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Review: iOS 9 delivers polish and stability

Michael deAgonia | Sept. 17, 2015
Apple's free update to its mobile OS delivers relevant information, smarter search and better security.

Siri has learned a bunch of new tricks and sassy retorts, too. (Try asking her to divide zero by zero.) In iOS 9, Siri can be used to control lights and appliances, look up sports and movie data, read and write email and messages, answer questions, create reminders, and find information and directions about businesses. To find out more about what Siri can do, Apple's site has a list of the commands Siri recognizes.

The "Hey, Siri" functionality has been tweaked; previously, speaking aloud the phrase "Hey, Siri" when the iPhone was plugged in prompted Apple's virtual assistant to listen for your commands. In iOS 9, this feature is turned off by default; to enable it, you have to go through a quick training session in which the phone learns your voice.

Being proactive

iOS 9 now offers a lot more proactive results, with some system apps now trying to anticipate courses of action. If you receive an email that contains contact information or an invitation in the body of the message, Mail will suggest Calendar or Contact entries based on what it finds. Maps will display a notification in the lock screen when you enter your car and provide current traffic information to your destination (and will try to anticipate the destination based on your previous driving history).

And your last-played media app is brought to the forefront on the lock screen when the iPhone detects that headphones are plugged in or that the phone is connected to a Bluetooth device. And your schedule will be tracked, so if you consistently listen to podcasts on the drive to work but like to unwind with Pandora on the way back, the iPhone will learn and anticipate that behavior.

Calendar entries can be set to remind you when to leave for a destination based on current driving conditions. And when a call is received from a number that isn't in your contacts, the phone looks through previous emails and messages to find any numbers that may match. If so, it'll display a suggestion about who might be calling underneath the unfamiliar number.

Mind the apps

iOS 9 has a host of new and improved apps, with Maps being a standout. Its Transit app now offers detailed line and station information for buses, subways, ferries and trains in select cities (U.S. cities include Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.).

ios9 maps
Maps volunteers driving directions en route; also provides alternatives, if there are any (left).  Maps also adds detailed transit information in select cities, pooling into one source line and station information for buses, subways, ferries and trains (right).


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