Apple introduced its new mobile operating system, iOS 9, alongside its new generation of iPhones in September. But while Tim Cook might tout the improvements as “amazing”, some of them strike us as, well, kind of bland. Join us as we explore the iOS 9 'innovations' that Android got to first.
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1. iOS 9: Siri is now more intelligent
With iOS 9, Siri is said to be smarter than ever before. For example, Apple's voice assistant will remind you of when deadlines are approaching, inform you of the current traffic situation and even offer helpful notifications on how long it will take to get home from work. Great, you might think – but the Android community has had an equivalent since 2013, in the form of Google Now.
What’s more, Google brought this concept to both Android and iOS via the Google Now app. In other words, Apple users could have been taking advantage of this feature for years already.
2. iOS 9: Public transportation in maps
Google Maps introduced public transportation information to let people know which buses, trams, and trains were leaving and when in version 5.7, more than four years ago. Both Android and iOS users were able to take advantage of this with the Google Maps app, but Apple has only just introduced it to its own maps app. Talk about late to the party... guess it didn't know when its bus was leaving!
3. iOS 9: Low power mode
Power saving mode became available for all devices running stock Android 5.0 Lollipop last year, and has now crawled its way to iOS 9. When enabled, this option reduces non-critical device functionality to make a phone's battery last longer; an average of 90 extra minutes per charge for Android devices, and a claimed three-hour improvement for Apple devices, though time will tell how much truth there is in that promise.
Though Android battery life is far from perfect, even devices like the Google Nexus 5 can outperform the iPhone 6 in battery performance, so power-saving mode is a step in the right direction for Apple.
4. iOS 9: split-screen mode
When the iOS 9 update hit the iPad, it brought with it a shiny new split-screen feature. Well, welcome to the club, Apple, because the Galaxy Note series has been using this feature since the Note 2, which ran Android 4.1 Jelly Bean (you can even get Dual Window mode on the LG G3 smartphone).
The multi-window feature hasn’t really changed that much since its inception though, and it remains limited on iOS 9. We enjoy using multi-window on Android for things like watching YouTube in one window while browsing the web in another. But Apple limits this feature to its own shallow pool of apps. Shame.
5. iOS 9: Notes app 2.0
The iPhone Notes app has now been updated to version 2.0. There is now a checklist option, which means it can be used as a shopping list – you can tick items off the list with just a tap. You can now also draw inside the app or on top of photos.
These 'new' features are also available on Samsung's Galaxy Note series, which has had a far wider range of functions for longer.
6. iOS 9: Upper-case keyboard
Apple users have always had to toil with the iPhone's tiny keyboard. iOS 9 has a simple new function: the Shift key on the Apple Keyboard now shows when the letters have turned into capitals. Yes, that's a new feature. And yes, it's been around since the birth of Android smartphones. I guess iPhone users thought guessing when words would be capitalized was all part of the fun.
7. iOS 9: Picture-in-picture
As well as its multi-window feature, Apple has introduced picture-in-picture. Picture-in-picture lets you watch a video in a small pop-up window in the corner of your screen, while doing something else in the rest of the screen, such as playing a game or surfing the web. It’s a neat feature, particularly in this era of distractions when we're always trying to do multiple things at once.
It also happens to be a feature that was on the Samsung Galaxy S3, and more recently the Galaxy Note 4. Samsung's pop-up window goes beyond just viewing videos though; you can create a pop-up window to view many other apps including internet, gallery and WhatsApp.
8. iOS 9: News apps
iOS 9 also brings in a brand new Apple home screen app known simply as 'News'. This app sources news from different feeds and websites and presents it to you in one place, saving you the hassle of scouring cyberspace yourself.
This has never really been a desirable feature on Android, but it's a long-standing one nonetheless. Samsung’s My Magazine / Briefing, powered by Flipboard, and HTC’s Blinkfeed both offer comparable services, and did so long before the latest iPhones. Will Apple's service be better? That remains to be seen.
Apple’s new devices have created a lot of excitement, and do have some great new features, such the introduction of 3D touch and moving pictures (as seen years ago with HTC’s Zoe... sorry, I couldn’t help myself). iPhones are great pieces of hardware, but these are really just improvements that have already proven themselves in Android, manufacturers who implement Android or third party apps.
It's no surprise that Apple has adopted split-screen or improved its battery, but let's not forget that Android did it first.
Can Apple make these functions even better? And will this in turn affect Android? Let us know what you think in the comments.