Apple has unveiled iOS 9, its next major software update for iPhones and iPads.
Apple focused on elevating the foundation of the platform with iOS 9, which means it’s made some security and performance updates.
Here’s a look at everything that’s coming to iOS 9.
Siri and search
Apple is making some big improvements to Siri. The company says that word-detection accuracy has improved and Siri now misses words only 5% of the time.
One big change seems to be that Siri is becoming more intelligent and contextual, like Google Now. Thanks to a new feature called Proactive, Siri offers up contacts you might want to call or text based on your upcoming meetings and suggests apps you might want to download based on the ones you already have.
Apple is also opening up the API for its Spotlight search to developers, which means content within apps will soon be as searchable as the files stored on your phone.
Apple’s Craig Federighi showed in an on-stage demo how search and Siri integrate tightly with all of Apple’s apps. For example, since Federighi had a potluck on his calendar, as soon as he typed in “potato” in search, potato recipes began to show up in the results.
Siri can also pull up photos from your phone based on when and where you took them. So, for example, when Federighi says, “Show me photos from San Francisco last year,” any photos taken in the city about one year ago will show up.
Security is a big part of iOS 9 too. Apple emphasised that it doesn’t mine your data for contacts and other information and store it in the cloud. Everything stays on your device.
“You are in control,” Federighi said.
There are some updates to Apple Pay coming in iOS 9 — you’ll be able to add store cards and royalty cards to the app. The Passbook app is being rebranded as Wallet, and you’ll be able to store credit, debit, and store loyalty cards within the app.
Notes and Maps
Apple is making some improvements to its other native apps. Notes, for example, comes with a new toolbar that lets you format headings, numbered lists, and other formatting more easily.
You can access the camera and camera roll directly from Notes in iOS 9. Drawing tools are also coming to Notes, and you choose to save webpages from Safari directly to a note with a single tap.
Apple is making significant additions to Maps, too, which saw a troubled launch when it was initially unveiled in 2012. Public transit is coming to Apple Maps, whereas the app previously supported only driving directions.
An application called News is coming to iOS 9, one that seems to be a Flipboard competitor.
The app shows you various news sources when you set it up, and you can choose which ones you want to follow. It then creates a feed based on your choices that looks like an interactive magazine.
You can watch news videos within the app.
The app is extremely visual — photo galleries are shown in a thumbnail-like format called Photo Mosaics. Apple is trying to make this the go-to news reader app for iPhone and iPad users.
New features for the iPad
Apple is adding some functionality specifically for the iPad. There are new shortcuts in the quick-type bar for the iPad that lets you access attachments, cut and paste text, and more. You can turn the keyboard into a trackpad by placing two fingers down on it and dragging.
The most notable new iPad feature is the new split-screen capability. By swiping in from the side, you can check see your email while browsing in Safari. Pulling down from the top lets you access other Apple apps that work with this split screen mode, like Notes.
It looks as if it works really well based on the demo. You can even resize videos and move them around the screen so you can continue watching while you read your email or browse other apps. It’s worth noting that these features have been available in Android for some time. On some LG phones, for example, you can resize windows and apps and move them around the screen.
Performance, battery life, and other improvements
There’s a new low-power mode coming to iOS 9, which Apple claims can extend your iPhone’s battery for an extra three hours.
Apple is fixing over-the-air updates by reducing the amount of space you need to install new updates. You’ll need only 1.3GB to install iOS 9 (you needed 4.6GB of free space to update your iPhone to iOS 8).
Some improvements are coming to HomeKit; there’s support for window shades, carbon-monoxide sensors, and security systems.
With CarPlay — Apple’s connected-car software — your phone will automatically connect to the system. You don’t even have to take your iPhone out of your pocket, Apple says.
Here’s a look at all the Apple devices that will support iOS 9.
Apple hasn’t said when iOS 9 will officially launch, but it typically debuts in the fall, around the same time as the iPhone.
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