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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  • tuxRoller - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Hey, they just caught up to Wayland with Presentation (in terms of display latency).
  • freeskier93 - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    The news app has actually been one of my favorite new features, I was surprised at how well the basic RSS feed articles looked. I'm guessing you guys will start to support the app? I noticed Ars just started publishing articles for News. Reply
  • farhadd - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    I just tried selecting more than 5 photos in the Photos app and it doesn't let me send them to Mail. Are you sure that limit has been lifted? Reply
  • farhadd - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    I figured out my issue. You still cannot select more than 5 photos from the photos app to send directly to mail, but you can select them and use the "Copy" command, then paste that into a Mail message. Reply
  • andrewaggb - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Personally I find the apps/ecosystem the most important part.
    I think Android/Apple are pretty much equal on phones. I've gone android because I like google maps/navigation and use google apps with a custom domain. Chrome on android sync's pretty well with desktop chrome etc.

    For media tablets I think apple is still way ahead and my ipad's get way more use.

    Productivity tablets, I guess depends what you need to be productive. The ipad is thinner, lighter, gets better battery life. I suppose if you just need a web browser and email it's probably fine.... but when I work I average around 20GB of ram in use from apps, tabs, a couple virtual machines etc on my desktop and can get by on 8GB of ram if I shut some stuff down. I have an ultrabook with 8GB that is just useable (core-m & ssd), I could have used a Surface Pro 3 (many friends and co-workers have them) but I wanted an attached keyboard.

    I couldn't use an ipad pro for productivity. I could use a Surface Pro 3. At the pace we're going, maybe in 8 years or something IOS will have enough windows features I could use it.
  • KoolAidMan1 - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    It isn't a 1:1 comparison between RAM usage on a mobile operating system and a desktop one. There's a lot less overhead we're talking about Reply
  • kidbear75 - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Do you think so called as "Pro" productivity application has a lot less overhead in mobile operating system than full fledged operating system? Do you expect video, photo or audio editing software has a lot less overhead because it is designed for mobile operating system while the raw video or audio material consumes most of the RAM? What about Android? Could you keep the same claim for Android tablet?
    Yes, they are with different operating system, one with limited functionality designed for mobile use while the other with less limitation in functionality. I don't think you can justify one has limitation because it is based on mobile operating system when it is named as "Pro". If it is really a limitation, Apply may have chosen OS X instead of iOS.
  • nerd1 - Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - link

    Windows 10's surprisingly lean, and 2GB works fine unless you open tens of tabs in browser. And if you do the same 'pro application' you will end up using the same amount of memory no matter what OS you use. In fact, due to higher resolution of IPP it may put MORE overload instead. Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Tuesday, September 22, 2015 - link

    2 GB works reasonably well in Yosemite also, thanks to the memory compression. Mountain Lion choked on 2 GB. Reply
  • andrewaggb - Thursday, September 17, 2015 - link

    You're right it wouldn't be 1:1. Also mobile apps are better at unloading parts of themselves from memory when not active and the OS aggressively unloads apps, both of which would help.

    I'm just trying to envision even a basic development scenario and see how it would work on IOS. I'd want the IDE open, running code with an attached debugger, I'd need the website open in the browser, I'd need a database of some kind. Right, pretty basic stuff so far, I don't think an iPad pro could do that, at least not the way I am used to. A fully integrated tool, like Coda https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/coda-for-ios/id500... could do most of it - but I'd have to give up all my current tools and workflow to do it.

    I suspect many professionals are in the same situation, would you give up your current tools and workflow for increased battery life and portability? I think this is a case of the hardware being ready and the software not being ready. Apple has done well enough that the software might come in a few years (why I said 8 years), but at least for me there really isn't a choice between the surface pro and the ipad pro, IOS and it's apps aren't up to it. I bet there are many use cases where the ipad pro would work well, I just don't think they are my use cases.

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