After a few months in beta, Apple has today released iOS 9 to the world for everyone with an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Download the update from Settings on your iOS device, then tap ‘General’ and select ‘Software Update’. The required free space for installing iOS 9 is a lot lower than iOS 8, at around 1.3 GB, which should make it easier to upgrade your devices right away. Any device that runs iOS 8 can upgrade to iOS 9 and, naturally, iOS 9 will also ship preinstalled on Apple’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus when they are released next week.
But what exactly is new in iOS 9? Read on for a walkthrough of all the new features and changes in Apple’s latest iteration of its mobile operating system …
iOS 9 includes new features like iPad Multitasking, Shift Key and keyboard changes, redesigned App Switcher, brand new Notes, News apps, transit direction in Maps and much more. We dive deep into the changes below but first watch our hands-on video showing the top iOS 9 features in action …
Redesigned App Switcher
Apple has updated the app switcher in iOS 9 with a new design but the same functionality. Instead of scrolling to the left to see older content, the multitasking app cards now flow right-to-left in order of most recently used. Each card is now always partially occluded by the surrounding apps, which is a change for the worse in comparison to iOS 8, but each card is also much larger than it was with the iOS 8 design. It was only introduced last year, but the Recent/Favorite Contacts bar has also been removed with iOS 9. However, there is a much-improved Handoff indicator now — it appears as a thin tab at the bottom of the screen. Simply pull upwards to open the suggested app and active Handoff.
The new App Switcher may seem like an unnecessary cosmetic change, but it makes a lot more sense when seen in context. For instance, the iPhone 6s includes a 3D Touch gesture to smoothly pan between the cards which wouldn’t really fit with the old style. Moreover, it gels perfectly with the new metaphors introduced on iPad for side-by-side multitasking.
Arguably the biggest new feature with iOS 9, Apple has added a whole new way to interact with multiple apps on iPad. Sort of like a traditional PC, you can now display two apps side by side on screen at the same time, what some would call ‘true multitasking’. There are three types of multitasking.
On iPad Air or later, you can now swipe from the right edge of the display to open a skinny side window about the width of an iPhone. In here, you can open another app to view over the top of the primary app you are working on. The apps display just like tall-skinny iPhone apps and can do all the same functions as if it was full-screen. You can swipe it away and bring it back at any time — it will remember where you were. However, whilst the Slideover panel is active, you cannot interact with the full-screen app. This is where Split Screen mode comes in.
Multitasking: Split Screen
Split Screen does exactly what you expect, let you fully interact with two apps at once. From a Slipover view, pull the tab at the left edge of the pane leftwards to expand the app into the full Split Screen Mode. Now both apps are displayed on screen at once. You can adjust the separation — either with a 66/33 or a 50/50 split. This is the definition of ‘real multitasking’ in the truest sense. You can dock your Twitter client to the skinny column whilst browsing Safari in the larger window. It’s also great for students and homework with a combination of a word-processor on one side (like Pages), to actually create the document, and Safari on the other side as the reference tool. There’s no drag and drop support between the two apps but the usual Copy-Paste dance works just fine. When you want to stop split-screen, just drag the divider all the way over to remove one of the apps.
Due to the extra RAM and processing power this feature requires, it’s only available on iPad Air 2 and later, or iPad mini 4 and later. If you do have one of these newer devices, iOS 9 is worth it just for this feature. It greatly expands how useful the iPad is as a productivity tool.
My personal favorite of the new iPad multitasking features is Picture-in-Picture. From any video app that supports the feature (which will be most, once developers submit their apps built against the iOS 9 SDK), press the Home Button. Rather than disappearing as it would with previous versions of iOS, the video stays around and pops out to become its own floating window. You can now navigate around other apps and the video keeps playing. The best part of this is it works with FaceTime video calling: you can do video conferencing on iPad whilst using an other app entirely. They can still see you, you can still see them. In particular, I think business will find a lot of use in this feature because you can now video chat and take notes using Pages (for example) at the same time.
