iOS 9

Apple are announcing their new iPhones tomorrow. Along with the new phone will be a new version of iOS, version 9. You can read all about what Apple thinks are the best new features. I’ve been using it myself for a couple of months now so I thought it might be worth a few words.

Here are my highlights:

  • Battery improvements. Actually, they say you get an extra hour but I’ve not noticed. What works great is Low Power Mode. When it gets below 20%, the battery icon turns yellow and lots of stuff gets turned off or the frequency of background tasks is decreased. It’s not magic — if you use your phone it will drop to zero pretty quickly — but if it’s just sat in your pocket you’ll get a lot more life out of it.
  • Spotlight search inside apps. This clearly isn’t going to be big until apps support it, but even with my own apps this is really big. I miss it on my iPad 3, which doesn’t support it.
  • Looking in your email to guess the names of callers who are not in your address book. It’s kind of freaky the first time it happens. How does it know that this phone call might be from Bob?! But it works and it’s very useful. Oh, and if it can’t make a match it now tells you where the call came from (just as it has done in the US since the very first iPhone).
  • Feels as fast, if not faster, than iOS 8 on both my iPhone 5 and iPad 3. After all the press claiming that Apple make big, clunky updates to force you to upgrade that’s nice.

Showing potential:

  • Intelligence. That is, your phone will give you stuff before you ask for it. When I was visiting my parents it told me how long it would take to drive back home. When I connect to my Jambox, it knows that I likely want to open the Music app. And after a month it learned that when I plug in my headphones in the morning I probably want to open PocketCasts. Kind of neat.
  • Improved Notes app. I use this all the time, but I wasn’t willing to upgrade my Mac to El Cap so I also wasn’t willing to migrate Notes to the new format. I played with the new stuff locally — saving links, lists, etc. — but syncing the notes is pretty important so I didn’t use it for real.
  • QuickType. I love the idea of being able to use the iPad keyboard as a trackpad, however what I find is that I often end up deleting a paragraph of text, presumably because  when typing I momentarily have two fingers on-screen and accidentally make a selection. Maybe changing settings or practice will make this more reliable?

Wish I could try it:

  • I love the idea of being able to use iPad apps side-by-side. But, sadly, my iPad 3 is too old to support either the full side-by-side mode or even the slide over version.

Overall it’s a really nice release and it’s been very stable for me. It’s been good enough to use on my main phone since the beginning of August. Assuming a few minor glitches are fixed for the final version it should be a really solid release.