At the Worldwide Developers Conference last night, Apple announced a slew of features that will be coming to iPhones and iPads later this year.
Curious about what new features you will get to see on your coveted Apple gadget, as well as the availability dates? Worry not. Check out our round-up of the best iOS 9 features you can look forward to on your iPhones and iPads.
1. Siri goes proactive
One of the major overhauls in iOS 9 can be found with Siri. The digital voice assistant has received a colourful facelift, but it’s what’s going on behind the scenes that is more interesting.
The new interface displays content in a better way, and Siri can now understand a wider range of requests on top of what was on offer in iOS 8. We were shown a number of examples during the keynote, including “show me my photos from Utah last August”, “remind me to grab my coffee off the roof when I get in my car” and “play the top songs from 1982” via Apple Music.
Siri has been, until now, a reactive service, but that’s changed in iOS 9. It’s now Apple’s answer to Google Now, with context sensitive information based on time, date and location. It can, for example, intelligently recognize when you get to the gym and plug in your headphones you’ll want your workout mix, and display it on your lock screen.
2. App switching
Apple added contact shortcuts to the multi-tasking pane in iOS 8, but the large app previews means it’s difficult to see just how many apps you have running.
This has been improved in iOS 9, with app previews now appearing as stacked cards, allowing you to flip through open applications far more easily and quickly, while getting a better overview on just how many you have open.
3. Battery performance
In iOS 8, there is no clear battery saving mode. You’re left to your own devices to turn off data, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc to try and conserve power.
That changes in iOS 9 with the introduction of a “low power mode,” which Apple claims will provide you with three additional hours of typical usage.
iOS 9 apparently improves general performance too, with Apple saying it gives you an extra one hour of full usage over devices running iOS 8.
4. Multitasking on iPads
There are a few iPad-only new features incorporated into iOS 9. First up is the QuickType Keyboard, which adds handy copy, cut, paste tools to the suggestion bar, along with access to the camera, attachments and formatting.
Use two fingers on the keyboard and it becomes a track pad, allowing you to easily select the text you want — something which is a little tricky in iOS 8.
There’s also ‘Slide Over’, ‘Split View’ and ‘Picture in Picture’, which provide a range of multi-tasking options. The first two see two apps share the screen, the former just for a brief moment while the latter sees tho apps sit side by side permanently.
If you’re familiar with Samsung’s top end smartphones you’ll recognize picture-in-picture, which allows you to pop out a video into a floating window.
5. Apple Maps gets transit data
There’s weren’t any major changes to Apple Maps with iOS 8, just some minor tweaks here and there. iOS 9 on the other hand brings a significant upgrade to the app in the form of Transit.
Maps can now show you train, subway, bus and walking information, with routing options similar to Google Maps.
6. Apple Pay
Unsurprisingly Apple Pay has been given a boost with iOS 9, but a word of warning — it’s still only supported on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (and Apple Watch).
Apple Pay on iOS 8 is compatible with a handful of US bank cards, but that support gets extended with iOS 9 to more providers including Discover, plus the service rolls out to users in the UK too.
With iOS 9 you can also add store credit and debit cards, plus loyalty and reward cards too. These are stored in “Wallet”, the new name for “Passbook” in iOS 9.
7. Spotlight Search
Apple’s Spotlight Search on iPhone and iPad also benefits from the new and improved Siri, with app suggestions, keys contacts and other location and time specific info displayed on the main search page when you swipe left from your home screen.
You’ll also spot videos in your search results, something which isn’t available on iOS 8, which you can play without leaving the search screen.
8. Support for older devices
Usually with a new iOS release older Apple devices are cast out into the cold with no update in sight, so it wasn’t looking good for the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S.
That’s not the case with iOS 9 however, as it will be coming to all the iPhones, iPads and iPods which received iOS 8. Therefore, iPhone 4S and above, iPad 2 and above, all iPad mini models, and iPod touch fifth-generation will get the latest
9. More free space
There’s good news when it comes to downloading and installing iOS 9, as Apple has reduced its size.
The iOS 8 over-the-air (OTA) update was a hefty 4.6GB download, which caused many users issues with space on their devices. Last year, Apple had received a lot of flak from all quarters for the iOS 8 update taking up too much space for the install files.
The iOS 9 download is just 1.3GB — which should be much more manageable.
As with iOS 8 last year, you’ll be getting the iOS 9 update this “fall” (probably September) for free, but for the first time Apple will be launching a public beta this July — allowing anyone to sign up and try the latest software before its official launch.