On Monday, Apple had their yearly Developers Conference at Moscone West in California. Dubbed WWDC 2015, Apple had many expectations to try and live up to with all the rumors swirling around the release of iOS 9, the latest version of OS X, the Apple TV, and what they were going to do with Beats Music after their acquisition last year.
Well everything seemed a go on the Apple TV front, with Apple ready to push either a new device, new services, or both, until the last minute. Due to undisclosed reasons behind a rumored product refresh, Apple didn’t share anything in regards to the Apple TV.
The latest version of OS X went off without a hitch, and has been named OS X El Capitan. But that’s not why you’re here today. Today, we are going to cover iOS 9 and what Apple has brought to the massive amounts of iPhone users around the world.
Before getting into what’s changed in regards to functionality and tweaks, I would like to take just a minute to state that after much hemming and hawing from the community, Apple finally reduced the size of iOS 9, down to less than 2GB. By pulling off this miracle, Apple announced that iOS 9 would be compatible with devices as old as the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2, which is no small feat in and of itself. Now if iOS will actually work well with these older devices, still remains to be seen, but it’s nice to see Apple recognizing the number of consumers with these older devices, and are trying to keep these devices up to date and SOMEWHAT relevant.
Now for the changes. With the announcement of iOS 9, there were a slew of new features and changes that hope to bring iOS back to the forefront of the mobile world. We won’t go over every minute detail, but here’s a bit of an overview of the more important changes made to iOS, the iPhone and the iPad.
Proactive Siri Intelligence
Built into what Siri is already capable, Apple introduced a new feature called Proactive. What Proactive does, is learn what applications you use, what time you use them, and then offer suggestions based off of your actions throughout the day. For example, if you plug in headphones and open Spotify or your Music app at the same time everyday, after a little while, a suggestion will pop up on your lock screen to open the application of choice.
Since it was just released to developers on Monday, it’s not yet known “how long” it takes Siri and Proactive to learn these different actions, so it will be fun to see when these start popping up. As long as they aren’t intrusive or annoying, that would be a welcome site to see. Siri Suggestions also offers applications or contacts to open up or interact with depending upon certain variables such as recently downloaded apps or recently contacted people.
Built into the updated version of Siri, as well as across the entirety of iOS 9, is an updated Search functionality. This allows users to view content from any of the apps that are already installed on their devices. Meaning that you can easily search to see how your favorite sports team is doing, without having to worry about seeing just an overview of who they are playing or anything like that. Live sports updates is huge for the football fans out there (especially during Fantasy Season).
Across iOS 9, Search has been expanded upon and just about everything is search-able now. You can open the Settings app, and don’t have to hope that you can find the right sub-section that the privacy settings are. You can just pull down from the top of the Settings app once it’s opened, and search for the specific setting that you are looking for.
Since Apple has integrated a new API, it will be interesting to see if there are any applications that can add additional functionality to your device by building upon the API itself.
Transit Information In Apple Maps
A feature that Google has cooked in and has been expanding upon, is transit information directly available from within Google Maps. Now Apple is attempting to bring the same functionality to its users with iOS 9. Available in only select cities at launch, Apple Maps is including bus, train, and subway schedules, along with underground step-by-step directions that will help users find exactly where they are going, even when walking around Penn or Union Station.
In addition to adding transit information to Apple Maps, Apple has also made it easy to find those merchants that accept Apple Pay. This will be helpful to those who don’t carry any cash or credit/debit cards with them and rely on the possibilities of Apple Pay.
Newsstand Is No More
Newsstand is finally gone from our home screens. iOS users no longer have to worry about another useless application wasting prime screen real-estate, well kinda. With the removal of Newsstand, Apple has created a new application simply called News. News looks like a modified version of Flipboard, but will feature user curated content, as well as traditional news outlets. News will also support local newspapers, blogs, and more.
Battery-Saving Low-Power Mode
Apple has finally started to realize that there are battery issues that continue to plague iPhone users everywhere. They also have taken into account the fact that not everyone is close to an outlet when those precious battery percentage points start going down faster and faster.
Introduced with iOS 9, there is a new Low-Power mode that activates when you’re device dips below 20%, and does not turn itself off until your device has hit 80%. Apple was kind enough to give users a dialog box to opt-in to Low Power Mode when your device hits that 20% threshold. Some users may find this obtrusive and annoying, but it’s better than the stale dialog box that just lets you know that your phone is on the verge of dying. Only time will tell how much battery life Low-Power Mode actually saves, but hopefully this is a step in the right direction for iPhone and iPad users.
iOS 9 Brings Split-Screen Multitasking To The iPad
The biggest and most exciting feature that will be coming to only the iPad Air 2, is the introduction of using two apps at the same time. Literally. Split-screening of apps has finally come to the iPad after much speculation for the last two years of so. This will increase productivity for many of those who have taken to using their iPads as their main computing devices. I know for one, it would be extremely helpful and beneficial when writing and editing various articles.
As for availability, only the iPad Air 2 will have this functionality built-in with the release of iOS 9. Every other version of the iPad or iPad Mini, will not be able to perform split-screen multitasking. Of course, it would be easy to assume that the next version of the iPad will include this as well. So either stick it out until the fall, or jump for the iPad Air 2, if this is something that you need.
There are other smaller additions that were made available to all iPads capable of running iOS 9, which is everyone other than the original iPad. Some of these include new shortcut buttons for cut, copy, and paste within the QuickType bar that pops up above your keyboard on the iPad. There is also a new feature that allows users to use two-fingers as a cursor, and drag/draw around as necessary.
All in all, I was pretty happy with the announcement of iOS 9, and of course downloaded the beta as soon as the servers weren’t bombarded with both developers and non-developers trying to get their hands on iOS 9. Apple released the first beta of iOS 9 to developers on Monday, while announcing the public beta would be come available sometime in July. If you don’t care about betas, the official release of iOS 9 will be this fall, probably alongside some new hardware in the form of the new iPhone(s) and iPad(s).
Let us know what you think about iOS 9 in the comment section down below. Are you excited to see Apple trying to make strides in the mobile operating system world? Or is this just a disappointment for you?