What You Need to Know About iOS 9

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iOS 9, the newest operating system for Apple’s mobile devices, was released into the world this month and met with equal amounts of excitement and apprehension. Would this new operating system be any better than its last incarnation? Or would it be a new problem for global Apple users to deal with?

Thankfully, it has turned out to be the former — at least so far. Surprisingly, some of the newer features are becoming a great boon to user productivity, which is fantastic for those of us who live and work on our iPhones and iPads.

So, which new iOS 9 updates are the best and brightest, and which fall short of expectation?

Typing Has Never Been Easier

The touch-based keyboards on Apple devices have always left a lot to be desired. Touch screen sensitivity often left letters un-typed, and the lack of keyboard shortcuts added extra unnecessary steps to even the most basic typing job. iOS 9 has added a variety of fantastic QuickType keyboard upgrades that can turn even the most inexperienced touch screen typist into a speed demon.

  • The keyboard now shows lowercase letters, so you never have to wonder if your Caps Lock is on or off again.
  • New shortcuts bar holds your cut, copy and paste commands, as well as camera and attachment controls for creating multimedia messages without ever leaving the text window.
  • QuickType keyboard is now compatible with external keyboard shortcuts. A full list of functional shortcuts will be forthcoming.

By adding additional touch support in addition to all of their keyboard upgrades, Apple added a  new level of productivity options to all of its devices.

Much Kinder to Your Device Memory

One of the biggest complaints about iOS 8 was the sheer size of the upgrade.  For users who had filled their devices with apps, music and video it was nearly impossible to download the 4.5 GB required upgrade for iOS 8.

iOS 9 is much more compact, coming in at a comparatively tiny 1.3 GB. For users who are still running smaller 8 or 16 GB devices, that is much easier to handle.

iPhone

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Multitask on Larger Screens

Many of the new features in iOS 9 are designed specifically with multitasking in mind. Devices such as iPads with larger screens now support split-screen functionality.  This new trick allows you to view and manipulate two apps at the same time, with each app taking up half of the screen.

Have you ever had to stop using an app just to watch a video or answer a FaceTime call, only to find that you’ve lost your place or your progress when you return to it? Thanks to iOS 9, you don’t have to worry about that anymore.

Picture-in-Picture, one of the new features that the upgrade offers, allows you to minimize a video or FaceTime call and move it into the corner of your iPad screen. Enjoy your conversation and still get your work done, or take notes while watching a YouTube video without having to awkwardly swap from one app to the other and back again.

Security Is Key. Or in This Case, Code.

We’re not sure what’s worse: having your iPhone stolen, or having the thief upload their pictures to your iCloud account. Locking your phone with the traditional four-digit numerical code offered some protection, but today’s technologically advanced thieves have found ways to circumvent even that.

In an effort to help protect your device and the information it contains, iOS 9 has introduced not one but two new security measures. The first is an upgrade to the traditional lock screen pass-code. Instead of four digits, you will need to create a six-digit code. That might not seem like a lot of extra security, but consider it this way.

A four-digit code has approximately 10,000 potential combinations.

            A six-digit code, if the number 0 is included, has nearly 140,000 possible combinations.

Feels a little more secure now, doesn’t it? Well, there’s more.

iOS 9 is also introducing a new two-step authentication for each login from a new device or browser. Much like the verification that Steam and other similar programs use, when you log in from a new browser or device, an authentication code will be sent to another already registered device. Enter the code, and you’re in business — and your new device or browser is saved to your cloud account.

Siri Knows All

When Siri was first introduced in 2010, it quickly became one of the most useful tools in the mobile world. This pocket assistant was able to give you the latest weather, restaurant recommendations and keep track of your calendar and reminders.

Siri’s new ‘proactive assistance’ is taking that to a whole new level.

Now, using the phone’s services (location, time, etc.) as well as your own personal usage habits, Siri can help you stay even more organized by anticipating your next action:

  • Plug in your headphones at a certain time of day, and Siri will ask if you want to listen to the same playlist or audio book that you listened to at the same time on other days.
  • Siri can augment your reminders with weather and traffic conditions, and maps or directions if necessary.

The possibilities are endless. The more you use Siri, the more customized she will become, making your iPhone or iPad an extension of yourself.

This is just a small sample of the fantastic new features that are a part of iOS 9. It is still in beta though, so if you’re worried about damaging your main device, you might want to wait until they’ve worked all the bugs out before you upgrade.

 

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Kayla Matthews is the editor of Productivity Bytes and a regular contributor to VentureBeat, Motherboard, MakeUseOf and Inc.com. Follow her on Twitter to read her latest posts.