Wednesday marks the release of Apple’s next generation mobile operating system with the launch of iOS 9. Many of you may be unaware of the release, but we’ve been anticipating this for months since Apple announced iOS at their summer keynote at the World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC). A number of the people on our team have even installed the beta versions of iOS 9 over the last couple of months to test it out and we wanted to give you a guide of what you can expect and look forward to when you update your iOS devices in the coming days.
Intelligent Search and Siri
One of the improvements we are incredibly excited about are the improvements to Siri and the search features on your phone. Your device will be smarter than ever with the introduction of iOS 9 and we’re loving it. The new update will allow your devices to learn your habits and then act on that information. For instance, if you wake up each morning to your iPhone alarm and soon after plug in your headphones to listen to music while you work out, your phone will take notice and begin opening the Music app as soon as you plug your headphones in eliminating the need to do it yourself. Learning your habits and acting on them means that your phone may open apps before you need them, make recommendations on places you might like (food, gas, shopping, etc), and generally just guide you through life to make sure you are in the right places at the right times.
Siri has grown up quite a bit since her introduction in iOS 5. In iOS 9, Siri has the ability to create contextual reminders, which have been game changing for some on our team. Contextual reminders mean that you can make a reminder from within an app and when Siri reminds you about it later, she will take you back to that specific app. For example, if you receive a text message that you aren’t quite ready to respond to you can say, “Siri remind me about this in an hour.” An hour from that moment, a reminder will pop up on your phone that when opened will take you back to that specific text message to enable you to respond. Siri also now understands commands like, “Show me the photos I took in Mexico”. She will open a gallery that has any photos you might have taken on a recent trip to Mexico.
A feature making its return to iOS is the screen to the left of your home page. When you swipe left you will see a page that houses “Siri Suggestions” which includes favorite contacts and apps along with nearby restaurants, gas stations, and more. Siri will also show you important news that you may be interested in on this page. The search tool is more powerful than ever. It can be used for things like simple calculations or for deeper searches inside of specific apps, like Mail. You can use this search to find specific emails before ever opening the Mail app. The search bar has even been integrated into the Settings app. If you go to Settings in iOS 9, you can quickly search for exactly what you want to find in settings instead of taking forever to find what you want.
A few of Apple’s native apps are getting upgrades and facelifts with the introduction of iOS 9 including Notes, News, and Passbook. Notes seems to get marginal upgrades almost every year and while it still has a way to go, it gets better and better every year. This time around Notes introduced reminder-style checklists, you can now make sketches in your notes, there are new ways to share to and from Notes, and there’s now a simpler way to integrate photos. News is the newest version of Newsstand. We don’t know many people that ever used Newsstand, but Apple just changed that with the introduction of News. News aggregates stories from a wide variety of sources. When you initially launch the app it will ask you about topics and sources you would be interested in and centralizes them in one place. The overall experience of using the app is leaps and bounds ahead of where Newsstand was and we’re loving the changes. The last app improvement worth mentioning is that Passbook has been replaced by an app simply called Wallet. It’s essentially the exact same app, but it went through a slight visual upgrade.
iPads got an enormous upgrade via iOS 9 with the introduction of multitasking. It is now possible to use 2 different iOS apps on the same screen. There are 3 ‘modes’ of multitasking that can be utilized. The first is “slide over” which can be activated within any app. All it takes is swiping left from the right side of the iPad and a small side pane will display a secondary app. This is not truly multitasking as you can only use the app displayed in the side pane while it is open. If you wish to go back to your primary app, the pane will close. “Split view” is multitasking at it’s finest. This view is activated by sliding the pane out from the right side of the iPad and then sliding it even further towards the middle of the screen. Now both apps can be used at the same time and both apps are controlled independently. This will be incredible for surfing the internet while writing a paper or performing any other number of tasks. The last mode is “picture in picture” which lets you watch videos or FaceTime while using other apps. When using FaceTime or watching a video, pressing the home button will send the video to a corner of the display so you can then use other apps. We can already see this being used to watch football or Netflix while answering work emails.
Miscellaneous iOS 9 Upgrades
According to Apple, iOS 9 helps optimize the iPhone’s battery and will result in an additional hour of battery life for users. For those with an iPhone 6+ this isn’t as big of a deal, but for everyone else, this is fantastic news! We know it can sometimes be hard to make it through a full day of moderate to heavy use without charging and we’ll take all the help we can get. iOS 9 also introduces “Low Power Mode” which means you have the option to toggle this feature on when your phone reaches 20% battery. This feature can extend the battery life of your phone up to 3 hours which can make a huge difference when you’re out at a game, concert, or business meeting where you need your phone to stay in contact with people.
iOS 9 is smaller and easier to install on your phone than ever before. iOS 8 took up 4.58GB of space and Apple got a ton of complaints about people not being able to update because they didn’t have enough room on their phones to do so. Apple heard the people and iOS 9 takes up a meager 1.3GB meaning it should be simple for most people to update. If anyone has trouble, Apple introduced a feature that can temporarily delete enough apps to make room for the update and after iOS 9 is installed, those apps will automatically be reinstalled.
Another great feature of iOS 9 is when you receive a call from an unknown number, it searches your contacts and email to see if the person calling might be someone you know, but don't have in your contacts. Your phone will then let you know who it is that might be calling.
When you tap on a notification or a link in Safari and it opens a new app, iOS 9 allows you to now go back to the previous app using a new button that says “Go back to _____”. This button appears in small text in the top left corner of your app. It’s so simple to be able to click that as opposed to leave the secondary application you were sent to and then having to find the app you were originally using.
Overall, we're incredibly excited about the official release of iOS 9. Apple continues to make their devices and software better every year. If you have any questions about iOS 9 or what it might mean for your setup (home or business), we're happy to answer those and help however we can! You can reach out to us by commenting below, tweeting at us, or sending us an email!