Sunday, May 10, 2015

Apple's next major iOS 9 update, coming in 2015

What We Expect

The next major version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 9, is already in the works at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino. We don't know a lot about iOS 9 yet, but according to rumors, the update may focus more on optimization and stability improvements rather than major design changes and new features.

With iOS 7, Apple introduced a major design overhaul, and with iOS 8, the company debuted features like Continuity, Apple Pay, and new app abilities like extensions and widgets. It may seem like Apple will have a hard time marketing an iOS 9 update that doesn't come with the flashy additions we got in iOS 7 and iOS 8, but a new version of iOS that fine tunes what Apple introduced in previous iOS updates will likely be very popular with people who have suffered from bugs in iOS 8.

Since iOS 8's release, some of Apple's user base has been unhappy with the update, vocally criticizing the company for pushing out new features without resolving lingering bugs. iOS 8 has suffered from an above average number of bugs since its September introduction, causing issues like slow Wi-Fi, battery drain, screen rotation problems, Bluetooth connectivity failures, and more.

There is precedent for an update that primarily aims to improve the underlying structure of one of Apple's operating systems rather than introducing new features. In 2009, Apple introduced OS X Snow Leopard, which brought several under-the-hood optimization improvements. Apple had the tricky task of persuading users to pay to upgrade, doing so with the tagline "The world's most advanced operating system. Finely tuned."

Snow Leopard was described as an operating system update that "revitalized existing Macs," introducing features that made it markedly faster and "refined and enhanced" the previous operating system, OS X Leopard. It's likely we'll see some of the same opinions on iOS 9, if it does indeed manage to repair all of the remaining bugs in iOS 8 and improve the many features we gained across iOS 7 and iOS 8.

One of the major optimizations that might be in store for iOS 9 is a reduction in the amount of space the operating system takes up. iOS 8 saw slow adoption rates for the first few months following its release, possibly because of the sheer size of the operating system. iOS 8 requires more than 2GB of free space to install, which can difficult to clear up on devices limited to 8GB or 16GB of storage.

Don't expect iOS 9 to go entirely without new features. There are still some rumored iOS enhancements in the works that could be released in the next operating system update, including transit directions, indoor mapping abilities for Maps and split-screen multitasking for iPads, and some minor improvements to Siri.

According to recent rumors, Siri may gain a redesigned interface that more closely resembles the colorful design of Siri on the Apple Watch.

Discuss iOS 9

Do you have a specific feature you're hoping for in iOS 9? Join in on the forums -- our readers are discussing their iOS 9 wishlists, which include features like lock screen widgets, the ability to delete stock Apple apps, and support for multiple users.

Some of the features people are hoping for may be quite realistic given recent rumors about optimization improvements, with requests for less space to install, bug fixes, and faster load speeds.

The number of visits that we see to MacRumors from Apple IPs running pre-release software often gives us hints as to how development is progressing on upcoming updates. Visits that we're receiving from devices running iOS 9 remain relatively low, but we have seen some pickup since January, suggesting testing is well underway.

Visits to from devices on Apple's networks identifying themselves as running iOS 9
(Mid-November 2014 through Mid-February 2015)
As development picks up, Apple will begin testing the update internally with additional employees, and the number of visits will jump. We can expect to see a significant number of visits towards the end of May, as Apple prepares to debut iOS 9 at WWDC.

Release Date

As it has done in years past, Apple will almost certainly preview iOS 9 at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference, apparently set to take place in June. Developers will likely be given access to iOS 9 at that time to prepare their apps for the update, which should see a public release in the fall alongside new iPhones if Apple sticks to its past release schedule.

According to rumors, Apple has plans to launch a public beta test for iOS 9 ahead of its release, in order to avoid major bugs. Public beta tests for versions of iOS are expected to kick off with iOS 8.3 in March.
iOS 9 Timeline

Roundup Last Updated
May 5
Apple's Streaming Music Service and Revamped iTunes Radio Launching in Several Countries in Late June
Feb 20
Apple to Launch Public Beta Testing Programs for iOS 8.3 and iOS 9 [Updated]
Feb 9
iOS 9 to Focus Heavily on Stability and Optimization
Jan 16
Work Continues on iOS 8.1.3 With Retail Employees Receiving Second Beta Seed
Jan 9
Minor iOS 8.1.3 Update Likely Coming Next Week [Updated]
Dec 31
What's Coming From Apple in 2015: Apple Watch, iPad Pro, iPhone 6s, 12-Inch MacBook and More

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