We're a month away from iOS 9's public beta and still a few months from any sort of release, but Apple's already teased a ton of information about the iPhone and iPad's next major operating system. And, like I do just about every year, I've compiled a collection of my favorite tiny features you may not have heard about yet, thanks to the onslaught of info.
Spoiler: There's a lot.
1. Settings gets a search option!
I can't remember how long I've wanted to search in the Settings app, but it's been a long, long time. And soon, all my wildest dreams will come true: I'll be able to type in "Bold Text" in the search field and immediately get the option in question.
2. Turn Siri into Jarvis
Siri has long been able to talk to you in multiple accents and dialects, but prior to iOS 9, choosing a British Siri meant that you were also telling your iPhone or iPad to listen for a British voice. No longer: Come iOS 9, your language and Siri's voice will be split into two distinct preferences. If a virtual English butler is what you desire, Siri will soon be able to make that happen. (British Siri not guaranteed to stop insane AI or build you an Iron Man suit.)
3. Siri won't talk if your ringer is silent
If you'd prefer that Siri not talk to you when you've silenced your phone, there will soon be an option to enable just that. Instead, Siri will use text responses only to chat with you — useful if you want to use voice communication in a crowded area.
4. The beauty of low power mode
Apple mentioned iOS 9's new Low Power Mode during the WWDC keynote, but didn't really get into detail about it; at the State of the Union, however, engineers talked a bit more about how the switch will work. Enable it, and you'll switch Mail from push to fetch; disable background app refresh; and turn off motion effects and animated wallpapers. The goal is to increase your battery life by a few extra hours — and anything that gives me more time on my iPhone is a good goal indeed.
5. Apple fixed the shift key... sorta
Our long national shift key nightmare is soon to be over... mostly. No, Apple hasn't really altered the graphic for the shift key in iOS 9, but it has introduced lowercase keys as an option whenever shift isn't enabled. It definitely fixes the "Is my shift key on?" problem, but if it's not your visual cup of tea, don't worry: You'll be able to disable it.
6. Do more with an iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard
When you're using your iPad with an external keyboard, that keyboard will soon have a lot more control over what you're doing. For one, you'll be able to use a version of OS X's popular Command-Tab switcher to quickly move between apps. In addition, developers will even be able to build custom keyboard shortcuts for their apps using the command, option, or control keys.
7. There's an iCloud Drive app
Longed for by many, prayed for by some, iCloud Drive will at long last get the option for a physical app — if you want it. By default, the app is hidden, but you'll be able to turn it on come iOS 9 in iCloud's settings screen.
8. Android switching just got easier with the Move to iOS app
Apple is building not just one Android app this year with the launch of Apple Music, but two — the company is also creating a Move to iOS app for potential Android switchers that expedites and cleans up data transfer between your old Android phone and new iPhone.
You'll be able to move contacts, message history, your camera roll, web bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, wallpaper, and any DRM-free songs or books you've downloaded; in addition, it notes which free apps you downloaded on Android and offers them as a suggested download list on your iPhone. (Any paid apps you owned on Android that exist on the iPhone go into your iTunes wish list.)
9. Your passcodes are now six digits
As part of Apple's increasing emphasis on security, new devices will need a minimum six-digit passcode, not a four-digit one. (If you've already set up a four-digit passcode, it looks like you may be grandfathered in unless you change it at some point down the line.)
10. iPad-only: Quickly add attachments from the shortcut bar
One of the iPad's new productivity features in iOS 9 is a fancier software keyboard, including the new shortcut bar. The bar has universal shortcuts like cut, copy, and paste, but each app can also customize this bar. This leads to awesome quick shortcuts like having an attachment button when composing or replying to new email. Goodbye, tap-and-hold contextual menu!
11. Choose which of your devices get phone calls and texts
Don't want your phone calls to ring your iPad? Prefer your texts stay off your work Mac? In iOS 9, you'll have granular control about what rings where, and you'll be able to turn certain machines off entirely.
12. Double-press the Home button to activate Apple Pay
A particularly welcome change, Apple Pay will, in iOS 9, trigger on your iPhone when you double-press the Home button. This should prevent accidental credit card popups when you're walking by an NFC terminal or interacting with an NFC unit that isn't properly equipped with Apple Pay.
13. Reproductive health comes to the Health app
The last year has seen many people reach out to Apple about adding Health app entries for bodily functions like menstruation, ovulation, and more, and it looks like they're getting their wish: Health in iOS 9 will support a whole host of reproductive health features, including menstruation, spotting, ovulation, sexual activity, cervical mucus, and basal body temperature. These readings can be incredibly important for couples trying for children, and it's awesome to see Apple build in support for this area in Health.
14. Maps will report transit incidents and delays
iOS 9's new Transit feature for Maps not only offers bus and train directions — and shows you where the entrances to those depots and stations are — but it also will display any delays you might run into while traveling. Granted, data for these delays depends on the reliability of the city transit group supplying that data, but it's still a nice feature to have.
15. There's a ruler option for drawing straight lines in Notes
Wondering how Apple was able to make such nice-looking floor plans in the Notes app? It's not because they have impeccable touchscreen artists at their beck and call (although that's partially true): Come iOS 9, you too will be able to draw straight like an arrow with Notes's Ruler tool.
16. Use your CarPlay-equipped car as a geofence
This was mentioned in the keynote briefly, but with iOS 9, you'll be able to use any CarPlay-equipped car as a geofence location for your reminders. This means that if you tell Siri "Remind me to take my roller derby gear when I leave the car," it will trigger when I turn off my car — and CarPlay, with it.
17. Spotlight will search within apps
In iOS 9, if your third-party app supports it, Spotlight will be able to search not only app names, but within the apps themselves. So if you search for a recipe, for example, you may be able to get results from within your recipe app.
18. Back to the app
When you follow a link in iOS 9 that takes you into another app, you'll get a nice little arrow in the upper left corner that offers to take you back to the previous app after you're finished reading. It's a nice option in lieu of the double-press multitasking shortcut we all know and love.
... And so much more
There are a ton of other little cool things buried in iOS 9, too: Travel time recommendations for your Calendar events; the side-switch locking rotation or mute on both iPhone and iPad; Safari's find on page and desktop site commands moved to the Share menu; editing your HomeKit home from the Settings app, rather than a third-party HomeKit app; more touch accessibility options; grouping incoming notifications by app; and so much more.
And iOS 9 is still a few months away from its public release, so these features may change or disappear entirely, replaced by newer and shinier features.
What are you looking forward to about iOS 9? Let us know below.
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