This article gives the top 10 best (some hidden) features of iOS 9. With the release of iOS 9, Apple added some incredible features to the software on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Although there are hundreds of new features in iOS 9, here are the best top 10 features.
1. More Intelligent Siri: Search (inside apps, specific settings: open bluetooth settings, photos) and Reminders
Siri received some of the biggest enhancements since being introduced with iPhone 4s. The most significant improvements, besides better word detection and quicker responses, include what Apple calls, Intelligence. Siri is smarter in so many different ways. Here are a couple of those:
- Search: Siri can now search for things within an app. For example, you can search for all your photos from last summer and Siri will open the Photos app and show photos from last summer. In addition, you can open specific settings within the settings app usin Siri. For example, if you need to open your Wi-Fi settings or your Bluetooth settings, just tell Siri to do it for you, like this: Open Wi-Fi settings. This can save a lot of time and taps.
- Reminders: Siri is much more intelligent when it comes to creating reminders. Not only can you continue to create location aware reminders like in the past (see this article: How to Create Location Aware Reminders), but now you can ask Siri to remind you about a specific web page you are looking at, or to grab your coffee cup off your car roof after you get in the car.
The Notes App received a huge upgrade in iOS 9. The Notes App now has several new features. The biggest new features are:
- Text formatting – you can now change the font to bold, italics, and underline, plus there are lists and checklists
- Photos – the Notes app now gives you access to your Camera and your Photos so you can include photos with your notes.
- Sketches – with just a simple tap of a button you can now include sketches that you create with your finger or with a stylus.
To access these new formatting features, simply tap the “+” button that appears right above the virtual keyboard to reveal the Formatting Toolbar. Or, if you don’t have the virtual keyboard activated, the Camera button and the Sketch button appears at the bottom of the screen in the Notes app.
Apple has now built in automatic flight tracking details. For example, when you send someone an email or text that includes a flight number in it, the text will automatically be underlined letting you know it is a link. Tapping on the flight number will show a map of the flight route, departure and arrival cities as well as the current status of the flight. There are several different formats of flight numbers that are automatically recognized. Here are some examples for a Delta flight: DL1309, Delta Flight 1309, Delta #1309.
4. iPad Multitasking (slide over, split view (iPad Air 2, Mini 4, iPad Pro), picture-in-picture)
iPad Multitasking is one of the best features to come to the iPad. There are three different parts to iPad Multitasking. Here they are:
- Slide Over – this feature allows you to slide a second app in from the right side of the iPad screen. The full screen app will pause in the background while the Slide Over app is active. For example, if you are reading an article in Safari, you can Slide Over the Notes app and jot down (or sketch) some notes about the article you are reading in Safari. To activate slide over, simply swipe in from the right side of the screen. To select a different app in the Slide Over view, simply swipe down on the Slide Over window to show a list of currently open apps. Slide Over is available on iPad Air, iPad Air 2 iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3, iPad Mini 4, iPad Pro and newer.
- Split View – this feature allows for 2 apps to be run simultaneously, side-by-side. Both apps in Split View can be resized to whatever size is needed. This feature provides a big boost in productivity by allowing 2 apps to fully run at the same time. It makes it so easy to copy and paste text from one app to another as well as follow links in an email or notes document. To activate Split View swipe in from the right side of the screen. For apps that support split view you will notice a handle in between both apps. Simply drag that handle to pin the second app next to the first app. Use the same handle to resize each app. Split View is available for iPad Air 2, iPad Pro and newer.
- Picture-in-Picture (PIP) – this feature allows you to take videos and minimize them in a way that allows for you to continue to work on your iPad. For example, if you are watching a basketball game on the ESPN App, you can continue to watch the game while doing other things on the iPad. Picture in Picture also works for FaceTime calls so that you can continue the FaceTime call while doing something else on the iPad. To activate Picture-in-Picture, start the video or the FaceTime call and then push the home button. The video will automatically shrink in size and become its own floating window. You can move the floating window to wherever you want it. You can also resize the floating video by pinching with 2 fingers on the Picture in Picture video. Picture in Picture (PIP) is available on iPad Air, iPad Air 2 iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3, iPad Mini 4, iPad Pro and newer.
