iOS 9.3 beta does things right: Brings new features without breaking the old stuff

Apple is doing something with iOS that most OS vendors can't seem to do anymore, which is add features to the platform that people truly want and care about.

Apple appears to have significantly improved the quality of its code over the past six months.

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​Apple's iOS 9.3 features education, blue light, CarPlay improvements

Apple's iOS 9.3 beta adds a bevy of iPad features designed to court educators and admins who have been gravitating to Google's Chromebooks.

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It's fair to say that Apple got off to a really bad start with iOS 9. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that it wasn't ready, and was only released because Apple didn't want to postpone the launch of the iPhone 6s. It was full of bugs and headaches and random annoyances that drove me to the point of eyeing Android. iOS 9.1 was better, but it was far from perfect, and it wasn't until the release of iOS 9.2 that the performance and stability that I expected from Apple reappeared.

Now with the public release of the beta of iOS 9.3, it's clear that Apple is firing on all cylinders yet again.

The beta dropped yesterday and since then I've been testing it on a few devices I have here at the PC Doc HQ, and I'm impressed with it. Overall the operating system feels fast and solid, and nothing seems to be broken -- important stuff like Wi-Fi and cellular seems to work after the upgrade -- and the new features seem to work as they should.

I especially like the new password-protect feature added to Notes. I keep a lot of information stored in there, and a way to protect it will be very welcomed, especially since I can unlock protected notes using Touch ID. As for the blue-light reduction feature that's supposed to make going to sleep easier, it's interesting for sure, although I'm not sure if it actually achieves anything beyond being a little kinder on the eyes. I suppose time will tell if I actually see a benefit from this.

One feature that I've already used a lot is the ability to duplicate photos, which means I can make alterations to a photograph or screen capture without destroying the original.

It's really interesting to see Apple adding new features to minor releases of iOS. Is this paving the way for a less rigid release schedule where we won't have to wait a whole year in between getting new features? I hope so.

Oh, and you might have heard that iOS 9.3 includes a way for you to hide the icons for the stock apps. Well, yes, but it's unlikely that most people will be able to use it because it relies on using the Apple Configurator software, which is only available to business and education users. To me, it looks like Apple might be paving the way for a built-in, end-user friendly method of hiding the icon for stock apps in a future release, perhaps iOS 10 (or will that be iOS X?).

In other words, it looks like iPhone and iPads (and let us not forget about iPod touch users) are in for a treat when the iOS 9.3 finally comes out of beta.

One thing that really surprises me about this beta is how excited people are about the new features. And I don't mean the folks such as you or I that swim in these waters daily, but ordinary people. I've had people ask me questions about the new features in iOS 9.3 that otherwise seem to have no interest in tech. They probably wouldn't be able to tell me how much RAM they have in their PC, or seem to care about what's new in Windows 10, but they're jazzed about a new iOS feature that we've only known about for a few days.

Apple is doing something with iOS that most OS vendors can't seem to do anymore, which is add features to the platform that people want and care about. There's nothing particularly ground-breaking in iOS 9.3, and yet people are excited.

What more could Apple ask for?

Note: Remember that iOS 9.3 is currently in beta, and that means that things can still go wrong. Because of that, I'm not going tell you how to get your hands on the beta. If you want that information, then you're going to have to feed yourselves, baby birds. If you decide to pull the trigger on a beta then you, and you alone, need to take responsibility for that action. And to be perfectly honestly, if you need me to tell you how to get the beta, then chances are high that you're going to find yourself in a world of hurt if things go bad (and me MWAH-HA-HAing at you because you didn't heed the warnings to make a backup isn't going to make things better). You have been warned!

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