Today in the keynote address at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference, we met a smarter, more stable iOS — but it wasn't without a few major new features, either.
On stage this afternoon, we heard about extended battery life, performance, and security updates. Great! But "adding intelligence" was the headliner, as Craig Federighi explained as he took us on a tour of his day-in-the-life with iOS 9.
Siri had a slick new UI, plus new reminder functionality, but that was small potatoes compared to Proactive — a new assistant that will learn your behaviours and predict what you're interested in doing. Say you plug in your headphones. Proactive will "learn" that you normally open Spotify and suggest it, as Federighi demonstrated:
Proactive can do things like suggest who unknown callers might be when a number pops up on your screen. It might suggest apps that you tend to use during certain times of day — or even suggest locations nearby. There's also an API for search, an update that was met with wild applause from the crowd. This kind of functionality will feel familiar to Google Now users, but for iOS fans, it's a major update.
Transit, Notes, and News
We met two new apps and one big update today, too. In addition to a new and improved Notes app, we saw a long-awaited and desperately needed new iOS app called Transit. It's been a long time coming! While it's not a replacement for Maps, but it sure seems more useful, with routing for subways, buses, and other forms of public transit.
There's better search functionality, as well as a predictable Apple Pay tie-in. Apple wants you to know that Shake Shack takes Apple Pay before you trek up there!
Then there was News, another brand-new app that will look a bit like Flipboard (as Re/code first reported this morning). Here's the demo from today's keynote:
News looks like a simple, clean way to read on your iPhone that pulls content from The New York Times, the Atlantic, Bon Appetit, and many more.
Security & Privacy
Security was another major talking point today — finally, Apple is enabling two-factor authentication for your ID, which will go a long way towards making users feel more secure.
After all, now that this more intelligent and observant iOS will have more information about how, when, and where you use your phone, privacy will become a bigger issue. While Federighi didn't spend a ton of time on iOS, he did spent a large percentage of the presentation promising that Apple won't be collecting that data on your usage — saying it will be anonymous, and based on a randomised identifying number; we'll update as soon as we know more specifics.
It's been a year since the 4.6 gigabyte debacle of iOS 8. And it seems that Apple took note of the outrage and exasperation users felt while trying to update their devices. The size of iOS 9? A mere 1.3 gigs.
How Can You Get It?
iOS 9 will be available as a free upgrade come this spring in Australia — and it will come as good news to older iPhone users that no devices will be dropped from this release. Meanwhile, devs will have access to a beta version much sooner. Like, today.