WWDC 2015

Mul­ti­task­ing, money and more in iOS 9

Mac Format - - THE BIG STORY -

Prior to WWDC 2015, the ru­mour mill had gone largely silent on iOS 9. The smart money was on iPhones and iPads get­ting an up­date akin to 2009’s OS X up­grade, Snow Leop­ard. In other words, it would be all about boost­ing ef­fi­ciency, power and speed, but not ex­actly de­liver an abun­dance of shiny new fea­tures.

But it turns out we’re ac­tu­ally go­ing to get the best of both worlds. If iOS 9 lives up to Ap­ple’s prom­ises, it will be an up­date that, in the com­pany’s own words, will “el­e­vate the foun­da­tions of the plat­form”, along with of­fer­ing new apps and fea­tures to greatly im­prove your iOS ex­pe­ri­ence – whether you’re us­ing an iPhone or an iPad.

More power?

On watch­ing the WWDC key­note, it some­times felt like Ap­ple Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent of Soft­ware En­gi­neer­ing Craig Fed­erighi was check­ing off wish-list items supplied by a hive mind of iOS de­vice own­ers. Faster and more re­spon­sive apps are on the way, due to them tak­ing bet­ter ad­van­tage of your de­vice’s CPU and GPU, and Spotlight search has been over­hauled to be proac­tive and in­tel­li­gent in re­sponse to your needs.

Welcome boosts are com­ing to bat­tery life. By op­ti­mis­ing for real-world sce­nar­ios, ef­fi­cien­cies across the en­tire op­er­at­ing sys­tem, and some added in­tel­li­gence (for ex­am­ple, an iPhone when face down won’t turn on its dis­play), a typ­i­cal iPhone run­ning iOS 9 is claimed to last for an ex­tra hour be­fore it needs recharg­ing, very welcome in­deed!

iOS 9 fea­tures a new Low Power mode. A sin­gle tap, ac­cord­ing to Fed­erighi, “pulls levers you didn’t even know ex­isted”, pro­vid­ing up to an ad­di­tional three hours of ex­tended bat­tery life. On oc­ca­sions where your iPhone has seen heavy use, this might be enough to get you through the rest of the day, with only mi­nor com­pro­mises to your de­vice’s us­abil­ity.

Some of the in­com­ing changes are more vis­i­ble. Se­cu­rity will be en­hanced, bet­ter pro­tect­ing your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion and con­tent. Pass­codes on de­vices with Touch ID en­abled will have six rather than four dig­its, mak­ing them tougher to crack. Else­where, two-fac­tor au­then­ti­ca­tion will fur­ther lock down your de­vice, re­quir­ing a ver­i­fi­ca­tion code when you sign in from a new browser or on a new de­vice.

We cover the big­gest iPad change on iOS 9, namely split-view mul­ti­task­ing, in the box-out be­low. But if you spend a lot of time typ­ing, you’re go­ing to love the new key­board. The Quick­Type key­board aug­ments the ex­ist­ing sug­ges­tions bar with tap­pable but­tons for cut, copy and paste, and for ac­cess­ing text

for­mat­ting, at­tach­ments and im­ages. Edit­ing speed is fur­ther boosted by the key­board be­com­ing a vir­tual track­pad of sorts when touch­ing it with two fin­gers; in this mode, you can move the cur­sor, make se­lec­tions, use cut and paste, and drag items around a doc­u­ment.

If you pre­fer hook­ing up a phys­i­cal key­board, iOS 9 helps you dis­cover built-in key­board short­cuts (de­vel­op­ers can also add their own), and Ap­ple’s in­cluded some for Spotlight search and an app-switcher that will be fa­mil­iar to any­one who has used a Mac. And in a move that de­serves a ‘fi­nally’, keys on your key­board are in lower case un­til Shift is ac­ti­vated. So there’ll be no more play­ing ‘cap­i­tal let­ter lottery’, giv­ing up, ac­ti­vat­ing Caps Lock, and JUST TYP­ING LIKE YOU’RE AL­WAYS VERY AN­GRY. (That last change is avail­able on iPhone, too.)

Maps goes public with trans­port

Two ex­ist­ing apps are get­ting ma­jor up­dates in iOS 9. The first, Maps, had a rocky start, but has no­tice­ably im­proved since its launch in 2012’s iOS 6. Dur­ing the key­note, it was re­vealed the app now gets five bil­lion user re­quests per week and has us­age 3.5 times higher than the “next most-used map­ping app” on iOS (which we as­sume is Google Maps). How­ever, Ap­ple’s fo­cus is now shift­ing be­yond roads and highways, with a Transit view that em­pha­sises public trans­port lines, sta­tions and stops.

Tap a sta­tion and you can see what lines run through it, along with de­par­ture times. When trav­el­ling, Maps pro­vides multi-modal rout­ing. Fed­erighi said Ap­ple’s taken spe­cial care to get the de­tails right. For ex­am­ple, an un­der­ground/ sub­way sta­tion is not just a fixed-point but a huge un­der­ground struc­ture. Ap­ple has care­fully sur­veyed en­trances and ex­its to send you di­rectly to the right one. That could well be the dif­fer­ence be­tween catch­ing a train or not.

When you’ve time to kill, a new Nearby fea­ture help­fully lists lo­cal eater­ies.

