Everything new (and exciting!) coming in iOS 9.3


This is a bigger update than anyone anticipated.
Photo: Apple

Apple released the developer beta for iOS 9.3 today. To the surprise of many, it actually includes quite a few brand new and useful features whether you’re in the classroom or trying to sleep — or both. There are so many new features that we can actually dedicate an entire post to explaining all of them. So here we are doing exactly that.

Note that since today marks iOS 9.3’s release only for developers, it might be a while before the rest of us see the final version show up in the Settings app. But without further ado, here is everything you can look forward to in iOS 9.3.

Lock your private notes

No need for a third-party app to store sensitive information anymore.
Photo: Apple

The Notes app introduces the ability in iOS 9.3 to password-protect individual notes. If you want to store personal information like credit card numbers, account credentials or, dare I say some scandalous photos, you can keep them under a lock. If you want to open the locked note(s), it’ll prompt you to use your Touch ID fingerprint or manually enter a preset Notes password.

Sleep better with Night Shift

iOS 9.3 has a very clever new feature called Night Shift. Looking at blue light for too long actually sends false signals in your body to stay awake and alert even when you might be laying in bed, so Apple has a solution. iOS will use your clock and geolocation to learn when the sun sets, then automatically make the color temperature on the display warmer to get rid of some of the distracting blues at night. In the morning when the sun rises, the display’s colors will return to normal.

iPad for education just got amazing

Multiple users in education. Soon for the rest of us?
Photo: Apple

A huge release for education customers, iOS 9.3 first adds a long-requested multi-user mode to the iPad. That means teachers can add a large roster of students to a single iPad and let them share only one with their personal data saved on their own accounts. Plus, using the new Classroom app, teachers can monitor all the students using an iPad, glance at which apps they’re using and check the progress they’re making with assignments in real time. It’s also much easier to create Apple IDs in bulk so institutions don’t have to waste time or energy on one-by-one student signups.

One iPhone, multiple Apple Watches

Starting with iOS 9.3, you can pair multiple Apple Watches to a single iPhone. If you have a bunch of data on one iPhone that you want to share with people in your family who each have their own Watch, this new feature would be quite advantageous. Plus, developers should have a field day with this since it allows for better app and OS testing. To take advantage of multiple Apple Watch linking, you’ll need watchOS 2.2, which also went into beta today.

News, Health, CarPlay and more

Among some of the smaller updates in iOS 9.3, the News app has personalized recommendations in its For You tab, Editors’ Picks and can play video inline. The Health app now displays more information from your Apple Watch like your move and stand data, plus recommends third-party apps in various categories like weight. CarPlay introduces For You recommendations from Apple Music and improves the Maps app with Nearby stops like food and gas.

If you’re a developer, you can get on board with iOS 9.3 immediately by downloading the beta from the iOS Dev Center. The rest of us can (for now) drool over the details Apple laid out in the iOS 9.3 Preview page, which unfortunately isn’t accompanied by a release date just yet.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.