Apple Releases iOS 9, Bringing a Range of Enhancements and New Features

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Apple has today released iOS 9. According to Apple. this release brings a mixture of enhancements and new features to iOS devices:

iOS 9 is full of enhancements you’ll appreciate every day. Your apps become more essential. New multitasking features on iPad make you even more productive. Siri can do more than ever, and new proactive suggestions help you get things done before you ask. And improvements at the foundation of the operating system enhance performance, battery life and security. The more you do with iOS 9, the more you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

The new features that we think you will like

Siri gets more intelligent and proactive

One of the changes that Apple appears to be most proud of is making iOS more intelligent and proactive by enabling it to learn your habits and to act on this and other information that is available to it. This may come in the form of recommending nearby places, offering directions to an upcoming appointment, or suggesting apps on the basis that you typically use them at this time of the day or at your current location.

Much of this is accessed via the new Proactive Search. To get to this, go to the first page of your Home screen and either swipe right with 3 fingers; or, place VoiceOver focus on the page element “page 1 of x” and flick down with 1 finger.

With Siri sitting at the very heart of these improvements, Apple is encouraging you to now think of it as your personal assistant--able to offer contextual based information and help. This is facilitated by much improved search capabilities in iOS 9, which can now retrieve and display results and content from third-party apps.

Some new and improved Apple apps

There are new native iOS apps and improvements to some old ones.

The News app replaces the little-loved NewsStand and is a mix of RSS reader and Flipboard. This new app offers to make it easy for you to keep track of the news and topics that interest you. And, yes, you will find AppleVis is available, so be sure to search and mark us as a favorite. It does, however, appear that the News App will only be available in The USA, United Kingdom and Australia on launch. Hopefully it will become available elsewhere soon.

Also new is an optional iCloud Drive app that lets you see, access, and manage all of the files that you have stored within iCloud Drive. Unlike the News app, this one is hidden by default, so you will need to go into the iCloud section of the Settings app to turn it on.

Elsewhere, the Maps app now includes transit directions for selected cities; the Notes app has become much more powerful and useful (and will become more so once El Capitan is released); and the ‘Passbook’ app has now been rebranded ‘Wallet’, bringing with it support for loyalty/store cards.

The iPad gets a little love and attention

Those of you with iPads may be pleased to learn that a number of models now support two new multitasking modes: Slide Over and Split View, which both allow you to have two apps on-screen at the same time. There is also a new picture-in-picture function, and the keyboard on the iPad has gained more functionality with the addition of a new toolbar. We have not been able to extensively test these new features before the public release of iOS 9, so we will be particularly keen to hear how well all of this works with VoiceOver and Braille.

iOS 9 could bring you an extra hour of use … or could that even be 3?

As is usual with all iOS updates, Apple will be including a number of under-the-hood performance improvements in this release. Battery optimizations could provide an additional hour of battery use under typical conditions, whilst a new Low Power Mode is claimed to extend battery life up to three hours. In addition to making the adjustments which many of us already make when trying to conserve battery use, this new mode also makes a few tweaks to things which the user doesn’t have access to. For example, if your iOS device is placed face down on a surface, the screen will not light up when you receive a notification.

This is just a small taste of what’s new in iOS 9. For more information, MacRumors has a very good summary.

And what about accessibility?

For more information about accessibility-related changes in iOS 9 read our other posts elsewhere on the site:

What’s new and changed in iOS 9 for blind and deaf-blind users
A list of new accessibility-related bugs that we believe to have been introduced in iOS 9
A list of longstanding accessibility-related bugs that we believe to have been fixed in iOS 9

In addition, AnonyMouse has recorded two iOS 9-related podcasts, one covering new accessibility features in iOS 9 and another covering general features new in iOS 9.

Scott Davert has recorded a podcast which looks at what’s new and changed in iOS 9 for users of Braille displays.

How to update to iOS 9

If your device is currently running either iOS 8 or iOS 7, or could be running either of those versions, then you will be able to install iOS 9.

iOS 9 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings > General > Software Update) or via iTunes on a Mac or PC.

