A Few Thoughts on iOS 9

After spending a few days roaming the streets nearby WWDC and drinking interesting beverages with developer friends, I’ve got a few thoughts on iOS 9. I’m not going to summarize the new features since Apple does a dandy job of explaining it right here. I’ve not loaded iOS 9 yet, and probably wont for at least a few weeks but lack of experience never stopped me in the past.

About a More Proactive iOS

  • Apple is clearly moving toward iOS predicting and giving you data and information in a more contextual way. Based on existing data and history, your iPhone can now remind you to call your mom and when you need to leave for your next appointment.
  • This has traditionally been Google’s strong suit (and still is). Nevertheless, I’m happy to see Apple moving that direction too.
  • Apple clearly has a narrative about the difference between Google and them in this space: Apple performs the services locally and preserves your security. Google does this work on its servers and relies on the data to feed their ad business.
  • I think Google will continue to be better at this. Having outside servers scrub through this data sucks for personal privacy but is more efficient than having the user’s devices do the work.
  • I’m not sure how much Apple’s message concerning privacy will resonate. In my experience a lot of people don’t care about privacy in this context enough to make it a deciding factor.
  • Search my email to attach a name to an unknown phone number: brilliant.
  • Ultimately, I think as the hardware gets better and faster, both Apple and Google will only make these predictive assistance services better.
  • Part of me is fascinated with this new feature. Part of me wonders if this is something only the nerds care about. I’m really curious to see what my less technically-savvy friends think of this.

About Siri and Search Improvements …

  • Bring them on. If you are not using Siri, you really should be.
  • I’m not sure what I think about the new (old) paradigm of swiping to the far left for search and other improved Spotlight-ish features. This is one I’ll have to try out first.
  • I think suggested Apps is a great idea. Here is something that I’d love to see get smart, like showing me OmniFocus in the morning and Netflix in the evening based on my past usage.

About Apple Wallet …

  • Renaming Passbook seems obvious, and planned, in hindsight.
  • Adding loyalty cards looks like a great idea though it is not clear whether vendors need to specifically opt in or not. Hopefully not.

About Those New iPad Features …

  • One of the reason people don’t buy new iPads is because the older ones are still working just fine. Split View requires an iPad Air 2 or whatever other new and shiny thing Apple releases later this year. This is the first time I’m aware of since Siri that you’ll need to update an iPad to get a feature. Moreover, split view is a really handy feature. I expect this will result in many existing iPad users updating hardware.
  • Slide-Over feels overdue but I really like the implementation. The way you can switch between slide-over apps moving up and down strikes me as one of those interactions that appears obvious but was probably a ton of work to sort out while in development.
  • There was a lot of time spent talking about the keyboard/trackpad feature, which is great. Placing a cursor in iOS with your finger is so much slower than a trackpad. So long as this works, it’s a huge win.
  • The Keynote didn’t particularly emphasize it but I think the additional support for a hardware keyboard is a big deal too. The application switcher just seems like a natural. Do note that using a hardware keyboard you’ll still need to lift your fingers to place the cursor. In this way, the built-in keyboard will actually be faster.
  • I have a hard time thinking about using picture-in-picture with a 7 or even 10 inch iPad. However, with an even larger iPad it seems quite useful. File that one away for a few months.

About the New Apple Notes …

  • I thought the Notes App was relegated to the same amount of priority that the Stocks and Weather Apps have. I was wrong there. It’s pretty nice seeing Apple try to improve on this app, which I’d given up on long ago.
  • I’d really like to know if Notes is still syncing via IMAP (which is slow and clunky). I’ve asked around to Apple and Developer friends and still not got a straight answer.
  • It’s hard for me to believe in an application that started out with Marker Felt as the default font but Notes has come a long way.
  • The application user interface elements seem spooky-similar to Vesper. Maybe I’m reading too much into this but I’m looking forward to comparing them when I get the beta loaded.
  • The interface for sketching notes would be even slicker if the Apple iOS hardware had force touch features (especially iPad). File this one away until the updated hardware announcements in the fall and I suspect the other penny will drop.
  • The notes space is so full on iOS. I think that is partly because Apple never really took a leadership role on Notes apps from the beginning on iOS. Nevertheless, this seems interesting and a potential competitor to other players. It could be really compelling if the integration with the rest of iOS is as slick as Apple claims. Color me interested.

About That News App…

  • I have more questions than answers about this.
  • There is still very little details about advertising. Big media companies are not going to turn their content over without a monetization strategy.
  • love that they featured Daring Fireball, a blog, in the same vein as other traditional publishers in the Keynote.
  • This effort feels like a fresh start after the initial failed experiment with Newsstand. This is one I think we’ll all need to see roll out before we know if News is any more successful than its predecessor.

About Performance Improvements …

  • I’m not the first person to note this but the idea that software tweaks can add an hour of battery life is golden.
  • They’ve added the Metal graphics acceleration so the entire user interface moves faster with animation, scrolling, and the works. Nice.
  • There isn’t a lot of information about performance upgrades but I suspect there is a lot more than they care to talk about. With all of the big new features, I’m certain they are tightening down a lot of pieces this year and using a lot of bug spray.


  • I don’t think the new round of iOS changes is particularly surprising. It’s not as drastic as iOS 8 and with good reason.
  • I was suprprised at the lengths they’ve gone to make the iPad more productivity-friendly. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t. It’s time these changes showed up on the iPad and they have the additional benefit of selling more iPads.
  • My other big surprise was Notes. I never saw that coming. However, the fact that I’m writing about the Notes app at all gives you an idea of the more limited scope of changes in iOS 9.