Our Favorite New Features of iOS 9

iOS has become the hub of so many people's lives, it's no wonder that a major update to Apple's revolutionary mobile operating system was met with the level of anticipation and fanfare at today's Apple WWDC event. And with good reason! With iOS 9, Apple has taken the most intuitive mobile OS in the world and made impressive additions and refinements that will change the way we interact with all of our iOS devices.

Split-Screen Multitasking

Apple WWDC 2015 Introduces iOS 9.

Alas, this feature will only be available on the iPad Air 2. Split-screen multitasking is a wonderful selling point for new iPads, but isn't such wonderful news for those of us with older models. With a double tap of the home screen you will soon be able to access your app history list and enter split-screen mode. Split screen offers fully functional, independently movable double screens with loads of new intuitive gestures. This feature has amazing potential for multitasking and even allows users to share information easily between two open screens.

Another mouthwatering feature that will soon become available on most iPads (but sadly, not on the phablet-sized iPhone 6 Plus) is Slide Over. Say, for instance, you are watching a movie and you get a notification that someone sent you a message; you can reduce the screen size of your movie, place it in a corner of your choosing, and reply to that message while still viewing your video on the mini-player. Older iPad models will be compatible with Apple's new Slide Over feature, which is like a side-bar version of split-screen multitasking for select apps. I wonder if Slide Over will make its way onto the iPhone 6 Plus.

Functionality Improvements

Apple WWDC 2015 Introduces iOS 9.

Along with bringing a much appreciated reduction in software size, from the 4.6 GB of iOS 8 to the 1.3 GB of iOS 9, iOS 9 also improves the performance of the iDevice battery by up to an hour. On top of this, iOS 9 brings low-power mode which can extend your battery's life by an additional three hours. One of my favorite tweaks to the functionality of iOS is found in the dramatically improved native Notes app, which I use all the time, and which includes the addition of checklist creation, photo insertion, drawing capabilities, the ability to add links and thumbnails, and an attachments view.


Proactive Lifestyle Management

Apple WWDC 2015 Introduces iOS 9.

Proactive is a new context-driven presence on your iDevice that delivers location-based and time-sensitive information to you. Whether you are just waking up, sitting down to meditate, in the kitchen, going for a run, or in the car, your iPhone can give you endless, instant, location-based assistance. Imagine sitting for meditation and having your iPhone be ready for you with your soothing Native American flute playlist, or walking into the kitchen and getting prompts for all kinds of relevant recipes and restaurants, or getting ready for a run and plugging headphones into your iPhone, only to have the perfect songs for working out present themselves.

Another important feature of Proactive that was really stressed at WWDC was its high level of privacy. It scans your information and preferences while keeping your and your information anonymous, disassociated from your Apple ID, and not shared with third parties, among other secure features that were highlighted in today's presentation.


Apple Pay

Among other big news about Apple Pay is that Apple's mobile payment service will be landing in the UK next month. Apple Pay will be launching with eight of most popular banks and will support more than 70 percent of UK credit cards, with over 250,000 merchants onboard at launch.

Apple WWDC 2015 Introduces iOS 9.

Apple Pay now also supports the addition of store membership cards as well as rewards and loyalty programs, and it will automatically present the correct card based on location. 

Apple is also changing the name of its native iOS app from Passbook to Wallet to better reflect its functions.



Apple WWDC 2015 Introduces iOS 9.

Maps will now feature public transit compatibility with emphasis on various specific transit lines. The new Maps will offer multi-modal routing—so, for instance, if you are taking the ferry to the city, the subway to Whole Foods, and then walking to a friend's house, the new Apple Maps will give you detailed and timely navigation directions.

The new Maps also features vastly improved Siri integration (as does the entire iOS 9 ecosystem). The new Maps will roll out to some of the biggest cities in America and Mexico as well as over 300 cities in China. Additionally, Maps will soon let you know if a certain locale accepts Apple Pay.



Apple WWDC 2015 Introduces iOS 9.

Apple debuted a fantastic personalized native news app. For a dedicated news junkie like me, this is like Christmas in June. The new Apple News app creates customized feeds based on previous news choices you've made and updates itself every time you check your news.

It will feature fast and fluid intuitive swipe interaction, slick animations, amazing graphics, and stunning photo content presentation. Look out Flipboard and Pulse. News will keep track of over a million topics and will allow users to view their favorites all in one place. It will include featured Photo Mosaics as well as individual blogs and special interest publications.


For iOS Devs

Apple WWDC 2015 Introduces iOS 9.

I was particularly impressed with the Apple's improvements for developers. In a nod to the immense popularity of eSports, Apple has created GamplayKit, which introduces AI intelligence and spatial awareness to the iOS environment, and ReplayKit, which lets users record gameplay and share as video! Being able to record gameplay as video and share via avenues like Twitch or YouTube is a huge part of the gaming world these days and for Apple to incorporate something like ReplayKit into its development is a very forward thinking approach.

Swift 2—along with its protocol extensions, pattern matching in "if," and synthesized "headers" in Xcode—is now open source, meaning it's universally free to all developers! Wow, this is BIG news. A single language to create programs for both OS X and iOS is impressive and indicitive of Apple's inevitable future.



CarPlay get an update so that in future cars you will be able to get in your car, and without taking your iPhone out of your bag or pocket, you can start experiencing CarPlay instantly.

HomeKit offers support for practically anything you can think of that is home related. Thermometers, locks, lights, sensors of all kinds, window shades, security systems, etc. HomeKit will also allow for remote iCloud access to all of your HomeKit connected data and automation, so no matter where you are, you can control you home environment.

iOS 9 will be compatible with all devices that support iOS 8 including the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4s and will be available to download this fall.

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Author Details

Dig Om's picture

Author Details

Dig Om

As Senior Gear Editor at iPhone Life, Dig reports on the latest and greatest accessories built for the iOS ecosystem. From rugged gear and Bluetooth speakers, to headphones, unique iDevice cases, and iOS remote controlled vehicles, Dig's articles cover a wide range of great gear for the iPhone and iPad. A core gamer for over three decades, Dig also writes iPhone Life's Game Centered column, which focuses on the best iOS games and game related news. Additionally, Dig's company, iDoc Tech Support, offers web design and administration services as well as iPhone and iPad repairs. When not at his work desk, Dig loves spending time with family and enjoying the wonders of nature. You can follow him on Twitter @idoctech