While iOS 9 may not differ much visually from iOS 8 or even iOS 7, the new mobile operating system has plenty of tweaks and improvements built in to make it stabler than ever. In addition to Apple’s new San Francisco font, iOS 9 boasts a new app switcher for multitasking and a smarter, more dynamic Siri. Those with newer iPads get a split-screen multi-tasking view similar to what Samsung and Microsoft offer on their tablets. Plus, the new News app offers a quick way to read the latest news stories. Altogether, the upgrade makes for a clear vision of where Apple wants to take computing, even if the changes Apple has made aren’t groundbreaking unto themselves.
Siri had been falling behind Microsoft’s and Google’s Voice Search, but iOS 9 sees it come back swinging. There is now greatly increased support for natural language search and Apple has finally opened access up to third party app makers. The two combined could be brilliant as developers find new and innovative ways of integrating voice control into their apps, and gaming in particular could be transformed.
Apple shocked fans by reducing the battery capacity of both the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, but it claims the greater efficiency of iOS 9 will more than make up for this. Perhaps more interesting, however, is Apple says iOS 9 will also make existing iPhones, iPads and iPod touches last longer and it gives the example of an iPhone 6 getting an hour of extra use from a charge. iOS 9 isn’t just about general battery improvements though, it also finally adds a power saving mode for times when you desperately need to conserve juice. Again Apple uses the example of an iPhone 6, and states this mode will give it an extra three hours of battery life.
Another area where Apple is making welcome catch up strides with iOS 9 is the new Proactive assistant, Apple’s answer to Android’s popular Google Now service. Like Google Now, Proactive aggregates all the content on your device to proactively show you pertinent content before you need it. This could include driving directions based on your daily schedule or calendar entries, flight and tracking information based on emails and more.
Interestingly Apple is making a lot of effort to stress that, unlike Google, it will not share your data (anonymously or otherwise) with its own servers or third parties – everything will stay on your device.