No one’s quite sure what to expect from iOS 9. With WWDC only a few days away, here are a few things we hear again and again—along with what we know about whether we’ll get them.
So, what do we know about iOS 9? Most of what we’ve heard is that it will focus on shoring up all of the problems introduced by iOS 8—an update that will deal with a lot of behind-the-scenes improvements, rather than flagship feature rollouts. There are also a few rumours floating around about features that could actually bring a lot of new functionality—as well as some design tweaks, like the system-wide adoption of Apple’s new typeface, San Francisco. Then there are the big, pie-in-the-sky things that you can hope for, but likely won’t get.
Siri, when are you going to grow up? Siri feels outdated. When will we get a Siri API, a Siri that understands and intelligently responds to basic language, commands, and questions without resorting to ‘I searched the web for…’ – like it did before Apple bought it?
In fact, improvements to Siri are rumoured to be upon us. It would be a long-overdue update—and it may involve an entirely new feature codenamed Proactive. iOS has always been about simplicity and predictability, especially when it comes to user experience. Those are traits that make it easier for new users and reinforce how consumers think of Apple. But compared the way Google Now mines your device and comes up with intelligent contextual information just in time, iOS is beginning to feel a little, well, simple.
With iOS 9, Apple is seemingly changing that. Mark Gurman says that this new feature, Proactive, will have the ability to analyse the way you use your phone and make suggestions about how you might mean to use it, as Google Now does. That could range from reminding you to make a call at a certain time, to pinging you when you need to check in for a flight. It sounds like iOS is finally upgrading its contextual smarts.
The iOS is Coming From Inside the House
It’s been a full year since Apple announced HomeKit—but we still haven’t seen exactly how the framework for the connected home will work. It’s no coincidence that the very first HomeKit-linked products were released this week: Dimmable lights from Lutron and a home hub from Insteon hit the internet on Tuesday.
As Nick Cowen wrote on Gizmodo UK last month, it seems as though Apple will add a new app called Home to the operating system, which will funnel the HomeKit framework into users’ hands. Today, Apple updated its website with a set-up guide for HomeKit accessories—and gives us a clearer glimpse at what Home will look like: You’ll be able to control it with Siri, and Apple TV will play a central role, too. Apple says you’ll only be able to control your home devices away from home if you have an Apple TV.
Better Keyboards, Seriously
iOS 8 contained some keyboard improvements, but it still isn’t perfect. Just one that can keep up with our typing would do. According to MacRumors’ Mitchel Broussard, they might get it. Broussard says Apple has something more substantive in the works:
[Apple is] experimenting on multiple designs, like one that is “slightly longer than the current keyboard” and provides users with a more robust suite of editing options while in portrait mode. Also in the works is a more accessible way to access the QuickType keyboard and a redesign to the unpopular Shift Key to provide an easier visual understanding of when shift or caps lock is engaged.
Last year at WWDC, users rejoiced at news that third party keyboards like SwiftKey would be supported in iOS 8. Unfortunately, integration has been less than smooth. Hopefully those kinks will get ironed out in iOS 9, too.
Stop It With the Bloatware
Here’s something everyone wants but no one seems likely to get: The ability to delete baked-in apps. If you don’t own a damn Apple Watch, why should you be forced to keep the watch app on your phone? There other unnecessary apps...but TIPS? Holy fuck, could an app get more useless than that?
Unfortunately, it seems pretty unlikely that Apple will give us the power to delete its stock apps—especially when it comes to the Apple Watch. In fact, with iOS 9, we’re going to see a lot of the user interface tweaks from the Watch migrate onto our phones—signaling a smoother, more universal operating system shared between all of Apple’s mobile devices.
Stability is Everything
But beyond the wish list items like new keyboards and a smarter Siri, we've heard one thing again and again from readers: Stability. “iOS 8 has been the least stable release to date (although it is slightly better now),” said US reader chris209. The sentiment was echoed by Guspaz, who asked for reliability and polish. “So often I get strange UI glitches where the phone enters a strange state or some UI element doesn’t do what it’s supposed to.”