iOS 9 release date, features and rumors

Apple's iPhone and iPad beta may be unveiled June 8

iOS 9 release date and features

In between the last month's Apple Watch launch and September's iPhone 7 unveiling, the next big project for the Cupertino company is iOS 9.

Its annual mobile operating system update may be one month from its official debut, in beta form at least, during Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference.

Yes, iOS 8.4 may take center stage, but when WWDC 2015 starts on June 8, you can expect an iOS 9 tease of some sort during the software-focused keynote that morning.

The new iOS is going to favor new features, apps and stability over drastic visual changes, according to the latest rumors. Here's what we anticipate next month.

iOS 9 release date

Apple has confirmed the June 8 to June 12 dates for WWDC 2015 in San Francisco, and the company always has its keynote on day one of this five-day conference.

That means registered Apple developers can expect to see and then download the next iOS update on June 8 or soon after, at least if everything holds to the same-day delivery pattern as past years.

The latest unofficial news seems to indicate that the company may hold back on iOS 9 and launch iOS 8.4 instead, debuting an artist-driven social network as part of its fresh Apple Music app.

Soon after that, there may be an iOS 9 public beta too, given all of the iOS 8 problems a year ago, and everyone else should expect the final version in September along with the new iPhone.

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 update to require a lightning cable.

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 and Apple Watch has the same compatibility chart among phones.

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.

Small iOS 9 download size

There are still plenty of iPhone and iPad users left behind in the transition from iOS 7 to iOS 8 simply because they don't have enough internal storage to make the update.

iOS 9 release date
We shouldn't have to decide between keeping photos and updating

These deprived 16GB phone and tablet owners need up to 5GB of free space to install iOS 8, and that means deleting precious apps, photos, videos and music.

With the iPad Air 2 syphoning off 3.4GB for the operating system alone, this leaves users with a paltry 12.6GB and, if you factor the 5GB needed, that's just 7.6GB for all of their content.

iOS 9 is expected to change this frustration, which has made paying for iCloud storage seem like a punishment. iOS 8.3 and iOS 8.4 beta are setting a good example with a slightly smaller footprint.

Siri update

Apple's voice-controlled personal assistant is reportedly receiving a small upgrade in iOS 9 to match the Siri found on Apple Watch.

iOS 9 release date
Siri on iPhone may match the Apple Watch version

The silent smartwatch version of Siri has a little more color to its wavy lines at the bottom. That's all we know so far based on this week's rumors.

But there's a good chance if Siri comes with new looks, it also comes with more smarts. After all, Apple's assistant needs to compete with the more-accurate Google Now and Microsoft's Cortana.

Siri also needs to stop answering to "Hey, Siri" when we don't say actually say that command prompt. That'd be a step in the right direction.

Beats Music integration

Don't forget about Dre. Streaming music is really taking off and Beats may be Apple's answer to Google Play Music All Access.

iOS 9 release date
Apple isn't Facebook. It's going to do something with its multi-billion dollar acquisition

Not that the existing services aren't great, but one which can easily be tied into your iTunes account and include access to your existing iTunes library would certainly be welcome.

It already has iTunes and now it has purchased Beats and has access to Beats Music. It's not unrealistic to think that Apple might build the service into iOS 9, either as a pre-installed Beats Music or under new Apple branding, if it doesn't come even sooner in the form of iOS 8.4.

Apple Maps with public transit

Apple is regularly improving its once-disastrous mapping effort and with each update it becomes ever more useful, but it's still not quite a match for Google Maps.

iOS 9 release date
Somehow there's still no public transit directions

One major improvement which was actually rumored for iOS 8 but didn't arrive was public transit directions for bus, train and subway routes.

More ambitiously, we've also heard rumours that Apple is working on an augmented reality view that uses your camera to highlight points of interest on your screen. This could explain all of the camera-equipped Apple vans roaming the streets.

Stability improvements

The No. 1 new, but boring feature we're going to see from iOS 9 is stability. iOS 8 has been plagued with false starts, glitches and continuing Wi-Fi and battery drain bugs.

iOS 9 release date
No more sidling up to the router, please

Apple's Health app made a unfashionably late debut in iOS 8.0.1, a botched update it pulled, and its message boards are full of complaints, which Apple alluded to during the iPad event.

iOS 9 is reportedly receiving a lot of under-the-hood attention to prevent the same issues from reaching the post-beta masses in September.

With the quick adoption rate that Apple devices have over Android, there's really no time for such widespread bug-testing.

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.

iOS 9 release date
There is still room for more shortcuts

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.

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.