Apple Inc.’s iOS 9 is expected to focus mainly on bug fixes and optimization, much like Snow Leopard did for Mac OSX. But that doesn’t mean users shouldn’t expect several cool new features in the next version. While Apple hasn’t officially announced iOS 9 yet, it has dropped a number of hints at what it has been working on through a number of patents filed through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. From transit mapping to split-screen multitasking, here’s a look at five things we may see in Apple iOS 9.
Since Apple ditched Google Maps and switched to its own mapping app in 2012, iOS has been sorely missing first-party transit directions, relying on third-party apps to take its place. But with iOS 9 on the way, the tech firm has an opportunity to bring the option back to its mapping apps.
In two patent applications filed by the company in December, Apple provided significant detail on how it might reintroduce transit mapping to iOS through dynamic timetables and location-based points of interest. In combination, the two patents point to a unified transit app, which could potentially debut with iOS 9 later this year.
Apple has acquired a number of transit-related mapping direction companies over the past couple of years, including Embark, HopStop and Locationary.
Beyond transit, Apple is also working on providing indoor mapping for iPhone. In a patent application, it details how it can make the service work through the use of iBeacons. The technology can provide users with indoor directions, but it also has the added benefit of being able to notifications about wait times in lines for places of interest.
Though the feature would be a first for Apple, its former maps vendor Google has provided indoor mapping through its app on Android since 2011 and on iOS since 2013.
Enhanced CarPlay Functionality
CarPlay, first introduced by Apple at the Geneva Auto Show last March, expanded iOS to the car while also redesigning the in-dash vehicle entertainment system. The simplified interface provides access to your phone, music, navigation and messages in a way that allows drivers to stay focused on the road. The entertainment and communications features are only part of the puzzle. In the near future, CarPlay may also have the ability to control some of basic car functions.
In a patent granted to Apple in October, the company details an invention which would turn an iPhone or other device into a car remote that control door locks, engine and other functions. Currently, CarPlay only works when users connect a compatible iPhone to their car via a power cable. It is also expected to support a wireless connection with the release of iOS 8.3 later this year.
Apple Pay Expansion
Apple has signed 750 banks and credit unions looking to add their credit and debit cards to Apple Pay. Things may not stop there. Apple is already preparing to expand the mobile payment method overseas to support China UnionPay in iOS 8.3, according to 9to5Mac.
The company has also been rumored to be working on expanding Apple Pay with its own rewards and loyalty program. However, it may find some resistance from merchants such as Walmart, CVS and Rite-Aid, who are backing another mobile payment app called CurrentC, which utilizes QR codes to procress payments.
“In terms of how it evolves, I think we're in the first inning on it,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the company’s January earnings call. “There's tons of things on our roadmap of adding functionality to it.”
Leading up to the reveal and eventual release of iOS 8, there was a lot of talk about Apple introducing split-screen multitasking to the iPad. This was mainly due to some code found in early builds of the software, which pointed to features which could display apps using a fraction of the screen. This feature eventually failed to materialize in the release version.
But with a number of rumors pointing to a 12.9-inch “iPad Pro” in the works, it’s possible that split-screen multitasking could resurface in iOS 9 for the larger tablet. While Apple hasn’t officially announced the iPad pro, production is expected to start in the coming months and the final product is expected to launch later this year.