Apple didn't announce a new iPhone at its developer's conference, but it did reveal something nearly as good, especially if you're planning on holding on to your iPhone for another year or so. Apple detailed its big annual software update for iPhones and iPads, iOS 9, Monday. Here's how it will improve your phone and tablet:
Apple's homegrown apps have been improved as well. For instance, the Notes app now has formatting options, and you can upload photos into the yellow-paged application, as well as draw directly in the Notes app. You can also use it for checklists or to-do lists.
Apple's Maps has gotten better too, and now it finally includes transit directions, one of the clearest remaining differences between it and Google Maps. Apple also has beefed up its directory of businesses, and now tells you if you're looking at a business that accepts Apple Pay.
Apple also announced a new app called News, which is an attractive viewer for reading magazines and articles from the Web on an iPhone or iPad from publishers like the New York Times, Wired and Quartz. The app looks really slick and includes a built-in video player.
Low Power Mode
Google's not the only company that is getting serious about smartphone battery management. According to Craig Federighi, an iPhone should see another hour of daily battery life with iOS 9. But if you're really low on juice, Apple has added a low power mode that can tack on three hours of standby. Turning on low power mode should be as easy as pushing a button.
Siri will get smarter in iOS 9. The voice assistant software can now answer queries like “show me photos from Utah from August." Siri's also better at context -- and it can remind you not to forget your coffee on your car roof, for instance, or remind you about a webpage you were looking at while you were at work when you get home. It should anticipate what you might want to do, offering suggestions for people to contact and apps you might want to launch.
Siri also will be able to provide transit directions. According to Apple, Siri fields 1 billion queries per week and is 40 percent faster at responding than it was last year.
Multiuser Mode on iPad
This one's been a long-time coming. The iPad can now multitask, much like a laptop.
As part of iOS 9, you can run two apps at the same time on an iPad. Sliding your finger from the side of the screen can open a secondary column. With another tap, you can access several apps in a side column. Apple calls it "split view," and it's possible to work in two apps at the same time.
It's possible to split your screen evenly between two apps, and it's also possible to have a single, streamlined column if you only need a little bit of information, like a list of emails or messages. You can even have videos or sound going in a resizable background window, which Apple calls "picture-in-picture."
Apple also has stuck a bunch of convenient shortcuts into the suggestions bar above the iPad on-screen keyboard. For instance, when sending emails, now you've got options to cut and paste. The keyboard can also be used as a trackpad by scrolling two fingers up and down.
Apple also updated its task switcher screen. Most features will be available for most iPads bought in the past two years although those with aging iPads might miss out. Split view will only be available for the iPad Air 2, which came out last year.
One thing Google does better than Apple is knowing what you want before you want it. It's what makes Google Now such a compelling app, and it's the kind of interface that works even better on a smartwatch.
Apple finally announced its Google Now alternative Monday. It's called Proactive, and it wraps context, search, and cards into a single interface, a lot like Google Now. For instance, when you plug in headphones, it automatically knows to start playing music.
One key difference is that Apple emphasizes Proactive is running on the device itself, not in the cloud, which Apple is angling as a challenge to Google and its policy of collecting user data.
iOS 9 will be available as a "public beta" for download starting in July.