Apple’s latest software for iPhone and iPad brings some really cool features that you should know about. Unlike the total redesign that came with iOS 7, the abilities bundled into iOS 9 might not be entirely obvious at first. But they all pack a punch and might save you some time, battery, and maybe even some money. Take a look at our round-up of the coolest hidden features now on your iPhone and iPad. If there are some that we missed, let us know in the comments below. And if you’re still on the fence about updating to iOS 9, these features might help you make up your mind.
Reminders just got more powerful in iOS 9. The app is now contextually aware. That means it knows what you’re currently viewing on your phone or iPad and can bring you back to that location at a later time. For example, if you’re reading a website and would like to come back to it later, just tap the Share icon, then choose Reminders. This action also allows you to set the time or place you want to be reminded through in resulting pop-up box.
As an awesome addition, Siri can also create these contextual reminders. Once you’re looking at something you want to be reminded of, just invoke Siri and say “Remind me about this.” I love this feature as it helps me to remember anything I need to at any time.
Mail has a couple of neat new features in iOS 9. First of all you can add attachments from your favorite online storage providers. When composing a new email, just tap and hold on the body. The on the black box that pops up, tap Add Attachment (you might have to tap the right arrow to get to that option). Then either pick your file from iCloud Drive, or tap Locations in the upper right to choose another cloud storage app that you use. Once you’re browsing your folder, tap a file and it will be downloaded and attached to your mail.
Another awesome feature new to Mail is image and PDF annotation. First attached an image or a PDF to your new email using the method above. Once the file is attached, tap and hold on it and select Markup. This will bring up a new screen where you have tools to draw on and write text on your file. You can even add your signature to PDF files. This is a great new hidden feature that eliminate all those PDF signature apps and might even replace Skitch.
iPads gain an awesome new ability in iOS 9. Simply place two fingers on the keyboard and you’ll be able to move the cursor wherever you want (like using a touchpad). Tap those two fingers on the keyboard (while in touchpad mode) and the nearest word will be selected. Keep dragging your fingers and the selection will increase or decrease the desire amount. This is a fantastic way to interact with text on the iPad and will save you a lot of time. If you have an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, the same thing works by firmly pressing your finger on the keyboard.
Apple News replaced Newstand as a way to read news on your iPhone and iPad. In the app you can search for your favorite websites. Subscribe to the ones you want and their latest articles will show in a combined list under the For You tab. In the images below, you’ll see how to subscribe to AppChasers in the Apple News app.
The Passbook app has been renamed Apple Wallet and can be used for in-store transactions if you have an iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus or 6s Plus. In a great campaign, Discover will grant 10% cashback to customers who add their Discover card to Apple Wallet and use it in-store through December 31st, 2015. As an additional bonus, new Discover card customers will get double cash back using Apple Pay throughout their first year. This is a great reason to start using Apple Wallet for your in-store purchases.
Apple has re-instituted the Search page to the left of your home screen. Swipe right on your home screen and you’ll see a search bar sitting atop suggested contacts and apps you might like to interact with. But the new Search page does so much more than that. Start typing and you’ll see that it’s gotten much more powerful. You can now search for places of interest like restaurants and businesses. The results will let you call the business or launch the Maps app to start turn-by-turn directions. You can now search for movies and bring up their plot summaries and Rotten Tomatoes rating. If this all sounds familiar, you’ve been able to do this by speaking to Siri. Now though, you can type all these commands. Lastly, the Search page can bring up results from inside your apps. So if you’re looking for a file in Documents app, the Search page will show it.
Another search feature has been added to Safari. That’s the ability to search for a word or phrase on the page you’re reading. This can come in real handy if you need to quickly jump to a particular section of a website. Just tap the Share icon and then tap “Find on Page”. Type what you’re looking for and Safari will highlight all occurances.
On the iPad there are three new view-related features to get excited about. The first is Slider Over, which works on the iPad Mini 2, iPad Air, and newer iPads. When you’re inside an app like Documents, simply drag your finger from the right side of the screen. This will open a new panel with other available apps. Launch on of these apps and it will open right inside this panel, while the primary app is still open. You’ll only be able to interact with the active app in the Slide Over panel as the primary app will now be grayed out. This is again new way to look up an email or search Safari without closing the app you’re working in.
Split View is an even more powerful version of Slide Over as it lets you fully interact with two apps at the same time. It works only on the iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 4, and newer iPads. Invoke Split View by first firing up Slide Over and picking the app you want (see above). The keep dragging left on the Slide Over bar to re-size the area taken by each app. Now you can use either app the same as you would any other time. Split View is a fantastic feature that iPad users have been dreaming of for years. Now there is nothing stopping you from taking notes while browsing Safari or looking up stuff in other apps.
Picture in Picture
This is another cool feature available on iPad Mini 2, iPad Air, and newer iPads. When you’re watching a video in Safari, or other supported video apps, simply press the home button and the video will keep playing in the corner of your screen. Now you can use any other app while still watching the video. If you’d like to move the mini video, just drag it around on screen with your finger.
Low Power Mode
Here is one feature that might spare you a considerable amount of frustration. Low Power Mode will help you if your battery is getting low, or you know you’ll be out and about all day with no time to charge your device. With this mode enabled, Apple flips a few switches in order to conserve your battery. You won’t want to run in this Low Power Mode all the time, but it will save you in a bind. To turn on Low Power Mode go to Settings->Battery->Low Power Mode. Or just tell Siri to “Turn on low power mode.” You can turn it off the same way.
Want more iOS tips? Check out our iOS 8 review here.