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article imageiOS 9 gets a better Siri, searching, payments and more

By James Walker     Jun 8, 2015 in Technology
Apple has formally announced iOS 9 at its WWDC developer's conference today. Siri has been updated to become much more useful and search functionality has been made much deeper alongside improvements to several core apps and the expansion of Apple Pay.
As Ars Technica writes, iOS 9 will not be as large an update in terms of new features as iOS 8 was. The emphasis is on refining key features, improving others and — in some areas — arguably playing catch-up to rivals.
One of these areas is Siri. The first digital assistant to hit the market, Apple made a splash when Siri was introduced in iOS 5. But in recent years the company seems to have neglected its creation, allowing competitors Google Now and Cortana to grow their functionalities to substantially exceed Siri's, helped by the immense rafts of data held by Google and Bing respectively.
Screens of Apple s iOS 9
Screens of Apple's iOS 9
Apple WWDC
Much of the appeal of Google Now and Cortana lies with their appeal to offer you information constantly. Google Now does this with cards of information tailored to your interests while Cortana can display details from your calendar, the news, the weather and your journey home on her Live Tile.
Siri has traditionally had none of this. In iOS 9, Apple is finally shifting Siri towards a less passive approach with a new "Proactive" mode. Siri will get to know you like Google Now and Cortana do and will be able to play music automatically when you go for a run or tell you how far away your next meeting is based on live traffic details.
Another key feature for iOS 9 that looks to be even more important in the future is the expansion of Apple Pay. The Verge reports how Apple Pay will soon be compatible with more banks, credit card providers and retailers and will even be able to store loyalty cards.
Additionally, the Passbook app is being renamed Wallet to make its functionality clearer. UK residents will be able to use Apple Pay from the summer as its international expansion begins.
Screens of Apple s iOS 9
Screens of Apple's iOS 9
Apple WWDC live keynote via The Verge
The "Spotlight" search feature has been dramatically expanded so that it can reach further into the system. Content within apps can be loaded automatically instead of just launching the app's homepage and Spotlight itself has a redesigned and more intuitive user interface. Interestingly, the new functionality is completed on the phone rather than cloud servers like Google and Microsoft use.
A more subtle change is the system-wide usage of the San Francisco typeface used on the Apple Watch in place of the traditional Helvetica Neue font. There are some notable other features too including new multi-tasking and split-screen functionality for iPad users which we'll be exploring in another article very soon.
iOS 9 will be available for free later this year on every device that is currently capable of running iOS 8. Developers will be able to download the preview once the WWDC keynote ends later tonight.
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