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18 features in iOS 9 you may have missed during the keynote

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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.

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.

112 Comments
  • The shortcut attachment bar (#10) also works on iPhone. Just tap in the message body to make it appear.
  • Pic by chance?
  • You misread that paragraph. She states that there are new buttons on the upper portion of the on-screen keyboard for these actions. She directly stated that you no longer have to do what you described.
    -
    My question is: By attachment does she mean FILES or just pictures? There is currently no way to insert a document file other than a picture in your camera roll into an existing email, therefore if someone sends you an email requesting a file, there is currently no way (that I have found) to reply to that message with said attachment. The only option is to first find the file in whatever file storage/access app, then tap the share button and generate a new email.
  • Files, it brings up the iCloud Drive document picker when you tap the attachment button.
  • Awesome! Too bad I keep absolutely nothing in iCloud Drive. Sent from the iMore App
  • You can add files from Dropbox, Onedrive, etc.
  • Does it still have that dumb volume indicator that takes up half the screen for 5 minutes when adjusting volume while watching clips?
  • +100000000000000000000000000
    Why the F can't it just be a slim bar on the side of the screen next to the physical buttons????!!!?!?! Do they really think people are that stupid or blind?
  • Good point, that is annoying. No reason to have it be a big square in the center of the screen.
  • lack of split window for 6 plus or even the popout video function is a major fail in my opinion.
  • 1GB RAM. That's why. Why do you think it's not coming to any other iPads - even the iPad Air [1]? They should have put 2GB in the iPhone 6 Series, but I guess they'd rather you go out and buy a newer phone for a feature that really isn't all that great on such a small screen, anyways (judging from my heavily "trying to use it productively" on Note 3 - it sounds better than it does... and I wouldn't even want to use it on an iPad with that screen aspect ratio [personally]).
  • Agreed. I have a 6+ and can't imagine trying to multi task on it. Its big but no where big enough.
  • I can see some use cases for the split screen on a tablet, but I do think the usefulness of this functionality is greatly exaggerated. Rarely, I use it on my Windows Tablet. But that Aspect Ratio (16:9/10) on those is a bit better for splitting the apps when in Landscape Mode. On a phone I found it absolutely worthless, and my screen was even bigger than the iPhone 6 Plus'. Also, there is not much else you can do with a smartphone when a popped out video is taking up 1/3rd of the screen real estate. You spend most of your time moving the damn thing around to the point where: 1. You're barely watching the video, anyways, and
    2. You're spending more time doing what you needed to do, to the point where if you had just switched apps completely you'd have gotten it done 5x faster and be back into your video with all your attention dedicated to it. The pop-out video is probably more useful on a tablet, however - especially for video chatting with someone while you're doing something else. My guess is that these features are being implemented because business users likely asked for them.
  • "Major fail" seems like quite a bit of an over exaggeration.
  • What's the point in the extra space compared to the iPhone if not for such a feature? Sure there are other minor differences but aside from the orientation shift on the home screen I'm not aware of any additional productivity advantages on the plus.
  • So I can read it because the fonts bigger? Old people like bigger phones.. One day boy you'll be old too and appreciate this irony.
  • "... but it has introduced lowercase keys as an option whenever shift isn't enabled" Yay.
    Absolutely loving it.
  • I do not understand why people are wanting lowercase letters on the iPhone/iPad keyboard and not saying anything about not having lowercase letters on the Apple wireless Bluetooth keyboard. What's the difference?
  • "8. Android switching just got easier with the Move to iOS app" Justin Long: "Hi. I'm an iPhone."
    John Hodgman: "And I'm a Xiaomi or some other random droidphone."
  • Just the 2 fingers trick on the keyboard to act like a track pad is Heaven for me. I was so waiting for this... Man I'm happy :)
  • That's the features "borrow" from android
  • What do you mean THE? Pretty much all of these and the other announcements have been done elsewhere. Apple just knows how to sprinkle their fairy dust on it to make it seem revolutionary. Remember, hey dribble "features" bc they are a stock driver company, not an innovation driven company.
  • I just like the Apple way thats all.
    Had an Android phone once, was terrible experience.
    iPhone make my life easier :)
  • Yes, the company with the CEO that literally said if shareholders don't like their environmental initiatives they can take their money elsewhere, that's the only publicly traded company in the world concerned with stock performance...people these days.
