iOS 9: My Initial Thoughts, Good and Bad

On Wednesday, as many others did, I downloaded Apple’s latest iOS for my iPhone 6, iOS 9. Over all, it’s an excellent operating system with lots of improvements. Of course, as with anything, even after it’s been beta tested to death, there are still issues. Everyone and their brother is writing a review of iOS 9. I hope you’ll find some useful information in mine nevertheless.

To set the scene, I’m running iOS 9 on an iPhone 6 with 128GB of internal memory. Also, as many of my readers know, I’m totally blind, and use the Voiceover screenreading software Apple has built in to its i-Devices and Mac computers. So, this review will come from that perspective. However, I’m sure there are things my sighted readers will find useful as well.

I’ve been an iPhone user for about three and a half years and have run the 4S, 5S, and now the 6, going back to iOS 5. So, I’ve been through some changes with Apple.

The Good

  • First, with this update, the phone seems faster and more responsive. I noticed some lag in iOS 8.4.3; Voiceover would often be slow to respond and would occasionally crash. I’m no longer having this issue.
  • Next, the News app. This seems to only be available to US customers as I’ve had several friends from other countries complain that it’s not available to them. However, for those of us who do have it, it’s a great way to compile news on a broad range of topics and from a broad range of sources. As with most apps, in addition to bbeing able to get information quickly, the news stories can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, via text, email, and AirDrop. Now, instead of spending time going to a bunch of different websites or apps, I have pretty much all my news in one place. the local paper for my area isn’t in the app yet, but the app does allow for other sources to be added and customized by the user.
  • Being someone with a huge music collection, I’m excited, as an Apple Music subscriber, to see the return of the “Shuffle All” button in the Music app. This may not seem like a big deal to some. However, for me, I often don’t know what I’m in the mood to hear…Or, i simply want to throw on a random selection of music while I go about my day. With the return of “Shuffle All”, I have access to my entire library, and never know what I might hear next. It’s a great way to hear songs I haven’t listened to in a while, and to discover songs I should play on the radio show.
  • The new layout of “Settings” is very nice as well. I especially love the integrated search box, which was not there before, if I want to get to my settings for a particular app or function quickly. I also like the new “Battery” option, which allows you to adjust powwer-related settings without it being buried in the “General/Usage” section.
  • In addition to the News app, there is a new app that appears to come bundled with iOS 9 called Jet Radar. Like Kayak, SkyScanner, and many others, it’s a flight search/booking app. However, as a Voiceover user, I like the layout of this one. Very easy to use to search for flights. In fairness, I haven’t tried booking one yet.

The Bad

  • First and foremost, battery life seems a bit diminished, though the update mentions up to an extra hour of battery life being possible. I notice it most if I’m using Siri or dictation frequently. Yes, those have always drained the battery more quickly than I’d like, but it seems to be going even more rapidly now.
  • Some apps aren’t quite ready for iOS 9, so are misbehaving. Up until this morning, I noticed it in the Kroger app. It would crash after I made a few selections. Same happened to my sighted housemate on her iPad and iPhone 6+. Kroger has since corrected the errors and the app works now. However, I still notice questionable behavior in both Facebook and TuneIn Radio. In FB, when I go to the notifications tab, if I elect to view comments on a post or respond to them, when I hit the “Back” button, instaed of allowing me to resume reading notifications where I left off, it puts me back to the top of the list. Usually, not a big deal. But, on one of those days where I don’t check FB frequently and I wind up with 30-40 notifications, it can be a bit irritating to navigate. Also, on occasion, comments on certain posts won’t show, forcing me to have to view them from the website on my computer. In TuneIn radio, though the app itself did not update, Heading navigation on the “Profile” tab is no longer possible, making it a bit of an arduous task to scroll through the stations and people I’m following to find what I want.
  • When using Dictation in certain apps, primarily the apps native to the i-devices themselves, Voiceover will start reading as I’m dictating, instead of waiting until I’m finished with my dictation as it has always done. Also, this does not happen when using the share buttons on YouTube, Facebook, and other apps. It primarily seems to happen when using the share buttons on the Music app, News, TuneIn Radio, and a couple others. Not sure if this is a bug, or something intentional.

Conclusions On iOS 9

As you can see, I’ve found more good than bad in this latest version of iOS. As with anything Apple, they’ll get it fixed quickly, I’m sure. Also, I know others have reported more bugs than I have. Most of them, I’m honestly just not experiencing. My perception of iOS 9 is that it is a good operating system with room to improve. If you’re on the fence about downloading it to a supported device, I’d go for it.

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