Apple unveiled iOS 9 during this month’s WWDC 2015 as expected and anyone (with or without) a developer account can now download iOS 9 beta 1. It’s not a significant overhaul like iOS 7, but there are some key updates to consider.

This is the first time that Apple has released the full beta version of iOS to the general public (official release this fall). Unlike previous versions, iOS 9 is far more intelligent and is able to deliver important updates to apps that are used most often. Further, more intelligence and features will be added to Siri, there will be transit directions on Apple Maps, new loyalty cards for Apple Pay, and multitasking will be also be enabled.

Common complaints like battery drain by iPhone users (especially those using a new operating system on an old device) have been resolved as iOS 9 is expected to offer an extra hour of battery life. Further, if you’re on a low-power mode, this will also help extend the life of the battery. But the overall memory footprint of iOS will be reduced to 1.3 gigabytes from 4.6 gigabytes (depending on the device).

For developers these improvements and the new framework of iOS 9 will have a considerable impact. Further, game developers in particular will have 3 new frameworks that have been included in the iOS 9 developer stack (GameplayKit, Model I/O and ReplayKit).

Discovering the new features and peculiarities took some in-depth investigation. Here’s what I found out about the new iOS 9:

Apple Passbook Gets Rebranded

Apple Pay does not have any significant improvements, but the biggest news is that it’s entering new markets in Europe (Apple Pay has partnered with some of the biggest banks in the United Kingdom). The Apple Passbook will now be rebranded as “Wallet” and it will allow brand specific cards, store loyalty, and allow Apple Pay transactions.

Apple News Gets Revamped

The Newsstand didn’t have the kind of success that was expected when it was released in 2011. It was supposed to be like a digital storefront and it was expected to revolutionize the publishing industry. However, this never happened.

Apple is giving it another go with an app called News. Further, Condé Nast, ESPN, and New York Times have already signed up as partners.

Apple Maps in Transit

Transit routes will now be available on Apple Maps in iOS 9 (for iPhone, iPad, and Mac OS X). Now users can expect to see different routes and lines from train stations and buses. Integrated with Siri voice search, you’ll get multi-modal directions for walking, buses, and trains.

CarPlay Gets Wireless

CarPlay will now connect wirelessly to the car’s infotainment system. It is expected to happen via Bluetooth and will run all the applications that the user has enabled. Now, you can expect different screens for different audio apps and car manufacturer apps.

HomeKit Develops Sensitivity

In iOS 9, HomeKit will now have support sensors, security systems, and window shades. Further, HomeKit-enabled devices will now be accessible via an iPhone or an iPad through Apple’s iCloud. This will enable remote control through any Apple device.

Siri Gets Smarter

As stated earlier, Siri is going to be a lot smarter. Although Apple was the first to introduce a digital assistant, they have fallen far behind the competition (Google & Microsoft). As a result, iOS 9 will make Siri quite similar to Cortana and Google to stay relevant.

Developers will now have an API search option when working on Siri and this is the first time that Siri has been completely opened to developers (Siri used to be open to only a select few Apple partners).

The Siri API search will now allow deep linking content within apps along with a “back” button Siri search (this is like Google Now). Siri will also now do reminders based on the user (based on context).

Split-Screen & Multitasking

iPad users have been demanding split screen functionality for years and iOS 9 delivers just that. Now you can have a split view of 2 apps that are open at the same time. You can also swipe (from the right) to enable a smaller view of the app using Slide Over and you can also have picture-in-picture while you’re using other apps.

What is disappointing about this is the fact that it will only be available on newer iPads. Currently, Split View is expected to work only on the iPad Air 2. Further, Slide Over will only be supported on the following devices:

  • iPad mini 2
  • iPad mini 3
  • iPad Air
  • iPad Air 2

Swift Goes Open Source

One of the key announcements at the WWDC 2015 was about the Swift programming language is becoming open source. This turn of events will now attract loads developers as they can now add specific capabilities to the programming stack.

Swift 2 will also come with a code compiler along with new developer libraries for Linux, iOS, and OS X. Swift 2 is also compatible with iOS 8 and iOS 9-enabled devices.

Task Switch

Both iPhone and iPad users can expect full screen functionality with Task Switch. It’s a big part of the all the new multitasking tools available on iOS 9. Developers can expect to get it work almost automatically if they have set up iOS’s Autolayout and size classes’ designer features that Apple released in iOS 7.

This is expected to significantly increase the adoption of Autolayout and size classes among app developers.

All these changes to OS will impact how apps are developed. As anyone with or without a developer account can download iOS 9 beta 1 without having their device’s UDID registered with Apple, it’s a great way for developers and non-developers to jump in there and play with the new features before anyone else!

What is the most revolutionary feature in iOS 9 for you? What should developers care about the most? Let us know your impressions in the Comments sections below.

Andrew Zola is a freelance writer, designer, and artist working in branding and marketing for over ten years. He is a contributor to various publications with a focus on new technology and marketing.

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