Discover What’s New in iOS 9 and the New iPads

By Nancy C. Muir

Apple’s iPad gets its features from a combination of hardware and its software operating system (called iOS; the term is short for iPhone Operating System, in case you want to impress your friends). The current operating system is iOS 9, though small updates appear all the time, so by now, you might have 9.2, 9.3, or 9.4!

If you’ve seen an older iPad in action, or if you own one, it’s helpful to understand which new features the latest iPad devices bring to the table (all of which are covered in more detail throughout this book).

Three iPads are now being offered: iPad mini 4, iPad Air 2, and iPad Pro. The Pro is the newest addition to the line, with a large 12.9-inch screen, an optional attached keyboard accessory, and an optional stylus with fancy sensors for better control drawing and performing tasks on the screen. iPad Air 2 is left over from last year’s line-up, and iPad mini 4 brings some tweaks to the quality and performance of the iPad mini 3, which is no longer available.

In addition to the features of previous iPads, the latest iPad models offer

  • Design: For iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 4, Apple has made them a bit lighter and thinner than earlier models and made improvements to screen and camera quality. iPad mini 4 has a fully laminated display with antireflective coating, just like iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro. iPad Air 2 weighs .96 pounds, iPad mini 4 weighs .65 pounds, and the big brother of them all, iPad Pro, weighs 1.57 pounds, which is still impressive given the overall dimensions of the display.

  • An improved chip: The 64-bit A8X processor in the iPad Air 2 increases the processor and graphics speeds accomplished by the A8 chip on the previous-generation iPad Air. The iPad mini 4 has advanced to an A8 processor. iPad Pro sports the best processor of the bunch, an A9X, which makes it the fastest performer of the trio.

  • Better Wi-Fi: Two-antennae, dual-channel Wi-Fi and the use of MIMO (multiple-input, multiple output) technology allows for much faster wireless connections. In iPad Air 2, support of the latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11 ac, ups the ante on Wi-Fi performance. Note that the iPad mini 4 doesn’t support this standard.

  • Motion Coprocessor: This coprocessor processes game features like the gyroscope and accelerometer. On iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4, there’s an M8 motion coprocessor. The iPad Pro offers a slightly faster M9 motion coprocessor.

  • Photos and Video Recording: Video recording features added to the iPad mini 4 include the addition of Slo-mo mode for video recording and Burst mode for taking and optimizing a series of pictures.

  • Touch ID: This security feature is now included on all iPad models (it was missing on iPad mini 2). Essentially, sensors in the Home button allow you to train the iPad to recognize your fingerprint and grant you access to not only your iPad with a finger press, but also allow you to use the Apple Pay feature to buy items without having to enter your payment information every time.

  • A barometer sensor: Now on all three iPad models, this sensor makes it possible for your iPad to sense air pressure and weather around you. This one’s especially cool when hiking a mountain where the weather may change as you climb.

  • Apple Pencil and 3D Touch: With iPad Pro, some exciting new hardware features include the ability to use the optional Apple Pencil stylus to interact with the screen. In addition, the 3D Touch feature (sometimes referred to as Multi-Touch) allows for three levels of pressure on the screen. For example, the lightest tap on an object selects it; medium pressure displays a preview (called Peek by Apple); the heaviest pressure opens the item (called Pop).

  • Keyboard options: iPad Pro has a full size onscreen keyboard. Additionally, you can buy an attachable physical keyboard, which you hook up using a Smart Connector connection, making it much easier to get work or complex tasks done.

  • Live Photos: Using the 3D Touch feature, you can press harder on a photo on the screen and it “plays” like a short video. Essentially, the Camera app captures 1.5 seconds on either side of the moment when you capture the photo, so anything that moved, such as water flowing in a stream, will seem to move when you press the still photo.

Almost any iPad device except the original iPad can use most features of iOS 9 if you update the operating system. This update to the operating system adds a few new features, including

  • The News app: This new app is an intelligent news aggregator, which means that it gathers news stories from various sources in one place. It’s intelligent because it “learns” to present you with stories that are similar to other content you’ve viewed.

  • More integrated Notes: The Notes app gets a facelift with iOS 9, with the ability to add photos, maps, and URLs to notes. Additionally, you can create instant checklists and even sketch in your notes. You can also share items to Notes using the Share feature in apps such as Photos.

  • Improvements to the Maps app: With iOS 9, Maps gets a Transit view for finding information about public transit in select cities around the world. Also, the Nearby feature provides suggestions of nearby businesses and services, such as restaurants, bank ATMs, and gas stations.

  • Improved Siri suggestions and search: Siri, iPhone’s personal assistant feature, can now offer suggestions of items you might be interested in even before you ask. For example, if you read a newspaper the same time every morning, Siri might suggest the publication to you. Siri can even search for a photo or video based on the date and location where you took the photo.

  • Stronger passcodes and two-factor authentication: With iOS 9, longer passcodes provide more security, while two-factor authentication helps your iPad make sure you’re you. With this feature, when you try to access any accounts or information from a new device, you’re asked to retrieve a code from another device via a text message or phone call to sign in, in addition to your account information.

  • Car Play: Car Play is a new feature that is largely still on the drawing board, because car manufacturers are only now planning to build it into their car models. If you buy a car down the road with Car Play, it will allow you to control several features, use apps, and play content from your iPad from a graphical screen built into the dashboard.