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iOS 9.3 is ready to install with Night Shift, password-protected Notes, and more

Susie Ochs | March 22, 2016
This iOS update also fixes a flaw recently discovered in iMessages.

Apple is releasing more today than new hardware—iOS 9.3 officially drops Monday as well. It’s been in beta for a while now, and Apple even posted an iOS 9.3 Preview page to tease the new features in this dot-release for iOS 9.

But before we get into any new features, know that you should upgrade to iOS 9.3 as soon as it’s convenient, as it contains the fix for an iMessage bug that was just reported. Discovered by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the exploit can lead to photos and videos sent via iMessage to be decrypted. You’d have to be specifically targeted by very determined hackers, but it’s still a pretty concerning flaw, and Apple says iOS 9.3 fixes it.

What’s new in iOS 9.3

Night Shift. Some apps like Tweetbot, Kindle, Waze, and Instapaper have a “night mode” so you don’t harsh your eyes trying to read a stark-white screen in a dark room. Apple’s all-new Night Shift feature works differently but has the benefit of being system-wide.

Night Shift doesn’t change screens of black text on a white background to white text on a black background. Instead, it starts adjusting the colors shown on your iPhone or iPad screen “to the warmer end of the spectrum,” cutting down the bright blue light that supposedly messes with your internal clock, fooling you into thinking it’s daytime when it’s not. Apple says Night Shift will automatically turn on at sunset in your location, and revert to the regular display settings in the morning.

If this sounds like something you’d like on your Mac too, check out the third-party app it’s based on, F.lux. It’s available for the Mac for free, as well as Windows and Linux.

New Quick Actions. iPhone 6s and 6s Plus users will get additional Quick Actions to take advantage of those devices’ 3D Touch feature. Deep-pressing the Settings icon, for example, will let you jump to the settings for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Battery, or new wallpaper. That really helps, since Control Center has buttons to toggle Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on or off, but if you want to switch Wi-Fi networks or pair with a new Bluetooth speaker, for example, those controls were always several taps away.

The Health app gets a new Quick Action to show the dashboard or your Medical ID info, where you can store crucial in-case-of-emergency information, such as what drugs you’re allergic to. The App Store app has an Update All action, and both that app and the iTunes Store app will also let you jump to the Purchased screen with a Quick Action too. Peek and Pop have been added to the App Store too. Peek lets you preview apps from the Featured and Top Charts screen without opening them fully, and Pop opens them the rest of the way.


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