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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.

If you own one of those iPads, you can also take advantage of picture-in-picture support for FaceTime calls and when watching videos. To activate, press the Home Button or tap the new shrink icon within the video, and the video shrinks while continuing to play, floating above the other apps.

split screen on ipad
One of iOS 9’s new features for the iPad -- and likely to be popular with iPad Pro owners -- is the split-screen view that allows you to run two apps at the same time. This Split Screen shows the Safari browser (left) and the Maps app (right).

And if you use an iPad Air 2 (or the upcoming iPad Pro), you can pull an app to the center of the screen and the iPad will create a split-screen view of both apps. This view is perfect for, say, researching topics while writing reviews. To leave split screen and go back to the traditional full screen view, just pull the dividing border from the center of the screen all the way to the right or left, depending on which app you want to remain.

These changes open up new and powerful ways to use the device without introducing interface clutter. Apple isn't the first to the split-screen party; for iPad users, it's a case of better late than never.

There are a slew of other changes as well. The letters on the virtual keyboard change from lowercase to uppercase to reflect what the user is doing and the menu bar shows the name of the last app used in the upper left corner if a tap in one app brings you to another.

And there are security upgrades. iCloud services now support two-factor authentication, and devices equipped with Touch ID now require a minimum of six digits for the passcode rather than four.

When developers write their apps using standard network frameworks, iOS will enforce best practice for secure transmissions, which is currently set as TLS 1.2 and forward secrecy. And while talk of implementing IPv6 as a default has been around for a long time now, it is now an App Store requirement.

Bottom line

iOS 9 delivers on the attributes Apple is already well known for: innovation, solid design, stability and performance. Given all of the welcome additions, what is most remarkable is how fluid and responsive the OS remains. The fact that it works on devices that are now several years old is a boon, and for those with newer hardware, it's a clear winner.


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