iOS 9 release date, features and rumors

Apple's next iPhone and iPad update should be in beta this summer

iOS 9 release date and features

Apple hasn't skipped a beat with its annual iPhone and iPad updates, so there's little doubt that it'll be called iOS 9 and launch in tandem with the new iPhone.

But that's months away. iOS 9 is likely to be previewed well before the iPhone 6S unveiling, specifically at this summer's World Wide Developer's Conference.

iOS 9 is due to take center stage at WWDC 2015 with feature announcements and, of course, a beta made available to anyone with an Apple developer account.

Here's what we know so far about iOS 9 and what we're hoping to see in four months.

iOS 9 release date

When is iOS 9 coming out? Well, that depends on who you are. Registered Apple developers presume that they'll be able to test out the iOS 9 beta in early June again.

Everyone else, meanwhile, is expected to have to wait until September to download it. That's when the final version of Apple's latest mobile operating system has come out in years past.

That three-month wait can be a good thing. iOS 9 beta 1 will be buggy and unfinished. The best features typically don't launch until the gold master version in September anyway.

iOS 9 compatibility

This may be the first iPhone and iPad software to require a lightning cable connection, at least if it follows the current trend among Apple smartphones.

iOS 9 release date
Next: Cross iPhone 4S and iPad 2 off Apple's list?

iOS 8 muscled out iPhone 4 compatibility last year, and iOS 7 said goodbye to iPhone 3GS two years ago. Is iPhone 4S on the iOS update chopping block?

That makes sense. After all, the company is gearing up for its lightning-port-required Apple CarPlay infotainment system.

On top of that, iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C first introduced 1GB of RAM, up from the 512MB in the iPhone 4S. It's time to retire these 30-pin dock devices.

iOS 9 features we want to see

Home screen widgets

We've been crying out for widgets for years and with iOS 8, Apple is sort of giving us them... sort of.

iOS 9 release date
Right on the home screen, please

They live in Notification Center with basic functionality at-a-glance. Pulling down this hidden menu reveals live sport scores, OpenTable reservations and a Calendar preview, for example.

But what we'd still love to see is home screen widgets. Apple has kept its interface clean and that's presumably one of the reasons why widgets have taken so long to arrive in any form.

Empowering users to customise their home screens can only be a good thing, though, and if Apple doesn't want to go as all-out with it as Android has, it could always look to Windows Phone for inspiration and simply make its icons "'live."

This doesn't have to be completely different to what's there now, but folders that tell you more information about changes to the apps held within is our top ask for iOS 9.

Guest and kids mode

Does someone else in your family like to get their grubby little hands on your iPad? Kids love playing games on the tablet, which is more accessible than PS4 and Xbox One.

Letting a spouse or child borrow your expensive Apple device wouldn't be as much of a problem if there was a proper guest mode and, better yet, kids mode.

iOS 9 release date
Family Share came to iCloud Drive. Why not multiple user profiles per device?

Sure, there's a very limited "Guided Access" option that restricts usage to one particular app, but a system-wide guest account for family members would be ideal for the family iPad.

Coupling this proposed guest mode with an instant Touch ID login would be even better and would one-up Google's existing multiple account interface found in Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Actual multitasking

Let's be honest: using two apps at once is true multitasking. Switching between two paused apps is not true multitasking.

Apple could upgrade iOS 9 from the latter, fulfilling the side-by-side app functionality that always seems to be rumored but never actually pans out every year at WWDC.

iOS 9 release date
You could visit both TechRadar AND GamesRadar. Win-win!

A 12-inch iPad Pro would give mobile power users enough space to work with two or more apps at once, and the speculated 2GB of RAM for upcoming devices would back it up.

iOS 8 code had suggested that Apple was testing out some sort of multitasking, so it isn't very farfetched that the feature could make its official debut in iOS 9.

More interface shortcuts

iOS 9 is likely to open up new shortcuts, allowing you to quickly navigate menus on your iPhone and iPad with simple taps or gestures.

Apple did a good job of this with iOS 8 via interactive notifications, frequent contacts listed in the "multitasking" menu, inline audio and video messaging and a bunch of mail app tweaks.

iOS 9 could save us even more time. We'd love to see Command Center host shortcuts to individual settings: holding down the Wi-Fi on/off switch should lead to the Wi-Fi menu, the Bluetooth switch to the Bluetooth menu, etc.

iOS 9 release date
There is still room for more shortcuts

That's much faster than closing the app and heading to the settings menu to make a simple change, like pair a new Bluetooth device. Android has been able to do this trick for years.

Another Google-inspired menu change involves keeping media in the notification menu, not just on the lockscreen. Actively streaming a movie should put the controls at your fingertips.