Apple has just unveiled iOS 9 at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Among the goodies are better battery life, enhanced security features and a more intelligent Siri.
iOS 9 brings a better Siri
Apple SVP Craig Federighi explained that over the last year, they have improved the accuracy of Apple’s digital assistant, Siri, by 40%. They have also sped up Siri’s response rate, making the feature 40% faster than it was previously.
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Now in iOS 9, Siri is getting a new and improved user interface. The digital assistant will become more proactive by anticipating a user’s needs before a query is spoken. Federighi gave the example of users who run in the morning, explaining that Siri can learn that they like to listen to music and offer suggestions when they plug in the headphones.
The feature can offer suggestions based on time and place, attempting to match activities with a user’s music preference during a particular activity. Siri will also be able to respond to requests like “Remind me about X when I get home” or “Show me photos from Utah last August.” Further, Siri can automatically add invitations received in email to the user’s calendar.
Siri can also look into a user’s email list to determine who might be calling from a phone number that’s not in the user’s contacts. Further, Apple has added a new search API which includes results from apps and has deep links embedded into it.
Updates on Apple Pay, Maps
Apple Pay VP Jennifer Bailey provided updates on the service and updates to it that are coming in iOS 9. They’re adding store credit and debit cards which bring benefits to membership. Among the store cards Apple Pay will support are JC Penney, BJ’s and Kohl’s. As previously expected, the company is also adding support for loyalty and rewards cards. They are renaming Passbook “Wallet” as well.
For Apple Maps, iOS 9 will bring more options for directions via different types of public transportation. For example, Maps will identify all the lines that run through a particular station and offer multi-modal routing. The app will also give times for walking directions and offer improved details regarding entrances and exits to buildings.
Siri’s integration with Maps has also been improved. For example, the app can respond to queries like “I’d like to take the subway to the Guggenheim Museum.”
New apps for iOS 9
Apple is also adding a News app in iOS 9. The app will pull news from the most popular sources and attempt to personalize them to each user. It will then organize the news into a feed while tracking a million topics through popular publisher channels like The New York Times.
A much-needed addition in iOS 9 for the iPad is shortcuts for the QuickType keyboard, including formatting, cutting and pasting. Touching two fingers to the keyboard will also turn it into a trackpad. Connecting a physical keyboard makes it easy for users to find shortcuts and search in Spotlight.
Apple is also finally tackling one thing Microsoft has long been poking fun at it for in ads for its Surface tablets. The company is bringing multi-tasking capabilities to the iPad though the addition of SplitView, which provides side-by-side views of apps. A new feature called SlideOver brings up other apps. There’s also a picture-in-picture capability for videos.
Other notes on iOS 9
The improvements in battery life should make the iPad and iPhone last about three hours longer when the feature is enabled. As expected, Apple also unveiled its Apple Music and Beats One streaming service, which offers live DJs for a more live radio-like feel. Management described the service as the first-ever global radio station.
Apple also announced that Swift, the programming language for iOS and OS X, will become open source.
Apple will push out the public beta version of iOS 9 in July but make it available to everyone sometime this fall.
As of this writing, shares of Apple were down 0.21% to $128.38 per share.