Apple continues to improve on its Maps app and iOS 9 introduces the best upgrade so far: Transit. Transit is the best implementation of navigation for public transportation in cities. What sets Apple Maps Transit apart from other transit apps is that Apple has done extensive underground charting of subway stations and all the entrances and exits. So, when you need to navigate to a certain subway stop, Apple Maps will take you directly to the nearest entrance and ensure that you are on the right side of the tracks to catch the right train. You no longer have to guess at which entrance might be the right one in subway stations (some that span multiple city blocks underground). Apple Maps also provides navigation for other public transit systems in each city that it is available making it easier to get from one place to another. To access Transit in Apple Maps, tap on the Info button at the bottom left corner of the app and select Transit. All the transit routes will now be visible if you live in a city where Apple Maps Transit is available.
6. iPad Keyboard Trackpad
iPad Keyboard Trackpad is an incredible feature that turns your virtual on-screen keyboard into a trackpad. The keyboard trackpad is activated by holding two fingers on the virtual keyboard at the same time. The letters disappear and you can swipe your fingers around the screen moving the cursor to wherever you need it. You can also select text quickly and easily using virtual keyboard trackpad. Just activate the keyboard trackpad by holding two fingers on the virtual keyboard. Then, continue to press with two fingers for another 2 seconds to activate highlight mode. The cursor will turn into the familiar highlighting handles But, instead of dragging these handles, you simply continue to hold two fingers on the screen and slide them up or down to select text before or after your cursor. This is one of the the easiest ways to select text. This is by far one of the best features to come to iPad with iOS 9 besides the multitasking features.
7. Battery Settings: Low Power Mode (iPhone only) and Battery Usage Stats
Low Power Mode gives a way to limit some of the battery draining functionality of the iPhone (ie. auto fetching email, screen animations, etc.). By activating Low Power Mode, you can significantly extend your battery life. Results will obviously vary for each device depending on which apps are being used and how much you normally use your phone. Wired.com did some more scientific testing on one of their iPhones and discovered they got about an hour of additional use when Low Power Mode was activated at 20% battery life (see the full study here: Low Power Mode). In addition to Low Power Mode, Apple has enhanced the battery usage statistics in iOS 9. You can now see how much battery life each app is using as well as the division between how much the app was running in the background and how much on screen time it was used. This can be really helpful to isolate certain apps that use more battery than others. Both Lower Power Mode and the Battery Usage Stats can be found by opening, Settings –> Battery.
With the increased intelligence introduced in iOS 9, your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch will now learn to anticipate what app you want to use at certain times. This is especially true when you plug in a pair of headphones – your iOS device will automatically display a shortcut to the music app right from your lock screen. Swipe up into the music app and start the song of your choice. This is one of those features that helps make the overall experience of using an iOS device that much better.
9. iCloud Drive App
With iOS 9, Apple introduced a dedicated iCloud Drive app to help with file management on iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Now it is even easier to share files between all of your devices. In addition, you can attach and save files to/from emails. By default, when you upgrade to iOS 9, you will be asked if you want the iCloud Drive App displayed on your Home Screen. If you want to manually show or hide it at a later time just go to: Settings –> iCloud –> iCloud Drive –> Show on Home Screen (toggle on or off).
10. Photo Selection
Selecting photos in the Photos app in iOS 9 got a whole lot easier. Now, whenever you need to select multiple photos, just slide your finger from row to row and all the photos your finger touches will be selected.
Those are the 10 Best (some hidden) features of iOS 9. Do you have any other good tips or tricks you have found in iOS 9? Let us know in the comments below.