  • I think it was concerning accessibility rather than environmental. Either way, they have the capital & people to fix all the issues and make all the features, but they don't. They pander to the consumption of the "average user", more specifically the Chinese now a days. Industries don't accel when they leave out those who actually use these platforms to create and innovate. Apple just feels to me more and more like a toy maker rather than a tool maker.
  • That is your opinion and you're more than entitled to it, but I would definitely be remiss if I didn't ask who makes a better tool? You could maybe argue that windows or android are better software (I disagree, but that's open to debate) but the hardware that comes from those companies few would argue is better than apple's wares. The tool isn't just the software it's also the machine it runs on.
  • Neither Google, nor Apple top the list as innovators. I don't think it fair to leave the impression that Android is innovation. It's model is simply to provide as much 'desktop' functionality as possible.
  • It don't bother me :)
  • A lot of these features are quite trivial and "really, in 2015?" Power Saving Mode.
    Longer Pass Codes.
    An iCloud App.
    ... I mean, one cannot underestimate the amount of work they're putting in to optimize the OS. Recoding things in Swift, Switching to Metal, the Switch to 64-Bit Last Generation in earlier generations of the OS, etc. But this is probably the weakest conference of 2015 thus far. These are a bunch of "me too" and "sorry I'm late" features and they still haven't really addressed some serious usability issues with some of their other apps (like Mail) nor have they introduced any noteworthy updates to things like iWork. The Photos update was weak, considering what you lost in the move from iPhoto and Aperture. I am disappoint.
  • But are general updates to Mail, iWork, and Photos really developer-centric things that would make WWDC? Apple has consumer-centric show/s in the fall. Unless those consumer-facing things get opened up to developers, it's not anything a developer cares about. That said, Music probably didn't belong in a developer show either.
  • Is "Apple Music" really developer-centric things that would make WWDC? I'm not sure what your point it. They always announced a ton of not-developer-centric stuff at WWDC. Why is the fact that it's WWDC being used as an excuse - seemingly everywhere - for what is generally a lackluster keynote for lackluster updates to platforms that are increasingly under pressure to deliver where other platforms have been delivering for years now?
  • The "really, in 2015?" meme swings both directions with a vengeance. I believe Android just now got granular/adjustable app permissions and their version of 'find my phone', which iOS has had for years. Both OS's are getting closer to parity to each other, the whole "I can't believe <smartphone OS I don't like> just now got this feature" attitude is fanboy'ish and hard to take someone who acts like that seriously.
  • Yes, and in Android-centric threads, I noted that. However, I am not an Android user, so why the hell should I care at all about what Google is announcing for their OS? I use Windows, OS X, and iOS. Google can announce they're stopping Android development and it wouldn't matter to me one iota. I wouldn't bat an eye lash, and I wouldn't care at all. That ship has sailed, and the default retort of using Google as a counter-example... It's growing increasingly weak as time goes on.
  • @mulasien. Android has had Device Manager for years, which is the equivalent of Find My iPhone, but better, because it has the power of Google Maps, so you're wrong there. I couldn't pick out a feature in that keynote which my Androids don't already have, and I'm not a fanboy. I own both Android and iOS devices. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • True but if I remember Device Manager which is highly superior was the answer to Apples find my iPhone but nonetheless as stated both oses are gradually become similar and borrowing features that were already avaible long before Android or iOS were born. Nothing wrong there. Posted via the iMore App on my iPad Air or iPod Touch 5
  • What is the goal in pointing out Android features on an iOS thread? I don't know how bad it is on Android articles/forums etc. Because I don't visit them. But it's amazing how many people want to talk about Android in iOS forums etc. I can't think of a constructive reason.
  • I understand what you are saying but like the article says, these are the lesser features that were either briefly mentioned or just on the traditional "background slide" of new features that we'll hear more about when the fall keynote happens and iOS 9 hits the street. We've gotten so much thrown at us the last two years I think somewhat of a slowdown was warranted. The iMore writers have pointed out several times that this might just be a "Snow Leopard" year for both OS's and I really think we need it. I'd love it if everything we already have runs nearly flawlessly and with less drain on CPUs, RAM, and battery life. Not even the Apples, Googles, or Samsungs of the world can shock and amaze every single year despite their vast resources.
