2015 has been a pretty big year for Apple as a company. Product launches this year included the Apple Watch, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, the iPad Mini 4, the iPad Pro, and the new Apple TV. This month is a big month for their software launches, with today marking the release of iOS 9 as well as watchOS 2, and OS X El Capitan launching at the very end of the month. In time I hope to do some sort of review of the new features in watchOS 2, but today's article focuses strictly on iOS 9 and everything new that Apple is bringing to their biggest operating system for both users and developers.

What's interesting about iOS 9 is how Apple has involved their community of users in the development process by creating a public beta program. OS X Yosemite famously was the first version of OS X to have a public beta (with the exception of the OS X 10.1 Kodiak beta 15 years ago), but Apple had never done anything like it for their mobile devices until now. However, many users found ways to install the developer betas of iOS on their devices by bypassing the activation or having a service register their UDID for beta installation. With more and more features being added to iOS, and more and more users adopting devices that run it, it appears that Apple felt that expanding their beta user base beyond developers would be a good way to collect information on bugs and stability, as well as general feedback about what does and doesn't work well.

Opening up iOS 9 with a public beta also plays into the focus of the new release. iOS 7 was an enormous release that redesigned the entire operating system, and iOS 8 added features like continuity and extensibility to improve how apps communicated on iOS, and how iOS devices and Macs communicate with each other. With all those changes there has been concern that there hasn't been enough attention to polish and eliminating bugs in iOS. While it's not something explicitly stated, it's clear that iOS 9 does go back to basics in some ways, and focuses on improving performance and stability. There are still new features, and some of them are very integral to keeping iOS competitive as a mobile platform, but the key focus is on solidifying the existing foundations.

The polish and improvements that will be most obvious to the end user are those that involve visual or functional changes to the apps they use on a daily basis. With that in mind, it makes most sense to start off the review by taking a look at some of the general changes made to the UI and the system in iOS 9, so let's dive in.

Table Of Contents

General UI and System Changes
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  • sonicmerlin - Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - link

    Would you be able to use a Safari Content Blocker to create a "text reflow" extension? Basically act like Opera Mobile for Android to specify to websites an artificial width of the iOS device, forcing the page to display words in shorter columns and bigger font? Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - link

    "OS X Yosemite famously was the first version of OS X to have a public beta"

    The first version of OS X to have a public beta was the original Public Beta release that predated 10.0. It came after the last developer preview and people had to pay $50 for it.
    Reply
  • iam2thecrowe - Thursday, September 24, 2015 - link

    "Searching through mail is also much better as well. Previously it would just show you every message that corresponded to the keywords you entered. The search now gives you a list of thread topics that match, and if those aren't sufficient you then have the option to use the older individual message view."
    I have an iphone 5s i have to use for work. I am actually really frustrated by the new mail search, it worked to my taste before, it brought up what you searched for..... now it brings up a bunch of thread topics, i actually find this useless and have to wait for it to load the individual message view. Since my primary use for this phone beyond being a phone, is email and messaging, this is BS and makes me want to roll back to 8. Vertical keyboard letter spacing has also become larger and now takes getting used to, i find it harder.
    Reply
  • Donniesito - Thursday, September 24, 2015 - link

    I knew this would turn into a Win vs. Apple thing. I don't understand why people are so vehement when it comes to this particular "debate." I use these machines on a regular (nearly daily) basis:

    The point in listing my hardware isn't to brag (nothing I have is TOP of the line) -- it's to point out that every platform, every OS and every device has a place. Just use what you want to use, and if you've never used something, broaden your horizons and try it. Just have fun with technology, be productive in whatever way you need. I enjoy all technology -- so lighten up people. Sheesh.

    Gaming rig - runs Windows 10.
    DAW and Video Editing system - Mac (OS X).
    Media Server - Linux
    Raspberry Pi - Screwing around with different OS's
    Nexus 7 (2012) - Used it until the internal SSD started going south, a known problem
    iPod Touch - iTunes (all my music)
    iPad Air 2 - Productivity AND fun stuff :-P
    Samsung Galaxy S4 - phone
    Reply
  • araczynski - Thursday, September 24, 2015 - link

    4x4 Folders, that is the only change that I am happy happened. Rest of the stuff I could care less about, well, ok, the two finger keyboard slider is neat.

    Don't see why it couldn't be a 6x5 Folder though, there's plenty of space there...
    Reply
  • beggerking@yahoo.com - Tuesday, October 13, 2015 - link

    Dual tasking is not true multitasking Reply
  • Thommot - Thursday, December 10, 2015 - link

    The ads have arrived — and not just in the articles, but ultra-intrusive ads in the article list. Thank you Apple, you made the decision for me kg lot shelling out another £600 ever on your devices. I switched back to Guardian.app and don't bother with other news sources. Reply

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