iOS 9 review

Today's iPhone and iPad update brings small, worthwhile changes

iOS 9 review
iOS 9 review

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Apple is giving two of its existing pre-installed apps a complete overhaul and a name change in iOS 9, and both are improvements over the old way of doing things.

Newsstand has been revamped as Apple News, or just News, and it gives us a free, magazine-styled layout. Passbook has become Wallet, and expands instead of changes the idea behind it.

Apple News

Really, you should get all of your news straight from TechRadar, but if you need to learn about other events happening in the world, Apple has a News app within iOS 9. It has launched in US, UK and Australia when the final version of the operating system releases.

iOS 9 review

Apple News provides a bunch of sources and a fancy layout

It's a slick-looking news aggregator, but, truthfully, it's not the most ground-breaking app design because it does exactly what Flipboard does: lays out RSS content in a magazine-style format.

It collects stories from publications and topics I favorite, then does its best to deliver a rich newsfeed I actually care about. It has two things going for it over traditional Safari browsing: it's fast and it keeps my personalized data separate from my Apple ID.


iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users have been waving their phones in front of NFC stations to pay for stuff in the US since last October, and as of July 14 they're doing it throughout the UK.

iOS 9 expands Apple Pay by adding gift and loyalty cards, therefore the app that contains it, Passbook, is being renamed Wallet. Goodbye, cumbersome QR codes that few retailers even used.

Loyalty cards aren't a part of iOS 9 today, with the first retailers like Whole Foods, Walgreens and JC Penney promising to launch Wallet-integrated app updates later this year.

iOS 9 review

Wallet is being reworked to include gift and loyalty cards in iOS 9

However, the new app icon is here and so is this handy trick: double pressing in the home button on a locked iPhone (but not an iPad) brings up the Apple Pay menu.

This is convenient because the Wallet app is so tempting to hide in a folder. There's no reason to keep it on the home screen until you really need it. But it's nice to have quick access to it the few, precise times you actually do need to pull something out of your "Wallet."

With loyalty cards launching, shortcuts like this are going to become even more important. I just wish Apple devised a way to access a flight boarding pass when my iPhone screen isn't locked.

I have to lock my always-in-use device in an airport line, then press the lock button again to wake it in order to access the lockscreen notification. Apple Watch does it correctly with a shortcut that always rests in the notification dropdown right before a flight. I'm hopeful I don't have to wait for iOS 10 for something similar.

iOS 9 review


iOS 9 is already worth downloading today? The keyboard is easier to use, Siri suggestions make menu navigation faster, notifications are rightly sorted by time and, on the iPad, there's actual multitasking.

Not everything that's new is perfect or worthwhile. Apple Maps still needs a lot of design work, Apple News is a clone and the same old Apple ecosystem problems persist. You still can't delete useless pre-installed apps (and now we know why) and Siri still loves opening Safari and Maps, even if you loyal use Chrome and Gmail. Even with all of the iPad advancements, you won't find multiple accounts like you would on Android, and good luck switching to Google's operating system. Apple makes it tough to leave iMessages, as group conversations fall apart when you switch to those ugly green bubbles your Apple-loving friends hate.

That said, iOS 9 is an incremental advancement over iOS 8, which is exactly what Google is doing in the transition from Android 5.0 Lollipop to Android Marshmallow later this year. Much of it is behind the scenes improvements, but we're already seeing the positive effects ahead even more changes in iOS 9.1.

Matt Swider