You may have read that Apple is releasing a new iPhone. But did you know that along with the new iPhone 6S they also released an upgrade to iOS, the iPhone’s operating system? iOS9 has made refinements to make our daily tasks easier and at least one new built-in application. Here are just a few that I found noteworthy.
The News application allows you to read stories from top news and independent publications such as Bloomberg, CNN, ESPN, Vanity Fair, Elle, and Wired, plus other sources based on topics you are interested in such as business, technology, fashion, sports, etc. The news stories are collated and presented via a carefully crafted editorial layout with photo galleries and videos. I’ve used News for about a week and the app reminds me a lot of the popular iOS app, Flipboard. It’s easy to use and I quickly found myself down a rabbit hole reading one story after another. Even my wife, who has never installed an app of this type, commented how useful she finds the app and how much she was using it.
By tagging articles you like with the heart icon you can teach News about your interest which helps News refine the selection of stories delivered to your feed that are relevant to you. Your feed of stories will be collected based on your likes and interests. I love this feature. I’m a tech geek with very little interest in baseball, football and other sports. If I find an article I like but don’t have time to read it, I can flag it to be read later, even when I am offline. I also have an iPad. My iPhone and my iPad are connected via iCloud. News stays in sync across all my iOS devices so I can start reading on my iPhone and finish reading later on my iPad. Sweet!
When I find an article I find interesting, I can easily share that article through the Share Sheet to any of the sharing applications, Facebook, LinkedIn etc., that I have installed.
Apple’s Maps app was the butt of many late night show comedy shows but the application has slowly become better. The last version added turn-by-turn spoken directions and interactive 3D maps, but the iOS 9 version extends those features to include guidance for public transportation. Finally, I can get directions and time estimates for my train trips into Manhattan, but without using multiple apps.
The new Transit feature of Maps provides public transit information for subways, buses, trains, and ferries with lines and stations stops right on the map. Some iOS 9 features are not now available in every region or language, but major cities around the world, including the New York subway and the Philadelphia transits systems, are covered. Oddly, Boston is not on the list.
Maps now has a nearby feature that helps the user quickly find information on restaurants, groceries, fast food, café, and bakeries, etc. that are in the vicinity. Imagine visiting a new town and being able to find the nearest café for a quick refueling before that important business meeting. Or maybe you are like me and you drive everywhere, which means you most likely need to find the nearest gas station for a fill up before you head back home. Maps can help with that.
Combine Maps with the power of Siri’s voice recognition – “Siri, find me the nearest least expensive steak house” – and you can navigate any city or town with ease.
Slide Over, Keyboard Shortcuts
When I use my iPad Air for productive work, I normally use a bluetooth keyboard, but the experience never felt like using a computer, especially not for multitasking work. With the Slide Over feature in iOS I can open a second app without leaving the one I’m in. So, while reading an email invitation I can quickly browse my calendar to decide how I should RSVP. iOS 9 turns the iPad into a multi-tasking device.
With Keyboard Shortcuts, the multi-tasking is enhanced. By pressing and holding one of the keys like Command, Option, or Control, I can see shortcuts in any app. I can use keyboard shortcuts to perform commands on my iPad — like switching between apps or bringing up Search. I can also interact with my apps using their own built-in, custom shortcuts.
There are a lot more updates – Notes, Wallet, and better search in Siri, that make iOS 9 a worthwhile update. Get out your device and update now!