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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  • Speedfriend - Thursday, September 17, 2015 - link

    @melgross I have recently seen numerous tablets being used by businesses (restaurants, delivery companies) that were clearly no-name Android tablets designed for that specific tasks. Why would a corporate that needs a tablet for a single task buy a $500 iPad when they can get a $200 Android?

    iPad is now caught in the middle between cheap single task Androids and multi-task windowns 2-in-1s. Our CEO is obsessed with Apple products but we have gone Windows tablets and it looks like we are going to go full surface range soon (3 and Pros). Why, because an iPad is too limited even as something you just take to meetings with you.
  • FunBunny2 - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    -- a respected history of hardware-design and innovation..

    really, really now? Apple has always bought their silicon, 99.44% is off-the-shelf. Yeah, I know, the fanbois brag that the Ax chips are somehow blessed by Apple. Fact is: Apple only tweaked around the edges, using industry standard silicon design tools, a bit of cache added here and there. Just look at the BoM from any of the usual teardown sites. You'll see the fact: it's always other people's parts.
  • osxandwindows - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    So why is apple not using 8core chips ha?
  • Intervenator - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    I hope that post was sarcastic or it would really be funny.
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, September 17, 2015 - link

    ...Because that would be too far a jump. Apple wants to MILK its customers for everything then can hence the small updates. Someone like Nokia committed a mortal sin as they released a 41Mp (36+5mp) camera phone while others are still messing with 20Mp.

    All about the cash.

    P.s. Android NEEDS more cores as it runs like a bag of crap.
  • calden - Monday, September 28, 2015 - link

    Actually Android runs just as smooth as iOS. The problem is skinned, custom versions of Android, i.e. TouchWiz. When I replaced TouchWiz with CM 12.1 on my Note 4, the system took up only 580MB, where as TouchWiz took up more than 1.5GB before a single app was even installed. I also installed the launcher SmartLauncher 3, the whole experience is lightning fast. Even when running multiple apps in the background, something iOS still can't do. I think it is ridiculous that a modern OS in 2015 cannot do something as simple as stream a movie to your TV and still allow you to use the device, iOS simply pauses, even disconnects the stream in some cases if you want to do something as simple as look up an actors name in IMDB. With my Android tablet I can not only stream a film to my TV but play a game like Modern Combat 5 at the same time. As a programmer I need to run a terminal app to stay connected to my firms server during trading hours as I have monitoring tools. IOS has terminal apps as well but I can't run them them in the background the entire day without iOS terminating it's connections. Again, I find this to be absolutely ridiculous as who wants to stare at a terminal the entire day, especially when I need access to my tablet or phone to do other tasks. Apple adding Pro behind the iPad doesn't automatically make it a pro device. IOS still has one of the worst document, file management systems on the market today. My Nokia 9500 from 2004 is light years better than what iOS provides, apps should never be allowed to manage their own files. Default apps, I still can't change the default apps in iOS, why? I have no use for Apple's included apps, if I had the choice I would immediately delete them from the system, as such I need the ability to select my own browser, email client, messenger, media player, etc. as the default applications. I find this tactic of not being able to select my own default apps in iOS highly anti-competitive. The EU went after Microsoft for including Internet Explorer in XP, even though the user had the option of choosing another browser as their default. Why hasn't Apple be scrutinized about this?
  • calden - Monday, September 28, 2015 - link

    I'm aware of those few audio and GPS apps that can run in the background in IOS, but this is a far cry than allowing any app that the user needs in the background. No, this has nothing to do with battery life, if it is than Apple really needs to rewrite iOS. My BlackBerry Passport, running three apps in the background, easily lasts the entire day on a single charge, actually it lasts a day and a half with moderate to heavy use. Android has the ability to select how many apps are allowed to run in the background, you can even set it to 1. So if people feel like their apps are eating up their battery they can control the amount of running apps. Apple could easily implement such a feature, they don't though, which means they have all the control, they dictate how the user uses their own devices. iOS is a wolf in sheep's clothing, looks pretty, inviting but once you start to do real work you encounter a brick wall a 20 stories high. How many times have you iOS users logged into iCloud on your device, I had to do it over 25 times to cover every app. Why, why do I need to log in even twice, once should be enough, in Android upon setting up my Google user that was it, from that point on every app that could communicate with Google Drive would automatically be setup. This is because the apps talk to the system at the lowest level, iOS requires spaghetti API's, a spiderweb of tunnels trying to pass info to each other. The Share TO function in iOS works only if the app dveloper has created a share profile. Why can't the system just dynamically create these Share To lists like Android 5.1.2, SailFish 2.0, Windows Mobile 10, BlackBerry OS 10.3.2 by looking for every compatible app that is installed and than listing. No, instead iOS uses this half ass API system. What about mult-user support, will never happen in iOS because of the way it handles files. To support multi-users in iOS each user would have to reinstall each app over again to distinguish each users. They could embed the users info in the file's metadata so the app can distinguish each user but that is just hacky at best would and how would these modified files react when used on other systems. IOS is definitely not a pro system and anyone thinking differently is either lying to themselves to protect their beloved Apple brand, aren't professionals themselves so don't reall understand the meaning or are working around these limitations, fighting the system at every point to get their work done which falls in line with point one, their lying to themselves.

    I'm not saying that iOS devices don't have their uses, they do. They make great consumer devices for media consumption, social media, gaming, drawing and other artistic apps, music and music creation, etc. However as a productivity tool these devices are highly limited and can't compete with the likes of a Surface Pro 3 or even Surface 3. Even an Android tablet would be a better option. With my Nexus 9 I can log into the LDAP and gain access to all my allowed users NAS storage, mount it as a local asset. Set file extensions to open up certain apps, etc. Trying to do this in iOS is like trying to put a round peg into a square one. You can do it with a bit of force but your going against it's designed purpose. Apple needs to completely rewrite iOS, combine many functions found in OSX before I would ever consider using another mobile device from Apple.
  • mikhapop - Monday, September 28, 2015 - link

    you really nailed it, i am a web developer and i often fail to tell my friends how the ios is very limiting for even the basic stuff (my basic stuff). android is far better as far as the os go. Now i am using a surface pro 3 and never looked back, very good in meetings, and it is now my main machine for 98% of my work.
  • blackcrayon - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Sounds like you know close to nothing about the Ax chips. They are custom Apple designs, and they also optimize their OS for them. I bet you thought Intrinsity and PA Semi were just marketing facades that didn't actually do anything before Apple acquired them years ago, right?
  • KoolAidMan1 - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Apple spent billions acquiring semiconductor companies and is one of the few companies along with Qualcomm that has a license to make ARM chips. Anand himself highlighted this while showing that Apple's custom designs matched or exceeded Intel's Bay Trail.

    You really think their custom designs are something to be dismissed just because of the name on the package? The fanboy is strong in your posts

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