Apple launched the next iteration of their mobile software today and while on the whole this doesn’t look like the biggest overhaul, there are some nice features worth mentioning. Apple touted many of the new capabilities of the iPhone and iPad software back in June, and we finally get a chance to test it out ourselves.
San Francisco Font
This is the biggest change to iOS 9 in my opinion, if not for the simple fact that every single person who updates to the new software will be forced to experience this change in their daily routines. The new font refresh is a homegrown font from Apple, which was first introduced last year on the Apple Watch. Now it’s made its way to the iPhone and iPad. Text now looks much better. By the end of my time with iOS 8.4.1, Helvetica was becoming sort of an eye sore and the change is welcomed in my iPhone.
The Notes app has been revamped from the ground up to in terms of usability. A ton of new features have come to the native Apple app. From to-do lists, to adding pictures, to drawing pictures – the ways you can interact with your notes has improved dramatically. This new Notes app is ready to take on the likes of Evernote, who has long been considered one of the best notes apps around
Gone are the two dings you used to hear when you conjured up Siri. In its place are vibrations that let you know you accessed the personal assistant. Siri also got a brand new look, ditching the rotating circle, instead opting for a much sleeker look that looks futuristic. The Apple assistant comes with a few new tricks up its sleeves. First, it now makes tries to learn from your habits to deliver the apps and content you use most right at your fingertips. You just need to swipe to the right. Where the old search feature used to be (pre iOS 7), you now get access to your most used apps, contacts, suggestions and news that might interest you. At this point, it’s anybody’s guess how helpful this feature will be, but we’re excited to have this instead of nothingness.
iOS 9 brings with it a revamped multitasking experience for iOS devices. On the iPhone, you get a redesigned multitasking window that shows off larger app cards. The major improvements are on the iPad, where a whole set of new features are now available. Slide Over allows users to open a second window from any app you’re in. The first app will sit in the background and you won’t be able to access it, but once you’re done texting your girlfriend, you can easily go back to writing that email. `
Apple has released a Flipboard-like news app that brings together all your news. Sports Illustrated, New York Times and many more have collaborated with Apple to provide news feeds. The app itself is beautiful, and once more publishers take advantage of it, the content will only get better looking. At this point though, most people have a dedicated app so we’ll see how many people adopt this app as their default for news.
Battery life has been made a priority in the new iOS update. Apple is promising at least one hour gain on battery. There have been some tests that suggest it’s closer to 40 minutes of improvement, but hey, I’ll take any extra battery. Low power mode was also added to improve battery. This will turn off any extra date fetching in hopes of saving extra battery life. The display brightness will be automatically be brought down to 35% and use the proximity sensors to tell if your phone is facing down – if it is, it will opt not turn on the screen when you receive a notification.
Apple Maps finally gets transit directions. This feature has long existed in Google’s Maps, which is the best maps alternative out there, but it’s nice to get this in Apple’s native app. It’s been a slow process bring the native iOS Maps up to par to other services since its inception back in 2012.
This is one of the more surprising features in iOS 9. Mostly because you don’t really know when it’ll be used. It mostly comes up when you transition from one app to the next. For instance, when you’re in Facebook and someone sends you a message, once you tap on the Messages app, you are moved over to the Messenger app but on the top left corner (where the Carrier signal/Wi-Fi is at) that lets you move back to the previous app faster than ever. This is neat feature that I have found useful, and I suspect many more people will.
When you download and install iOS 9, you are prompt to activate the iCloud app. This lets you see all the files you’ve stored in iCloud. It works in the same manner as the Google Drive app works. This is a useful way to see your files in your Apple ecosystem, as before you had to log in on to the website to view your iCloud library.
The new features should improve the overall function of iPhones. Nothing is revolutionary, but that’s usually the story with iOS. We’ll probably never see widgets on the iPhone homescreen, but that’s jus something we’ll have to live with.