Ever since the move away from skeuomorphics in version 7, iOS has been in a state of flux -- one that many iPhone and iPad users and reviewers noted came at the expense of stability. With iOS 9 due out in public beta next month and to the general public this fall, Apple continues refining the appearance and behavior of the software that powers the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. And just as it's doing with OS X 10.11 El Capitan, Apple is adding a variety of under-the-hood improvements and new tricks that focus on proactivity, UI refinements, and best of all, stability and performance.
Here are a few of the features iOS users should be looking forward to later this year.
Find more, faster
As in El Capitan, Search in iOS 9 is growing up -- and growing more inclusive in the information it provides. It can now offer suggestions about local establishments and access to frequently used contacts and data (you can text or call people in your contacts list right from the search results). Queries that once had to be dictated to Siri can now be typed in manually; and Search can act as a calculator and even perform conversions.
Perhaps one of the most useful search-related features is the one found to the left of the Home Screen. When you swipe to the right from the home screen, you'll see a pre-populated list of information iOS 9 thinks is important to you: recent contacts, recent apps, suggestions to find nearby locations like gas stations, theaters and bars, and some of the latest headlines, based on trending local news. Each section also has a toggle to display more (or less) suggestions. In its new incarnation, the Search screen will be really handy, both as a quick launch for contacts and apps, but also as a way to find local businesses and other hotspots.
Proactive results are a running theme throughout iOS 9, as the OS -- via Search or Siri -- tries to anticipate your needs and offer to help you out. Event invitations and contacts in Mail are suggested as Calendar and Contact entries, respectively. Plug in your headphones or connect to a bluetooth receiver and the last played media will display on the Lockscreen, saving you a trip to the Music or the Podcast app. When you hop in your car, Maps guesses where you're heading based on recent history and offers an estimated time of arrival based on current traffic conditions right on the Lockscreen. And when a phone call comes in from a number that's not in among your contacts, iOS 9 will look to see if that number resides in old emails.
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