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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.

The Search field in the Maps app has also been updated with pre-populated search categories (similar to the Search section that's to the left of the Home Screen). These categories show up over a text list of recent locations.

As noted, Maps tries to anticipate your destination and arrival time based on recent history when the phone detects you've entered a car. And during turn-by-turn navigation, Siri will now automatically volunteer details about what is causing a backup, even offering alternative routes if there are any.

Another app that has gotten a host of new improvements is Notes. It is now a lot more versatile, with the built-in keyboard sporting a new toolbar with formatting options for text, as well as checklist creation, Camera and Photo library access, and a sketch mode. On the iPhone, this menu can be accessed by pressing the + button on the right, just above the Predictive Text bar; on the iPad, the Undo, Checklist and text formatting apps sit on the keyboard just to the left of three Predictive Text entries, while Camera and Photo Library access and sketch are the right of the Predictive Text entries.

What do those buttons do? The Text button allows formatting for basic bold, underline and italics, as well as titles, heading, body and a few list options. The Checklist creation button lets you create lists, including the ability to check them off as they're completed. The Camera avatar let you easily place photos in Notes by either taking a picture using Camera or plucking the photo from Photo Library, and the Sketch mode allows for sketching in a note with your finger, using a variety of tools and colors.

It's now easier than ever to add entries into Notes via the Share button. And Notes supports Safari links, including small previews. Just like Messages, Notes lets you view all attachments in one place via the Attachment Browser. And, of course, any changes to Notes are automatically synced across your other devices, Macs included.

In iOS 9, HealthKit has received a few decent updates. Some categories, such as Sleep, are now sorted under different colors. More importantly, HealthKit now supports entries for water intake, sedentary state, UV exposure, and the new Reproductive Health category. There's a new toggle under the Health Data selection that lets you view a day's worth of data collection in one location. You can toggle this view on by tapping Calendar under Health Data in the Health app.

The Passbook app is now called Wallet, but the job remains the same: It's a one-stop location for movie tickets, coupons, boarding passes, credit cards and loyalty cards. In iOS 9, Wallet support has expanded to include more retailers, including BJs, Kohl's, JC Penney and Walgreens, with upcoming support for the Dunkin Donuts loyalty card.


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