A Review of iOS 9

by Tim Hornik

By now, many of you have noticed that Apple has released iOS 9 along with several updates, which makes the most publicly available version now iOS 9.1. With all of these changes, you might still be wondering if you should update your system.

As all of these major updates go, Apple included some new features, modified existing ones, and even performed some updates that are not readily apparent but which improve the overall functioning of your device. During the September and October Blind Vet Tech Teleconferences, we provided an in-depth analysis of iOS 9 and reached the conclusion that it is indeed safe to go ahead with the update.

Before considering what makes iOS 9 beneficial to download, we must ask two questions: First, is my device supported? And second, how much space will iOS 9 require? iOS 9 supports the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6+, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S+, all iPads beginning with the second generation through the current iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro, and all versions of the iPad Mini. 
With respect to how much space you will need, iOS 9 requires 1.3 gigabytes of free storage. If you do not need this amount, your iPhone or iPad will temporarily upload your applications into the iCloud, install the iOS 9 update, and then bring everything back. Better yet, iOS 9 includes a feature known as app thinning. Basically, your device will only download and install the parts of an app that are necessary to run on your device.

VoiceOver received a few changes in iOS 9, most notably the ability to use any of the Siri voices and the ability to set the VoiceOver modifier key to Caps Lock instead of the Control Option when connected to a Bluetooth keyboard. In the rotor function, a new feature makes selecting text and copying/pasting such text much easier. VoiceOver was also beset with a few new bugs, including some related to Bluetooth headsets making an automatic announcement of the time when the power button is pressed. For a detailed synopsis of these new features, please visit www.applevis.com and link to the page that describes new features, enhancements, and bug fixes for blind and low-vision users.

Aside from these accessibility changes, Apple also packaged some nice new features and apps into iOS 9, including Siri’s integration into Spotlight, the introduction of News, additional functionality to Notes, the ability to transfer voicemail messages as audio files, and a quick method to venture back to a previous app when transferred.

Spotlight is Apple’s method of searching for items not only on your iPhone and iPad but now on the Internet, in your email inbox, inside Dropbox, and in numerous other apps. If you see a fresh News app on your home screen, this is Apple’s introduction into the aggregated newsfeed world that pulls news articles from your local area and around the world based on your interests. I personally found the News feature to be more beneficial than combing through CNN, BBC, Fox News, and the NFB Newsline apps for news. A final item of note is the new battery monitoring feature, enabling you to enter lower power mode when levels drop below 20 percent. This feature dims screens, limits background processes, and offers other power-saving measures until the iOS device is charged back to 70 percent.

The Apple News app and additions to Siri not covered here makes iOS 9 very powerful. In Spotlight, I greatly enjoy the ability to quickly see some local news, quickly access my recent calls, and search for files throughout my iOS device.

Since July, when I installed iOS 9 as a member of the Public Beta, the experience for me has been wonderful. This belief was echoed by most of the other callers during the October Blind Vet Tech teleconference. The credibility of this impression appears to be valid since the experience levels of these users range from novice to advanced iPhone and iPad VoiceOver and Zoom users.

Based on this feedback, I feel confident in urging our Bulletin readers to consider updating their iPhones or iPads to iOS 9 at their leisure. The known bugs might prove significant in some cases but they should not impact the vast majority of the users on any regular basis.

If you are still hesitant after reviewing this article, by all means stick with iOS 8.4.1 or whatever version you currently use. We must place a great deal of trust in our devices and, once we’ve examined all of the information and data, we should base our beliefs and ultimately our decision on whether to update on the trust we have that that iOS 9 will be beneficial to us.