Apple has today released iOS 9. According to Apple. this release brings a mixture of enhancements and new features to iOS devices:
iOS 9 is full of enhancements you’ll appreciate every day. Your apps become more essential. New multitasking features on iPad make you even more productive. Siri can do more than ever, and new proactive suggestions help you get things done before you ask. And improvements at the foundation of the operating system enhance performance, battery life and security. The more you do with iOS 9, the more you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.
The new features that we think you will like
Siri gets more intelligent and proactive
One of the changes that Apple appears to be most proud of is making iOS more intelligent and proactive by enabling it to learn your habits and to act on this and other information that is available to it. This may come in the form of recommending nearby places, offering directions to an upcoming appointment, or suggesting apps on the basis that you typically use them at this time of the day or at your current location.
Much of this is accessed via the new Proactive Search. To get to this, go to the first page of your Home screen and either swipe right with 3 fingers; or, place VoiceOver focus on the page element “page 1 of x” and flick down with 1 finger.
With Siri sitting at the very heart of these improvements, Apple is encouraging you to now think of it as your personal assistant--able to offer contextual based information and help. This is facilitated by much improved search capabilities in iOS 9, which can now retrieve and display results and content from third-party apps.
Some new and improved Apple apps
There are new native iOS apps and improvements to some old ones.
The News app replaces the little-loved NewsStand and is a mix of RSS reader and Flipboard. This new app offers to make it easy for you to keep track of the news and topics that interest you. And, yes, you will find AppleVis is available, so be sure to search and mark us as a favorite. It does, however, appear that the News App will only be available in The USA, United Kingdom and Australia on launch. Hopefully it will become available elsewhere soon.
Also new is an optional iCloud Drive app that lets you see, access, and manage all of the files that you have stored within iCloud Drive. Unlike the News app, this one is hidden by default, so you will need to go into the iCloud section of the Settings app to turn it on.
Elsewhere, the Maps app now includes transit directions for selected cities; the Notes app has become much more powerful and useful (and will become more so once El Capitan is released); and the ‘Passbook’ app has now been rebranded ‘Wallet’, bringing with it support for loyalty/store cards.
The iPad gets a little love and attention
Those of you with iPads may be pleased to learn that a number of models now support two new multitasking modes: Slide Over and Split View, which both allow you to have two apps on-screen at the same time. There is also a new picture-in-picture function, and the keyboard on the iPad has gained more functionality with the addition of a new toolbar. We have not been able to extensively test these new features before the public release of iOS 9, so we will be particularly keen to hear how well all of this works with VoiceOver and Braille.
iOS 9 could bring you an extra hour of use … or could that even be 3?
As is usual with all iOS updates, Apple will be including a number of under-the-hood performance improvements in this release. Battery optimizations could provide an additional hour of battery use under typical conditions, whilst a new Low Power Mode is claimed to extend battery life up to three hours. In addition to making the adjustments which many of us already make when trying to conserve battery use, this new mode also makes a few tweaks to things which the user doesn’t have access to. For example, if your iOS device is placed face down on a surface, the screen will not light up when you receive a notification.
This is just a small taste of what’s new in iOS 9. For more information, MacRumors has a very good summary.
And what about accessibility?
For more information about accessibility-related changes in iOS 9 read our other posts elsewhere on the site:
What’s new and changed in iOS 9 for blind and deaf-blind users
A list of new accessibility-related bugs that we believe to have been introduced in iOS 9
A list of longstanding accessibility-related bugs that we believe to have been fixed in iOS 9
Scott Davert has recorded a podcast which looks at what’s new and changed in iOS 9 for users of Braille displays.
How to update to iOS 9
If your device is currently running either iOS 8 or iOS 7, or could be running either of those versions, then you will be able to install iOS 9.
iOS 9 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings > General > Software Update) or via iTunes on a Mac or PC.
Before updating, we strongly recommend making a full and complete backup of your device (either in iTunes or iCloud, depending on personal preference). This will ensure that, in the unlikely event that something goes wrong during the update process, you will have a current backup of your phone on hand in case a device restore becomes necessary. Also, if using OTA update, we recommend plugging your device into a power source for the duration of the download/installation process - so as to prevent the unlikely event of your battery going dead during the update.
More information on how to update the software on your iOS device is available on this Apple Support page.
As always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts on this update.