UPDATED: iOS 9.3: What features are in the new iPhone and iPad update?


Update: Apple has released the iOS 9.3.1 update that fixes a bug which affected those with certain apps installed and crash Safari.

iOS 9.3 is the biggest incremental iPhone and iPad update in several years, as Apple has new software features that go as far as changing your sleeping habits.

That’s right, it has the long-sought-after iPhone Night Shift feature, which controls the blue light levels emitted from your screen, and it’s finally out of beta so that everyone can download it today.

Plenty of other useful features are here, too: multi-user support for students, Apple Notes locked behind a password (or Touch ID) and tweaked News, Health and Apple CarPlay apps. In the US, Verizon gains Wi-Fi calling – finally.

All of this is coming to devices that currently run iOS 9 as well as a new phone and tablet, iPad Pro 9.7 and iPhone SE, which launch March 31 in the 13 countries including the US, UK and Australia.

It’s not without iOS 9.3 problems, like authentication issues for iPad 2. But there are speedy fixes and now everyone can enjoy the following iOS 9.3 features.

Plus iOS 9.3.1 brings in a new fix for a bug that was making Safari crashed for some users. If you had certain apps installed, it may have crashed Safari when you tried to use links within the web browser.

Night Shift

I’ve read dozens of news stories that tell me I shouldn’t go to bed staring at my iPhone 6S Plus, my iPad Air 2 or my new MacBook, but do I follow those wise instructions? No.

Night Shift is the iOS 9.3 solution I’ve been waiting for, because it won’t require me to change my nighttime reading and working habits. It automatically tints my screen to warmer colors.

iOS 9 3 update release date news and features

“Many studies have shown that exposure to bright blue light in the evening can affect your circadian rhythms and make it harder to fall asleep,” according to Apple.

What’s neat is that iOS 9.3 uses the clock and geolocation to determine the sunset, and the screen becomes progressively more orange-tinted throughout the night, exactly like f.lux on Macs and Reader’s Edition on Amazon Kindle HD 8.

The completely optional Night Shift mode is found in Settings > Display and Brightness > Blue Light Reduction, with a slider bar to control how orange or blue it looks, and to adjust the schedule.

Apple’s swipe-up-from-the-bottom Control Center overlay menu adds Night Shift to the bottom row of quick settings. It’s flanked by flashlight and timer on the left and calculator and camera on the right. That’s how important this feature is for the new update.

It’s all designed to allow your eyes to relax so that falling asleep is easier, and when it’s time to wake up, the screen color shifts back to normal.

Multi-user user support… kind of

Buried in the iOS 9.3 release notes is the first sign of multi-user support, only it’s strictly for classroom iPads right now.

Apple calls this new app suite ‘iOS in Education’, and the highlight is the fact that it enables students to log into any iPad in any classroom and pick up where they left off.

iOS 9 3 release date features and news

This makes a lot of sense for a school’s shared iPad experience, and it comes with Photo IDs to denote profiles and simple passwords for younger students.

iOS in Education also includes three other apps meant for teachers and school officials: a new Classroom app for teach-guided lessons that ensures the students follow along, and Apple School Manager and Managed Apple IDs for consolidated admin portals.

Even if you’re not going to school, the simple fact that Apple has built one form of a multi-user login experience should give you high hope for a similar iOS 10 experience in a few months.

Apple Notes password protected

iOS 9 3 update release date news and features

Before the new iOS 9.3 arrived, keeping confidential information in Apple Notes could be a little risky. Anyone could nab your unlocked iPhone and scan the secrets you jotted down.

Thankfully, the power of Touch ID and passcodes are now a part of Apple Notes. Far too many people (read: parents) keep all of their financial data, medical information and passwords in this not-so-secret app.

iOS 9.3 allows your vulnerable folks to protect certain notes under lock and fingerprint for extra security. It also lets you sort everything by date created, date modified and alphabetically now.


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