iOS 9’s New Features: The Best Apps to Show Them Off

iOS 9 update on iPhone and iPad


Once you’ve installed iOS 9 and are getting used to the release’s revamped amps and redesigned system services, you might find yourself wanting more — especially if you have a new iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus in your hands. After all, iOS 9 is supposed to be a pretty powerful, exciting release. And getting a new iPhone is always cause to run the battery down by exploring the interfacing, trying out all the apps, and spending a few moments downloading lots of apps that showcase the operating system’s new abilities.

If you routinely fall into the later camp and find yourself taking to the App Store for new apps that take advantage of major iOS releases, you’re in luck. There are a number of exciting apps that you should try out with iOS 9, from existing apps that have gotten major overhauls to new apps that were only made possible by changes Apple made with the latest release.

The first ad-blocking apps for iOS

The most obvious new category of apps for iOS 9 is the suddenly-popular ad blocker. Apple’s enabling of content-blocking capabilities in the operating system has been the subject of hundreds of think pieces about the state of the Internet, the future of the publishing industry, and the importance of the advertising that supports it all. But if you’re curious to see what the fuss is about — and to determine whether an ad blocker can really save you lots of loading time and data usage — you’re likely curious about which ad blockers to try.

1Blocker is a highly rated — and highly customizable — blocker that can block ads, tracking scripts, social widgets, share buttons, and more. Crystal is one of the most-downloaded new apps for iOS 9, and is a powerful ad blocker — though one that The Verge reports will let advertisers pay to bypass its filters and show you ads. Purify and Blockr are other popular choices among users looking to try out ad blockers and get more control over their experience browsing the mobile web.

Apps that leverage multitasking and search updates

You don’t have to try out a completely new app to notice the difference that the new operating system makes. The new search features that Apple added with iOS 9 make some existing apps, like Dropbox, much more useful than they were just a few weeks ago. Karissa Bell reports for Mashable that files stored in your Dropbox account are now searchable from Spotlight Search in iOS 9, which means that you can find the file you’re looking for without even opening the Dropbox app. If you have a new iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus in hand, you’ll be happy to know that Dropbox is also 3D Touch-enabled. You can press the app’s icon on the home screen to jump to your most recent file, upload a photo, or start a search. You can also use 3D Touch to preview the content of your folders within the app.

If you have one of Apple’s newer iPad models, you’re likely excited to try out the new multitasking features that Apple brought to the tablet with iOS 9. There are three new multitasking enhancements, called Slide Over, which enables you to pick a secondary app to view and interact with, Picture in Picture, which lets you play a video in a moveable or resizable window, and Split View, which displays two side-by-side apps. As a page in Apple’s developer library explains, Slide Over and Picture in Picture are both supported by the iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3, iPad Air, and iPad Air 2, while Split View is only supported on the iPad Air 2.

One of the best apps where you can test out the iPad’s new multitasking features is popular streaming service Hulu, which enables you to use the Picture in Picture feature to multitask while watching a show on your iPad. (So streaming the latest episode of your favorite show doesn’t have to be a complete waste of time.)

Another good app to try out is Instapaper, which supports Picture in Picture, Slide Over, and Split View on applicable devices. Instapaper has also added the option of making San Francisco, Apple’s new typeface, as the default within the app. Microsoft’s Office apps for iOS were also updated with multitasking support — so that you can run two apps at the same time — and their contents are searchable from Spotlight Search, so that you can find documents from Word, emails from Outlook, and notes from OneNote without opening the apps.

Other popular apps that have adopted 3D Touch, Spotlight Search, or multitasking features on compatible devices include Pinterest — which is now searchable from the home screen thanks to Spotlight Search, and got 3D Touch support — and Twitter, which supports the iPad’s new multitasking features. Flipboard, which presents news from different sources in a magazine format, and Pocket, which enables you to save articles and videos to view later, both with Spotlight Search. Additionally, Apple’s own iMovie brings 3D Touch and 4K video support for iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus users, and iPad users can use iOS 9’s new multitasking features when editing clips.

Games to show off the software’s new power

Kit Eaton reports for The New York Times that one way to get a handle on the new power of Apple’s most recent software — and hardware, if you’re upgrading to the iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus — is to try out some games for iOS 9. A game called Air Wings puts you in control of a paper airplane, which you fly around to collect rewards and weapons to use against other planes. When you turn on Apple’s AirPlay feature and stream the data to an Apple TV, the game will show you two views: the player’s point of view on the iPhone and a “spectator view” on the TV.

Duet Game is a more abstract game, one with simple graphics in which you maneuver colorful dots through barriers and obstacles. Eaton notes that “it’s the kind of game that sounds silly but is addictive.” Duet takes advantage of a new feature in iOS 9, in which you can tap on an icon and record your in-game experience as a movie. Then you can edit and share it over social media.

Another fun app to try is The Night Sky, which offers a virtual reality guide to the stars, of sorts. With the app, you hold your phone up to the sky and the app calculates what you can see overhead. Then, it displays what you can see with interactive graphics. On compatible iPads, the app also supports Apple’s new multitasking features, which should come in handy if you want more information on something within your view. The app also connects with the Spotlight Search system, which enables you to search for stars and constellations from outside the app and then activate the app when you find the result you’re looking for.

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