Apple’s special event held yesterday at their headquarters was eagerly awaited by the entire world, regardless if some people were expecting details of the new iOS 9.3 features, the latest hardware or both.
Regarding new devices, Apple chose to offer them in smaller sizes (the new iPhone SE and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro) but without compromising on hardware and capabilities. In the software department, the stage lights were focused on iOS 9.3 of course, which brings various improvements and some interesting new features.
With iOS 9.3 officially out, here are all the latest and greatest features you need to know about.
New iOS 9.3 features
There are plenty of useful features in iOS 9.3, but I doubt any of them was more expected than Night Shift, especially since the f.lux app is now available only to jailbroken devices.
We talked about Night Shift on previous occasions, but if you’re unfamiliar with this feature, here’s how it works. The blue light emitted by the screens of modern devices is similar to the blue light included in the spectrum of natural daylight. According to research, that blue light ‘tells’ our brain it’s daytime so being exposed to it at later hours during the day can affect sleep patterns and quality.
Night Shift (and f.lux for that matter) is designed to warm up your screen colors to reduce the blue light it emits, potentially helping you get a better night’s rest. However, this comes at the small cost of viewing slightly altered colors on the screen, although you can tweak the intensity level of the filter to your liking.
New 3D Touch Quick Actions for stock apps
The default apps have additional 3D Touch shortcuts in iOS 9.3. You can quickly jump to your battery, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi settings from the Quick Actions menu of the Settings icon. The Weather app icon comes with 3D Touch shortcuts for the top three locations in your custom list. There are several others, so go ahead and explore those stock app icons’ Quick actions menus!
Many people store personal or sensitive information in the Notes app so the ability to password or fingerprint lock them is a truly useful addition. Of course, there are other new options available in the Notes app such as the ability to sort them by date added, date edited or alphabetically.
Still, one of the most important iOS 9.3 features regarding the Notes app is the option to lock it, which you can access from the Share Sheet. If you want to use a fingerprint instead of a password to lock notes, you can do this after you toggle on the ‘Use touch ID’ switch under Settings -> Notes.
Improved News app
The News app comes with improved discovery algorithms in iOS 9.3, as it can better select the types of articles you enjoy reading. You can find them in the Top Stories section although you should definitely check out the Editor’s Picks for more inspiration.
Furthermore, there are some new navigation options – swipe right on a story in the feed to share it or swipe right to mute its source so you never see any posts from it again. Also, you can play videos directly in the news feed and read news in landscape orientation.
A more transparent Wi-Fi Assist
Wi-Fi Assist raised a lot of controversies ever since it became available when iOS 9 was released. The purpose of the feature definitely sounds useful – it will handle any drops in your WiFi connection signal strength and disconnects by automatically switching to cellular data.
Since not all of us are lucky enough to have unlimited data plans and Wi-Fi Assist was turned on by default, some users woke up with huge phone bills as they reached the data cap too fast and had to pay extra for data overages. Setting up Wi-Fi Assist the right way could prevent something like this from happening but for most people the need to do this wasn’t obvious.
In iOS 9.3 Wi-Fi Assist has a small note on its Settings pane showing how much data it used so far.
iOS 9.3 bundles a wealth of new features and minor polishes that make the operating system smoother and more functional. Among the most interesting ones you’ll find are the app suggestions in the Health app and the ability to connect it to the Apple Watch, CarPlay maps and music updates, an option to duplicate images in the Photos app, and multiuser support in education apps.