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Apple launches iOS 9 with iPad multitasking, 'proactive' Siri, better battery life & more

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Apple on Wednesday officially launched iOS 9, a major update for iPhones, iPads, and the iPod touch that brings features such as more advanced iPad multitasking, a News app, search and Siri enhancements, and a variety of technical changes including better battery life.

iOS 9 can be downloaded free via iTunes or as an over-the-air update through the Software Update function in iOS's Settings app. People must have at least an iPhone 4s, iPad 2, or fifth-generation iPod touch.

"With this update, your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch become more intelligent and proactive with powerful search and improved Siri features," Apple's release notes state. "New multitasking features for iPad allow you to work with two apps simultaneously, side-by-side or with the new Picture-in-Picture feature.

"And, built-in apps become more powerful with detailed transit information in Maps, a redesigned Notes app, and an all-new News app. And improvements at the foundation of the operating system enhance performance, improve security and give you up to an hour of extra battery life."

Update: Upon launch, many users encountered error messages, as Apple's servers struggled to make iOS 9 available for download. Users who installed last week's golden master build must also install a small update to match Wednesday's final public release.

Owners of the iPad Air 2 or Mini 4 can take advantage of Split View, which runs two apps side-by-side. Two other multitasking options, Slide Over and Picture in Picture, will run on those devices plus the iPad Air, Mini 2, and Mini 3. The former lets users open a second app without exiting the first, while Picture in Picture allows compatible video to keep playing in a smaller window.

Another major addition is a new search screen to the left of the homescreen, which is prepopulated with apps and contacts based on past habits, and also offers a news feed and points of interest based on location. This "proactive" approach extends to other aspects of the OS — a Mail message with a flight reservation, for instance, can now be used create a Calendar event, which will then send out a notification to leave for the airport based on traffic congestion.

Siri can now find photos and videos using criteria like dates and locations, or set a reminder based on what's currently onscreen with a phrase like "remind me about this tonight."

iOS' built in Notes app has been enhanced with things like checklists, attachments, and sketching, while Maps been updated to restore public transit directions, and Passbook has been renamed as Wallet and given support for store credit and rewards cards. Newsstand has been replaced with News, which centralizes articles into one place but with custom formatting for major partner publications.

On a technical level, Apple is promising that simply installing the update will add up to an hour of extra battery life. The company is also making various security improvements, and trimming down the amount of storage iOS updates need during installation, such that while an iOS 8 install could require up to 4.58 gigabytes of free space, an equivalent iOS 9 download will need only about 1.3.

iOS 9 will come preloaded on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, launching on Sept. 25, and the iPad Pro, due in November.

The full release notes follow:


  • Proactive assistance
    • Presents relevant information even before you start typing
    • Notifies you when you need to leave for appointments using traffic conditions
    • Learns what you listen to in a certain location or at a particular time of day and can automatically display playback controls for your preferred music and audio apps 
    • Suggested events and contact details are added to apps based on information found in Mail
  • Siri improvements
    • Search your personal photos and videos based on dates, locations and album names
    • Ask Siri to remind you about things you're looking at in your apps, including Safari, Mail, Notes and Messages
    • Request directions via public transit
  • Spotlight search improvements
    • Get sports scores, weather conditions and stock prices
    • Simple math calculations and conversions
    • Initiate messages, phone calls and FaceTime calls from contact search results

    New iPad Features

    • Slide Over
      • Quickly use a second app without leaving the one you're in
      • Easily switch between Slide Over apps
      • Support for Apple apps and enabled third party apps
  • Split View
    • View and interact with two apps at once
    • Ability to resize your view to give equal attention to both apps or prioritize one app over another
    • Support for Apple apps and enabled third party apps
  • Picture in picture
    • Continue watching a video while using your favorite apps
    • Support for Safari video, FaceTime, Videos and Podcasts and enabled third party apps
  • QuickType improvements
    • Multi-Touch gestures for easier text selection on iPad
    • Quick access to text editing tools with Shortcut Bar on iPad
    • Support for hardware keyboard shortcuts
    • Support for all Unicode emoji flags

