We’re now five betas into iOS 9, and the new operating system keeps getting smoother and faster. The release of the upgrade is about a month and a half away, and the developer preview and public betas of iOS 9 are mostly stable and ready for primetime. Sure, there are still a few kinks to work out, but this is still a good time to talk about my favorite new features of iOS 9.
Gorgeous News articles
Apple’s curated News app is just what I need in the mornings to catch up on what’s happening in the world. I love the fact that I can set up my own favorites in the app and get a custom feed of what’s important to me. The layout of the articles is gorgeous, making it feel like I’m reading a magazine instead of my iPhone or iPad.
A helpful back button
Bryan Wolfe and I went back and forth on what to call this. I call it a breadcrumb, because of my Web development days, but he says that’s “old school talk.” Anyways, these are links in the top left corner of the screen if you switch to a different app from a notification. It makes it easy for me to get back to what I was doing before without having to double-tap the Home button and then find the right app.
Beautiful new wallpapers
Beta 5 brings a wide selection of new wallpapers, and it’s about time. I was bored with the previous generation of images, and found myself going to Deviant Art or other sources for fresh wallpapers. The new ones that Apple has added into iOS 9 beta 5 are gorgeous, and really show off the Retina display.
A more proactive assistant
Swiping from the left side of the screen brings you to the Proactive Assistant, which shows you Siri suggestions for contacts and apps, as well as Maps links to find nearby restaurants, fast food, coffee shops, and gas stations. You can also see a handful of news stories. This new Proactive Assistant learns from how you use your iPhone or iPad, so it’s always getting more personalized. That’s a great thing.
What else is in Beta 5?
That’s a synopsis of my favorite features in iOS 9, but there’s plenty more to talk about in the latest beta. Wi-Fi Calling has been enabled on the handset for AT&T customers, even though AT&T doesn’t support the feature yet. Apple Music has been tweaked with a new “Shuffle All” option at the top of My Music, and the keyboard for the iPhone has been adjusted with new shift and backspace keys.
Before iOS 9 Beta 5, Handoff would show lock screen suggestions for software in the App Store. Now, only installed apps are displayed, which does quite a bit to end the annoyance factor of seeing software I don’t use. The Siri Suggestions interface has also been modified, removing the labels for calling and messaging a contact, leaving instead just the icons.
In other changes, the Settings app section that allows you to create shortcuts for keys has been renamed “Text Replacements,” and a new animation is used now when you turn off Wi-Fi. The CarPlay interface is different, adding the ability to heart songs played through Beats 1 Radio or Apple Music, as well as changing the way images are displayed behind the music controls. Finally, a new Regulatory option can be found in the General section of the Settings app.