Apple Releases Penultimate Version Of iOS 9.3 - InformationWeek
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3/15/2016
01:05 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Apple Releases Penultimate Version Of iOS 9.3

Beta 7 is likely to be the last test version of iOS 9.3 before Apple makes the refreshed platform available to everyone. Here's a look at what's in store.

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Apple's March 21 event will herald a new iPad, a new iPhone, a refreshed Apple Watch, and the arrival of iOS 9.3 for the masses. Apple has been testing iOS 9.3 for about two months. This minor update isn't so minor, since it contains several marquee features worthy of some excitement.

Night Shift promises to help people fall asleep with less difficulty after using their iPhone or iPad before bedtime. Research suggests late-night screen time can disrupt sleep cycles. Night Shift removes blue light from the screen while amping up yellows based on the time of day. This helps your eyes relax.

Users can toggle Night Shift on and off manually right from the control center, or set it to switch on automatically at predetermined times. Google Books added a similar feature last year.

(Image: samsonovs/iStockphoto)

(Image: samsonovs/iStockphoto)

Some changes are headed to Apple News, as well. The latest beta revealed that advertisers will be able to target News readers with advertisements placed between articles.

The news reading app will also gain support for landscape browsing on the iPhone, as well as portrait video playback.

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The Apple Health app on iPhones will be able to collate workout data in a way that's easier for Apple Watch owners to view and understand. Similarly, Apple Music will be easier to access and use in cars that support CarPlay. Apple Notes will be more enterprise friendly as iOS 9.3 adds the ability to password-protect individual notes.

Apple Pay and Live Photos will gain some usability tweaks, as well.

The remainder of iOS 9.3's tentpole features are aimed at educators and students. For example, school IT admins and teachers will be able to use a setup assistant to create Managed Apple IDs, and to purchase and manage education apps from the App Store.

Teachers will be able to buy discounted digital textbooks in bulk, and the iTunes U Course Manager will assist educators when it comes time to create engaging lessons for the iPad.

iOS 9.3 and the Managed Apple IDs function create another benefit: support for multiple account logins per device. iPads will no longer be limited to a single account, which can help school districts get a tab on hardware costs. Further, Managed IDs make it easier for students to pick up where they left off thanks to managed intelligent on-device content-caching.

Apple doesn't typically add so many features to 0.X updates to iOS, so iOS 9.3 is atypical in that respect. So, too, is the March 21 event. Apple has for the last few years released its new iPhones and iPads in the fall months.

With the iPad Air Pro and iPhone SE on deck for later this month, Apple is falling out of step with its traditional hardware schedule. (Not that we're complaining.)

iOS 9.3 Beta 7 is available to developers and public beta testers alike. Everyone else needs to wait just a few more days.

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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