    Built-in Apps

    • Map improvements
      • Support for public transit lines, station details with exits and entrances, schedules and directions in select major cities
      • Browse for places around you by category, including Food, Drinks, Shopping, Fun and more 
      • Apple Pay support is indicated on place cards at participating retail locations
      • Place cards include Wikipedia information for landmarks and cities
  • Redesigned Notes app
    • Add photos to your notes with the built-in camera or from your Photo Library
    • Create useful checklists and check off completed items with a tap
    • Sketch a quick thought using just your finger
    • Save interesting items directly from other apps using the Share menu
  • All-new News app
    • Read your favorite newspapers, magazines, and blogs, or choose from over a million topics
    • Beautiful typography and layouts, photo galleries, videos, animations, and more
    • Browse articles that are chosen based on your interests in For You. Find channel and topic recommendations in Explore. News gets more personalized the more you read
    • Easily share articles with friends or save them to read later — even when you're offline
  • Mail improvements
    • Search improvements help you quickly find what you're looking for by filtering results based on sender, recipient, subject or a combination of options
    • Support for Markup lets you annotate an image or PDF attachment with text, shapes and even your signature, then send it back — without leaving Mail
    • Easily save the attachments you receive or add files from iCloud Drive or other document providers while composing a new message
  • Apple Pay and Wallet improvements
    • Support for Discover cards
    • Support for rewards cards and store credit and debit cards
    • To check out even faster, you can prepare an upcoming payment by double-clicking the Home button from the Lock Screen and keeping your finger on Touch ID
  • New iCloud Drive app
    • Easily search for a file or browse in the new iCloud Drive app by date, name, or tags you added on your Mac
    • Open files in any compatible app or share with those you choose
    • Organize folders and files
    • Get the iCloud Drive app in Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive and select Show on Home Screen
  • CarPlay improvements 
    • Plays back audio messages, letting you hear from people in their own voices
    • Full support for car knob controls, so you can tilt and spin to scroll through lists or pan around in Maps 
    • Support for CarPlay apps from auto manufacturers


    • Longer battery life
      • Up to one hour of additional time before you need to charge your battery
      • Facedown detection for turning display off when not in use
      • Low power mode optimizes device performance to extend battery by up to an additional three hours
  • Software updates require less space to download and offer an option to install later
  • iOS apps and user interface now use Metal to deliver faster scrolling, smoother animation, and better overall performance
  • Improved security with two-factor authentication support and a default 6 digit passcode support for Touch ID devices
  • Other improvements

    • New San Francisco system font
    • Leave a message option if recipient isn't available for a FaceTime call
    • Share voicemails from the Phone app using the share sheet
    • Flight and package tracking for data detectors
    • Health app adds support for reproductive health, UV exposure, water intake and sedentary state data types
    • HomeKit adds support for motorized windows and shades, motion sensors and home security system accessories
    • Podcasts has an all-new design, makes it easy to find the latest episodes of your favorite shows and notifies you when new episodes become available for you
    • Support for Wi-Fi calling on iPad, iPod touch and Mac, without iPhone in proximity on participating carriers
    • Wi-Fi Assist to automatically use cellular data when Wi-Fi connectivity is poor
    • Transfer content from an Android device with the Move to iOS app, visit for more details

    Expanded language support

    • New PingFang Chinese system font
    • Improved predictions, learning and autocorrection for Chinese in QuickType
    • Redesigned punctuation input on 10-key Chinese keyboard
    • Redesigned User Interface for right-to-left languages
    • Added Siri support for Austria, Belgium (French and Dutch), and Norway
    • Added Spotlight search support for Mexico
    • New keyboards for French (Belgium), German (Austria), Gujarati, Hindi (Transliteration), Hinglish, Punjabi, Spanish (Mexico), and Telugu
    • Predictive input for French (Belgium), German (Austria), Korean, Russian, Spanish (Mexico), and Turkish
    • Dictation support for Dutch (Belgium), English (Ireland, Philippines, South Africa), French (Belgium), German (Austria), and Spanish (Chile, Colombia)
    • Spell check for Finnish and Korean
    • Definition dictionary for Hindi, Norwegian and Swedish
    • Bilingual dictionary for French-English and German-English
    • New Japanese autocorrection and improved predictions and learning in QuickType
    • Option to switch between number systems for Arabic and Hindi

    Enterprise & Education

    • Assign apps directly to iOS devices without needing to have an iTunes Store account configured
    • Improved calendar reliability for customers using Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync v16
    • Expanded Per App VPN support for the built-in IPSec and IKEv2 VPN clients
    • New networking controls for managed apps to help limit international data roaming costs
    • New restrictions to prevent changes to passcodes, device names and wallpapers, or to disable AirDrop on managed devices
    • Third party app extension support for VPN, advanced content filtering, and captive Wi-Fi networks


    • Touch Accommodations provides additional touch control for those with physical motor limitations
    • Switch Control Recipes to customize features or create your own
    • Support for Siri Voices for VoiceOver users
    • Additional customization of AssistiveTouch
    • Hardware keyboard support for Key Repeat, Slow Keys and Sticky Keys
    • Improved MFi hearing aid audio routing to choose where audio is played