iOS 9 is coming, soon. For the first time, Apple released a public BETA, giving thousands of consumers the chance to install iOS 9 and help weed out any issues before its full release in September/October. Whilst our developers have been busy testing and building apps against iOS 9, we wanted to share some of our favourite features of Apple’s latest mobile operating system:
1. MarkUp in Email: MarkUp is a feature that lets you add signatures, make notes, do drawings or add a zoom to parts of a document or image. This is a potentially killer feature for Apple Mail, cutting the number of steps users need to take to make edits to PDFs or documents dramatically. Apple didn’t announce this feature on stage, yet from a business perspective, it’s probably one of the most useful features for people on the move.
For example, when you receive an email with a PDF that you need to fill in and sign, you can now do this much more easily than you could before. In the past, a user would have to use a separate app, such as Notability, that they’d need to open the attachment in, make edits on and then reattach to an email. Now, it can be done directly within Mail by long pressing on the attachment you want to amend and then the markup tools.
2. Decoupled Wi-Fi Calling: If a user has an iPhone and other Apple devices, using the same Apple ID, they are currently able to make and receive calls if they are nearby and on the same Wi-Fi network. With iOS 9, your iPhone doesn’t have to be nearby or connected to Wi-Fi. This means that, as long as the iPad, Apple Watch or Mac are connected to Wi-Fi, users will still be able to make and receive calls from their other Apple devices. Essentially, this is decoupling the phone from other Apple devices, meaning that you could be standing on a tube platform, with your phone on your desk and make or receive calls via Wi-Fi on your iPad, Mac or Apple Watch.
From an enterprise perspective, we see this being an important improvement for iOS 9 and other devices running Apple’s software. For example, this means that engineers can leave their phones in lockers or their cars and use Apple Watch or an iPad as their primary device, so long as a Wi-Fi network is available. It could also signal that the upcoming (rumoured) Apple TV may also include the ability to make and receive phone calls – something that could be useful for the thousands of businesses who have Apple TV in boardrooms (granted, they’d need to upgrade to the latest hardware).
3. Suggested Caller ID: iOS 9 is able to suggest who may be calling based on previous interaction with a caller. For example, if you’ve received emails from someone and it contains their phone number, iOS 9 uses that information to suggest who is calling. It’s a feature that so far has worked very well and has proved to be extremely useful.
This feature is going to be huge for business users, helping them to see who is calling if they haven’t added the caller to their contacts.
4. New Notes App: The new Notes app is in another league compared to its predecessor. Whilst some features such as ‘sharednotes’ would be useful from an enterprise, friend or family perspective, the ability to add checklists, do drawings and all of the other enhancements, turns this into a totally different type of app. This comes at a time when Evernote is increasingly pushing users to its premium features.
For business users, the new notes app should prove to be a hugely powerful and useful tool. In many ways, it’s the perfect hybrid app of digital and physical – thanks to its ability to easily contain digital drawings or take photos of physical notes. ODR text scan recognition would be a further future improvement we’d love to see, converting physical text into digital.
5. New Maps app: With iOS 9, Maps receives some major upgrades with the introduction of transit information to the app.
Maps now works with Calendar to let you know when to leave for meetings, based on traffic conditions and journey times. This has been on Android for a while, thanks to Google Now, but the addition to iOS helps to make Maps that bit more useful. Whilst transit is limited at the moment, it will improve over the coming few years.
6. Everything iPad: As we’ve discussed before, iOS 9 transforms the iPad into something infinitely more useful and just better in every single way. In many ways,iOS 9 is all about making the iPad a more compelling product and it achieves this. There are enough scenarios where an iPad is the perfect device to have with you. Post-iOS 9, business users could happily get through a business trip with just their iPad.
Of course, to get the most out of the new features to the iPad, people will need the iPad Air 2 or above – but that’s exactly what Apple needs at the moment.
7. Siri and Proactive: With iOS 9, Apple is introducing the biggest upgrade to Siri and search. Now, you’re able to say to Siri, play ‘the top songs from 1986’ and with Apple Music, it will start playing that. The phone is also better at learning your habits. Apple has reintroduced the search bar with a left swipe. This brings up a screen showing the people, apps and possible searches for things you may want to discover on a map nearby, based on your usage, the time of day and other contextual cues.
Part of this contextual intelligence also means that if you tend to listen to podcasts on your commute to work, when you put in your headphones, the phone will suggest that you open the podcast app. Across iOS 9, everything can be made searchable. Though this only works with Apple’s apps during the beta, every developer should want to make sure that, if a user searches for a term, their app would come up in the results. Search will look across your phone to find exactly what you’re looking for, even if you don’t have the app installed (developers can control what is searchable and of course, sensitive information wouldn’t appear).
As we discussed last week, the idea that you buy into an ecosystem, rather than into products is more pronounced than ever. iOS 9, watchOS2 and El Capitan (the 2015 update to OSX, the software that runs on Macs) reinforces this point. Living within Apple’s ecosystem with these new updates makes your life that bit easier and that bit more convenient. At the end of the day, this is what good technology is – making the life easier for the user.
By just upgrading to these new OSes, business users will gain extra efficiencies – for free. This is without taking into account how developers or companies can make their own apps more powerful with the new features coming to iOS 9, or the major improvements Apple is bringing to businesses for managing deploying apps and devices.