iOS 9 review: In-depth with Apple’s most advanced mobile OS

iOS 9 review: Safari

Safari is one of the most popular browsers in the world, mainly thanks to the sheer number of iOS users. This means any changes to the browser will affect a large number of people – and also a huge number of developers and websites.

The biggest change, however, will be something that’s welcomed mainly by users – and cursed by at least some publishers. That change is the introduction of content blockers.

Content blockers allow developers to create extensions to Safari that block specific kinds of content in web pages. This includes cookies, images, resources, pop-ups and pretty-much every other kind of content you might see on a page.

Unsurprisingly, the first applications for this have all been similar: ad-blocking tools that prevent users seeing ads on web pages. Your view on ad-blocking probably depends on your proximity to advertising revenue, but either way it’s obvious that Safari’s content blocking capabilities are going to change the game for users and publishers alike.

iOS 9 review: Notes

Notes has always been the app serious users didn’t use. If you’re a power notes user, Evernote, OneNote, or one of the wide range of other apps have always been your first choices.

Things are changing. Notes in iOS 9 is not only significantly more powerful, it’s also just as simple to use as it’s ever been.

First, the most basic feature of the lot: at long last, iOS Notes has folders, so you can split out your work and personal notes, or whatever way you want to organise things. However, as welcome as this is, it isn’t particularly sophisticated. You can’t, for example, have nested folders, which would be handy for splitting out notes connected to specific projects.

Apple has introduced a very smart additional layer of organisation, though, adding the notion of attachments. The attachments view groups together specific kinds of things, which you might have added to a note: maps, from Apple Maps; webpages, from Safari; photos, video, audio, other documents, and sketches. All this is grouped together in the Attachments browser, making it a simple process to find that drawing of your cat you made earlier.

Notes themselves now have much richer formatting. Although previous versions of Notes could view things such as bulleted lists and italic text in notes made on OS X, iOS devices couldn’t actually create them. Now they can, and it’s also possible to add things like titles, headings and checklists.

Of course, there are irritations. Checklists, for example, have no relationship at all to iOS Reminders, so they’re effectively yet another way to not really manage your to-dos. There’s also no way of finding all the checklists in your notes, which would have turned notes into a decent to-do list manager.

I mentioned earlier that sketches are a content type that shows up in the Attachments browser. The sketches tool is actually rather nice: you get different tools to work with, such as pens, markers, pencil and eraser, as well as a smart ruler tool, which lets you draw perfect straight lines at any angle. You can use this with either your finger or a stylus, but it will come into its own when used with the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

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