You can resize the PIP window with two fingers to scale it larger or smaller, as well as drag it around to change which corner it’s docked to. iOS does a decent job making sure it doesn’t get in your way automatically; it will move out the way of the system keyboard automatically for example. At any time, you can also flick the window off the side of the screen if you want to focus on something for a few minutes. Tap on the window itself to bring up controls to close the video or re-open the video in the originating app. Picture-In-Picture is supported by all iPads that support Slideover.
New iOS 9 Keyboard
iOS 9 has also given some iPad attention to the keyboard. Place two fingers on the system keyboard to turn it into a trackpad to control the text cursor. This enables you to quickly jump around and highlight sections of your document, without resorting to the other fiddly text selection tools iOS offers. Things like the magnifying loupe are more precise than using the trackpad but are frankly unnecessarily fine-grained for a lot of tasks – and the trackpad option is much more convenient. The trackpad feature will also be available on the iPhone 6s through a 3D-Touch gesture. iPads additionally get a new shortcut bar running along the top of the keyboard to access common text manipulation functions, like Cut, Copy and Paste.
For all iOS devices, the Shift Key debacle has finally been resolved. Apple has changed the iconography to make it abundantly clear what state the Shift key is in, which will no doubt please a lot of people. With iOS 9, a filled in arrow indicates that the Shift key is enabled, versus an outlined glyph for the disabled state. By default, the iOS 9 keyboard will also show lowercase keys on the individual keyboard keys to reflect the Shift key state. Personally, I found this distracting and was glad to see you can disable the behaviour in Settings.
Revamped Notes App
iOS 9 brings with it an overhauled Notes app, with a greatly expanded feature set when compared to the simple plain text notes that existed before. You can now access font formatting options, add inline checklists and even draw sketches as part of your note. Links are also displayed with a thumbnail and textual preview, giving you much more context than the URL alone. Notes are synced over iCloud and its not backwards compatible. This means once you upgrade, Notes will no longer be kept up to date with other devices not running iOS 9. This also means that the Mac Notes app will be unable to sync with your phone and tablet until its updated to OS X El Capitan, which is set for release at the end of the month. You may want to hold off on upgrading to the new Notes until all your devices are on the latest versions of the operating system.
iOS 9 introduces Low-Power Mode for the first time on iOS. Apple has done a lot of work under the hood with iOS 9 to get up to an extra hour of battery life in normal use, and Low-Power Mode extends that further. This power-saving feature switches off some of iOS’s more battery-sucking features, like certain visual effects, background app refresh and email refresh, to conserve as much power as possible. You can enable this feature from the Battery screen in the Settings app and it will automatically turn itself off once the iPhone is recharged. It’s meant to be used temporarily at times when you know you need to squeeze some extra battery longevity, like on a long trip. Combined with the more efficient software overall, Apple claims you can extend your battery life up to 3 hours longer on iOS 9.
As part of this initiative, Apple has also updated the Battery views in Settings to give more details about what is going on with the phone. You can see battery usage data going back as much as seven days or just focus on the last 24 hours. Tapping on a details button will show how each app has been using battery in the foreground and background states.
With iOS 9, Apple has moved the primary Spotlight Search view to the left of the first home screen, mirroring its placement in versions of iOS before the iOS 7 major redesign. Apple has also added a lot more functionality and features to Spotlight with iOS 9, although some are more useful than others.
Spotlight can now answer many more types of questions natively, taking advantage of the expansive Siri database to populate information. Instead of talking, you just type what you want to know. You can see currency conversions, do simple math, lookup sports and much more just from Spotlight. Third-party apps can also integrate with the system to show their own search results in this list. For instance, you will be able to search for your own notes in Evernote or documents from the Microsoft Office apps (assuming they update to support the feature) from Spotlight.
