9 Brilliant Features of iOS 9

iOS 9 is already at its fifth beta release so chances are most of its features are already live. We think iOS 9 is mostly about refining and polishing what was already there, but we do love what Apple’s making of it.

Siri’s new smarter and bigger brain, some down to earth public transit support in the Maps app, iPad’s multitasking and the life-saving, new Low Battery mode are just some of iOS 9’s brand-new improvements we feel excited about. Check out all of them below.

Spotlight and Siri

iOS 9 - Spotlight search and Siri app suggestions

iOS 9 is taking Spotlight search and Siri to the next level. The two functions will work together, offering relevant recommendations based on your needs. Spotlight can already serve suggestions related to apps, web and news, according to your personal usage patterns. Spotlight Search along with Siri’s app suggestions will certainly speed things when you’re looking for a certain app, especially if you have a lot of them installed.

iOS 9’s revamped Siri got some major upgrades, and here are some of our favorite ones:

  • Apple’s digital assistant can now understand contextual suggestions. It lets you ask followup questions without having to restart the original query. But context works in more ways than one. Say your wife just sent you a message – you can just ask Siri to “remind me about this later” – , it will work just as well.
  • The new Proactive Assistant features allows Siri to offer recommendations on people to contact based on scheduled meetings and apps to open depending on the time of day and your previous habits.
  • Siri has been optimized for searching through your phone’s contents. The assistant can now respond to commands such as “show me photos from yesterday’.

New and updated apps

iOS 9 - News app

  • The first version of the News app lets users select what types of news and publications they want to follow, and the News apps uses your preferences to curate stories. I can’t help but think how the News app works similarly to Flipboard, but with an adaptive smart function and without the social component. The app will also use your previous behavior to offer more relevant recommendations. The more you use it, the better it gets.
  • The Notes app is still in need of work, but it did get some new editing options, plus it now lets you add maps, photos and hand drawings to your notes.

iOS 9 Maps

  • Maps will finally get support for public transportation, which will include bus, subway and ferry routes. Initially only a few US cities will be supported, but Apple is working to include more in future updates. The search function in Maps is also getting improvements, with optimized browsing capabilities and topic-based search suggestions.
  • iOS 9 includes a new optional iCloud Drive app that you can enable in the Settings menu, that lets you access your iCloud Drive files.
  • The Photos app has a new photo scroll that’s displayed at the bottom of the screen while you’re viewing photos so you can quickly pass through them. Also, the app received two new folders, dedicated to screenshots and selfies.

Temporarily delete apps

Lack of storage space for updates is a chronic problem for all operating systems. iOS 9 solves it by temporarily deleting apps to make room for the update when there’s not enough storage space. Obviously it will save the data before deleting it, and you’ll have to approve the action first.

iPad multitasking

iOS 9 - iPad multitasking

Multitasking finally arrives on the iPad with iOS 9. This capability comes with three main components:

  • Slide Over – The function lets you bring up a second app on top of the one that’s currently on the screen by swiping over from the side or down from the top of the screen.
  • Split View – It’s rather obvious this feature will let you run two apps at the same time. You can split the display 50/50 or 70/30 according to your preferences.
  • Picture in Picture – Everyone knows what this is, but now you can finally compose a text message while still watching your favorite TV show on your iPad.

Settings menu search

iOS 9 - Searchable settings menu

Even if you know your way around the Settings app, getting to a specific setting usually involves going through layers of menus. A search function has been added to the Settings, which means you can find the options you need to tweak much faster.

App switching

iOS 9 - App switching

The new Recent Apps screen has a cascading design that lets you easily flip through open apps. It’s a useful feature that shows Apple’s recent focus on productivity along with the new multitasking capabilities for iPad and a number of other changes.

Navigation between apps

iOS 9 - App navigation

When you switch to a new app, a small “back” button shows up in the upper part of the screen, from where you can quickly return to the previous app, just like you would when navigating on a web browser.

Battery settings and Low Power mode

iOS 9 - Battery settings

The Settings app has a new “Battery” section from where you can see a wealth of information related to battery usage that you can sort by apps using the least or the most amounts of power.

In the same section users can enable the Low Power mode – one of my favorite features of iOS 9. This new feature disables background activity, animated wallpapers and motion effects to reduce battery usage but also tweaks other settings. For example, the screen goes to sleep faster. When your phone’s battery reaches 20% and 10% charge level you’ll get pop-up notifications suggesting you turn on Low Power Mode. It will also turn itself off when the battery reaches 80% charge level.

Better keyboard

iOS 9 Keyboard

The iOS 9 keyboard received some productivity improvements, which I think everyone will appreciate. On the iPad, the QuickType keyboard can be quickly turned into a trackpad by holding two fingers down on it. Another useful addition – this one available on all iOS devices – is the fact that the keyboard only displays capital letters when the caps lock or the shift is enabled. Before this useful tweak, letters were always capitalized, even when the shift key was disabled.

iOS 9 is sure to bring some amazing new features but also useful and small changes that can make for a drastically improved experience while using the OS. These were some (but not only) of our favorite ones. What are the iOS 9 features you like most and why? Tell us in the comments section below.

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