Compared to the usual fanfare, Apple fans weren’t terribly exciting in the weeks and days leading up to Monday’s big press conference. After all, we knew just about everything there was to know about the announcements Apple had planned for the event thanks to leaks and a number of reports from reliable sources. A new 4-inch iPhone that looks just like the iPhone 5? A new iPad? With iOS 10 and a new line of iPhone 7 phones set to debut later this year, Monday’s announcements hardly seemed worth getting worked up over.
As it turned out though, Apple’s new iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro both ended up being fantastic additions to Apple’s product lineup. True, the iPhone SE is the first iPhone you don’t care about at all, but that’s OK — it’s not meant for you. And whether or not you plan to upgrade (or downgrade?) to the new iPhone SE or iPad Pro, Apple also did something on Monday that affected all iPhone and iPad users: The company released iOS 9.3.
Apple’s new iOS 9.3 software isn’t exactly what one might consider a major upgrade. With iOS 10 set to be unveiled in just a few months, Apple is undoubtedly saving all the big new additions for then. But this incremental iOS update packs some really great new features, and we’ll run through all the best ones right here.
First and foremost, the feature everyone’s talking about: Night Shift.
Apple’s new iOS 9.3 software includes a terrific new feature that changes the color temperature of the screen to remove much of the blue light it emits. Why? Because blue light strains your eyes in the dark. Since many people bury their faces in their phones until they fall asleep, removing blue light can help improve sleep quality.
Night Shift is accessible in Settings > Display and Brightness, where users can set a schedule to enable and disable it automatically each day. It can also be enabled and disabled manually from the Control Panel.
New 3D Touch shortcuts
3D Touch is still somewhat limited on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, but that will likely change once iOS 10 is released. In the meantime, Quick Actions is one of the few functions it supports, but that doesn’t make it any less useful. And in iOS 9.3, Quick Actions menus are available on a number of new stock apps.
For details on all the apps with newly available 3D Touch Quick Actions menus, check out our earlier post.
New security in Notes
Every decent third-party note taking application out there includes some kind of option for security, but Apple’s own stock Notes app never has. Perhaps Apple thought lock screen security was enough, though we now know that’s not the case.
In iOS 9.3, Apple has added the option to protect the Notes app with a password or with Touch ID.
Find out if Wi-Fi Assist is costing you a fortune
Wi-Fi Assist is an iOS 9 feature that forces the phone to switch to cellular data when Wi-Fi signals are weak. Some people were running into problems with the features though, because it would constantly disconnect from Wi-Fi and cause them to blow through their data caps.
Anecdotally, I have the opposite problem. Wi-Fi Assist never switches me over to LTE even when the data connection on my Time Warner Cable internet completely dies. It happens at least a few times every single day, so it would be nice to see it actually work every once in a while.
Back to the new addition in iOS 9.3, users can now see exactly how much data has been used as a result of the Wi-Fi Assist feature by visiting Settings > Cellular and scrolling down to the bottom of the screen.
Save stills from Live Photos
Sometimes when you snap a nice photo of your cat that you want to share, you don’t want an animation and the sound of your television blaring in the background. In iOS 9.3, you can separate out the still version of your Live Photo.
You’ll see the new option when you’re on a Live Photo in your camera roll and you tap the share button. Simply select Duplicate > Duplicate as Still Photo and share that new version instead.
Apps to make you healthier
More and more people these days are using their smartphones to help improve their health — check out our post on 5 free apps for iPhone and Android that will actually change your life — and iOS 9.3 makes it easier than ever to find new ways that your phone might help you.
In Apple’s Health hub, Apple Watch users will now see a special areas in each section full of suggestions for new health-related apps.
Multi-user support for iPad… sort of
Families would love to be able to share a single iPad but still protect their private data from other users. Well, they can’t, because the iPad doesn’t support multiple user accounts like Android and Windows do.
With iOS 9.3, however, the iPad got a number of new education features and multi-user support for student accounts is among them. This way, classrooms can share iPads and every student gets his or her own separate login.