Every September, Apple holds a flagship event at which it reveals new models of iPhones. And this year didn’t disappoint, with the introduction of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. But a second, lower profile announcement during the same event will be more meaningful to a larger audience beyond consumers interested in a new phone. We’re talking about the arrival of Apple’s new version of its mobile operating system, or iOS 9, which can be installed on older iPhones and iPads. So, if you’re eligible, should you upgrade, and when?
When will iOS 9 be released to the public?
Wednesday, September 16, 2015.
Which models of iPhones and iPads are eligible for upgrade?
- iPhone: 6, 6 Plus, 5S, 5C, 5 and 4S
- iPad: mini 3, mini 2, mini, Air 2, Air, 4th generation, 3rd generation, 2
- iPod: 5th generation.
I haven’t got all day. What are the key features of iOS 9 I should know about?
- Far and away the most significant change to iOS in version 9 is an improved Siri. In a nutshell, Siri has been given access to more apps so she can provide more meaningful support than defaulting too quickly to pulling up a web page with search results. She’ll actually be able to pull up directions, weather, photos and other rich information based on criteria you describe.
- The Phone app will try to find matches to numbers that are calling you if they’re not in your contacts, by searching through texts and emails.
- As part of the evolution of Apple Play, Passbook has been renamed Wallet, and includes retailer-issued cards and rewards cards in addition to standard payment cards.
- Apple Maps will include public transit directions.
- Apple is replacing the Newstand app, which used to simply house other media apps, with Apple News, which will more seamlessly aggregate news streams from various publishers in a manner more like Flipboard.
- Notes, one of the earliest and least changed native iOS apps, gets a major makeover. It now allows inclusion of content beyond text, including photos, websites and maps.
- Low Power mode temporarily degrades certain functions—such as mail fetching, apps running in the background, even display features—to conserve battery when it is running out.
- Miscellaneous other enhancements, including a back button in individual apps which will allow you to jump back to the app you were previously using; a search function in the ever more complex Settings app; and keyboard improvements.
- iPad only: split-screen access to multiple apps; and a picture-in-picture feature to open pictures on the screen anywhere.
Should I upgrade?
If you’ve got one of the eligible devices listed above, the answer is a qualified yes. The qualification is that the older the device—and hence the more outdated the components such as the processor—the harder time it may have keeping up with the heightened demands of features enabled by iOS 9, meaning it may get sluggish or run out of battery faster than you expected. That’s just a fact of life of any technology. But otherwise, OS updates always include improved functionality, and get rid of annoying bugs.
We’d suggest not upgrading immediately on September 16, but waiting a couple of days and keeping your eye on this site and other outlets to see if the first people to upgrade had any issues. About a year ago, Apple issued iOS 8.0.1 which reportedly rendered some iPhones useless, and had to scramble to release a fix a few days later.
How do I upgrade?
There are two primary ways to upgrade:
- On your device, over the air—you will see a red badge with a “1” in it on your Settings icon, which will inform you that you have a software update waiting. Click on Settings > General > Software Update.
- You can also connect your device to iTunes on your computer, and iTunes will detect whether your device is eligible for upgrade to iOS 9, download the software and even guide you through the upgrade process. This is actually the better method if your device has limited or low storage, and could therefore have difficulty downloading the upgrade file over the air.
For more information on upgrading, check out mWize’s iPhone: Know Your OS.