iOS 9 is here and I just finished updating my iPhone and iPad. Apple still has some work to do with their famed upgrade process, though. My old iPad mini with Retina display still says it has 19 hours to go.
Otherwise, once downloaded and installed and restarted, iOS 9 looks familiar nearly everywhere, but also everywhere are changes and refinements. For example, battery usage stats gets it’s own place in the Settings menu. Here’s a quick look at the 12 things I love most about this upgrade.
Where’s The Beef?
Two years ago Apple launched iOS 7, which was a radical visual departure from iOS versions before. Last year, iOS 8 came along with more refinement, but this year Apple has taken great pains to make iOS easier to use? Why? Smartphones are complicated and users have trouble managing all the features.
1 – iCloud Drive: For about a year I’ve used third party apps which displayed files and folders on my iCloud account, but now it’s official. iCloud Drive is an Apple app, easily installed from the iCloud controls in Settings.
2 – Back Button: Don’t ask me why this little gem didn’t show up two years ago, but what’s obvious to you and me may not make it to a bullet point with Apple’s famed human interface engineers. But a back button? That’s just common sense in Peoria. iOS 9 has one.
3 – Notes: The poor stepchild to TextEdit (or any real mini-word processor or notes taking app) gets an upgrade on both iOS and OS X. Think of TextEdit with a yellow legal pad look, a toolbar, and more.
4 – Abandoning Wi-Fi: This says something about Apple’s attention to detail, though it’s also a function that could have been implemented a few years ago. When a Wi-Fi signal is weak, iOS 9 will automatically switch over to your cell phone data connection. Gone are the days when Whole Foods’ notoriously weak Wi-Fi keeps me from getting updates on my iPhone.
5 – Settings Search: This is a no brainer. iOS has settings and configurations for everything, and there are so many that invariably the one you want is buried somewhere. Not it’s less buried because you can search the Settings.
6 – Battery: Yes, Virginia. There is a Santa Claus, and there’s also a Low Power Mode in the Battery setting for iOS 9. Switch it on and iOS 9 turns off a few power hungry settings so your battery can last just a little longer. Apple also says iOS 9 is so efficient that you might get another hour of battery life anyway.
7 – Hey! Siri Anywhere: It’s about time. On iOS 8, ‘Hey Siri’ would only work if your iPhone was plugged in. Now ‘Hey Siri’ just works. But only on new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models.
8 – Keyboard: Guess what? When you tap the Shift Key to get uppercase letters on the keyboard, you see uppercase letters. And, when the keyboard is set to lowercase letters, you see lower case letters. iPad users also get a handy trackpad where the keyboard is.
9 – Picture-in-Picture: There. Was that so hard, Apple. Now you can read the news and watch video at the same time thanks to picture-in-picture for the iPad. Sweet.
10 – Hide Photos: Think about all those selfies you don’t want your significant other to see. They’re impossible to hide in iOS 8, but easy to hide with a handy Hide button on the Share menu.
11 – Ad Blocker: I’ve already tried three of these and it’s sure to upset Google, which makes all its money on advertising, and a huge chunk of it from iOS users, but there’s an ad blocker option for Safari (the most used iOS browser) which can let you install third party advertising blocker utilities. It works. Websites load faster when they’re not attached to all those Google ads.
12 – Split Screen: This only works in the iPad Air 2 (and ostensibly in iPad Pro), but a split screen view is finally here. Slide your finger toward the center of the screen from the right edge (kinda like pulling down Notifications) and you get a list of recent apps. Select one and it occupies a portion of the screen, right next to the app you had open.
There you have it. The Top 12 Best Cool New Things in iOS 9 that didn’t even exist in iOS 8.