It's a busy year for Apple. The super-shiny (and incredibly expensive) Apple Watch hit shops last month and the smart money and rumour-merchants have it on good authority that a brand new iPhone model may be touching down as early as August. In the middle of that we have the World Wide Developer Conference, also known as WWDC. It's there that we're likely to see new software for all your iOS devices. Here's what we know about iOS 9 so far.
As ever, Apple hasn't been keen confirming iOS 9 features at this point, but the rumour mill is churning. Even though Apple tries to keep a lid on leaks, a quick scan reveals that iOS 9 may spell the end of the iPhone 4S; bring more interface short cuts; better app integration and improvements to Siri. Here we collate the rumours, leaks and flim-flam over Apple's forthcoming operating system for smart devices.
When Will iOS 9 Be Released?
Apple tends to roll out the full new version of iOS around spring in Australia, a few months after WWDC. It usually announces an update for current devices — and iOS 8.4 is rumoured to be launched at this year's WWDC — but one of the main purposes of the Conference is to put the new operating system in the hands of registered developers, so they can tweak and update their apps ahead of its official roll-out.
At the time of WWDC, iOS 9 won't be available for consumers as Apple will probably be in the process of ironing out any bugs. It's likely that iOS 9 will be rolled out alongside the release of the next iteration of iPhones (likely around August), although whether it will be compatible with all of Apple's devices currently in the market is another matter.
iOS 9 Compatibility
If you own any Apple device that isn't packing a Lightning connector, you may have to start saving for an upgrade. There's a good chance that the iPhone 4S could be next in the firing line. This move would see the old 30-pin connector rendered extinct once and for all.
iOS 9 Download Size
One rumour doing the rounds concerns the size of the new operating system. iOS 8 required you to free up 4.6GB in order to install. That's a tall order for devices which only had 8GB and 16GB of storage to start with.
We're hoping Apple fixes this before the roll-out of iOS 9!
iOS 9 Features, Interface, Speed and Stability
Speed and stability in a new software update aren't the sexiest new features to pine for, but iOS 8 was glitchy coming out of the gate, ate up a chunk of space and drained your battery something horrid.
According to the folks over at 9to5Mac, the team working on iOS 9 are making a "huge" effort to eradicate bugs and improve stability and increase speed. The OS is also receiving a lot of under-the-hood attention aimed at making its size more manageable and boosting the overall performance of iOS 9 features.
The new operating system is also rumoured to contain several new shortcuts, much as was the case with iOS 8, which brought in easy access to your audio player and main menu. Being able to switch off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Push Notifications and Aeroplane mode with a couple of taps would be preferable to closing apps and navigating menus. And we're all about convenience over here.
HomeKit, Apple's framework for interacting with smart accessories in your home with your iOS devices has suffered a series of delays, yet Apple says that it's on track to arrive in June. That's despite the fact that the appliances themselves are only rumoured to land in late August or early September.
In the meantime, news has emerged that Apple is working on an app called Home, which will allow iOS users to manage their HomeKit gear.
The Home app — planned for iOS 9 — will enable you to configure and connect your wireless devices, create a virtual representation of your home and use your Apple TV as a central hub. While barking orders at the toaster using Siri may seem like a gimmick, remotely controlling garage doors, thermostats and the locks on your house sounds a bit more useful.
Apple has confirmed there'll be an announcement on HomeKit accessories this June and Home is likely to make an appearance at WWDC if that happens. In the meantime, Apple says the HomeKit appliances are in the pipeline and should arrive imminently. "[We] already have dozens of partners who have committed to bringing HomeKit accessories to market," Apple said, "and we're looking forward to the first ones coming next month."
Apple Maps aren't on a par with Google Maps yet, but Apple continues to make improvements.
iOS 9 is rumoured to include an addition to Maps called Transit, which will offer users navigation options on bus and train routes along with a journey planner and a Transit Map viewer, which joins Standard, Hybrid, and Satellite views.
Apple is also adding new cities, landmarks and new push notifications that will alert users once the city they're in gains support for Transit navigation.
Given that Apple gave Siri a colourful update on the Watch OS, it's hoped that iOS 9 will bring with it a visual update to the voice-controlled assistant for your phone and tablet.
We're hoping for a little more than a couple of eye-catching wavy lines in Siri, however, as Apple has let it languish somewhat on its other smart-devices against competitors like Cortana from Microsoft and Voice from Google.
You may have heard of the streaming service Apple purchased last year involving Dr Dre? Apple probably wants to see some value from this transaction, so it will start pushing the service out soon.
We already know that Beats will be getting its own artists-only social network, and that more announcements about the service are planned for this June. Given the huge price Apple paid for Beats last year, if we don't hear an announcement about it for iOS 9 — or indeed, iOS 8.4 — at this year's WWDC, we'll be flabbergasted.