Apple releases iOS 9.3, includes new features and bug fixes

iOS 9.3 update is now available to download, which adds some tweaks and new features for iPhones and iPads. In beta for over two months now, it’s all going live right now and is 300MB in size.

Chief among those mentioned at the Town Hall media event at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, was Night Shift, a new mode that adjusts the display’s colour temperature and tone on the fly. It does this based on location and time, and appears to be primarily aimed at easing eye strain for users who look at screens before falling asleep.

Exposure to blue light in the evening is believed to be a cause for difficulties in sleeping. Hence, the name of the feature, where it can kick in automatically on an evening schedule to reduce the level of blue light the screen emits.

Notes, the widely-used, yet hardly touched (by Apple) note-taking app, gets a security update that now allows users to encrypt specific notes with a password and Touch ID fingerprint.

There is also multi-user support for iPads, a feature that addresses use of the tablet in classrooms and libraries, among other places. This is somewhat like a guest mode that can handle multiple users at once, where there is no administration access and one user can be locked out of certain apps or features.

Apple’s Health app gets Watch integration, plus a new feature that will recommend good third-party health and fitness tracking apps that play nice with Apple’s.

For iPhone 6s and 6s Plus users, 3D Touch is being expanded to more core iOS apps. A medium press of the App Store will reveal search and update all without launching the app. Same with Settings, where a medium press offers quick access to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and battery settings without going all in. It will work with Notes, Weather, Health and even the Compass.

CarPlay has been given some minor tweaks, including broader content support for Apple Music, though it’s not clear how much has been added from the streaming service. Up to iOS 9.2.1, Apple Music was woefully limited with CarPlay, offering little to nothing of the curated content available outside of the Beats 1 radio station.

Additionally, Apple Maps will add points of interest to work with CarPlay to make it easier for drivers to find gas stations, coffee or other places nearby while driving. A long overdue feature, though again, we will have to test it to see how dynamic it really is, and whether or not Siri integrates with it in any meaningful way.

Apple only glossed over the CarPlay portion, not addressing whether the various bugs afflicting the platform, including random disconnections and freezing, have been remedied in 9.3. We will soon find out through testing.

A number of other bug fixes are also being included in the medium-sized update, so you can presume that your phone will run smoother, as a result. The new iPhone SE and iPad Pro (9.7-inch) will ship with iOS 9.3 already installed.