Apple spilled all the details on iOS 9 at its WWDC keynote today. The new operating system will be rolling out to iPhones and iPads this fall — here’s what you have to look forward.
A “Proactive assistant” will do everything but make your coffee
Apple noted that its voice-controlled virtual helper Siri has seen a 40 percent reduction in misunderstanding what users say, then started talking about a Google Now-style “proactive assistant” that pays attention to what you’re doing and anticipates your needs.
Siri is getting a new UI, and along with that, you can make more specific demands. Apple’s example was, “Show me photos from Utah last August,” which pulled up those exact pictures based on their location and date tags in Photos. Photos is also getting some tweaks in the form of a new scrubber bar for scanning pics and in-app support for these contextual searches.
The new assistant also picks up on things like whether you listen to music while you exercise. So if it notices that you do, it’ll pull up some tunes as soon as you plug in your headphones. You can also add Safari links to your reminders, if you want to. I don’t think I do, but somebody might.
If you receive an invitation via e-mail, Siri will take a look at traffic conditions and tell you when to leave in order to be on time. I don’t know if it’ll adjust those figures based on how fast and recklessly I drive sometimes, but we’ll see how it goes.
Siri will also be able to screen calls for you — sort of. If you get a call from an unknown number, it’ll scan your e-mails to try to put a name to the digits. So now you’ll be able to jab “Dismiss” with full confidence that you’re ignoring the right people.
Apple introduced a big new feature to its Maps navigation app, and it’s rolling it out to select cities. You will soon be able to get directions that include mass-transit options. It sounds a lot like the same option on Google Maps, and it’ll factor walking times and train and bus schedules into your trip.
Maps will also let you find merchants close to your location or destination who accept Apple Pay, so you can plan your meals accordingly.
The biggest Apple Pay news of the day: The mobile payment system is finally coming to retailers and banks in the U.K. British folks can start waving their iPhones and Apple Watches at 250,000 locations starting next month, including the London Underground.
Other big things are coming to Apple Pay, including Discover card support and a brand-new reader for Square that will let small-business owners start accepting payment via iPhone and Apple Watch. You can reserve your free reader starting today at Square’s website. It’ll launch this fall, probably around the time the new iOS drops.
Apple said Apple Pay will be available in 1 million retail locations next month. This includes the Pinterest app, which is prepping to roll out “Buyable Pins” to let users purchase items directly.
Finally, Apple Pay will start supporting loyalty cards for select retailers like Walgreens and Dunkin’ Donuts that you’ll keep in your Passbook.
Except it won’t be Passbook anymore, because:
Passbook is dead; long live Wallet
Apple’s movement to “replace the wallet” culminates in its move to ditch Passbook in favor of an app called “Wallet.” This is where you’ll keep all of those credit cards and loyalty cards for Apple Pay, as well as movie tickets you buy online — basically anything else you’d need to present during a transaction.
You know, the stuff that might be in your wallet right now.
Notes will supercharge your note-keeping
Notes is getting its own upgrade and will now include the ability to make checklists, add photos and links, and do a bunch of other cool formatting things using a new, dedicated toolbar. It’s also getting a welcome visual update, and I hope it has some more interesting fonts.
This will be another great place for the new San Francisco typeface to show up.
News is a Flipboard-style upgrade to Newsstand
While Apple was dumping old, tired utilities, it threw Newstand onto the pile with Passbook. The new News app will support rich content like animations, videos and infographics.
It’ll also curate content for you based on your interests and pull from a bunch of magazines and online publications like Vanity Fair, Politico and The New York Times. It’ll even boast a dedicated “Apple News format” to make the most of the new display features.
Multitasking and a new keyboard are coming to iPads
Apple’s tablet is finally catching up to user demand by bringing multitasking to its tablets. The two key features are Slide Over and Splitview. With a double-tap on your home button, Slide Over will let you see full-screen previews of everything running. Splitview will let you grab two apps and slot them next to each other. You can even drag pictures, links and text between programs.
If two windows isn’t enough, you’ll also be able to employ picture-in-picture to watch ESPN (or something else) while you’re working.
Slide Over and Splitview won’t be everywhere, however; the iPad Air 2 will be the only tablet to receive both features, with Slide Over also coming to the iPad Air and iPad mini 2 and 3.
The iPad’s new iOS 9 keyboard will add shortcuts for copying and pasting, adding attachments, and text formatting. It will also double as a trackpad so you can use gestures to edit text.
Battery life improvements
Google isn’t the only one looking out for your batteries; Apple also wants to help out. The new iOS uses less processing power, which will bump up your iPhone time by an hour per charge. It’ll also introduce a low-power mode that will slap on an extra three hours of use.
It’s easier to upgrade
If you’ve ever gone to upgrade your iOS directly from your device and then had to open iTunes to download the new files instead (possibly while grumbling), Apple has some good news for you. It’s significantly lowering the boundary to entry from over 4GB to a measly 1GB. Now you won’t have to make any tough decisions about apps and videos just to get your iOS up-to-date.
By making it easier, Apple hopes to maintain its impressive adoption numbers. It said 83 percent of iOS users are running the current version, compared to less than 20 percent of Android users.
HealthKit and HomeKit will now include more stuff
I’ve been pretty happy with HealthKit’s tracking of my various functions, but it’s about to get a bit more data for us to obsess over. HealthKit in iOS 9 will include info for hydration, UV exposure and reproductive health (we’re imagining ovulation calendars and the like).
HomeKit will also get a boost from the new iOS, letting you control smart devices like window shades, carbon monoxide sensors and security sensors. It will also give you remote access to your home via iCloud.
Update – 3:51 p.m.: The original article said that the new iPad keyboard was coming out today. In fact, it will be out with the rest of the iOS 9 features in the fall. The post is now correct, and thanks to reader Eric Norris for catching the error.