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iOS 9 Beta: WiFi Assist, App Revamps

The latest update to the beta version of Apple's iOS 9 delivers a much needed WiFi feature, app redesigns, and new wallpaper options.
10 Annoyingly Addictive iPhone, Android Apps
10 Annoyingly Addictive iPhone, Android Apps
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Apple has delivered the latest version of its forthcoming mobile OS to its developer audience. The newest update to iOS 9 packs a few key features and redesigns for apps like Activity, Calendar, and Siri. However, the WiFi feature is garnering the most attention.

The decision to release iOS for beta testing is a new one for Apple. Preview builds are currently limited to registered developers, but the company promises to eventually include consumers in the process.

There is plenty to see in iOS 9 beta 5, but two capabilities have the tech world buzzing: WiFi Assist and WiFi Calling.

[Coming Soon: Siri-powered voicemail transcription.]

As reported on 9to5Mac, WiFi Assist is a new setting for maintaining a strong online connection. If you're in an area with bad WiFi, the enabled feature will automatically transfer your device from WiFi to a cellular connection.

Normally, the iPhone will stay connected to a poor WiFi signal unless you manually disconnect or walk away until you're out of range. The setting saves you the frustration (and battery life) of a poor WiFi connection by making the automatic switch.

WiFi calling support is also available for AT&T subscribers in iOS 9 beta 5. This generally provides a better phone call connection. It's a handy option if you're traveling in a location with a weak signal.

Earlier versions of iOS 9 limited WiFi calling capabilities to T-Mobile. It looks like this feature will be available on several carriers in the future.

Read on to learn more about the app updates and new features Apple has included in iOS 9 beta 5:

  • New wallpaper: Apple has gotten rid of some old wallpaper designs in iOS 9 beta 5 and replaced them with a range of new images. Testers can choose to display pictures of planets, abstract splashes of color, or up-close feathers.
  • CarPlay: Larger artwork and features from Apple Music and Beats 1, including ability to like songs by tapping a heart button.
  • Calendar: Opening the Calendar app now displays a splash screen to explain its new capabilities. The app will now provide information on events it pulls from your Mail app, and it will use Apple Maps to find locations and determine traffic conditions so you'll know the best time to leave.
  • Music: Newly added Shuffle All button at the top of the app for shuffling all your tunes.
  • Siri: When you tap the picture for a contact, you will no longer see labels for the call, message, or FaceTime buttons -- just the icons for each option.
  • Handoff: Handoff will now only suggest apps that have already been installed on your device.
  • Keyboard: Now has new buttons for Delete, Dictation, and Shift.
  • Activity: Updated with new design.

iOS 9 is predicted to launch in full later this fall, likely in September. We're also expecting Apple to debut a new iPhone within the same time frame.