Apple iOS 9 – Discover Over 60 New and Hidden Features

If you haven’t noticed, iOS 9 is now available for download. You can access the software update via Settings > General> Software Update > Download and Install. The update is 1.3 GB, a lightweight compared to its predecessor iOS 8 (weighing in at 4.58GB) and while there are some reported hiccups in the installation process, so far iOS 9 is shaping up fine.

If you’re unsure of whether or not you would like to make the jump, fret not, we played around with iOS 9 for a bit and these are some of the more noticeable upgrades and changes that might convince you to put more faith in this than you did in iOS 8.

Overall, we’re looking at a more proactive OS, a smarter Siri, a more powerful Spotlight, some upgrades to the keyboard that are a long time coming, an improved Maps, a stab at Note-taking, minor upgrades to Mail, better support for Apple Pay, longer-lasting battery life, some facelifts, welcomed UI changes and fun upgrades all around.

Proactive Intelligence

Caller Identification – If you get an incoming call from an unknown number but which is associated with an email you already have, iOS 9 connects the dots and lets you know who the caller is. Contact info found in emails will also be automatically added to Contacts.

Caller identification feature in iOS 9 shows you who's calling

Music Preferences – Proactive assistance learns what you listen to at a specific location or time then automatically displays playback controls for your favorite music and/or audio apps.

Favorite Contacts Suggestions – When adding names to an email message, calendar invite or event, iOS 9 will suggest the names of recipients you would most likely add based on your previous interactions.

iOS 9 suggests favorite contacts for emails and events

Automatic Event Addition – When you receive an email with a flight or restaurant reservation, an event addition will be suggested automatically for you.

Flight and Package Tracking – iOS 9 also helps you track flight statuses and package deliveries. Any text referencing relevant info automatically prompts an interactive interface which allows you track the latest status.

Travel Time Reminders – Calendar will tell you when to leave based on traffic conditions and what time your event is. It even prepares the directions to your destination.


Contextual Photo and Video Searches – Siri now understands context in your searches, such as “Show me videos I took at Eva’s birthday party”, with searches organized by dates, locations, and album names.

Reminders Made Easy – Siri aims to become your go-to for reminders. Whether you’re reading an email or planning a route on Maps, you can ask Siri to set a reminder for it, enabling in-app reminder setting.

Siri setting reminders for tasks within apps

Public Transport Directions – For directions via subways, trains, and buses, Siri can now provide the information directly from Maps, available in select major cities.


Sports Updates – Simply type your favorite team’s name into Spotlight Search to receive the latest scores and schedules.

Weather Forecasts – Enter “weather” and a city name in Spotlight to get up-to-date weather forecasts for any location.

Spotlight providing weather forecasts

Stock Market Insights – Typing a company name or ticker symbol into Spotlight brings up the current stock prices instantly.

Math and Conversions – Spotlight can now solve simple math problems and perform conversions directly from the search bar.

Performing math and conversions with Spotlight

Contact Calling – Find contacts through Spotlight and initiate calls, messages, or FaceTime directly.

Deep App Searches – Spotlight extends its search capabilities inside apps, allowing you to find documents and other content based on its contents.

Spotlight conducting deep searches within apps

Multitasking on iPad

Slide Over for Quick App Access – Multitasking on the iPad has been simplified. While browsing, you can easily slide in another app to reply to a text or take notes, enhancing productivity without leaving your current app.

Slide Over feature on iPad for multitasking with a second app

Split View for Simultaneous App Use – With Split View, you can have two apps open side by side on the iPad, adjusting their sizes as needed. This feature supports both Apple and third-party apps, enabling efficient multitasking.

Split View feature on iPad allows two apps to run side by side

Picture-in-Picture Video – Continue FaceTiming or watching videos while working on other tasks. This mode minimizes the video to a corner of your screen, so you can stay connected or entertained without interruption.

Keyboard & Text Editing

Intuitive Text Selection – iOS 9 introduces a more intuitive way to select text. Simply use two fingers to move the cursor anywhere on the iPad’s screen, making text editing significantly easier.

Shortcut Bar for Quick Formatting – The new Shortcut Bar above the keyboard streamlines text formatting. Bold, italicize, underline, copy, and paste quickly with this handy feature, making email and document editing a breeze.

Shortcut Bar above the iPad keyboard for easy text formatting

Desktop-Style Keyboard Shortcuts – iPad users can now leverage keyboard shortcuts similar to those on a desktop. Holding down Command, Option, or Control reveals app-specific shortcuts, enhancing productivity.

New Emoji Flags – Discover a wide array of new Unicode emoji flags in iOS 9. For a complete list of the new country flag emojis, visit Emojipedia.


Enhanced Public Transit Information – Apple Maps now rivals Google Maps by offering detailed public transit information, including lines, station entrances and exits, schedules, and directions, in select major cities.

Discover Nearby Places – The Nearby Places feature is ideal for tourists or newcomers seeking recommendations for dining, drinks, shopping, or attractions in unfamiliar areas.

Discovering nearby places of interest with Apple Maps

Apple Pay Locations Identified – Apple Maps now indicates where Apple Pay is accepted, displaying the Apple Pay mark or contactless symbol at checkout counters.

Personalized Directions – By adding your home and work addresses to Contacts, you can easily navigate to these locations on Maps without entering the full details each time.


Embed Photos and Videos – Enrich your notes by adding photos and videos directly from your camera or photo library, making them more informative and engaging.

