Get to know your iOS 9 tweaks
Downloading a new iOS release can be just as exciting as peeling the plastic screen cover off a shiny new iPhone 6S or 6S Plus, breathing new life into old devices and offering at least one or two must-have apps and features.
iOS 9 slows things down a bit, but there's plenty of new features, which is why we've created this iOS 9 tips and tricks guide. While there are lots of new things to try out (particularly for iPad users), many of its changes are of an intuitive nature. iOS 9 is a so-called maintenance release, focusing on improving the foundation and making it smarter rather than rebuilding and adding to it.
- Fancy trying out the latest version of iOS? Check out our guide on how to download iOS 10 beta right now
There are far more noticeable little changes in iOS 9 than big ones - like, for example, using watchOS's San Francisco as the main system font - and while it doesn't smack you in the face with its newness like iOS 7 did, there's still a lot to absorb. In some ways, version 9 feels like something of a culmination of what Apple started with iOS 8, smoothing many of the rough edges and bringing a greater sense of coherence and navigation. In a former time, it might have been called iOS 8.5.
If you want to see how much has changed between iOS 9 and the upcoming release of iOS 10, then check out iOS 10 vs iOS 9: the big changes.
But even though you won't find very many revolutionary changes with iOS 9, the usability and accessibility tweaks throughout iOS 9 make it feel like a complete, polished operating system rather than a work in progress. And as always, if you've missed anything, we've got you covered with 74 tips and tricks.
- Also check out our collection of how to use iOS 9 guides
1. How to set up your new iPhone
If you've got a brand new iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus or iPhone SE then you'll have iOS 9 already installed straight out of the box.
So to make sure your experience with your new iPhone and iOS 9 goes as smoothly as possible, it's worth making sure you set up the device correctly before you delve into the rest of our iOS 9 tips and tricks, so check out our video below showing you how it's done.
2. Change emoji skin tones
You probably noticed that, a couple of minor iOS updates ago, Apple added a ton of new emoji to its already sizable collection. But did you know that many of these come in various skin tones? Try touching and holding on many of the hands or faces; sometimes a window will pop up with various skin-tone options, letting you further personalize your picture prose.
3. Send massive files with Mail Drop
With iOS 9.2, the Mail Drop feature from OS X finally came to mobile, letting you send files as big as 5GB through iCloud. When you try to attach an especially large file to an email — say, a long video — a pop-up window will ask if you'd like to send it via the cloud using Mail Drop. Handy!
4. Download songs for offline listening
With iOS 9.2, you can download songs and albums from Apple Music to avoid streaming them and using up data. To do this, first play a song, then tap the title at the bottom of the screen to pull up its card (that screen with album art and play controls).
Next, tap on the three dots in the lower-right corner. On the window that pops up, tap the plus icon — this will add the song to your My Music section. Now just go to My Music, tap on the song, and touch the iCloud icon to download it.
5. iBooks 3D Touch shortcuts
iPhone 6S or 6S Plus owners can use several 3D Touch shortcuts in iBooks. First, you can press down on the app icon for instant access to recently read books, or to search the iBooks Store. You can also use 3D Touch to peek and pop into pages listed on the table of contents, your bookmarks, or your notes.
6. Quickly create a new playlist
While listening to a song in the Music app, tap the three dots in the lower-right corner of the play screen (the screen with the song's art and play controls). In the window that pops up, choose "Add to a Playlist." Now you not only have the option to add the song to an existing playlist, but to create a brand-new one, too.
7. Download songs from Apple Music
To save your mobile data when listening to music through Apple Music in iOS 9, you can download songs and albums.
To do this, play a song and then tap the title of the song at the bottom of the screen. A menu will appear (which contains album art and playback controls), and there will be three dots at the lower-right corner. Tap them, then tap the plus icon. This adds the song to your My Music section.
Go to that section, then tap on the song and touch the iCloud icon to download it.
8. Enter proactive assistant
Back when iOS 7 launched, Apple changed the position of the search bar from its original spot at the left of the first home screen to the top of anywhere you are (accessible by pulling down on the screen).
In iOS 9, Apple has rebooted the leftmost search in a big way. Now, when you swipe right on your first home screen you'll enter the Siri-powered proactive assistant, which offers a series of app, contact, location and news suggestions based on how you use your phone each day.
For example, if you check your email first thing in the morning, it'll offer a shortcut to your favorite email client, and when you go to make your nightly phone call to your mom, her contact info will be front and center.
9. Silence Siri in iOS 9
Siri can be useful, but it can also be a bit of a pain if you're out and about and Siri is happily jabbering away in your pocket.
In iOS 9 Apple has made it easier to silence Siri quickly and easily.
You can use the Silent switch on your iPhone to control when Siri talks. To do this open up Settings, select General > Siri > Voice Feedback, then "Control with Ring Switch."
You can now silence Siri by switching the Silent switch on the side of your device to silence. To turn Siri back on, turn the switch back to normal.
For more tips on silencing Siri, check out our how to shut up Siri in iOS 9 guide.
10. Turn off proactive assistant
It might be one of iOS 9's premier features, but if you don't find proactive assistant useful, you can disable it by going to the Spotlight Search settings (in Settings > General) and flipping the Siri Suggestions toggle.
You'll still be able to search by swiping right at the first home screen, but all of the app, contact and news suggestions will be gone, as will the app suggestions that appear below the usual pull-down search.
11. Un-animate the keyboard
iOS users have struggled with the shift and caps-lock key since Apple changed its behavior in iOS 7.1, but iOS 9 should settle it once and for all. Now, when you tap the shift key, the keys will animate their case so you can plainly see the type of character you're going to type.
But if the case-changing letters are too distracting, you can shut it off by heading to Settings > Accessibility > Keyboard and flipping the Show Lowercase Keys toggle from green to white.
12. Turn off character pop-ups while you type
Speaking of the keyboard, Apple has always featured a useful bit of animated feedback via pop-ups when you tap one of the keys. But if you've always hated it, you can finally turn it off. Just take a trip to Settings > General > Keyboard and toggle off the Character Preview.
13. Draw, make lists and format text in Notes
Apple has beefed up its Notes app in a big way in iOS 9. With last year's update, it was nice that Apple finally added rich-text support for using bold, italicized or underlined text, but now Notes might actually be an app we use to, well, take notes.
Inside every file you'll see a gray plus sign just above the keyboard that opens a new menu of options; tap it and you'll be able to easily create a list, add a photo, change the formatting and even sketch a quick doodle. And when you're done you can even organize your notes into folders.
14. Save an attachment to a note
iOS 8 changed the way the apps we use share data and interact with each other, and now Notes is getting in on it, too. Whether you're looking at a photo, reading an article or working on a document in another app, you can quickly save it to any of your notes (or create a new one).
And if you lose track of what you've clipped, you can see an overview of every link and snap in the new Attachments Browser by tapping the grid icon in the lower-left corner.
15. Get public transit directions in Maps
Maps has made great strides since its melted Brooklyn Bridge days, and if you live in or frequent Baltimore, Beijing, Berlin, Chicago, London, Mexico City, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Toronto or Washington it's about to get even better. With iOS 9, those cities include full transit information built right into Maps, including routes, directions, transfers and times. It'll take some time before it stretches across the world (or even the US), but it's a great start.
16. Find nearby Apple Pay locations in Maps
When you go to search for a location in Maps, you'll notice a new series of buttons offering shortcuts to places nearby, like restaurants, bars, shops and hotels. It's a quick way to find something good to eat in a strange city — and if you've forgotten your wallet, you can tap on any suggestion to see if it acceptsApple Pay.