Apple WWDC 2015: What you need to know about iOS 9

From native app improvements to a brand new app, iOS 9 is filled with changes. Perhaps best of all is that any device that runs iOS 8 today can run iOS 9 this fall.
Written by Kevin Tofel, Contributor

Apple's WorldWide Developer Conference for 2015 kicked off with a lengthy keynote, showing what the next version of iOS will do and look like. Many of our expectations were met, along with details of the newest iOS 9 features that are coming to iPhones and iPads in the coming months.

Here's what you need to know about iOS 9.

Native apps get better with one new one and one with a new name

Notes in iOS 9 becomes more of a full-featured notepad. A new toolbar adds ways to include photos, format text, add bullets, and even create hand-drawn pictures to attach to a note. A new attachment view shows only those notes with attachments, making them easier to find.

Maps for iOS 9 will include detailed transit data although it will first roll out for certain U.S. and international cities. Apple says it mapped out details of precisely where above- and below-ground entrances for transit travel are, making for detailed travel times. You can ask Siri for transit directions as well.

The new app also includes additional search features to find nearby points of interest based on various categories, such as Restaurants, Groceries, Bakeries and more.

The success of Apple Pay means Passbook needs a new name. Say hello instead to Wallet. The app works similarly to Passbook but now includes Apple Pay support for both rewards and store cards so you can leave them behind. Apple Pay itself will launch in the UK next month with 250,000 locations accepting it for payments.

News is the newest iOS app.


On the surface, it looks much like Flipboard: You can choose your interests or news sources and News will gather them up in one place. Machine learning is applied to what you read, helping to provide other sources or topics you might be interested in. Stories are interactive with inline images, videos and animations. Apple says it has a particular News format for publishers to use for content.

Siri and Search get smarter with Proactive

It's true: Apple is taking on Google Now with Proactive, which makes Siri smarter and Search more contextual in iOS 9, complete with sports scores and other information you're interested in appearing on its own. Siri will also suggest apps for you.


Apple demonstrated the new search feature by asking Siri to "Show my karaoke photos of Eddy." The Photos app appeared, showing only the relevant photos. Search also has conversion features -- say from tablespoons to cups -- and takes advantage of deep linked applications, similar to what Google offers.

That means when you search for an item, relevant applications will appear in the results. As I noted last week: The future is one where you don't look for apps, but apps come to you. Indeed, during a demo, simply plugging in headphones to an iPhone surfaced the Music app, making it ready for your morning workout.


Proactive is aptly named of course because it can notify you in advance of certain things. Got an event you need to drive to? Your iPhone will tell you to leave earlier if there's traffic on the way. Invitations for events are also automatically added to your Calendar.

Split-screen mulitasking and a new keyboard comes to iPads

Want to get more done on the bigger screen of an iPad? iOS 9 will let you with support for two apps running on the display at the same time. A new multitasking menu shows apps in a carousel to choose from; tapping one will open it while leaving a second app open if you like.


Use four fingers to swipe and just one of the two running apps will switch to another: Pages to Safari on the left and your agenda on the right, for example. Resizing the split screen is done with a simple tap and drag.

Apple has improved its software keyboard with what it calls QuickType in iOS 9. Cut, copy and paste actions are available in a toolbar while a two-finger gesture turns the keyboard into a giant trackpad for cursor navigation and text highlights. iOS 9 will also show supported shortcuts for connected Bluetooth keyboards.

Full screen video playback can be morphed into what Apple calls picture in picture. The video turns into a smaller but still active window that floats above other apps, including the iOS 9 home screen.

The new multitasking is supported on iPad Air, Air 2, mini 2 and mini 3 but only the iPad Air 2 will gain the split-screen features.

Performance, optimization and battery boosts

Apple suggests that iPhones will get up to another hour of runtime after being upgrade to iOS 9, thanks to under-the-hood improvements. And there's a new one-touch low power mode that will add up to 3 additional hours.

A new two-factor authentication technique is added in iOS 9 for security, while the overall upgrade will be much smaller in size. That makes it easier to upgrade since many iOS device owners didn't have enough room for the iOS 8 over the air upgrade. Apple says expect a 1.3 GB file size this time around; down from the more than 4 GB iOS 8 required.

HealthKit, HomeKit and CarPlay

Additional health datapoints will arrive in the Health app this fall with iOS 9, including hydration and ultraviolet ray exposure.

First Apple HomeKit devices

HomeKit, which is just getting off the ground with new devices, gains access to new sensors and also window shades. As expected, you'll remotely access HomeKit devices with iOS 9 through iCloud and an Apple TV. CarPlay will be going wireless in the fall and will support not just Apple apps, but also software from the automakers themselves.

What devices will support iOS 9 and when can I get it?

Unlike prior upgrades of iOS where some devices are dropped from support, Apple is taking a different stance with iOS 9. If your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch runs iOS 8, it will be able to run iOS 9 when the software rolls out this fall.

Developers can get a preview version now and Apple will open up iOS 9 to a public beta in July.

Hands-on with Apple iOS 9 (in pictures)

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