Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.0 | iLounge Article

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Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.0

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Keyboard Enhancements

The iPad gets some handy new keyboard enhancements, including cut, copy, and paste shortcut buttons similar to those introduced on the iPhone 6 Plus in iOS 8. On the iPad, the keyboard can also now be used as a touchpad for cursor navigation by holding down and dragging two fingers over the keyboard.

More keyboard shortcuts are also now available when using an external Bluetooth keyboard, including the ability to use CMD+TAB as an application switcher similar to how it works on OS X — an enhancement that will probably be met with jubilant celebration by anybody who has ever tried to use an iPad and external keyboard for any real work.

Another small but nice new feature is the ability to send iMessages when using an external keyboard simply by pressing the RETURN key, which parallels how the OS X Messages app works as well, and saves users the trouble of reaching out to tap the “Send” button when working with an external keyboard; much like on the Mac, OPT+RETURN can be used if you actually do want to enter a new line in your message text. Also, unlike most of the other new external keyboard enhancements, this one works on the iPhone and iPod touch too.

The built-in iOS 9 keyboard now displays shift status directly on the letters, displaying lower case or upper case keys as appropriate. Character Previews — the built-in feature whereby letters are magnified when typing — can also now be turned off in Settings, General, Keyboards, which should allow for more discrete typing, especially when entering passwords.

iBooks for PDF Creation

iBooks gets an entry in the iOS Share Sheet, allowing users to create a PDF file and save it directly into iBooks from other apps such as Safari.

Settings and other System Changes

iOS 9 enhances security by now requiring users to set six-digit passcodes, rather than the previous four-digit requirements. Of course, using a passcode is still optional, but iOS is also now more assertive in encouraging you to do so during the setup process. Complex passcodes also remain supported in the same manner as before.

iOS 9 also promises smaller iOS update packages, addressing an issue that many users with lower-capacity devices had even getting iOS updates installed over the air. Frequently, there wasn’t enough space on some devices to even download an iOS update package, much less install it. Along the same vein, the iOS update notification screen now provides more options, similar to OS X updates, so users can choose to install an update overnight or when a device is sitting idle for an extended period of time.

iOS 9 includes a new set of static wallpapers for the home screen and lock screen, eliminating some while adding a number of more modern designs that appear to be somewhat inspired by faces on the Apple Watch. The dynamic wallpapers remain the same as before.

Notifications in Notification Center can now be grouped by time received rather than by app, making it much easier to see your most recent notifications. A new “Group By App” switch found in Settings, Notifications allows this to option to be enabled or disabled when the sort order is set to “Recent”; manual sorting notifications are still grouped by app.

A new Search field at the top of the Settings app allows you to quickly find a specific setting anywhere within the app simply by typing its name.

Handoff & Suggested Apps under Settings, General now only allows installed apps to appear in Handoff, as opposed to also providing an option to include other apps from the App Store.

Spotlight Search under Settings, General now includes a list of every installed app with options to include or exclude them from the new global search feature. Note that all apps appear here, regardless of whether they support the search API or not, so turning on an app on this list does not mean its content will be searched.

Wi-Fi Assist is a new option found at the bottom of the Cellular section that allows you to automatically fall back to cellular data if you’ve got a poor Wi-Fi connection.

Accessibility

A new Touch Accommodations section in Settings, General, Accessibility allows users to customize how the screen responds to touches, such as setting a hold duration before a touch is registered, ignoring multiple touches within a specified interval, and determining whether the initial or final touch location is registered.

A new Vibration setting under Accessibility allows ALL vibrations to be disabled globally, even emergency alerts for earthquakes and tsunamis.

Conclusions

Compared to last year’s release of iOS 8, which introduced a number of features that weren’t fully implemented until later point releases, iOS 9 definitely feels much more like a complete product. Apple’s new Proactive Assistant takes some great strides in making iOS devices — the iPhone especially — a more actively useful and productive device, and the enhancements to Notes and Maps are particularly welcome in making both of those apps more fully functional. While other changes are considerably more incremental in nature, they’re a collection of nice and useful little “quality of life” enhancements that generally help polish the iOS user experience in a positive way.

That said, for most users iOS 9 certainly won’t be a “must have” update the way many prior iOS releases have been, but at the same time it’s also not going to be a jarring experience. For most users, moving up to iOS 9 won’t really have any disruptive effect, good or bad. As with any “point zero” iOS release, some may want to exercise caution and wait until the various bugs have been worked out, but with iOS 9 having gone through a two-month public beta cycle and no major new services like Apple Pay or iCloud Photo Library to deal with, it seems to be one of the more stable major updates we’ve seen recently.

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