Without typing anything however, you will notice some other new listings in the Spotlight view. These are ‘proactive’ Siri suggestions where Apple tries to provide contextually relevant information automatically. Contacts that you talk to frequently, or are scheduled to talk to soon, will show up alongside apps that you commonly open in your daily routine. If you always check Twitter when you wake up, iOS 9 will start suggesting your Twitter app to you in this view in the mornings. There is also a separate listing for nearby points of interests, powered by Apple Maps, and top news stories.
Unfortunately, a lot of these suggestions don’t feel very targeted or very relevant. It’s more like a random assortment of content that exists on your iOS device. Hopefully Apple will revise the algorithms powering this over time to make it better. You can also disable most of this stuff in iOS 9 settings if it annoys you.
There are other Proactive parts of the operating system apart from Spotlight, however. These generally work a lot better and are genuinely helpful. Plugging in earphones will surface music apps on your lock screen to allow you to start listening to music instantly. It will also suggest podcast apps if that’s what you do most often.
Similarly, when iOS 9 detects you getting in your car at the end of the day, it will popup an alert prompting directions to home with an ETA. This just removes friction and the frustration of having to dig around the Maps navigation options, just to go home. iOS 9 Calendar can also warn you about potential traffic problems with events you had scheduled for a certain time. Mail will additionally automatically populate your calendar with data it gathers from incoming emails, such as those referencing an upcoming meeting. They appear as a different color in your Calendar and can be optionally disabled.
You won’t notice some of this stuff right away when you upgrade — iOS 9 has to learn your habits and preferences over time to deliver relevant suggestions. In general, a lot of small niceties add up to a significant change in your enjoyment of the operating system.
Maps has finally added transit and public transport directions with iOS 9. From the map, tap on a bus stop or train station to see upcoming departures from that place. You can also directly ask for directions via transit, rather than simply walking or driving. The attention to detail is important here. Apple has custom map icons and assets for every location so the symbols seen in the Maps app directly line up with what’s shown in the real world. For instance, in London the Maps app color codes the Underground lines to match how they are represented on real Tube maps. As well as mapping the building of train stations, Apple Maps even shows you the accurate location of pedestrian entrances into the station platform.
You can even enable a Transit map view that focuses only on transit points of interest, which means it’s easier to work out where you need to go if you aren’t interested in the road network. The cartography is really pretty. iOS 9 Transit is rolling out to more cities over time: right now it’s available in Baltimore, Chicago, China, London, Mexico City, New York City, San Francisco, Toronto and Washington.
iCloud Drive Improvements
iOS 9 adds a native iCloud Drive app so there’s finally one place you can go to see all your documents that sit in the iCloud. It’s pretty barebones, with two views of your hierarchy; icon or list view. You can tap through your folders and preview all the files as well as share files with others, or open the file in an app for editing.
As long as developers support the feature, iOS 9 also allows users to edit a document in multiple apps but only ever have one copy of the file stored in iCloud Drive. With iOS 8 and before, apps had to create their own copies of files leaving a lot of duplicates spattered on your cloud space. iOS 9 includes the new behaviour which acts closer to how OS X manages files shared between multiple apps. As a user, you don’t have to do anything special — just use the app as normal and it will take advantage of the feature if it is supported.
Wallet — Apple Pay and Loyalty Cards
Passbook has a new name and a new icon in iOS 9: it’s now called Wallet. Despite the branding change, the app itself is identical in function, with your Apple Pay bank cards and passes displayed in a stack. However, iOS 9 does add support for loyalty cards so you’ll be able to start adding reward cards to your Wallet and they’ll show up here too. iOS 9 also adds Apple Pay support for Discover cards and Discover is offering a 10 % cashback deal in coordination with iOS 9’s launch on Apple Pay purchases.
