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Apple iOS 9.3 review – all the new features

iOS 9 Beta Hero Shot
Our Rating :

Slicker, easier to use and with a ton of new features, iOS 9 is an excellent upgrade to an already powerful operating system


iPad features

While the iPad largely had the same version of iOS as the handsets, iOS 9 gives the tablet a range of its own features. It makes sense, as the tablet is used in a completely different way to a smartphone. First up, are the new multitasking features.

Slide Over

An any iPad, Slide Over lets you slide a window in from the right-hand side of the screen to display a second app. This pauses the first, full-screen app, but lets you work in a second place quickly, such as for taking notes, before sliding the second app away. The first time you do it, it gives you a list of thumbnails to choose from, of other open apps. Just pull down on the tab at the top to go back to this list and change views.

iOS 9 beta Slide Over task switcher

It’s similar to Windows 8’s multi-tasking, but I have to say that it is a useful addition and means that you no longer have to use the task switcher to flick between two apps. Our only complaint is that apps don’t and can’t interact with each other. For example, if you’re editing a Note, you can’t drag a photo into it from the Photos app. This means that you have to use the standard sharing option, which seems a little crazy. In portrait mode, slide over doesn’t work particularly well, in our opinion, and makes the screen feel a little cluttered.

iOS 9 beta Slide Over portrait

Split View

If you’ve got an iPad Air 2, iPad Pro or iPad Mini 4 you can also use Split View, which lets you share the screen 50:50. It’s a neat trick and certainly makes using the iPad more productive, although the same restrictions apply here as for Slide Over. With both modes there’s no neat way to switch the application on the left; you have to use the standard Task Switcher, which results in the right-hand app disappearing off screen. We’d like Apple to make switching between apps on both sides of the screen the same.

iOS 9 beta Split View

New keyboard

Hoorah! Apple has finally used lower-case characters, so you can more easily see which mode the keyboard’s in. On top of that, there’s a new shortcut bar for Cut, Copy and Paste, and for bold, italicise and underline. This makes is so much quicker to type and style text. Text selection is even better. You can now run two fingers over the keyboard to move the cursor around the screen. It’s infinitely better than the old method of waiting for the magnifying glass to appear and then trying to manoeuvre the cursor to the right position.

iOS 9 beta keyboard

Picture in Picture mode

If you’re watching a video on your iPad or using FaceTime, there’s no longer a reason to interrupt the stream if you want to use your tablet for anything else. With the Picture in Picture mode, videos keep on playing, overlaid on the screen. At the moment I could only get the mode to work with content stored in my Video Library, iPlayer and with FaceTime; I’d like to see the feature extended out to all video apps, such as Netflix.

iOS 9 beta Picture-in-picture

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Key specs
Supported devicesiPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Air, iPad Mini, iPad Mini with Retina Display, iPod Touch 5th Generation

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