Apple released the fifth beta version of iOS 9 to developers this morning. Although the last two beta updates focused primarily on minor bug fixes and performance enhancements, this upgrade brings several new features along with it. While nothing in the update is particularly mind-blowing, there are quite a few little tweaks that are worth paying attention to.
Possibly the most important addition to this beta release is support for Wi-Fi calling on AT&T. Wi-Fi calling was previously only available for T-Mobile subscribers, but the addition of AT&T points to the availability of Wi-Fi calling on all carriers in the future. Although the feature was implemented in this update, AT&T has yet to actually support Wi-Fi calling for their users, but they have stated that the feature will be made available later this year.
A large collection of new wallpapers were also added with the release. Many of the wallpapers that came with iOS 8 have been removed to make way for the new set of beautiful photographs, optimized for Retina screens. Images of flowers, sand dunes, and feathers pop with incredible color and detail, and look great on the iPhone and iPad screens.
Quite a few minor interface tweaks came with the update, as well. The keyboard, Siri Suggestions, the CarPlay interface, and the settings screen for Handoff/Suggested Apps all saw a bit of reworking, and the Calendar app sees a new splash screen that explains new features that have been added. Finally, the Music App has added a “Shuffle All” option at the top of the app, which allows users to do just that – shuffle all of theirs songs for a randomized playlist.
With just over a month until the official release of iOS 9, the beta versions are becoming more polished and feature-rich. The final version will feature a “smarter” Siri, that learns how and when you use your phone and offers suggestions for quick access to frequently used contacts and apps. Deeper and smarter search capabilities will also be added, including the ability to search within apps. Several new features will be added, but the focus is on a more intelligent and personalized experience for the user. The final release is expected this coming September.