Apple unveils iOS 9 – Siri, Maps, multitasking and more get updates

Anthony Caruana
9 June, 2015
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Apple has unveiled iOS 9 during the opening to WWDC 2015. The updated software will be released to the world late rthis year.

Apple says iOS 9 will be “more intelligent and proactive with powerful search and improved Siri features — all without compromising users’ privacy”.

As expected, the iPad finally gets some multitasking capability. You’ll be able to work with two apps simultaneously, side-by-side or with the new Picture-in-Picture feature, to keep watching a video while browsing the web, composing an email or using any other app.

Maps gets a boost with detailed transit information in Maps although Australia wasn’t on the initial list of countries that will be supported with this new feature.

The Notes app gets a refresh and an all-new News app for the best news reading experience on any mobile device. We’re looking forward to comparing these with our preferred apps, Evernote and Feedly.

Siri gets a design revamp with contextual reminders and new ways to search photos and videos and proactive assistance presents the most relevant information without compromising users’ privacy and suggests actions at a particular moment.

Although Apple has made a big deal about this, Android users have enjoyed similar functionality for some time.

The ability for iPad apps to run side-by-side is called Slide Over. It supports Split View, so you can work in two apps at the same time, side-by-side. Picture-in-Picture lets you continue a FaceTime call or video while using your favourite apps. These new multitasking features are supported by built-in Apple apps, and APIs make it easy for third-party developers to add support into their own apps.

Maps adds support for metropolitan transit systems and schedules in some countries.

The redesigned Notes app lets you draw a quick sketch using your finger, easily create checklists to keep track of your to-dos, or snap a photo directly in a note.

The News app delivers a reading experience that combines the rich, immersive design of a print magazine with the interactivity of digital media. News can learn your interests and suggest relevant content that’s easily shareable with friends or saved for later. News delivers the best articles from a variety of publishers and over one million topics to help you personalise your reading experience, all presented in an elegant, uncluttered design. News is powered by the new Apple News Format, a digital publishing format supporting custom typography, galleries, audio, video and interactive animations, allowing publishers like Condé Nast, ESPN and The New York Times to create beautiful editorial layouts for iOS users.

Apple Pay adds support for Discover cards, rewards programs from merchants such as Walgreens and Kohl’s Department Stores, and participating store-issued credit and debit cards. Shoppers will be able to manage their cards in the new Wallet app. Apple Pay is only available today in the US and will also be available to users in the UK starting next month. Aussies are still waiting.

Under the covers, refinements including battery optimisation that provides a typical user with an additional hour of battery life, and a low-power mode to help further extend battery life. Software updates require less space to install and an Install Later feature can perform updates to your device when it’s not in use.

Secruity isn’t overlooked with passcode strengthening and improving two-factor authentication by building it directly into iOS, making it harder for others to gain unauthorised access to your Apple ID.

A number of new developer APIs have been added including extensible search that deep links directly to content within third-party apps, GameplayKit and Model I/O for building better games and ReplayKit for recording gameplay, new HomeKit profiles for motorised windows and shades, motion sensors and home security systems, wireless CarPlay and support for auto manufacturers to develop apps within CarPlay; and new HealthKit data points for reproductive health, UV exposure, water intake and sedentary state.

Swift 2 brings new features and performance improvements and the compiler and standard library will be made available as open source later this year.

The iOS 9 beta software and SDK are available immediately for iOS Developer Program members at developer.apple.com, and a public beta program will be available in July at beta.apple.com. iOS 9 will be available this spring as a free software update for iPhone 4s and later, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini and later.

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