Interactive Checklists – Transform your notes into checklists, allowing you to tick off completed tasks for better organization.

Creating checklists with photos in Notes

Sketch Your Ideas – Use your finger to sketch in Notes, with various drawing tools and a ruler for precision, eliminating the need for additional drawing accessories.

Instantly Save to Notes – Easily save interesting finds from any app to Notes via the Share menu, streamlining content collection.

Adding items to Notes for quick reference


Improved Search Functionality – Search through Mail more efficiently with enhanced filters based on sender, recipient, subject, or other criteria.

Faster email search with advanced filters in Mail

Markup Support for Annotations – Annotate images or PDFs in Mail with text, shapes, or your signature without needing to leave the app, thanks to Markup support.

iCloud Drive Integration – Manage email attachments more effectively by saving or adding them directly to iCloud Drive or other document storage solutions.

Managing email attachments with iCloud Drive integration

Apple Pay

Expanded Card Support – Apple Pay has broadened its horizons by including Discover cards, as well as various reward, store credit, and debit cards, making payments more accessible and convenient.

Quicker Checkout Process – Speed up your payment process by double-tapping the Home button from the Lock screen and authenticating with Touch ID, readying Apple Pay for immediate use.

Battery Management

Low Power Mode – Activate Low Power Mode in iOS 9 to significantly reduce battery consumption, offering up to three additional hours of battery life when you need it most.

iOS 9's Low Power Mode for extended battery life

Enhanced Battery Longevity – With new optimizations, iOS 9 ensures your device runs efficiently, extending battery life by an additional hour between charges.

Facedown Detection for Power Saving – By placing your iPhone facedown, the display remains off thanks to the ambient light and proximity sensors, contributing to battery savings.

Detailed Battery Usage Insights – iOS 9 provides a detailed breakdown of battery usage by app, allowing you to identify and manage power-hungry applications more effectively. Navigate to Settings > General > Usage > Battery Usage for a comprehensive view.

Detailed insights into battery usage by apps in iOS 9

UI Enhancements and New Features

Switch to San Francisco Font – iOS 9 transitions from Helvetica to the San Francisco font across the OS for a fresh look. Details on the change can be found here.

Revamped Podcast App – The Podcast app receives a major redesign, simplifying the discovery of new episodes and alerting you when new episodes of your favorite shows are available.

Newly designed Podcast app in iOS 9

Easy Return to Spotlight – A new shortcut allows you to quickly return to Spotlight after launching an app from it.

Swipe Down to Exit Photos – Easily return to the Camera Roll by swiping down on a photo.

Pinch-to-Zoom in Videos – Zoom into videos for a closer look directly in the Photos app with a simple pinch gesture.

Updated App Switcher – The new App Switcher design features a coverflow effect and eliminates the previously included “recent and favorite contacts” feature.

Coverflow effect in iOS 9's App Switcher

Photo Scrubber – Quickly navigate through your photos with the newly added scrubber in the Photos app.

Enhanced Photo Selection – Select multiple photos with ease by sliding your finger across them after tapping “Select” in the Camera Roll.

Hide Photos in Bulk – iOS 9 allows you to hide multiple photos simultaneously. Simply select photos in Moments, choose Share > Share this moment, and then select Hide.

Settings Search Function – Save time by using the new search feature in the Settings app to quickly locate specific settings.

Customizable Side Switch – The Side Switch can now be configured to either lock the screen orientation or mute the device.

Message Option for Missed FaceTime Calls – Leave a message if the person you’re calling via FaceTime doesn’t answer.

Option to leave a message on a missed FaceTime call

Option to Disable Shake to Undo – If you prefer not to use the Shake to Undo feature, disable it under Settings > General > Accessibility > Shake to Undo.

Voicemail Sharing – iOS 9 introduces the ability to share voicemails, offering more flexibility in how you manage your voice messages.

Additional iOS 9 Features

Seamless Android to iOS Transition – Apple’s first Android app facilitates an easy switch from Android to iOS, transferring contacts, message histories, photos, videos, bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, and potentially your app library.

Enhanced AssistiveTouch Customization – Customize the Assistive Touch menu by adding up to two more icons for improved accessibility and convenience.

iCloud Drive App Introduction – The iCloud Drive App offers an organized cloud storage solution, automatically appearing on the Home Screen after installation. It supports searches by date, name, or tags. Toggle its visibility via Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive > “Show on Home Screen”.

iCloud Drive app for organized cloud storage in iOS 9

Reader Mode Enhancements in Safari – Safari’s Reader Mode now includes options to customize font, size, and background color for a personalized reading experience.

Reduced Size of Software Updates – iOS 9 aims to reduce the storage space required for updates, offering options for later installation.

Introduction of the News App – The News app allows you to read, share, and save articles from newspapers, magazines, and blogs for offline reading.

Expanded WiFi Calling – Make calls from your iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac over WiFi without needing an iPhone nearby.

WiFi Assist Feature – iOS 9 automatically switches to cellular data when WiFi connectivity is poor, ensuring uninterrupted internet access.

Enhanced Security with Six-Digit Passcodes – Moving from four to six digits for passcodes offers a significant increase in security, especially for non-Touch ID users.

Enhanced security with six-digit numeric passcodes in iOS 9

Two-Factor Authentication Support – iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan enhance security with two-factor authentication, requiring a verification code for new sign-ins on unrecognized devices or browsers.

Note: This post was first published on September 18, 2015.