Last Wednesday was the official release of iOS 9. After updating a day late, I’m really liking the new version. There’s lots to talk about, but I’m going to highlight my two favorite features: the improved Spotlight search and iPad Multitasking.
Spotlight has been moved to a new-old home, to the left of the first home screen. This is where it was before iOS 7 (interestingly enough, however, you can still access Spotlight by pulling down from any home screen, but you won’t get as many suggestions). Right at the top of the new Spotlight are “Siri Suggestions” – contacts and apps that iOS thinks you may want to use right now. So far, they just seem to be recents, but Apple has said that these will slowly tailor based on your usage. Check Twitter and Facebook every morning? Those apps will show up at that time. Under that is “Nearby” – a group of buttons for finding restaurants, gas stations, and the like. These too will change based on whether it’s breakfast or dinner time. Finally, underneath that are a few top stories from the News app, which makes its iOS 9 debut. What’s cool is that you get all this information by just swiping into the Spotlight screen. If you actually start to search, you’ll see similar results to what you’d have seen in previous versions of iOS. Except for one major thing: you can now search the content in third-party apps right from Spotlight. Dropbox, among others, has already added support for this feature, and I think it’s going to be super useful.
Unfortunately, iPad multitasking is a little fragmented. Let me break it down. The iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 4, and the iPad Pro (so the newest model of each size), can truly run two apps at the same time. This can be done either with both apps taking up half the screen or with more of a 3/4 split. So that’s great, but I have an iPad Mini 2. Well the iPad Mini 2, 3, and 4; the iPad Air 1 and 2; and the iPad Pro can also do what’s called “slide over.” This is where one app keeps running in the background, and an iPhone-width app slides over it on the right hand side, taking up about 1/4 of the screen. Like this:
This is useful, but so far not many apps have been updated for it (disappointingly, not even all of Apple’s apps support it. Why doesn’t Music?). Hopefully this will get better though. The final feature of multitasking, which comes to the same models that get slide over, is picture in picture. This is available both for video apps like Netflix and things like FaceTime, so that’s really cool.
The last thing I want to talk about is performance and battery. I mentioned in my WWDC post that iOS 9 is available for all phones that got iOS 8. I was hoping that this, coupled with the fact that Apple trumpeted iOS 9 as improving performance, would mean that iOS 9 wouldn’t slow my phone down. So far, my phone has been about the same (hooray!), but my iPad is definitely slower (this makes no sense, they’re the same model year). Still, this is better than the usual performance hit we’ve gotten used it. So far, battery doesn’t seem to have taken a hit either. I’ve yet to try out the new Low Power Mode, but I think that’s a good idea too. All in all, I like iOS 9, and I hope developers continue to add support for all the cool new features. ••