If you've been given a new iPhone, iPad or iPod touch for Christmas, you've come to the right place!
Here we'll tell you everything you need to know about iOS 9 and the key new things you should try out on your new Apple device.
There’s everyone’s favourite voice assistant, Siri, which has been bolstered in iOS 9 with new voice training abilities. Find Siri in Settings and turn on “Hey Siri”; you’ll be asked to speak a few things so it gets to know your voice better in five quick and easy steps.
Then there's entirely new apps like Wallet and News replace Passbook and Newsstand, while iCloud Drive finally gets its own app to make it easier to get to your cloud-saved content.
Over on the iPad some of the biggest changes are focussed on its interface. The fantastic Split View for iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 4 gives you a side-by-side way to access two apps at once. It’s a feature that Windows users will know all about and it’s available in OS X El Capitan on the Mac too.
Then there’s Slide Over, a great new way to pull in another app for quick access, such as Mail when you’re watching a film, or Calendar while browsing Safari, for example.
In terms of battery power, iOS 9 makes some major changes to help you get even more hours out of your iPhone. The all-new Low Power Mode turns off parts of the system that aren’t absolutely essential, meaning valuable power can be saved to get you through the day.
Beyond these great headline features, we’ve discovered dozens of other useful improvements which we’re sharing with you now. Enjoy!
Smarter and Faster
Search in Settings
At the top level of Settings is a search bar. Type something into it to get a list of matching settings, including the path to reach them, although you can just tap an item to jump straight to it.
Deal with bad Wi-Fi
If Wi-Fi Assist is switched on at the bottom of Settings > Mobile Data, iOS will fall back on your mobile network when it recognises that the Wi-Fi network you’re using is doing a poor job of getting you online.On-screen keyboard
Okay, breathe a sigh of relief: letters on iOS 9’s on-screen keyboard reflect the case in which you’re typing. The top row of the iPad’s keyboard contains shortcuts to features such as copy and paste, undo/redo, formatting controls and buttons to attach photos and items in iCloud Drive in apps such as Mail.
If you type quickly and with high accuracy, the character previews that appear above your finger each time you tap a key can be a distraction. They can be turned off in Settings > General > Keyboard.
When using a Bluetooth keyboard, the shortcuts bar still appears at the bottom of the iPad’s screen, along with an option to hide it. When you press [Command]+[Tab] on a hardware keyboard, iOS 9 presents an OS X-inspired app switcher that’s faster than the one controlled by touch. It enables you to reach any of the last eight apps you’ve used.
Positioning the insertion point just got easier on the iPad. Hold two fingers on the on-screen keyboard and the keys become greyed out. A blue vertical bar appears at the insertion point’s current location, and you can move it like you would with a mouse or trackpad on a computer by sliding both fingers around the screen; the insertion point will follow. Lift your fingers to finish.
Choose Siri’s accent
Until now, the language you selected for Siri would determine its accent in addition to guiding its expectation of how you say words – but not any more! If you prefer to have it speak to you in a North American or Australian accent, you can choose that in Settings > General > Siri > Siri Voice, which replaces the simpler Gender setting from iOS 8.
Text to speech
If you use iOS’s ability to read out text that’s selected, new voices can be found in Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech > Voices.
New actions for dealing with email attachments enable you to save things to iCloud Drive, or to use Markup to annotate PDFs and images and return that in your reply.
New accessibility settings
Accessibility features (in Settings > General) have been expanded with useful switches that disable features that might get in your way. You can turn off the Shake to Undo gesture, which you might find is too easily triggered. Vibrations from your iPhone can be suppressed, too. Touch Accommodations are intended to assist people with motor difficulties, but you might find them useful for very young children. You can adjust how long the screen must be touched before an action is triggered, treat multiple touches within a duration as one, and set whether a finger’s location when it touches or leaves the screen determines your intention.
Device and data security
The next time you set a passcode that unlocks your device, you’ll find that iOS 9 wants it to contain six digits – but tap Passcode Options if you still want to use four digits, or to pick Custom Numeric Code. This new option enables passcodes as worryingly short as one character, or much longer than six. As an added level of security, this option stops the Lock screen giving away the length of your passcode, making it harder for people to guess as what is entered is submitted only when OK is tapped.
In Settings > General > Auto-Lock is a new option that locks your device after just 30 seconds.
Your website accounts and saved bank cards (in Settings > Safari) are now protected by Touch ID rather than your passcode, provided you have set up Touch ID.
In Settings > Music you can choose to have music streamed from iCloud and Apple Music in high quality. You might disable this if you’re on a limited mobile data plan.