Ini­tially, though, Transit isn’t nearly as com­pre­hen­sive as Google Maps. It’s lim­ited to spe­cific cities – over 300 in China, but only ten else­where: Bal­ti­more, Ber­lin, Chicago, Lon­don, Mexico City, New York, Philadelphia, San Fran­cisco, Toronto and Washington, D.C. On Twit­ter, free­lance jour­nal­ist Charles Arthur con­firmed that, at the time of writ­ing, Transit doesn’t seem to know sta­tions that don’t con­nect to Lon­don. Our hope is the fea­ture will ex­pand rapidly.

Notes be­comes note­wor­thy

Notes is also re­ceiv­ing ma­jor changes. The main tool­bar boasts two new but­tons: a wig­gly line and a cam­era. (The share but­ton’s been moved to the top-right.) Tap the cam­era and you can em­bed im­ages di­rectly into your notes; the wig­gly line is used to kick off free-form sketches. You get a range of brush styles and colours, along with a ruler for draw­ing straight lines.

If you’re keener on us­ing Notes in a more tra­di­tional man­ner (that is, typ­ing), there are im­prove­ments there, too. Text can be set in bold, italic or un­der­line, and be for­mat­ted with ti­tles and head­ings. You can add check­lists as well, check­ing off items with a sin­gle tap.

Links also get a ma­jor boost, mov­ing them be­yond browser-style un­der­lined text. Now you can em­bed links from Sa­fari by us­ing the Share sheet. This cre­ates a smartly for­mat­ted lozenge that dis­plays the web page’s ti­tle and do­main, along with a thumb­nail of what you were look­ing at. For faster ac­cess to such web-page links – along with photos and map links – there’s a new at­tach­ments view; tap an item and you get right back to the note in which it’s stored.

The two new apps

It looks like iOS 9 will have two en­tirely new apps – sort of. One, iCloud Drive, was dis­cov­ered by 9to5­Mac and ap­pears to be a means of ac­cess­ing the iOS Doc­u­ment Picker with­out hav­ing to open an app that sup­ports it. It’s hid­den by de­fault, but ac­ti­vated in Set­tings > iCloud > iCloud Drive. 9to5­Mac said no con­tent loaded when the pub­li­ca­tion tried to use it, per­haps ex­plain­ing its omis­sion from the WWDC demos.

Con­versely, Ap­ple’s new News app looked very much the com­plete ar­ti­cle. It re­sem­bles Flip­board, in that you tell it what you’re in­ter­ested in – by topic or pub­li­ca­tion – and it fash­ions a per­son­alised dig­i­tal mag­a­zine, which is suit­ably ac­cessed us­ing the ‘For You’ tab. Ap­ple claimed the best sto­ries will be cre­ated in its new Ap­ple News for­mat, de­tails of which were un­avail­able at the time of writ­ing. When de­moed, it ap­peared to re­sem­ble one of those ‘spe­cial re­port’ web pages, with rich ty­pog­ra­phy, nice-look­ing gal­leries and swooshy an­i­ma­tions.

The News app will start out in the USA, UK and Aus­tralia, and Ap­ple ar­gues that there’s “never been a more beau­ti­ful mag­a­zine-read­ing ex­pe­ri­ence”. Pub­lish­ers might dis­agree, but Ap­ple’s reach will cer­tainly give ri­vals pause for thought, and users will be grate­ful for Ap­ple’s stance on pri­vacy – un­like cer­tain other news ag­gre­ga­tors, what you read in News isn’t shared with other ser­vices and third par­ties.

With WWDC be­ing a devel­oper con­fer­ence, iOS 9 also had plenty to ex­cite at­ten­dees. New gam­ing frame­works were an­nounced: Game­playKit for AI and pathfind­ing; Model I/O for beau­ti­ful light­ing of 3D ob­jects; and Re­playKit for record­ing and shar­ing game­play. HealthKit will track ad­di­tional met­rics, such as re­pro­duc­tive health, hy­dra­tion and UV. CarPlay will sup­port wire­less con­nec­tions and apps de­vel­oped by car man­u­fac­tur­ers. And pro­gram­ming lan­guage Swift re­ceived a bunch of op­ti­mi­sa­tions and new fea­tures, be­fore Ap­ple sur­prised ev­ery­one by mak­ing it open source.

Com­ing soon…

iOS 9 will be avail­able this au­tumn, and will be com­pat­i­ble with all de­vices that can run iOS 8. As al­ways, the up­grade will be free, and in a first for iOS, there will be a public beta in July (see page 21). Another first is a new An­droid mi­gra­tion tool to as­sist switch­ers. If you’re res­o­lutely Ap­ple-only, it’s welcome news that un­like the hefty 4.6GB of free space re­quired to up­grade to iOS 8, you’ll only need 1.3GB avail­able on your de­vice to in­stall iOS 9.

iOS 9 will work with all de­vices that can run iOS 8, and you’ll only need 1.3GB free space to in­stall it

The latest ver­sion of iOS looks much like the pre­vi­ous two, but a cou­ple of new icons hint at new fea­tures, and there are plenty of changes to boost your pro­duc­tiv­ity and ef­fi­ciency.

In iOS 9, Maps will work bet­ter for com­muters who are de­pen­dent on public trans­port, although the list of cities out­side of China for which this is avail­able is re­ported to be short at this stage.

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