Before updating, we strongly recommend making a full and complete backup of your device (either in iTunes or iCloud, depending on personal preference). This will ensure that, in the unlikely event that something goes wrong during the update process, you will have a current backup of your phone on hand in case a device restore becomes necessary. Also, if using OTA update, we recommend plugging your device into a power source for the duration of the download/installation process - so as to prevent the unlikely event of your battery going dead during the update.

More information on how to update the software on your iOS device is available on this Apple Support page.

As always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts on this update.



Submitted by Ann Harrison on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A couple of friends of mine and I have gotten an error when trying to download the update. The alert says the download failed. Has anyone else experienced this error?

Submitted by Lisa on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Will the new iPad mini 4 support this new multitasking mode? Thank you.

Submitted by techluver on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

You'd think apple would learn! They should expand server capacity or do something like that when updates come out! It is not professional of them to release an update, then say "oh there's an error". It's annoying! it happens every year!

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Is not woring. Attempted to update from work and got error. Same thing for one of my co-worker. Using wire and current iOS and iPhone 6. Maybe it will work whenI connect it to iTunes at home.

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I wonder if it is possible to disable the Proactive features? I have no desire to have my phone attempt to think for me. And they wonder why each generation gets more brain-dead than the previous! Sheesh!

Submitted by Joe on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Club AppleVis Member

To be fair I wonder how many people are trying to get it when it first launches? Yes it's easy to put blame on Apple, but at the end of the day they're the only ones not dictated by the carier when and how you can get your OS like Android. I'm sure if others did it the way Apple did and had as many devices they would have the same issues, but there is nothing that rivals it.

Submitted by Usman on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I noticed this while attempting to update with iTunes. during the update process, I got the error message, "unable to connect to iPhone". However, my phone restarted and I was able to set it up with no problems despite iTunes informing me that the update didn't complete. to clarify, on my phone itself, it said the update had successfully completed with out problems. Another thing I noticed with my brief use of IOS nine is voiceover not completing what it had to say. What I mean is this. When you're on an icon or an element with multiple functions. voiceover is suppose to say actions available or something after stating what the element is. However, in IOS nine, voiceover doesn't complete its announcement in its entirety.. Instead, it will say something like, Maps active, actions. It is suppose to say actions available. . It also cuts itself short. for instance, I was on the watch app and it said 1 of, not 1 of 15.

Submitted by Usman on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Another interesting behaviour I neglected to add was in settings. the search should be at the top or on the far left before airplane mode. However, I only saw this once. for what ever reason after that, search completely disappeared. And, anyone know what happened to the list of recent contacts in the app switcher? I also didn't see it. Does it need to be enabled separately now?

Submitted by Maria Reyes on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I would suggest that if you have problems updating to iOS 9 that you give Apple a few days to fix any bugs

Submitted by Darren12 on Thursday, September 17, 2015

The list of contacts has been moved to the new and improved spotlight apparently, opened by a 3 finger swipe right from the first page on your home screen so I'm reading.

You can either do a three finger scroll to the right, or a three finger swipe down the screen on the first page of the home screen.

Submitted by dvdmth on Thursday, September 17, 2015

Club AppleVis Member

I saw the same message when updating through iTunes, about how iTunes was unable to connect to the iPad. The alert does not say the update was not successful or anything, just that there was a problem connecting. I was monitoring the update process in the LCD section of the iTunes window, and the installation was verified and appeared completed about a minute before the alert appeared. I believe the alert is just an indication that the iOS device is in the process of restarting and that iTunes can no longer communicate with it.

Submitted by MsHollyWeezy on Thursday, September 17, 2015

I noticed when i tapped on my emoji keyboard when i was trying to write a text my keyboard is different. It now has the keyboard in all caps and instead of the emoji keyboard it has a 123 option or ABC. im confused. This never happened before. theres a "set up" option that appears to sometimes. Not sure if it is an iOS bug or if its my phone. Besides that im happy with this update.

Submitted by Usman on Thursday, September 17, 2015

Yes, I also noticed that. I don't know if I like this as you have to go to the home screen just to be able to contact your frequent people. Is there another way of accessing frequent people without going to the home screen every time?
Also, I'm noticing some latency. This is especially noticeable in whats app. Has anyone else noticed this?