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iOS 9 Features: What’s new?

Apple’s iOS 9 is here. The update to last year’s iOS 8 brings with it a whole load of features including a dedicated News app and a smarter Siri. Here’s everything you need to know so far.

Back in June, Apple’s Tim Cook took to the stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco to unveil the latest iteration of its mobile operating system, iOS 9. Now, we’ve got an actual release date – September 16.

Claiming it will ‘elevate the foundations of the platform’, Apple sees iOS 9 as the update to address issues like improving iPhone battery life while continuing to protect users data.

So what’s new? Well, there’s plenty. These are the iOS 9 features to look forward to the most.

New improved Siri

Apple says there has been 1 billion requests per week since it launched the digital assistant and now it’s 40% faster and more accurate than last year’s version.

With a sleek new UI, Siri will let you search for photos from specific places and times. You’ll also be able to create reminders from emails much easier too. But there’s more…

Related: iPhone 6S vs 5S
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A more proactive assistant

Think Apple giving Siri a Google Now makeover and potentially making it better than its rival. Through iOS 9, Siri will know when you’re going out for a run in the morning and launch the music app when you plug in the headphones. It can automatically open up an audio book when you’re in the car because it’ll learn that’s when you regularly do it and can even start giving out directions.

One of the most impressive features is the ability to automatically put meetings or events into your calendar sent through emails and messages.

Inside Spotlight, you’ll now find the new Siri suggestions which is basically people you may want to contact or apps you may want to use based on the contextual information generated from your Siri request.

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Who’s calling?

We’ve all been there. Someone calls you, there’s no caller ID and you don’t want to pick it up in case it’s the dreaded automated PPI recorded message. Now Apple will do some digging for you, searching through emails and messages to try and identify the user. It’s one of the smallest iOS 9 features, but could be one of the most useful.

Apple Pay

Apple’s mobile payment service is not new but it’s evolving into a platform where you really can forget your wallet at home and not have to worry about trying to pay for a round of beers or a new shirt. In iOS 9, you’ll now be able to add store cards and rewards cards as well so you don’t miss out on those discounts and club card points.

Related: iPhone 6S vs Samsung Galaxy S6
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In iOS 8, finding things on your iPhone and iPad became a lot easier and was a more unified approach. Now Apple is taking things up a notch in iOS 9. You can search for sports scores, video in VEVO and content in the iTunes store. Like Google, you can directly play content from search results. Apple is also opening up the Search API, which means you can now find content from third party apps installed on your iPhone or iPad.


After Tim Cook’s privacy blast earlier in the year, Apple reiterated its commitment to not let your data fall into the wrong hands. It still promises not to link your information to other Apple services, share with third parties and says that ‘You’re in control’. iOS 9 users will be able to stay anonymous and only time will tell if Apple will be able to keep its promise.

SEE ALSO: Apple Music features: 5 reasons to ditch Spotify
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Passbook is no more

Well, it’s being renamed. Passbook will now be called Wallet and will become the place for all of you credit, debit and loyalty cards. You’ll still be able to store boarding passes as well as concert and sports tickets just as you can with the current Passbook app currently.

New Notes app

Apparently there’s a lot of people that use the Note app on the iPhone and it’s going to be able to do more than simply store some random thoughts. A new toolbar will let you create headings for example, while a new checklists mode will let you tick off items in a shopping list as you thrown them into the shopping trolley. Other new additions include adding images to notes from the camera and simply drawing an item in notes.

To sift through you library of memos, you can now view by thumbnail, dates and even browse through attachments stored on your device.

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Apple Maps goes on the tube

Apple’s answer to Google Maps has had a rough ride since it first launched, but the latest changes could persuade some to actually start using it. A new Transit mode now provides mapping for train stations giving you multi-routing and step by step directions. Apple has even gone to the effort of suveying entrance and exits and stations to give you the exact distance from your current location to help you decide whether it’s actually worth running for the last train.

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London and New York will be among the first major cities to benefit from the new Transit mode when it launches with iOS 9 later this year.

Other new Apple Maps features to highlight include finding locations nearby and will even notify you of which establishments support Apple Pay.

SEE ALSO: OS X El Capitan Features: What’s new?
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A dedicated News app to battle Flipboard

For the first time in a while, Apple has launched a brand new native application and it’s all about, well, news. The Flipboard-esque application lets you choose the content topics, whether it’s travel, science or sport. Then it’ll pull content into one unified magazine offering interactive static content. You can bookmark articles to read content later and a new photo mosaics mode puts high resolution images into an easy to view gallery.

Apple has worked with the New York Times, EPSN, Vogue, GQ and Men’s Health as the first publications to offer unique content for the new News app. In the public beta version, the News app will unfortunately only be available in the US.

Low Power mode

We called for a battery saving mode and Apple kind of delivered. While Tim Cook was sketchy on the exact details, iOS 9 promises a new setting that can add up to three hours of battery to your iPhone from a single charge. We wish Apple spent a bit more time talking about this, as no doubt it’s an issue that all iPhone users hope can get better.

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For the iPad only

The iPad arguably got the most interesting updates in iOS 9, so here’s the most interesting ones.

QuickType keyboard gets a virtual makeover

A staple for iPad users, the QuickType keyboard will be able to do a whole lot more and adds a pretty important feature. First, the suggestion bar now has shortcuts to copy and paste, add formatting and add attachments. More impressively, you can now use a two-finger gesture across the keyboard to select content in an article or document and hopefully make editing content on an iPad much easier.


To start with, there”s a new task switcher, which can be accessed by double-tapping on the home screen. Once you’ve chosen an app, the new SlideOver feature (iPad Air and above or iPad Mini 2 and above) will let you add in another app to the iPad screen. Now you can read your emails and browse the web at the same time. A series of gestures will help you move through content, windows can be resized and can interact with both apps running on the screen.

Related: iPad Pro – 6 features that will make you want one

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A new SplitView mode, which will only be available on the iPad Air 2, will let users run two apps at exactly the same time. So for example, if you have an email open with map locations, you can have the map app open as well and it will move to those points in the map in real time.

If you love watching video, you can now also open up a video window and let it run while you’re still in another app. You’ll be able to resize the video window, move it to one side, or hide it altogether.

These multitasking features seem to be perfect for the iPad Pro, which will be able to show a full size iPad app and the majority of another app in landscape mode.

SEE ALSO: Apple Pay in the UK: How will it work?
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iOS installs are getting smaller

Getting the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system onto your iPhone and iPad should be quicker starting with iOS 9. Now it’ll require freeing up just over 1GB (1.3GB to be precise) to install it. That’s down from the whopping 3-4GB of space you needed to free up for iOS 8. That’s good news if you’re a hoarder of apps, photos, games and music.

Everything else: The bits you might have missed

If you’re an avid iCloud Drive user you’ll appreciate this one. Apple has finally decided to put in a dedicated app for the service into iOS 9, though it will be off by default. A simple trip into settings will turn it on though. You’ll then be able to search through all your cloud saved files without searching out a third-party version.

Both Find My Phone and Find My Friends are now stock apps that can’t be deleted, rather than optional apps downloadable from the App Store. We’re happy to see Find My Phone there, the other one less so.

To add an extra hit of security to your device, iOS 9 now requires a six-digit pin instead of four. If you don’t want that added protection, or are a little forgetful, you can switch back to four.

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