Image: Apple

Executive summary

  • What it is: iOS 9 is the latest mobile operating system released by Apple and is the successor to the iOS 8 operating system.
  • Why it matters: iOS 9 includes a host of new features, including stability features that make it a worthy upgrade for businesses and consumers. It advances a number of previous technologies, and it will work with many devices that are forthcoming.
  • Who this affects: iOS 9 is an upgrade that runs on various iOS-capable devices. All of the following devices are eligible to upgrade to iOS 9 from iOS 7 or 8.
    • iPhone 4S
    • iPhone 5
    • iPhone 5C
    • iPhone 5S
    • iPhone 6
    • iPhone 6 Plus
    • iPhone 6S (pre-installed)
    • iPhone 6S Plus (pre-installed)
    • iPod touch 5th generation
    • iPod touch 6th generation
    • iPad 2
    • iPad 3rd generation (30-pin dock connector model)
    • iPad 4th generation (lightning port model)
    • iPad Air
    • iPad Air 2 (includes multitasking support)
    • iPad Mini (first generation)
    • iPad Mini 2
    • iPad Mini 3
    • iPad Mini 4
    • iPad Pro (pre-installed)
  • When it is available: iOS 9.0 was first available to the public on September 16, 2015.
  • How to get it: To do a manual upgrade, download iOS 9 Over the Air (OTA) by going to Settings | General | Software Update on your iOS 7 or iOS 8 device. You can also update by connecting your device to iTunes and selecting Update. Managed devices can be updated via Apple Configurator.

What is it?

iOS 9 is Apple’s 9th major release of its mobile operating system that runs on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices. Apple officially unveiled iOS 9 at WWDC 2015 on June 8, 2015.

iOS 9 has lots of new features, but what many users will be most happy about is that stability and bug fixes are at the forefront of all new iOS innovations in this release. iOS 9 includes important changes and expansions of existing features to improve the user experience when traveling, commuting, and performing normal app flows within the OS. These are iOS 9’s most significant new features.

  • Keyboard: The keyboard makes it more clear whether you have the caps lock feature enabled — the keys will move between upper and lower case whenever the Shift key is depressed. On iPad, a new cursor mode lets you press two fingers on the keyboard to get trackpad-like control over positioning the text cursor and making the text selection. On iPhone 6s and 6s Plus only, you can utilize 3D touch to force-touch the keyboard to do the same task.
  • News: A new app called News lets you get personalized articles from major online news and blog outlets. In addition, you can search for news articles and subscribe to your favorite blogs and news providers.
  • Notes: The built-in Notes apps received a huge upgrade, letting users not only take notes, but organize them into Folders, draw sketches, add images and other attachments, and more. With these new additions, Apple is clearly trying to take on services like Evernote.
  • Maps: Maps updates include new Transit directions for buses, trains, and more for select cities around the world. In addition, Apple now lists locations that accept Apple Pay right within Apple Maps business listings.
  • Multitasking: iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro received a new feature called Multitasking that lets users easily run two apps side-by-side in addition to playing a video in a small window using a feature called Picture in Picture (PiP).
  • Proactivity: iOS 9 can learn from your usage of the operating system and react to changes without you doing anything else. One example of this feature is when you plug your headphones into the headphone jack, and then launch your preferred VoIP app more than a few times; then, whenever you plug your headphone jack, the app you used will appear on the Lock Screen in the handoff section.
  • Wallet: Apple renamed its Passbook app to Wallet and added the ability to store not only passes and Apple Pay cards, but also for it to work with merchants that have loyalty cards so that whenever users pay with Apple Pay, their loyalty cards are scanned at the same time.
  • 3D Touch: Added to iOS 9 with the introduction of iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, this new feature lets users access additional menus, views, and features by force-touching the screen (in a similar fashion to the Apple Watch). One major advantage of this is the ability to force-touch a home screen icon to get contextual options that open the selected app with the feature (Figure A).
  • Battery improvements: Just by installing iOS 9, you can improve your battery life by up to two hours on some devices.
  • Performance and security: Performance and security updates are available throughout the OS. Apple has implemented two-factor authentication for iCloud access, and Safari now has third-party content blocker support, allowing the user to install apps that block unwanted web traffic like trackers that follow users around the web.

Figure A



3D Touch provides additional menus throughout the OS by force-touching on first- and third-party app icons.

Image: Cory Bohon/TechRepublic

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Why does it matter?

iOS 9 contains updates for some devices that have been in Apple’s ecosystem the longest; for instance, the iPad 2 shipped with iOS 4.2.1 and can be upgraded five versions later to iOS 9. This exemplifies Apple’s newest motto when it comes to iOS upgrades: allow users to keep upgrading their devices, even with older hardware, so they can get the latest features and apps. iOS 9 is the most upgradeable OS Apple has ever released with regards to the number of devices and the older hardware that it is capable of running on (Figure B).

Figure B



iOS 9 is compatible with these devices.

Image: Apple

In addition, iOS 9 ties into Apple’s newest enterprise strategy with its partner IBM. With strategic partnerships between IBM and Cisco, Apple is making a clear statement: iOS is ready for the enterprise.

Multitasking, Proactivity, and Maps are tentpole features of iOS 9 that propel the popular OS forward, and help it compete with the likes of Windows 10 on tablets and phones and Android devices.

Bug fixes and security updates tie into Apple’s security-centric strategy, which promotes user security and encryption on its mobile and desktop spaces.

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Who does it affect?

If you have devices capable of running iOS 9 or plan to roll out iPhone 6s/6s Plus or any current and future iOS devices, you can run iOS 9. iPhone 6s/6s Plus and future devices will not have the ability to downgrade below iOS 9.

There are direct upgrade paths for any device listed in this article’s Executive Summary to download and install iOS 9 from either iOS 7 or iOS 8. Upgrading is a breeze in typical iOS fashion. See the section below for instructions on how to upgrade devices to iOS 9.

Like with all major iOS upgrades, this update is free to all users of iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and can be downloaded OTA directly from Apple’s servers.

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How to get iOS 9

iOS 9 can be upgraded in several ways. The following two options are the most popular approaches used when manually upgrading devices.

Upgrading iOS 9 from iTunes

  1. Connect your device to your Mac or Windows computer via USB.
  2. Open iTunes and select your device.
  3. Select Summary and then select Update.

After downloading the latest version of iOS, iTunes will prepare the device for the upgrade. Your device will restart for the install, and then it will boot into iOS 9 setup and configuration.

Upgrading iOS 9 OTA

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
  2. Go to General | Software Update.
  3. If a software update is available, select Download And Install to download the update, and prepare the device for upgrade.

Once it installs, your device will restart, followed by a boot into iOS 9 setup and configuration.

Version history

  • iOS 9.0 was the initial release on September 16, 2015.
  • iOS 9.0.1 was released on September 23, 2015 to provide Slide to Upgrade bugs that appeared on a few devices.
  • iOS 9.0.2 was released on September 30, 2015 to provide security updates for a lock screen bypass issue.
  • iOS 9.1 provides support for iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, as well as the 4th generation Apple TV running tvOS. At the time of this writing, this version is in a developer beta with an unknown release date.
  • iOS 9.2 added system-wide bug fixes and a long laundry list of feature updates.

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iOS 9: The smart person's guide