At Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference on June 8 through 12, the company will show off the next major version of iOS. Dan Frommer reports for Quartz that iOS 8, which was announced at last year’s WWDC, is now running on about 80% of iOS devices, and many users upgraded shortly after the mobile operating system was released in September 2014. Frommer notes that while there’s still room for improvement, Apple’s tight control over its ecosystem has paid off. New features — even those which, like FaceTime or iMessage, require a network of users — are instantly adopted.
The next major version of iOS, which will be the first new version of the operating system since the Apple Watch began shipping in April, is expected to make Apple’s assortment of mobile devices, including the Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, and MacBook, work better together. With iOS 7, Apple overhauled the operating system’s design, and with iOS 8, it debuted an array of features like Continuity, Apple Pay, extensions, and widgets.
Apple likely won’t introduce any flashy additions with iOS 9; MacRumors reports that iOS 9 will likely focus on optimization and stability improvements, rather than on making major design changes or adding new features. But analysts and Apple enthusiasts still expect a few exciting changes with iOS 9, and an update that fine-tunes the features Apple has introduced with previous versions will likely be popular among users who suffered with bugs in iOS 8, like slow WiFi, poor battery life, screen rotation issues, and Bluetooth failures.
A major optimization that could come with iOS 9 is a reduction in the amount of space that the operating system takes up. One reason that iOS 8 saw slow adoption rates was that it required more than 2GB of free space to install. Some users found it difficult to clear that amount of space, particularly on devices that had only 8GB or 16GB of storage to begin with.
In addition to making the install process easier on devices with lower amounts of storage, iOS 9 is also expected to be compatible with devices using Apple’s A5 processor, and could even offer better performance on those devices than iOS 8 does. Devices that use an A5 chip include the iPhone 4s, the original iPad mini, the iPad 2, and the fifth-generation iPod Touch. Though some users of older devices have posited that Apple’s latest iOS releases were designed to encourage the purchase of new devices, iOS 9 could actually make legacy iPhones and iPads run more efficiently. Gurman explains that instead of developing a feature-complete version of iOS 9 for older hardware and then removing the features that don’t perform well during testing, Apple is building a core version that runs efficiently on A5 devices, then enabling each feature one-by-one.
iOS 9 is also rumored to include new security features, and MacRumors reports that Apple is working on a new kernel-level security system, called “Rootless.” The system will help curb malware and protect users’ sensitive data by preventing the access of protected files on Mac. Apple could also convert IMAP-based applications, like Notes, Reminders, and Calendar, to its iCloud Drive system, improving communication in these apps and increase security. A “Trusted WiFi” feature could enable Macs and iOS devices to connect to trusted wireless routers without additional security measures, while routers that aren’t trusted would necessitate a heavily encrypted connection.
Apple is also expected to add some consumer-facing upgrades to an operating system version that 9to5Mac says will eschew new feature additions in favor of a “big focus on quality.” Mark Gurman reports that “Apple’s broader and deeper quality assurance testing includes stricter stability and polish guarantees before new features are officially added to iOS 9 and OS X 10.11.” iOS 9 is expected to use the Apple Watch’s new San Francisco typeface system-wide. iOS 9 could also bring transit directions to Maps, which could provide information on bus, subway, and train routes for the first time since Apple replaced Google Maps. Siri improvements also appear to be in the works.
At WWDC, Apple will likely debut HomeKit, its home automation platform. The company is expected to introduce a Home app within iOS 9 to accompany the launch, and the app would likely give users a central location to add new HomeKit-compatible devices, group those devices by room, and control and manage those devices.
iPad split-screen multitasking is a much-awaited feature that’s rumored to be included in iOS 9. It would enable iPad users to open two apps simultaneously, or to open two versions of the same app. The feature would let you open two side-by-side Safari windows, or open two Pages documents on their iPads. MacRumors reports that windowing options are expected to include half, one-third, and two-thirds views.