In Settings > Photos & Camera, you can lock in settings for the resolutions and frame rates used to record regular or slo-mo video. Tap Record Video or Record Slo-mo to choose from the available qualities, which vary between generations of iPhone. There’s also some on-screen guidance about how much space a minute of footage at each quality will take up. (Remember, the amount available is shown in Settings > General > About.)
Search and Safari
Where you previously had to type before Spotlight Search showed anything, iOS 9 proactively assesses what you do and when, and uses that to display things you might need right now. The search page also displays online news for your location.
Many more kinds of item show up in iOS 9’s search results. Go to Settings > General > Spotlight Search and you’ll see many more built-in apps are listed, including iBooks, Health and Wallet. Third-party apps from the App Store are listed, too. In fact, the rather longer list is indicative of a new capability Apple has placed in the hands of developers, who can make their apps’ contents searchable in Spotlight. If you see unwanted kinds in search results, you can hide them here. However, you can no longer rearrange the list to prioritise things. categories.
If you prefer not to see Spotlight’s proactive suggestions, they can be disabled in Settings > General > Spotlight Search. Switch off Siri Suggestions at the top of that page.
Dictate your terms
There’s now a microphone icon at the right of the search bar, which enables you to say what it is you’re looking for. This is available even if you’ve turned off iOS’s Dictation feature (which is triggered from the keyboard wherever you can type).
You needn’t dig around for the iPhone’s Calculator app to perform basic arithmetic because you can run numbers in Spotlight Search, just like in OS X. An added bonus is that it works on iPad too, even though that device lacks the Calculator app. Type a calculation into the search bar, using * for multiply and / for divide. Try using common functions too – for example, sqrt(144).
Prior to iOS 7, the system-wide search feature was accessed by swiping to the left of the first Home screen. Later, Search appeared when you swiped downwards on any Home screen. In iOS 9, both methods work, but there’s a subtle difference to note. The latter method opens the search page with the input focus already in the bar and the keyboard visible, and a list of suggested apps even before you type – but nothing more until you do. Use the former route if you want to see iOS’s proactive suggestions.
These days, the size of many web pages has become bloated, and often you’ll find them slow to load on your iOS device – even over a good Wi-Fi connection. Partly this is due to complex scripts often used by online advertising, which take time to run. In iOS 9, Safari includes support for content blockers that can be configured to stop content from certain web domains from loading). You can manage content blockers in Settings > Safari. You’ll only see a Content Blockers item listed under the General heading if you’ve installed an app that adds one (even though the item shows up when you search for it at the top of Settings).
Easier on the eyes
Safari’s Reader feature, which strips away superfluous content on long pages to give you a cleaner, reformatted view of only the actual content, has a bunch of new visual options. It presents text in the San Francisco font by default, which is the system font on all three of Apple’s latest operating systems. The same seven fonts available in iBooks are also available here, along with a choice of page background colours (white, cream, dark grey and black – the third of those is also now available in iBooks). Naturally, the text size remains adjustable.
Do things with a page
The bottom row of the share sheet contains a couple of new things besides Safari’s Request Desktop Site. Add to Favourites, which was previously tucked away with Request Desktop Site, is found here, along with a more explicit Find on Page action as a convenience for anyone who is unaware of the existing, more hidden route of tapping the search field and then the last item in its suggestions.
Paste and Go
It takes fewer steps to paste and go to a web address that you’ve copied to the Clipboard. Hold a finger on the field and tap ‘Paste and Go’ in the options bar when it appears. With something else on the Clipboard, you’ll get a Paste and Search option instead.
Got a CV to upload as part of a job application? Wherever you see an option to upload a file to a site, you’ll find iCloud Drive among the sources from which you can attach and submit a file to an online form.
Request Desktop Site
In iOS 8, the option to load the desktop version of a website was tucked away where it was easy to miss. There are now two ways to reach it. The long-winded way is to tap the Share button and then Request Desktop Site in the bottom row of actions. However, it’s quicker to hold a finger on the reload arrow in the address bar for a moment, then tap Request Desktop Site when it appears.
Notes and Reminders
Due reminders on the Lock screen remain there unless you actively action them – if you unlock and then lock your phone, your reminders will still be listed on the Lock screen.
When you do action a notification, you have more options than before: you can mark something as completed, or you can choose the Later option, which gives you the choice of ‘snoozing’ the reminder.
While in an app, you can tell Siri to “Remind me about this” and it will create a reminder named after whatever you’re currently looking at in the app. You can also send things to Reminders from apps such as Safari by tapping the Share button, then Reminders. Here, you can add text and, by tapping the Options button, set a time or location to be reminded. In Safari’s case, when you access that reminder, it will take you straight to the linked web page.
