Top Features of iOS 9

I have had my fair taste of Apple's mobile walled garden for as long as close to four years, until I ditched both my iPhone and iPad for Android. The reason was simple: Google's Material Design-themed Lollipop. But more than ever I believe time has now come to choose my religion. Should I stay with Android, given my closeness to Google ecosystem, or should I jump ship to Apple's iOS? I haven't made up my mind yet, but yes, I know I will have to take a call by September, the customary month when Apple releases its new wave of iPhones year after year.

iOS 9 Beta homescreen
(Image: Wikipedia)
Ars Technica in fact summed up the situation quite nicely: "The iPhone rumor business is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year grind, but as we draw nearer to the actual release of new phones, the rumors tend to get more accurate. So accurate, in fact, that actual surprises at Apple's product events tend to be few and far between." But we are not here to talk about the iPhone, are we? When Apple released iOS 7 way back in 2013, it brought with it a completely new design, sacrificing skeuomorphism for a much flatter, cleaner and whiter user interface that I immediately fell in love with.

Granted, a few apps could have been designed better (looking at you, Clock app), and some done away with altogether (Stocks, Tips, Videos, Newsstand, Voice Memos, Apple Watch etc.), but it's impossible to shrug off the inherent freshness in the design, which Apple has continued to perfect and polish, at the same time making it more future-proof by incorporating features that users were long clamouring for. So here's some of my top favourites in iOS 9 and the software enhancements I would like to see down the line, just like Android M -

Temporarily Delete Apps to Allow OS Updates - Per 9to5Mac, the feature will allow temporary deletion of apps if the device in question doesn't have enough free space to perform a software update, and install them back without any loss of data once complete. A rather clever workaround to the problem of storage constraints on your iDevice (particularly if it's a 16 GB variant)!

iCloud Drive App - Though it's hidden by default, it can be enabled via the Settings app (Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive > Show on Home Screen).

Attaching Files to Emails - You can finally attach files to emails from iCloud Drive and save them back. Hallelujah!

Redesigned App Switcher - Switching between apps is now a lot better, thanks to a card-like rolodex view, and you know what, that awkwardly placed Recent and Favourite Contacts option is now gone (moved to Spotlight).

Revamped Two-Factor Authentication and Six-Digit Passcodes - Apple has overhauled its two-factor authentication system by baking it into the OS, and passcodes have been upped to six digits from the previous four, making them a lot more tougher to crack.

Support for Ad Blockers - Advertisements are a necessary evil. Ads are how many digital media companies make money and by installing ad blockers you are inevitably putting them at risk. But grumbles about how ads are slowing site load speeds have been getting louder, and Apple's move to block ads on mobile web could very well result in a paradigm shift. If that means more tasteful, well-designed and less annoying ads, I'm all for it. Just look at Bloomberg, Quartz, Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, others can a learn a thing or two from them.

Other honourable mentions - Google Now-like Proactive assistant, redesigned Notes app, new San Francisco font in place of Helvetica Neue, change font, font size, and background on reader mode in Safari, lowercase keyboard, low power mode to conserve battery, group notifications by app, and quick select photos a la Google Photos by sliding your fingers over them.

What I want -
  • Better widgets - From whatever I've seen so far, Notification Center widgets have been largely hit or miss. I would like to see more useful functionality added there.
  • Customisable Control Center, easier way to add custom ringtones and be able to set default apps - I find it hard to believe Apple hasn't still added these.
  • An option to uninstall or hide built-in apps - I have said enough about this already. Apple should just accept that their apps are some times inferior to third-party alternatives and move on.
  • A proper file manager - Although it's heartening to know that the iCloud Drive app can be activated from the Settings, there's still a lack of a full-fledged file/download manager.
  • Get rid of deeper Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and Flickr integration from Settings - Do they even make any sense any more, considering the fact that Apple rolled out Extensions last year?
  • A more stable iOS - I wish it never came to this, but iOS 8 in my opinion was buggy and the least stable of all Apple releases so far.