  • So given that they hadn't done them yet, would you rather they never do these features at all? I am assuming of course you have some brilliant alternatives that their time would've been better spent on, yes?
  • I imagine some of these get a mention when the iPhone or iPad are officially intro'd to the public w. iOS 9, particularly Low Power Mode and female reproductive health tracking. Thank Odin on #1 and #5. Settings is such a Microsoftian area of iOS. Now Apple...please...puh-lease...fix the rest of your iPad keyboard. Shift keys on either side of the keyboard that come in two different sizes. How does that not send Jony Ive into convulsions? Dictation key right next to the Spacebar where it's easy to hit unintentionally. Off-center Spacebar. And a half dozen other things. So many weird design decisions with the keyboard. It's like a secret plan to drive people away from keyboards.
  • I was glad to hear they filled in a few gaps since they were ahead in other areas.
  • I'm really hoping the author is right when they say that you can disable the new caps lock behaviour. I find that the flickering back and forth between caps and non-caps is one of the chief reasons I find Android keyboards difficult to use. It's very distracting and unexpected. Don't want.
  • Really. That's honestly hard to comprehend what a so difficult about that. Clearly lower cased words show that they are lower cased and using the shift key to show the uppercased words is very easily distinguishable. What's confusing on that?... Posted via the iMore App on my iPad Air or iPod Touch 5
  • I disagree. Look at Tom Hanks' "HanxWriter" app. It implements the upper/lowercase options beautifully.
  • Total agree. I tried this behavior on Android once and the changing uppercase to lowercase and back again in all the keys was both visually distracting and it also threw my touch targets off for the keys just a bit. Sent from the iMore App
  • The keys don't even change size how does it throw off your touch targets? Also, knowing what case you're in without having to look at the damn shift key is nice yes? Sloths fight leopards. You can't open a bag of chips. Clearly humans are the weaker species.
  • I don't know how. I know it does. I will be turning this off. I've never had a problem with the shift key in its present implementation. If you like the new feature, have at if. Sent from the iMore App
  • Interesting! So double pressing the home button will bring up Apple Pay. What activated the app switcher? Sent from the iMore App
  • I think they are talking about double tapping on the lock screen cuz the app switcher will be there on the home screen Sent from the iMore App
  • You are also able to use the keyboard as a touch pad on iPhone to I saw people beta testing it!! Sent from the iMore App
  • Yes you are. Really neat feature Posted via the iMore App on my iPad Air or iPod Touch 5
  • Dude, the first time I saw it on the BlackBerry Passport it was amazing :p Sloths fight leopards. You can't open a bag of chips. Clearly humans are the weaker species.
  • #2. Finally. I prefer to listen to U.S Siri (she seems like a sweet gal), but she doesn't always understand my British accent. I spent almost half my life living in Australia, but I can't listen to Australian Siri because she sounds like a dingo ate her baby. Female U.K Siri sounds like my sister, and male U.K Siri sounds like he has Jarvis envy. Sent from the iMore App
  • Apple should buy the "Jarvis voice" and implemented it !
  • I think Jarvis, or Samuel Jackson would be the only male voices I would consider on my phone.
  • I'd go for Patrick Stewart too.
  • Loving these much needed refinements.
  • What happened to all the mention in the Keynote about the iPhone being situationally and location aware? They mention it knows when you enter your car, the kitchen and the home gym.? Yet I have seen no reporting on a pretty large feature from the keynote. They hinted way back when they introduced the M7 motion chip it could tell you were you parked your car. Now it appears that's the case in iOS 9
  • Sounds amazing Sent from the iMore App
  • So, will a double-click of the Home button now open Apple Pay, or will it still open the task manager? If the former, how will we do the latter?
  • Same question here? And then, can you change the double-click behavior in settings for those folks that don't use Apple Pay or it's not available in their country? This change frankly does't make sense or maybe it has been misinterpreted? Serenity, please clarify if you can.
  • I think it means a double tap of the home button when the phone is locked, or at least that's how I interpreted it!
  • Ah...that would make sense. And then if no  Pay is available or set up, nothing happens with a double -click. Thx! I'm liking everything I am hearing about iOS 9!
  • Are email attachments only for iCloud documents? And is the document actually attached or is it a link to the file? Sent from the iMore App