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printed November 21, 2017
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Review: Apple iOS 9

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iOS 9 builds on the foundation created by iOS 7 and iOS 8. It is an evolutionary step forward that manages to deliver tangible improvements — such as better battery life — while at the same time bringing a few exciting new behaviors to the fold.

If you ask Apple, it will likely point to the more powerful Siri as the hallmark feature of iOS 9. Siri is, in fact, much better than on any previous generation of iOS. The tool responds much better to voice input and can handle a wider range of requests. It's also smarter about managing things in the background and offering suggestions as you perform searches. It doesn't quite match Google Now, but it's almost there.

The Apple News app and transit directions are other big additions to the platform, but each falls a bit flat. The News app is functional, but others do the same thing better. The same goes for transit directions, which are limited and sometimes inaccurate in iOS 9.

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Multitasking on the iPad is another major step forward for iOS, and adds incredible new powers to Apple's tablet. We only wish Apple would make them available to the iPhone, too. Apple made solid improvements to Apple Pay, its note-taking app, and myriad other bits and pieces of the platform.

Taken as a whole, iOS 9 may not be the most exciting mobile operating system release ever, but it puts iOS in close parity with Android in may ways. As always, the updated system gives developers even more power to offer creative and compelling apps. That means devices with iOS 9 on board will only get better with time.

If you're weighing whether or not to update your older iPhone to iOS 9, the answer is an emphatic "Yes!" for the battery life and performance improvements alone. If you're trying to decide if iOS or Android is the right platform for you, iOS 9 is well worth strong consideration.

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