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iOS 9.3: The best new features


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What's new in iOS 9.3? The best features

iOS 9.3 has been released by Apple and should be ready rolling out to your devices including the iPad Pro and iPhone 6S Plus. Here are all the key features you need to know about.

iOS 9.3 is the third major update to the operating system Apple has released since unleashing iOS 9 in September alongside the iPad Mini 4, Apple TV and iPhone 6S.

If you're wondering what exactly Apple has added this time around, we're here to help. We've downloaded iOS 9.3 and hunted high and low for all the juicy goodies. Here's what we've found.

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New 3D Touch shortcuts

3D Touch shortcuts were few and far between when the iPhone 6S first launched, but they're getting better now. In iOS 9.3, Apple has added a bevy of new shortcuts. You can now 3D Touch on the Settings icon to quickly switch off/on Wifi, check the battery settings and alter Bluetooth.

Night Shift

The coolest feature that arrives with iOS 9.3 is Night Shift, and it’s very similar to a particular app called F.lux that was unceremoniously booted from the App Store last year. I guess we now know why.

Basically, Night Shift will alter the colours, temperature and brightness of your display as the day wears on. Apple says in its official release notes for iOS 9.3 that “Many studies have shown that exposure to bright blue light in the evening can affect your circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep.

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iPhone display

Night Shift uses your iOS device’s clock and geolocation to determine when it’s sunset in your location. Then it automatically shifts the colors in your display to the warmer end of the spectrum, making it easier on your eyes. In the morning, it returns the display to its regular settings. Pleasant dreams.”

This seems a pretty big new addition for iOS and we’re surprised Apple hasn’t left it longer – maybe iOS 9 or iOS X – before announcing it. We’ll be testing it over the next few days to see if it really is a competitor to the fantastic F.lux.


Apple’s native Notes app used to be pretty rubbish, but iOS 9 made it a real Evernote competitor. Now, iOS 9.3 brings TouchID and password support to the app.

This means you can store vital information – passwords, medical info, banking details – all in the app without worrying about prying eyes getting a look.

Related: iOS 10 release date

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With the addition of TouchID, iOS 9 Notes becomes a sort of 1Password competitor.


Apple’s News app has been slowly improving since it was first released with iOS 9 (iOS 9.1 if you’re in the UK) and 9.3 continues that trend with a few nice features.

The For You section suggests trending topics and picks from Apple’s Editors’. Landscape view is no longer restricted to the iPad and the whole app has been ironed out to make it faster and quicker to load stories.

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Often the forgotten app on iOS, Health has been ever so slightly improved in iOS 9.3. It now displays data gained from your Apple Watch so you don’t have to jump between two apps and the UI has been tweaked to make it easier to access the options.

Apple Music CarPlay integration improved

CarPlay is still finding its footing and there’s a long way to go before it really hits the primetime, that said it looks like Apple is keen to improve it wherever possible. Apple Music is now more feature rich – letting you search through New songs and the For You section, while the Nearby feature lets you quickly find restaurants, parking and petrol stations.

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iPad multi-user

Features for education

Students can now use one iPad between multiple people, with each having their own account and there’s a brand-new classroom app for teachers to organise lessons, progress and classes.

iOS 9.3 is available now

Paul Cox

January 12, 2016, 5:08 am

Isn't this a developer rather than public beta?

James Hopkins

January 12, 2016, 10:39 am

Only developer not released on public beta yet!

Barb Cast

January 17, 2016, 7:05 pm

How about they improve the camera software so that videos don't come out so dark on the 6 plus?


January 17, 2016, 8:55 pm

That's a hardware issue. Pretty difficult to update that with a software update.

Ricky Martin

January 27, 2016, 4:00 pm

The main feature of iOS 9.3 is night shift mode. Apple introduces this feature to ease the strain on your eyes when looking at the screen at night. I have been using Apple products for four years. I must say that it is a good initiative of Apple to prevent damage to the eye. But I don't like this yellow light. It's really irritating. So as a health conscious person, I am using ocushield screen protector to protect my eyes from harmful blue light.


February 3, 2016, 8:31 am

total dick move by apple with f.lux. this was predicted as the real reason behind their app removal.


February 19, 2016, 6:21 pm

well they didn't ban winzip from their os did they?

Owen Hamilton

March 21, 2016, 7:47 pm

how nice of iOS 9.3 to mess up my iBooks completely, I just installed it and it has rearranged the order of my books and stacked books by the same author one on top of the other, does any know if there's a way of undoing this please?

Terri Carmichael

March 26, 2016, 11:07 am

The one feature I loved the most was the custom label for contacts. they had it, they took it away and despite all the weeping and gnashing of teeth, just won't seem to reinstate it!


March 26, 2016, 3:33 pm

your custom label feature is still there in ios 9.3. select a contact then edit. on a field already in use like 'mobile', select mobile, new screen appears 'label' select 'add custom label' at the bottom that's it. enjoy

Terri Carmichael

March 26, 2016, 5:18 pm

Thanks for your response - however, the "add custom label" option just isn't on my Label page! I did follow your instructions and iOS 9.3 is installed. I must be doing something irregular . . .😳


March 26, 2016, 5:47 pm

that's odd, if not visit apple store or your carrier for help. i have the 6 plus, just updated to 9.3 and i have it.
select any contact then edit, select any label in use like home or mobile, the "label" screen pops up, at the bottom below "other" there should be Add Custom Label, select and voila, if not see anyone at the apple store.

Terri Carmichael

March 26, 2016, 6:39 pm

Thanks, will do. Mine is also 6+. Funny thing is that my newly updated iPad doesn't have it either, much as I try to scroll the screen to reveal anything below "other" . . . of course my hubby has just updated and his is there no problem. Weird. I feel jinxed. Thanks for your help - will go to Apple store tomorrow

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