With iOS 9, Newsstand has been removed from the system — all news apps are now treated the same on your home screen. However, Apple has a new News app of its own that comes preinstalled with iOS 9. It’s sort of like a pretty RSS reader. You can subscribe to stories from a wide variety of publications, including 9to5Mac, and they are formatted for an optimized reading experience. The closest thing to compare it to is Flipboard. Some news publication will publish content using Apple’s new document format (the ‘Apple News Format’) for a richer display of text and media. For unknown reasons, the News app is not available in all countries as of today. It’s launching in the United States with support for the United Kingdom coming in iOS 9.1. Apple will roll out more countries over time.
… And that’s about it for the major new user features in iOS 9. As with every version of iOS, there are a wide variety of minor changes throughout the system that will improve your daily life with an iOS device in addition to the new stuff mentioned above. In general, iOS 9 is on the smaller side of major iOS updates — much of this year’s engineering work on Apple’s side went into behind-the-scenes improvements for performance and stability changes. There’s still a lot here though and there’s no real reason not to update; the improvements for iPad especially are too good to miss out on.
Naturally, iOS 9 also includes support for the new features in iPhone 6s (like 3D-Touch and Live Photos) and we’ll give you a full hands-on with that when the new iPhones are released on September 25th. For now, download iOS 9 and tell us what you think about Apple’s latest iteration of its mobile operating system in the comments.
Update: Apple’s official release notes:
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Downloading OTA Now!
Took about 30 retries – 3 complete shut downs / restarts – and 60 minutes, but it is now at the “Preparing Update” stage, so I think it finally will work!
And – It is installing.
Don’t give up – I had the GM on my iPad and loved it. Enjoy
‘Software update failed’
Same error every year!
Got to 2 minutes left – and “Software Update Failed”
Mine failed, had to restart iPhone, then it worked.
People having the ‘Software update failed’ error
Plug in your phone and it will work
I had the same error but when I plugged in, the update does start!
Never mind, the error is back after charging it for a couple of minutes :( Apple, shame on you!
‘Software update failed’ here in Brazil also..
“Software Update Failed” here too on my 6. Tried thought iTunes, and it says 8.4.1 is the current OS. Worked fine on my iPad Air 2.
I’m updating through iTunes and it’s frozen after i unlocked my phone.
9to5 needs to fix their comment section, post times are off by 10 hours!
Yeah. I keep trying to update my iPad and it keeps saying failed.
Same issue here; the update keeps failing on 2 separate iPhones!
F*** it! I’ll just wait for IOS10!
First time ever, that I’m getting an error on my iOS downloads… What can I do? It does not download…
Wait for sometime….
Software Update Failed.. Must be using 16 GB servers.
Updated. slow as hell on a 5s.
Did you reboot?
I did. Just like 4 to 5. ios9 features will look great on a larger screen.
Plug in your phones, per “applegetridofsimandjack”. It works!
Not unless you pin around 3 times clockwise, while holding your phone upside down and perfectly level! Not .5 degrees off level or it will FAIL!
Had it partially download and file so many times in the last 34 minutes.
Plugged once and it worked after about 20 errors untethered.. Period, done.
update via iTunes, ota does seem to be working
8 hours to download!!!!! ??????
Now up to 12 hours!!!! Seriously Apple?
Paused and restarted download… 25 minutes is
With iOS 9 the AirPlay feature appears to be broken because it will not allow me to stream music to my AirPlay speakers. They doesn’t stay connected when I press on them. Even restarted my iPhone and still no luck. Same goes for my iPad, seems like AirPlay music streaming is broken in iOS 9.
Anyone else having this issue?
Yep, I installed iOS9 this morning and now I cannot connect to me airplay devices.
Is there a “fix” ?
so what happens if you were using The beta? i have ios 9.1 right now, does it just stay that way or do i update to the full ios 9 that came today to the public??
You can stay on beta 9.1 if you are not having problems. If you are seeing issues, then delete the 9.1 profile in settings and reinstall the 9.0 either OTA or plug into itunes.
