Apple has announced new features that will be introduced with iOS 9, including improvements to the Siri voice assistant, multi-tasking on iPads and new Maps software features.
Apple made the announcements during its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) and said that all Apple devices that can run iOS 8 can move to iOS 9 when it launches later this year.
The move to iOS 9 should be easier for over-the-air updates, as Apple has reduced the space required to 1.3GB, down from over 4GB with the iOS 8 update.
Apple also revealed that it is introducing a new feature for iOS for when devices are running low on battery that it claims can save up to three hours of normal use.
Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, took to the stage to unveil the new features, saying that Siri now has one billion requests a week and a 40 percent reduction of errors in voice commands.
“For iOS 9 Siri has a new UI and is capable of doing so much more. It’s now moving from an assistant to a proactive assistant," he said.
Federighi also explained that Siri is now far more context and location aware so, for instance, if you regularly listen to music in the morning while exercising, it will learn this and suggest music if you plug ear phones in at around the same time.
Siri can also understand less specific requests based on content currently on screen. Federighi demoed this by showing that Siri can remind you of a website ‘when you get home’ and it will use location data to do this.
Apple has also improved search functions in iOS, chiefly by making it possible for app developers to make their apps searchable from the main search bar.
Meanwhile, Maps has also been given a major overhaul to include a new subset called Transit providing specific information on public transport as this is what the majority of its users want, Federighi said.
It will launch with information for major cities, including New York, San Francisco and London.
Apple also showed off a new app coming to iOS 9 called News that is designed to offer a more personalised experience for news aggregation, offering the ability to curate content based on interests and publishers. It will launch in the US, UK and Australia.
Some new features are coming just to the iPad with iOS 9. Multi-tasking is the biggest new feature, and Federighi showed how other apps can be used alongside each other with full functionality. This even includes picture-in-picture for video, which can be placed and sized as required on the screen.
Furthermore, iOS 9 on iPad makes it possible to turn the keyboard section into a ‘trackpad’ so it’s easier to move content around in certain apps, such as photos and chunks of text.
Apple didn't give a set date for the arrival of iOS 9 but it is likely to be around September based on previous launch dates of iOS updates.
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