Apple’s iOS 9 boasts major improvements to Siri

8 Jun 2015

Apple has announced the next version of its iOS mobile operating system, which boasts big improvements to Siri and Maps, among other features.

At the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, senior vice president Craig Federighi took the stage to demonstrate the update, and undoubtedly the most mouth-watering feature is the redesigned Siri, which as well as appearing to run much smoother and more intuitively than before, can now learn from its user’s behaviour over time.

As an example, Federighi explained how going to the gym and plugging his headphones into his iPhone will, through Siri, cue up his favourite workout music automatically, as the system learns what a user typically listens to in a certain location or at a particular time. The voice-operated personal assistant will also suggest apps that tend to be opened at certain times of the day and can speculate as to who an unknown caller might be through stored information.

Federighi’s demo showed Siri to be much more instinctive when it comes to receiving vocal commands too. So if you tell the system to “Remind me about this later,” Siri will now set a reminder about whatever you are viewing. To highlight the system, Federighi received a text and ordered Siri to remind him about it, creating a notification linking to that message.

You can also tell Siri to “Show me photos from Cork last August”, for instance, and the system will deliver the content, while typed search queries now deliver more relevant results from more categories, including sports scores and schedules, videos and simple math calculations. Click below to watch Frederigi’s demo.


iOS 9 will give Apple Maps users the ability to receive public transit directions, such as bus, ferry, subway, and train routes. There’s also better search functionality, and as Federighi was quick to point out, an Apple Pay tie-in that informs users whether or not locations on the map accept the mobile payment service.

Transit information in Maps will be only available in select major cities upon iOS 9’s release, including Baltimore, Berlin, Chicago, London, Mexico City, New York City, Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay Area, Toronto and Washington DC, as well as over 300 cities in China, including Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai.


Also new for iOS 9 is an app called News, which will source articles based on a user’s preferences and taste. News will likely replace the pretty unpopular Newstand app for magazine and newspaper applications, presenting them in a rich, magazine-style format that supports custom typography, galleries, audio, video and interactive animations, allowing publishers like Condé Nast, ESPN and The New York Times to create striking editorial layouts.

“We think this offers the best mobile-reading experience ever,” said Apple vice president of product marketing Susan Prescott in a demo of the new app.

Other upgrades

Additional new features include the completely redesigned Notes app, which gives users the the ability to draw a quick sketch using their finger, easily create checklists to keep track of to-dos, or snap a photo directly in a note.

There’s also some upgrades for iPads, including the new Slide Over feature that lets users simultaneously work in a second app without leaving the first.

iOS 9 will be available this autumn as a free upgrade for iPhone 4s and later, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2 and later, iPad mini and later.

Dean Van Nguyen was a contributor to Silicon Republic