Thank you Chris!
How about iPad 2 with iOS 9?
Dev user here…all I got out of your article was…. Yeah Toffees!!
what’s the build number? I downgraded from 9.1 Public Beta to 9.0 GM, my build is 13A341.
People are getting so antsy – there are literally tens of millions people trying to do this right now. Wait till after work and it will be on there in no time. Or register your device in the public beta and you can skip the lines and go directly to 9.1. I am using it on 16gb 5s since the 9.1 was released and have not had any problems with this PB of the iOS.
Same here. I’m on the 9.1 beta on my iPad Air and there are zero issues.
Don’t get the ‘must download it straightaway’ mentality. Leave it a couple of days, or do it late at night. Your lives don’t depend on iOS 9.
I am an astronaut..i kept looking for software update and everytime I saw that IOS9.1 your software us up to date…without realizing I had downloaded public beta. Do I need to do anything to get out of the public beta? I believe its essentially the same software but I see a public beta profile which I think needs to go away.
Transit is also working in Berlin, Germany.
Don’t forget about quick reply for third party apps. To me that’s a big one.
I really enjoyed your video – especially how well spoken you are, and how effortlessly you move through the phone while describing the new ioS 9 features! :) I’m super excited about the “doodle” feature in the note app as well as the multi-tasking feature on the iPad.
I have an iPhone 5S here and Mac running latest Yosemite — upgraded to iOS 9 and now continuity calling no longer works — when I get phone calls on the iPhone they used to show up on my mac and allow me to answer them from there — this does not happen anymore. Anyone else notice this issue? I have Verizon but I don’t think that would matter.
Is there no Proactive on the iPad? It’s weird that it isn’t available.
Updated a 6. I can’t find News app.
The News app is only available in selective countries.
No multi-tasking for iPad Air or earlier is a MASSIVE disappointment.
Hey all – quick question. I have updated to ios 9 on my daughter’s ipod. However I cannot get anything to show up when we swipe left. in fact, we cannot swipe left. Does proactive search not apply to ipods or perhaps do I have a setting wrong? Thank you for any help.
It’s called #IOS9, because it takes about 9 hours to finish installing… http://blog.photolamus.com/2015/09/16/apple-ios9-art-work-or-problem/
Check out this amazing app “Trendstoday”
Please check and provide review on appstore.
Appreciate your help here.
You guys should totally talk about the update to Apple Music in os9. There are changes that have been made on how you interact with your music that may have gone by the waist side beside the fact that the app it’s self has better reliability as of what I’ve seen.
I am 12 year old boy and i really love 9to5mac.com!! I really appreciate them and they have solved my every problem!! The guys who like it comment below and say thanks to them!!Going to get iPhone 6s Plus 128gb gold!! Rose gold is an awesome colour but it think its for girls and not for me!! without any hassles, soon after the update was launched, i downloaded it to my iPod touch 6th generation and its working smoothly. i want the el capital update to release fast as i am waiting for it eagerly (Any only some changes)!! Thanks apple and 9to5mac.com!!
Wifi calling works really well. What a lot of people don’t realize is that it only kicks in when you have both wifi coverage and your cell signal dips below a certain point. I didn’t realize this until I called Apple support and they said that both conditions need to be in place for it to work.
Unfortunately, there are a few iOS 9 features that are not available on iPhone 4S:
– no Siri search (usually accessible from the home screen left to right)
– no music icon on the locked screen when you plug in head phones
– no wifi switch under mobile network
– no transit directions in Apple maps
One try and it worked perfectly! and its awesome! but where are the new emojis?!
Podcast app crashes every time I try to open it
iOS 9 caused my ipad 2 to freeze up and now it won’t do anything. It has a picture of the iTunes icon with the charger cord on it and black screen. How do I fix this?
Hello guys. I just ran an iOS 9.0 update last night and now I can’t access my ‘phone’ icon. Anybody with advice please, I’d really appreciate.
