After spending a month using the iOS 9 beta I am going to walk through some of the new features, what you can expect and other information that you need to know about to help you answer the question, “Is the public iOS 9 beta worth installing?”
Since the iOS 9 beta release I’ve been testing the update on the iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air 2. While the performance will vary from one device to the next, this is a good indicator on what you can expect while using the iOS 9 beta on iPhone or iPad.
The public iOS 9 beta is open to anyone who signs up with Apple and is accepted into the program. There is no specific number of users who will be in the public iOS 9 beta at this time, but if you are interested you should sign up sooner rather than later.
iOS 9 Preview
You can follow our guide to prepare for the iOS 9 beta to make sure that you are ready. This includes registering, backing up your iPhone and if possible using a spare device.
I am testing the iOS 9 beta on the iPhone 6 Plus and the iPad Air 2 because the newest iPad gets an awesome split screen feature that many users will enjoy.
iOS 9 Beta Performance
[contextly_sidebar id=”R0WJFG57nTfVNO9i1TgBOijfm1EdcvyD”]If you are looking to install the public iOS 9 beta, the good news is that you missed out on the first developer version that crashed often, devastated battery life and was not very fun to use. That is all part of using a very early beta, and something we expected. With the public iOS 9 beta the performance will likely be closer to the latest iOS 9 developer betas, which is to say very good for a beta.
Even on the newest and most powerful devices I still experience some app crashes on the iOS 9 beta, but after the second beta arrived the overall experience improved dramatically, and this is something you should expect on the public iOS 9 beta.
Here is a closer look at several areas of the iOS 9 beta that you need to know about before you decide to install the public iOS 9 beta on your iPhone or iPad.
iOS 9 Siri
Apple is very excited about Siri in iOS 9, but so far there is not much to get excited about on the beta. The new Siri and Spotlight page to the left of your home screen does not pull in a lot of relevant data yet, but this is something that could change in the full iOS 9 release later this year when the feature is fully baked and apps can work with it.
The voice features in Siri are handy because Siri is more aware of your location. Siri can search inside apps, deliver more complex results like showing you the photos you took last month and more.
Using the new search, that is enhanced with Siri’s features, allows for a quicker overall search of your phone. The news information on the left side isn’t very handy yet, but this could change with the News app that Apple is letting users test now.
iOS 9 Battery Life
There is always a chance that some problem could impact your iPhone battery life on the iOS 9 beta, but for the most part the iOS 9 battery life is solid on the latest developer builds and should be similar for public iOS 9 beta users.
Apple finally adds a low power mode that can add up several hours of power to the iPhone 6 Plus when turned on. The mode disable some options to make the battery last longer so you don’t need to manually change options and settings each time you need longer battery life.
The overall iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air 2 battery life is very good on the iOS 9 beta, thanks in part to the new efficiency that Apple claims can add an hour of use to the iPhone 6.
iOS 9 Apps & Features
With iOS 9 Apple adds in support for revamped versions of apps like Apple Maps, iCloud Drive and a new Notes app that adds a lot of important features to your iPhone and iPad. Passbook is now Wallet, but the overall features are the same.
If you plan to only try iOS 9 on one of your devices, you may not be able to use all the features because the new iOS 9 Notes app syncs to upgraded devices only. For some users the new features like options to sketch in notes, keep links in a note and add photos are worth the upgrade.
Apple now includes an iCloud Drive app that appears on your home screen if you turn it on. Something Apple should take note of for apps like the Apple Watch app. This is a handy way to use the files that you store in iCloud Drive, but it has yet to replace Dropbox for my use.
Apple Maps includes a new look and new transit options if you live in a major city that supports it. I am not able to test the effectiveness of these as I am not close to a city on the list. While search is improved, I still use Google Maps for most of my navigation needs.
The iPad Air 2 gains the most exciting new iOS 9 features with options to use two apps at once for enhanced productivity and new entertainment options. I used the iPad Air 2 with a Bluetooth keyboard and the new iOS 9 split screen option to work on the iPad with similar speed as on a laptop. This is not a direct laptop replacement yet, but the I am more productive with the iPad on iOS 9.
Other options include a pop up video that lets me watch a video while working inside another app and a slide out mode that delivers fast access to apps. For the beta this is limited to Apple’s apps, but you can expect to see this come to other apps soon.
You can see a larger collection of new iOS 9 features in the slides above. There are also a collection of small upgrades tot he appearance, including a new and improved multitasking menu and links to go back to other apps when a link or app sends you to another app.
Don’t expect a major overhaul to the looks, but there are important changes that users will appreciate.
Should You Install the iOS 9 Beta
While many users are content with iOS 8.4, we’re hearing more users ask, “Should I install the iOS 9 beta?” The answer varies from one user to the next. If you have a spare device to install the iOS 9 beta on than yes, give it a try to go for it right away.
If you want to install the iOS 9 beta on your primary iPhone or iPad, the answer is more complicated. If this is a work device or you rely on your iPhone for work in any way, you should probably skip the iOS 9 beta. Some apps will crash and some might not work at all, which could leave you high and dry.
Users that love the almost bug free performance of iOS 8.4 or iOS 8.3 should also hold off unless they don’t mind crashes and bugs that will almost certainly be present for a few months.
Apple does allow users downgrade from iOS 9 to iOS 8.4, so you can try the iOS 9 beta and then go back to iOS 8.4 if you don’t like the experience, but you will not be able to restore an iOS 9 backup to an iOS 8 device.
Public iOS 9 Beta Available for All iOS 8 Devices
Before we get in depth, we want to start with some of the basics. A lot of you are familiar with the public iOS 9 beta and how it works but we know plenty of you are hearing about the public iOS 9 beta for the first time. So let's start with the most important thing to know.
The most important thing to know about the public iOS 9 beta is that it's available to anyone that's signed up in the Beta Software Program. It's also available to all iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users capable of running iOS 8. So yes, the iPhone 4s and iPad 2 are capable of running iOS 9 beta.
Finally, it's free. Apple doesn't charge you for your testing services. The other beta, the developer beta, requires a $100 developer account. With all of those in mind, let's get into some of the other important iOS 9 beta details.