’d like to come back to later on, Siri in iOS 9 will allow you to set a reminder to come back to it, offering a relevant link rather than a solo prompt.
Again, thanks to advanced location-based awareness, when you plug your headphones in, depending on where you are, your iPhone will suggest a recent playlist or even an audiobook you’ve been listening to.
So far Apple Pay has been fettered to the US, though it’s set to break free and launch here in the UK next month.
It’ll be supported by nearly 70% of UK credit and debit cards, including Santander, HSBC and Lloyds.
And over 250,000 locations across the UK will accept Apple Pay upon launch, including top brands like Subway, Starbucks and even cheeky Nandos.
The London transport system will be the first to integrate Apple Pay, giving you another reason to leave your wallet at home. Speaking of which, Passbook is being renamed Wallet, and will hold everything from your credit cards, reward cards, boarding passes, tickets and more.
Today’s Newsstand is tomorrow’s News.
iOS 9 will introduce a new native app to users, replacing Newsstand with a personalised feed of news based on your interests.
Called News, it looks to amalgamate the qualities of other apps like HTC BlinkFeed and Flipboard into one, curated selection of articles.
You’ll have access to all of the hottest stories, articles and posts, with more than a million topics to work through. Content will no doubt look well-polished, as Apple promises it will come adorned with stunning layouts, photos, animation and video.
Big name publishers like TIME, The Guardian and The Verge will be channelling their content through News, and you can even publish your own from your blog or website.
News will initially be available to iPhone users in the US, UK and Australia, and will roll out with iOS 9 this autumn.
Apple Maps hasn’t yet established itself as the staple navigation app for me, not whilst Google Maps reigns supreme.
Though iOS 9 will see Apple Maps receive its first noteworthy update since 2013, with public transit directions finally making their way on board (in major global cities, to being with). Catching buses, trains, subways and ferries will be a whole lot simpler.
Maps will also help you get to grips with a new location, revealing nearby restaurants, bars, shops and things to do. It’ll even tell you which establishments support Apple Pay, so you can rush into a store, buy something you don’t want, just to try it out.
Up until now, Notes has felt something like the underachieving child that’s sadly overlooked, with very few updates to its appearance and features. However, in iOS 9, Notes has been redesigned to do more than ever.
Users will be able to add a neat checklist of to-do items, with a simple tap. So even if you’re not getting through your tasks, they’re at least formatted nicely.
You’ll be able to access your camera from Notes to add a photo, or you can switch to freehand and start doodling all sorts of things.
Notes will also facilitate the addition of content from other apps like Safari and Maps.
True multitasking will be arriving on iPad, helping you juggle your favourite tablet activities at once.
Switching between apps has been redesigned, and thanks to Slide Over, you can open a second app without having to exit the one that you’re in.
Split View enables you to open two apps and place them in separate windows side-by-side. Both are active, and can be operated without leaving or closing down the other. That would’ve come in handy last night, when live tweeting the WWDC 15, for example.
Much in the same way as YouTube now operates, Picture in Picture scales a video window down and continues playing whilst you navigate through other apps. This’ll be a killer feature when you’re wanting to balance ‘work’ with the big game.
iOS 9 is aiming to convert your typing and editing experience into a faster, easier one, made possible by some new features in the QuickType keyboard.
A new Shortcut Bar will simplify writing on iPhone and iPad, and will be open to third-party apps for customisation. There’s a cut, copy and paste icon, amongst a new option for bold, italics and underline.
If you use a physical keyboard with your iPad, you’ll benefit from new shortcuts – like switching between apps. Press and hold the Command, Option or Control key to throw up the shortcut list.
iOS’ Native apps aren’t just in store for updates to their UI and features, but also faster performance and smoother animation owing to the magic of iOS 9.
Battery life on iPhone 6 will be able to endure about an hour extra of average use, through Low Power mode. A welcomed update by all, I’m sure.
And updating to iOS 9 itself will command less storage space, so you’re not strong-armed into binning cherished content.