And as it is, I can’t make calls. I’m only left with Siri. It’s a 5s
hello. hoping you can help me out. I updated my iphone5s and ipad air 2 yesterday. But i dont have the NEWS app on my ipad. I have it on my iphone. I am using the same apple id. The difference i noticed was the REGION i set on my iphone is United States and United Arab Emirates on my ipad (where my current location is). Is this the reason why i dont have the NEWS app on my ipad. Though i understand that the REGION is only used to format day and currency. Thanks :)
As mentioned in this article, News is only available in the United States region at the moment. Regional settings control more than just formats and currency! Button translations for example with apps that are designed to work with several languages. :-)
Is there anything I need to do so that I can move the cursor without clicking in the words over and over again like you said. And have the split screen too. They both aren’t working for me
All good, but there is no right swipe on the iPad, so I’ve now got no recents or favourites !!
HELP! I do NOT want my keyboard to be in lower case… and NOW since I did the update the default on my iPhone keyboard is lower! HORRIBLE. I can’t see any area / setting where I can tell it I want my keyboard to be the standard ALL CAPS.
Seems a simple Google search would have helped you.. Try searching for “disable lower case keyboard on iphone” and see if you find what you need.
I lost all the events I put into my calendar after I downloaded the iso9. That included past and future. How do I get the info back?
I got 9.0 and my Music app disappeared! Where did it go?!?!? How do I get it back??? Does this mean I will be forced to subscribe to Apple Music just to hear my own music??? I am so confused…
Updated iTunes on my computer (Windows) with my iPod hooked up to the computer. After I restarted my computer after the install the iTunes came on but my iPod won’t show up on the iTunes. I can’t even turn my iPod on or off. This new update really screwed my device up.
Updates worked first time as always on all family devices, but then I do charge the devices first, do a full backup and leave them connected to my computer during the update.
All the emails I was keeping to do with an oncoming trip have disappeared it says not downloaded from server! How do I get them back?
I enjoy the multi app function EXCEPT when I am reading a book. I swipe my pages from the right side to turn them and about 90% of the time it opens the multi app function :( I have to disable it when I am reading
It is still BS that you cannot use the full split features on the ipad air from December 2013 forward!!! What kind of programming can’t be done to allow a larger even sized split screen…..Apple can’t even match the features that Samsung has been using for quite awhile….I will never buy another IPAD-whatever!!
The original iPad Air probably doesn’t have the power to run two entirely separate binaries simultaneously. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Now one my apps that in use everyday wont stay open. I uninstalled and reinstalled the app. I reset the phone and it’s still not working. Can anyone help me please? i need this app to work. Thank you.
I like most of what ios9 has to offer but today I have no pictures with News. That’s frustrating!
I just upgraded my grandsons ipod touch to ios 9.02 now it says our wifi password is wrong. I’ve tried all the suggestions…reset it, unplugged the device, etc and still no joy. Anyone know how to fix this?
Have updated yesterday IOS9, but my iPad has lost Skype. When I try to reinstall Skype its says my iPad has no internet connection. So I switch my iPad off and on again, the Internet is reconnected…..then I again try to install Skype but after a few minutes it loses its internet connection. The VPN icon on my general screen keeps flashing saying trying to connect, try again later as no connection. Then I switch off my iPad AGAIN, Internet is back….but as soon as I try to install anythingi get the same message “no internet connection.” My iPad internet is connnect s and stays connected UNTIL I try to install an AP. I WISH I NEVER UPDATED MY iPad never had any trouble before. Grr, can some one please advise me? Thank you.
Firstly i think you are the one of the intelligent.A long time i was found that to update my iPhone 6. but i face various problem with this.
Now i have successfully up to date my iPhone with following your step by step instruction.
yes i am very happy to update my phone, And also i have an attractive message for you.
If you want, you can check this. I think you also be very happy like me..