In the new, richer Notes app, you can embed pictures or web links into your notes. The easiest way to do this is often from Safari or the Photos app – tap the Share button, then choose Notes. You’ll have the option of adding text to go with your link or photo, and choosing whether to create a new note or add to an existing one. Pictures can also be added using the camera icon above the keyboard inside the Notes app (if this isn’t visible, tap the + on the right to reveal it).
You can add checklists to notes, too – tap the icon of a circle with a tick inside, just above the keyboard. Type your first to-do, then press return to start a new one. Press the icon again to stop. To mark an item in the list as done, tap its circle.
Sketch out ideas
Tap the squiggly line icon above the keyboard in Notes to add freehand drawings and use a ruler tool to draw straight lines. You can choose different drawing implements and line colours. There are undo and redo options, and you can rotate the whole drawing for easier working. Tap Done to insert it.
The Aa icon above the keyboard in the Notes app lets you style up text in notes as headings, subheadings and lists. Highlight text and choose a new style for it, or start a new line and choose a style before writing. Highlight text and then tap BIU in the pop-up options bar to change its weight and decoration. You can indent the current line or selection from the same pop-up.
New App Switcher
The App Switcher has a new look. Recent contacts are gone, but Handoff is more prominent in a bar at the bottom – tap it to receive a task.
Return to an app
When you switch apps through an action such as tapping a notification, you’ll see a ‘Back to…’ button at the top-left corner of the screen.
Dip into apps
Slide Over enables you to bring up a thin view of another app (which must support it) by sliding a finger inwards from the right edge of an iPad’s screen, so you can attend to things without stopping what you’re doing. To switch apps, swipe down from the line at the top of the right pane.
Work in two apps at once
Split View lets you run two apps side by side – but only on an iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4. To use it, start with the same gesture as Slide Over, let go, then drag the vertical line on the divider to the middle of the screen.
Picture in Picture
On any video that uses Apple’s default video player, tap the button that shows two rectangles and an arrow. This turns the video into a small floating box, which can be moved to any corner, resized using two fingers, and stays open even if you change apps. Flick it off the left or right of the screen to temporarily hide it (it will keep playing).
Battery & storage
Smartphones are power hungry, there’s no way around that with bright touchscreens and plenty of apps running. But it’s good to see Apple turning its attention to battery management proper. Low Power Mode disables certain aspects of your iPhone, including background app refresh, so you don’t have to go around turning off features any more. It can extend usage by a few hours, and kicks in (as an option offered in an alert) when your iPhone reaches 20% of its battery capacity. The battery meter at the top-right of the screen turns yellow to indicate Low Power Mode is enabled. The feature can be turned on manually at any time in Settings > Battery.
Manage your usage
In Settings > Battery, you can view what hogs the battery. There are two options, Last 24 Hours or Last 7 Days. They display the proportion of battery life used by each app in that time. Tap the clock icon on the right to see the duration that apps were using battery, both while on-screen and in the background.
Exiting Low Power Mode
You can turn off Low Power Mode manually, of course, in Settings. However, when battery power reaches 80% on charging your device, Low Power Mode will be turned off automatically, returning your iPhone to full throttle.
Among a slew of subtle changes to Notification Center, on an iPhone only you can check battery statuses in the Today view. The Batteries widget shows power levels of your phone and Bluetooth accessories, such as headphones or an Apple Watch. To enable it, scroll to the bottom of the Today view, tap Edit, then tap the + next to the widget’s name. The Batteries widget is not available if a Bluetooth accessory is not paired with the iPhone.
News and Newsstand
News is a brand-new app that provides timely information in a single place, much like you might once have caught up with website updates in an RSS reader. However, it comes with its own publishing format that enables the use of animation and other engaging interactions. At launch, it’s geared towards the US, but it’s expected to launch in the UK soon after.
If you read digital editions of T3 or other magazines, you might wonder what News means for them. Newsstand is gone in iOS 9 – sort of. If you already had magazine apps, Newsstand will have been converted to a regular folder, and apps can be moved out of it. Future magazine downloads go straight to the Home screen.
Wallet is the new name for Passbook. It still contains your passes for airlines, hotels and other services, and bank cards registered to use with Apple Pay. To make accessing these things more convenient, go to Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay and ensure the Home button shortcut is switched on so you can double-click the button to open Wallet while your iPhone is locked.
When viewing a photo full-screen, a strip across the bottom of the screen shows other images in the same album, collection or moment. Swipe across it to quickly browse through them.
