For seven years, Apple has maintained a relentless cycle of major iOS updates. It's not hard to see the progression: what started as a simple system with 11 basic apps and an inability to install any others has blossomed into a powerful platform with millions of games and utilities and seemingly limitless capabilities. Some things might have taken a bit too long to arrive (I'm looking at you, copy and paste!), but no one can criticize the breakneck pace that Apple has sustained. Every 12 months or so, Apple has unleashed a whole new batch of features and enhancements that have given each iOS version an identity of its own, not unlike the jungle cats and California landmarks attached to OS X releases.
But it looks like Apple might be breaking that trend this year. Much like it did with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, iOS 9 is shaping up to be more of a maintenance release than a marketing one. [As outlined by Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac](will be pitched with stability as a tent pole component), iOS 9 "will be pitched with stability as a tent pole component," so instead of breakthrough new advancements like FaceTime or Siri, we're likely to get far-less-sexy features like optimization and performance.
But that doesn't mean version 9 isn't going to bring a heaping portion of must-have enhancements and technologies. Even without any marque features, the next major iOS release could still bring enough goodies to supercharge our iPhones and iPads.
iOS 8 brought a level of openness that we never thought possible. Things like app extensions, third-party keyboards, and Notification Center widgets gave developers a set of keys that unlocked some of iOS's most fortified features and let users personalize their devices in exciting ways. But there are still aspects of iOS that are frustratingly beyond our reach. It's the major difference between it and anything-goes Android, but I think Apple will continue to blur the line between the two in a big way with iOS 9.
Let's start with the Control Center. When Apple built it into iOS 7 it fulfilled one of our biggest wants: the ability to quickly toggle settings without needing to root through the app menus. But one size does not fit all; while there are surely some users who need to access Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and Airplane Mode all throughout the day, for the rest of us, the Control Center has somewhat limited usefulness. By offering a way to choose the precise settings we want — say, swappable buttons for Personal Hotspot or Mute — or even just giving us a way to organize the layout to our liking, Apple could give Control Center much greater prominence.
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