Apple has had a busy few weeks, releasing a new mobile operating system on September 16 and two new phones on September 25. Apple users can now download iOS 9 onto their phones, or line up at their local phone retailer to upgrade to the new iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s plus.
Many smartphone users are hesitant to update their operating systems, and tend to continue using an older OS long after a new update has been released. Users are often concerned about the time it takes to update a phone’s OS, a perceived lack of benefits to updating, and the risk of bugs and glitches that may come with the new software. However, iOS 9 is a major overhaul to Apple’s mobile operating system with a lot of substantial changes, updates, and improvements that may make downloading worthwhile, especially considering that the software update is free.
The Notes app, one of Apple’s most essential built-in applications, is receiving one of these major overhauls. The app, which (as is evident from its name) has always served as a sort of “portable pen and paper” to take down notes, will now provide many more options and services. On iOS 9, the Notes app will allow users to create checklists, add photos, maps and links to notes, and draw on Notes with their fingers. The Maps app has seen a similar upgrade, as it now provides a transit view that shows public transit routes.
In addition to built-in app improvements, the new update also enhances some core features of the iPhone’s functionality. Siri, Apple’s signature voice recognition software, has been improved in many ways, including its speech recognition accuracy. For people who have been frustrated at Siri’s occasional errors and inability to understand or follow prompts, or for people who have been entertained (or embarrassed) by some of Siri’s misunderstandings, this improved voice recognition is significant news.
Siri will not only be able to understand speech better, but it also has some new features. Prompts such as “remind me about this when I get in the car” and “remind me about this tonight” will allow for users to receive a reminder about certain webpages, emails or notes at the specified time. Siri’s search function has also been enhanced.
On the level of basic functionality, the new update also promises longer battery life, a Low Power mode, smaller updates that take up less memory, faster performance overall and improved security.
In addition to the new operating system, Apple is also releasing a new line of phones. The iPhone 6s and 6s plus look similar to their non-“s” counterparts, but feature some huge changes that may be of appeal to frequent mobile users. In fact, the somewhat misleading tagline currently being used on apple.com is “the only thing that’s changed is everything.”
Probably the most innovative and noticeable feature of the 6s is what they are referring to as “3D Touch.” 3D Touch refers to a new pressure-sensitive touch screen system where the phone can sense how much pressure is applied to the display with each touch, essentially allowing the phone to tell how “deeply” someone has touched it. This feature will allow for a wider range of interactions, as users can now perform different actions by applying different amounts of pressure to their phone. For example, this new system will allow for users to “peek” at websites or emails before opening them by tapping them lightly at first, and then tapping them more deeply to actually open them.
One of the other innovative factors of 3D Touch, and one which some users may find slightly unnerving or strange, is the fact that your iPhone can now touch you back.
“When you use 3D Touch, your iPhone responds with subtle taps. So not only will you see what a press can do – you’ll feel it” says Apple’s information webpage for 3D Touch.
The ability for the phone to provide physical feedback on touches serves an important practical purpose when users need to know how deeply they are currently pressing their iPhone. However, this form of feedback also means that users may also have the sensation of having a phone “tapping them back.”
On the level of specs, the new models come with a 12-megapixel camera, a 64-bit A9 chip that Apple claims delivers performance similar to that of desktop computers, a stronger aluminum closure, a stronger glass screen, an improved fingerprint sensor, and faster wireless internet connection.
Regardless of whether users are in the market for a new phone, or simply downloading the latest free update for their current phones, there is a buzz in the air for Apple fans and the possible opportunities that come with the game-changing 3D touch.