October 17, 2015

iOS 9 Niceties

We’ve had iOS 9 on our iPhones and iPads for a few weeks now. Overall it was a good update. I still haven’t taken advantage of all the additions, but here are my thoughts. If you have the time and energy go ahead and read Viticci’s mega review.


I use an iPhone 6. iOS 9 has been nice, but it honestly doensn’t feel like a lot has changed. I enjoy the new San Fransico system font. Helvetica felt bland. If an app offers San Francisco I use it. We will see how long it takes me to switch back to Avenir.

The predictive features of iOS 9 have not impressed me yet. It is nice that I can swipe right from my home screen and have access to my fantasy football app right away. If iOS 9 were really “smart” it would only show the app on Thursdays, Sundays, & Mondays. It shows it in my top app list all of the time. Maybe it will get better at “learning” as the season goes on.

I have found the text selection on the iPhone to be improved. Resting my finger on the screen near a word now makes the assumption that I want to select that word. However, I have noticed that the cut/copy box fails to appear a lot of the time. I end up having to select it multiple times. So, while it is much easier to select a word in iOS 9, I don’t think it has actually saved me any time.

When a notification takes you out of an app into another app iOS 9 gives you a nice little link in the upper left corner to take you back to the original app. I use it all the time. It is way better than double-tapping the home button to switch back. That feature is a big plus for me.


Most of the iPad-centric features for iOS 9 are for the fancy new iPads. I am still on an iPad 3… that is the first iPad with a retina screen… the one that was only “new” for 6 months before they released the faster iPad 4 in the fall with a lightning port. The iPad 3 handled the transition from iOS 6 to 7 quite well. Last year the switch to iOS 8 was not so great. Everything seemed to run slower. It felt “bogged down”. I did not hesitate to upgrade to iOS 9. I didn’t think it would make things any worse. So far so good. iOS 9 runs well on my old hardware. It still feels a little slow, but it is able to accomplish everything I need. I do wish I could run the new multi-tasking and picture-in-picture, but I think I am going to wait for new iPads next fall to upgrade. Hopefully they will get the 3D Touch functions as well.

iOS 9 brought 2 updates to my old iPad that may seem small, but have proven to be huge for me. I use my iPad with a keyboard connected most of the time while I am sitting at my desk. iOS 9 added the ability to command+tab to switch through apps. It is amazing! No more double-tapping the home button. I can easy toggle through the 3 or 4 apps I use throughout the day. It makes the experience so much better. It was always cumbersome to have to reach up to the screen to 4-finger swipe or double tap the home button.

Another minor, but awesome, update changed the messages app so when you hit enter on a physical keyboard it sends the message instead of entering down to a new line. Before iOS 9 I had to tap the send button on the screen. Hitting “enter” to send messages is a game-changer.

Other Improvements

We got a new Notes app with the iOS update. I didn’t use the Notes app before, and the update would have to be pretty good to convert me from using Drafts for all of my quick notes. I dig it out of the folder it was buried in last week and have it on my 2nd screen. I’m using it to organize a few small projects at home. It is very easy to save a link to an existing note. So far I am me joint it. I think it was a great update.

I’ve heard a lot about the Siri improvements. From her introduction I have loved the idea of Siri, but in practice I have never found it compelling. I don’t have a ton of scenarios where I want to talk outloud to my phone. I doubt I will start using Siri much more now.

Ultimately iOS 9 makes my year old phone feel a little fresher and adds some nice improvements. The keyboard shortcuts on the iPad is my favorite change. Apple didn’t make a lot of visual changes but the ones they did make felt natural just a couple weeks in. The case switching on the software keyboard even feels “normal” now.

Filed Under: ,