In the Photos tab, tap Select then drag your finger from one photo to another to select them and those in between, rather than having to tap each one you want in the selection.
Rather than reaching for the back arrow at the top-left of a full-screen photo to return to its album, swipe downwards to dismiss the picture. This is particularly handy on larger iPhones.
If you put screenshots on social media, as some of our friends do, you’ll be ecstatic that iOS at last adds them to a Screenshots album, making them much easier to clear out of your library later on. There’s a Selfies album too, but it isn’t powered by intelligent face detection; any photo taken with the front-facing camera appears in this album.
Rather than tapping and holding on a photo for an option to hide it, you must now tap Select, tap a photo, then the Share icon and find the Hide action in the bottom row of the share sheet. That takes a little longer for a single photo, but the advantage is that you can select additional photos in the share sheet and then hide them all at once.
The latest step in Apple’s attempts to bring Maps up to scratch is the inclusion of public transport data to help you get from A to B, rather than just driving and walking directions. Previously, Apple made it so third-party transit app developers could plug into Maps, but now it’s starting to add its own data to the app by default, including details of problems on your route, like it does for driving directions.
However, transport data is available for a limited number of cities at present, which is pretty normal as localised services of this sort start to grow.
Tap the Transport tab while plotting directions and the app will try to use Apple’s own data before suggesting you look at transport apps in the App Store. Tap the ‘i’ at the bottom-right and switch to the Transport view. In all three views, a ‘3D’ badge next to a city indicates you can take a Flyover tour of it. Zoom out in the Transport view and other badges will indicate where public transport data is available.
Podcasts has been given a makeover to be more consistent with the Music app added in iOS 8.4. Music’s MiniPlayer – a bar above the tabs at the bottom when something is playing – is replicated, as is the use of an ellipsis (…) to indicate more options for an adjacent item.
The My Podcasts and My Stations tabs have been consolidated under the former, and the new Unplayed tab is more immediate in showing what you need to catch up on.
More detail is shown in the Top Charts tab (star ratings and the date of each podcast’s most recent episode) but some control has been sacrificed; categories in Featured and Top Charts no longer have subcategories.
The iCloud Drive app
Find the app
iCloud Drive is Apple’s storage solution for managing file syncing between your Mac and iOS devices, but until now it has been very much ‘in the air’ because there’s been no easily visible hub for it on the iPad and iPhone. But for iOS 9 Apple built an iCloud Drive app, holding all your iCloud Drive files in one easy to access area. However, the app doesn’t automatically appear when you upgrade your device to iOS 9. It has to be enabled in Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive > Show on Home Screen).
View your Drive
When you tap the iCloud Drive app’s icon, you’ll see the Document Picker (a grid of the folders and files within your cloud storage). Previously, this only appeared in compatible apps, rather than its own app. At the bottom of the screen, you can see how many items are in the current folder, and how much space you have available in your iCloud Drive.
Dealing with files
iCloud Drive in iOS 9 tries to mimic the folder and file experience you get on your Mac. Tap on any file to view it. You can also create new folders and move files to different locations, as you would expect. The iCloud Drive app has brains too; if you select a series of files in a folder that doesn’t have any subfolders and then tap Move, the app will automatically determine whether you need to create a new folder and prompt you to enter a name for it. If you already have one or more subfolders, the app shows you a list of them to choose from.
Edit a document
In order to make changes you have to export the file to a different app. Tap the Share button (top-right) and then select the app you’d like to export the file to. You’ll be redirected to that app, where you can edit it fully. Depending on the file type, some of your formatting preferences, like fonts, might be different. Every change you make will sync back to iCloud. Rename a file by holding a finger on it and choosing Rename. This works for nested folders, too.
Preview a file
The app also allows you to preview files within your iCloud Drive. It only knows how to display a handful of file types, but it can display text documents. You can also access the Sharing sheet to send the file to other people in an iMessage, email, or as an attachment in other messaging apps.
You don’t have to stick with the large folder view shown above. Click the List Menu (the icon that shows three horizontal lines) to get a list view instead. If you don’t see the icon, it’s because you need to swipe down slightly on the main screen to reveal it – it’s under the search area.
Search iCloud Drive
Don’t forget that iCloud Drive is fully searchable. The search bar is always visible near the top of the the iCloud Drive app. It searches as you type so you will get to your files in seconds.
Tidy up your Drive
One of the most useful things you can do with the iCloud Drive app is organise your files and delete the ones you don’t want. If you want to delete files, tap on Select in the topâright corner, and then tap on the files you want to get rid of. Next, tap Delete, then the red text that says ‘Delete from iCloud Drive’. The app will warn you that the action cannot be undone.
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