Apple launched the latest version of their mobile operating system back in September, iOS 9. As always, the new OS promised heaps of new features and adjustments, including updates to headline apps and services like Maps, Apple Music, Spotlight and more.
While all great improvements from Apple, inevitably some of the new features are more immediately useful than others, while some little tweaks might become more apparent through extended use. (Not all iPhone or iPad users use their device in exactly the same way, after all.) So now that we’re a few months down the line from iOS 9, we asked our creative team to pick out which new features have actually made the most marked improvement on their workflow and general iOS usage.
Back to app
The one feature that I think I have enjoyed in iOS 9 more than any other is ridiculously simple – but then, aren’t all the best ideas? While using one app and switching to another by tapping a new notification, iOS 9 now gives you the option to quickly go back to the original app.
Say you’re having a quick browse of the News app, then you receive an important iMessage. When you tap the banner notification and open up Messages, you’ll see ‘Back to News’ and an arrow in the top left hand corner of the screen, which will send you back to where you were in News once you’re finished in Messages. No more double tapping the home button and selecting the original app from the launcher – a small touch, but one that’s made multitasking just that bit easier.
For copywriter Becky, her favourite update has been the keyboard makeover, Apple shifting from the all caps format of iOS 8 to an upper and lowercase convention in iOS 9.
Said Becky: “A simple one, but the introduction of the lowercase keyboard in iOS 9 has made it far easier to tell when caps lock is on. It makes complete sense that when you’re typing in lowercase the keyboard is in lowercase and when you want to type in uppercase the keyboard switches to capitals.”
We all sometimes get caught out by low battery, so Apple’s new Low Power Mode was a very welcome addition to iOS 9. This mode limits the activity of background apps and other power-eating processes (including disabling mail fetching, reducing screen brightness and turning off your screen more quickly), and kicks in when your battery falls below 20%, or you can turn it on manually under Battery in Settings.
Designer Simon Curd earmarked this as his top pick from the new features in iOS 9: “I’d have to say Low Power Mode. I don’t know how it’s supposed to work but I find the name reassuring when battery’s low, and I also happen to think the battery icon looks best in yellow.” Typical designer.
Apple originally launched their own music streaming service, Apple Music, in June 2015. With a three month free trial available, millions of Apple users signed up for the new service. Those sticking around to the end of the subscription saw iOS 9 tinkering with the interface to really up the user experience, according to design manager Vic.
“The whole app seems a lot snappier since iOS 9,” she said. “Menus are easier to navigate than before – especially on an iPhone screen – adding songs to a playlist is a breeze, and songs play quicker one after another. It’s certainly made me keep up my Apple Music subscription.”
At the end of October 2015, Apple released the first small ‘point’ update for iOS 9. Perhaps the headline feature of iOS 9.1 was its Unicode support, meaning 150 new emojis and even more ways of expressing yourself without having to use real words.
Marketing coordinator Madison was particularly taken with the new emoji: “I really like the variety of emojis on offer in the latest iOS 9 update – I think it has a nicer representation, particularly across the food and animal categories. I know the unicorn and taco emojis went down well with the public, but my favourite has to be the lion. Sometimes you just really need to show your fierce lion side in a group message.”