New iOS Features Have Been a Mainstay of Android for so Long

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You knew this was coming anyway so don’t act surprised. It’s not like it is a bad thing. Apple is famous for holding out on adding new features for no apparent reason and waits until it thinks the time is ripe to introduce those same features to its various platforms i.e. OS X and iOS. Last night during the WWDC15 keynote, it was not anything different. There were several announcements of new features that will be available in iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan that have been on Android for the longest time ever.

1. Split Screen and Multi-Tasking

As we had earlier heard, that “multi-window” feature that select Android devices have had for quite sometime is now coming to the iPad with iOS 9. For the first time, iPad users will be able to interact with two apps simultaneously. The feature named Split View will be available on the iPad Air 2. Split View is the big deal as users will be able to access and control each app independent of the other and transfer information from one app to the other using gestures. A new app switcher makes it even easy to shift the program running inside each panel.

Older iPads will get a watered down version of the feature called Slide Over which in essence will be just watered-down multi-tasking as it will allow users to launch a smaller version of an app but only access one of the two apps at a time with the smaller one not running in the background. Say for instance you’re watching Sense8 on Netflix and a text message you need to respond to just arrives. You’ll be able to do that. Use case scenarios will change but you get the picture. Apple demoed on stage a scenario whereby you’re using the Safari browser and need to tweet or text.

2. Picture-in-picture

Android users will be familiar with the ability to watch videos on their devices while going on with their other tasks like social networking, document editing or simply catching up with the news via Flipboard. That is coming to the Apple iPad in iOS 9 as well.

iPad users will be able to continue watching San Andreas trailers on the video application while still double-tapping on the latest #nofilter posts on Instagram. The same is the case when using FaceTime. When the home button on the iPad is pressed as one is playing a video or doing FaceTime, the window resizes to a small box that can be dragged around the screen or even fade into the background while you chat up your friends on Facebook Messenger as the video still plays.

3. Apple Maps

Those suggestions you’ve been getting on where to eat, the recommendations, the directions for public transport and other transit information that has been part of your life thanks to Google Maps? They’re now coming to Apple’s Maps app. Maps is not one of the most popular applications on iOS thanks to the hiccups it faced at first, but we actually feel happy that it is coming up nicely and finally catching up. We’ve had these features as part of the core Google Maps experience for such a long time and with a deeper integration on Android than the Google Maps app on iOS would ever dream of  that it is just now that it is dawning on us how lucky we’ve been!

4. Notes

I first used S Note on the Galaxy Note II back in 2012. Alongside S Note, Samsung bundled other productivity applications like Sketchbook and S Paper Artist. I still have a Galaxy Note lying around and do enjoy Evernote Premium and Google Keep. Why am I bringing those up you may ask? Because finally the Notes application in iOS is getting a much needed update. It will finally be able to do what other note-taking applications have been doing for like forever including the ability to create lists (yes, that), rich text, sketchers, hand-written/drawn notes, the ability to use the camera app directly so as to add photos to notes and the ability to add content directly from Safari, Apple Maps etc.

While iPhone and iPad users have also had access to good note-taking apps like Simplenote and Evernote that are available on iTunes, it is baffling that the stock note-taking app has been pretty much barebones all these years. Never mind, it will be catching up with the trends with iOS 9. You know what they say? Better late…

5. Power-saving mode

Android device users may take it for a ride that they have such features like power-saving mode and ultra-power saving mode. Big name Android OEMs like Samsung and HTC and others like Tecno in the Kenyan market have been implementing the power-saving mode on their own for a while. Last year, with the Android L release, Google finally made it an Android thing with the mobile OS finally putting to sleep applications that are no longer active so as to preserve some more juice. Google is continuing with that mission in Android M. It’s never been the case on the other side of the walled garden. Probably because iOS is not as power-hungry as Android is. That doesn’t mean we’ve ever stopped from calling our iPhone friends “wall-huggers”. We’d be hard-pressed for new nicknames though come July when iOS 9 will be available as a public beta.

iOS 9 will bring a low power mode that will see iPhones and iPads preserve between 10 to 20% of the battery.

6. Keyboard shortcuts

iOS 9 will also be bringing a shortcut bar to the iOS Quicktype keyboard. Things like copy and paste shortcuts, file attachments etc will be possible to do right from within the keyboard. See below what I can do with my keyboard right now.

ios 9 keyboard shortcuts android

7. Proactive

Google Now? Cortana? Siri? The three services from Google, Microsoft and Apple have been compared widely in the past but what has generally stood out is that they are functionally different. Google Now has grown and with the Android M release later in the year, it will be getting smarter. Apple is also offering its own Now-like service: Proactive. While it will be in the shadow of Now for the time being, it shines in one aspect: it won’t be tied to user’s Apple accounts so no data about users will be collected.

8. News app

We’ve really maligned Samsung with their junk news app on Galaxy devices but hey, they had it! HTC has also been pushing its Blinkfeed for the last two years and if the One M9 reviews are anything to go by, it is getting better by the day. Apple is ditching Newstand, its current offering, for News, a new news aggregator a la Flipboard.

There are several other features in iOS 9 that mark progression as far as our fruity friends are concerned but these are the main ones. iOS 9 will be available officially later in the year (September) to the iPhone 4s and later and even the ageing 2011 iPad 2 and newer models will also be getting some love even though while Apple boasts of the fastest upgrade rollouts, older devices hardly ever get the juiciest of these features thanks to old hardware restrictions.

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