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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  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Good/interesting question.

    So weird to think the iPad 2 seemed all-powerful (for a mobile device) just a few short years ago. :-D
    Reply
  • Peichen - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Looking forward to try it out on my new 6S+. I do wish with the bigger RAM Safari would let me cache more sites so I can read them on the train. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Can you use that reading mode? I think you can save stuff to read offline, stores it to flash. That seems like it would be what you want.

    (I'm not 100% sure about this as I don't really have a use for that mode, but that seems to be what it does.)
    Reply
  • Klug4Pres - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Congratulations to the reviewer on finally addressing the RAM situation with some serious analysis - long overdue! Reply
  • iwod - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    I am wondering why it still take 60MB for a Twitter Client. Even the Pinterest 35MB is huge in my opinion. Since most of the heavy lifting are done in the OS already. I was expecting these apps to be within 20 - 30MB range.

    And the people who are complaning about the review are the ones who also complain about the recent Apple Pencil. Whenever we are on the topic of Apple, there are basically two types of people,

    Those who don't understand Apple, and those who misunderstand Apple.
    Reply
  • Pissedoffyouth - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    I still don't know why Whatsapp needs 100mb+ on my phone either Reply
  • Kepe - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Probably because all the images and videos your buddies send are stored on your device and counted as part of the app's total size. If you're on Android, go to settings -> apps -> Whatsapp and clear Data. A fresh install of Whatsapp is 24MB on my phone. Reply
  • danbob999 - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Twitter needs to be 60MB for two reasons:

    -1MB for the twitter client
    -59MB to spy on you
    Reply
  • tipoo - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Argh, I didn't know content blockers will only work on ARMv8. Bummer, A5 and A6 need them most. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    I gave up on both Google Keep and Apple’s Notes, as in my experience neither syncs reliably.

    I’ve ended up using Google Docs for notes, as it pretty much does sync fine…weird since it’s also from Google.

    “What would have been optimal for RAM would be if Apple had moved to 2GB with A7 to offset the additional memory usage of 64bit applications, and moved to 4GB in the next generation iPads (Air 2, future devices) to accommodate multitasking”

    Absolutely! I really thought the iPhone 5s/iPad Air should have shipped with 2GB…for years now I’ve felt Apple’s been shipping virtually every iOS device with half the RAM it should have, and I was utterly stunned when even the iPhone 6 continued shipping with only 1GB.

    The original Surface 1 (ARM) has similar specs to the iPad 2 in terms of CPU/GPU, but 4x the RAM, and runs a desktop web browser (and office suit for that matter). It’s VAAAAAAAAAAASTLY more useable than dealing with mobile Safari and “multitasking” as it exists on iOS. This all sounds like a huge upgrade in iOS 9, but still, the limited RAM and way it’s implemented…oh well, it’s still a step forward.

    I can see using remote desktop + Safari, or Safari + Mail at the same time on a iPad Pro as being a vastly superior experience to what’s available now on iOS, at least assuming this all works fairly decently.

    On my iPad now, I literally half the time just remote in to a Windows 8 system to take advantage of the real multitasking (and file system) as it’s soooo much faster than slooowly loading a program, slowly switching, having the first program have to reload, tabs having to reload constantly, etc., etc., etc.

    Regarding the back button issue, I STILL don’t really “get” having a system wide back button in Windows Phone and Android. The way it works isn’t consistent, and I still find it more confusing than just implementing a UI however you want it in your own program. I mean even with a back button that’s still what’s going on, as I’m often unsure (aside from just remembering on a case by case basis) what “back” is going to do at any given time. The back link sounds like it’ll be useful, maybe.

    The “Safari view controller” sounds great, fixes some issues I’ve had, and I appreciate that it’s sandboxed from the host program that invoked it, though of course there’s the security \issue that you might not KNOW whether you’re in Safari or in the program proper.

    Regarding “app thinning”, I wonder what happens with iTunes? Does iTunes get ALL the resources, and then sync all of them, or do the “thinning” when syncing to a specific device?

    And there’s “GPU low/high”…but what happens as we get new GPUs in the future? I mean do “low/high” kind of correspond to specific GPUs? Will there be a “high 2”, etc. down the line?

    I wonder too what happens to programs already installed? Do they have to be deleted and redownloaded from the store (or presumably when they get updated) to get “thinned”, and for that matter, what happens when you download something on an iOS device, and it syncs back to iTunes on a PC?

    The “on demand resources” thing sounds idiotic. I don’t likes it!

    The “bitcode” thing is a nifty idea though (though once again raises questions regarding iTunes).

    Hmm…this does mean theoretically the 32GB on the iPad Pro should go a bit further than 32GB under iOS 8…
    Reply

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