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Apple iOS 9.2: Should You Upgrade?

Forbes logo Forbes 10-12-2015 Gordon Kelly, Contributor

Yesterday Apple released iOS 9.2. It has some great new features , but marries that with a massive confession list of bug fixes. So is it worth the upgrade or are you better off steering clear? Let’s break it down… 

Who Is iOS 9.2 For?

iOS 9.2 is compatible with the iPhone 4S or later, iPad 2 or later, iPad mini or later, iPad Pro and 5th generation iPod touch or later. It is a 250MB download and should prompt users to upgrade to it automatically.

If that doesn’t happen you can manually trigger the update by going to Settings > General > Software Update

What Does iOS 9.2 Do?

iOS 9.2 doesn’t bring any game changing new features, but it does have several highlights which should be noted:

Apple News – while still only available for US and UK users, it gains a new ‘Top Stories’ section with iOS 9.2 that compiles what it believes to be the most important news of the day. These stories are curated by Apple News editors and receive several updates per day.

Apple News now contains human curated 'Top Stories'. Image credit: Gordon Kelly: Apple News now contains human curated ‘Top Stories’. Image credit: Gordon Kelly© Provided by Forbes Apple News now contains human curated ‘Top Stories’. Image credit: Gordon Kelly

Apple Music - iOS 9.2 brings a boatload of user interface tweaks to the slowly improving app. Best are the ‘Download’ button to save songs for offline listening (offline tracks are also better indicated), an upgraded classical music section (broken down into composers, performers and works) and a reordering of Playlists by recent changes.

iBooks - gains support 3D Touch in iOS 9.2. Books, Contents and Notes gain ‘Peek and Pop’ support while a dictionary search can be performed on any word you select with a pressure push. Audiobooks can also be heard while reading, though quite how practical this is remains to be seen.

Mail Drop - this finally comes to both the iPhone and iPad with iOS 9.2 and uses iCloud Drive within the Mail app to easily send files of up to 5GB.

USB Camera Adapter Support – this week Apple launched a USB adaptor which allows iPhones and iPads (though not the iPod touch) to transfer photos and video directly from a camera. iOS 9.2 adds the necessary compatibility for this accessory to work.

Safari - iOS 9.2 brings a tweak to the ‘Safari View Controller’ which allows it to support third party Action Extensions. In English this means when Safari is opened inside a third party app (eg TweetBot) then it still has access to other useful third party extensions (eg 1Password). The Safari View Controller also now supports a long press of the reload button to load content without ads blocked and a desktop page view. Meanwhile Edge Swipe will now dismiss a Safari window.

AT&T - finally iOS 9.2 adds support for AT&T’s NumberSync WiFi calling feature so the carrier’s customers can accept calls on any device. 

Apple iOS 9.2 Successes and Failures

Despite these new features, the calling card of iOS 9.2 is its massive list of bug fixes. These cover almost every part of the operating system including Camera, Contacts, Mail, Podcasts, Safari, iCloud, Find My iPhone, Health, Activity, Wallet, VoiceOver, Guided Access and the Apple keyboard.

Apple iOS 9.2 is available now. Image credit: Gordon Kelly© Provided by Forbes Apple iOS 9.2 is available now. Image credit: Gordon Kelly

The good news is therefore that hopefully iOS 9.2 should run a lot better than any version of iOS 9 before it. Has Apple definitively fixed all these issues? It’s almost impossible to say (usually some elements escape a first fix), but the notoriously vocal Apple Support Communities official forum has not piped up about iOS 9.2 causing any new issues. Of course I’ll update this should that change.

On top of this, Apple has confirmed iOS 9.2 should improve lag issues reported by some iPad Pro owners and I’m reading wider reports that owners of older iPhones and iPads are finding their devices feel a little smoother and faster.

One word of warning though: iOS 9.2 has no jailbreak. This shouldn’t be a surprise given iOS 9.1 also remains without a jailbreak, but if you’re tempted to update from an older jailbroken version of iOS then you need to bear this significant caveat in mind.

Next page: upcoming iOS releases and the Install Verdict… 

The Road Ahead

The arrival of iOS 9.2 is something of a stubborn victory for Apple. As reports mounted of bugs within iOS 9.1 (both new and unfixed) many expected customer pressure to push Apple into a smaller iOS 9.1.x release purely as a bug fix.

Instead Apple has taken its time (iOS 9.2 was in testing for 48 days) and released a single major update which contains both a mass of bug fixes and some useful new features. The wait may have frustrated users but it is also hopefully one that will pay off for Apple long term.

Apple iOS development has accelerated recently, but what comes next? Image credit: Thinkybits© Provided by Forbes Apple iOS development has accelerated recently, but what comes next? Image credit: Thinkybits

Consequently we now find ourselves in the unusual situation of having no new version of iOS 9 on the horizon. Apple’s iOS development often overlaps, but instead we shall have to wait and see if it’s iOS 9.3 or iOS 9.2.1 that breaks cover first. All being well with iOS 9.2 could mean Apple’s breakneck schedule of iOS 9 releases (four in under 3 months) can begin to ease up.

Install Verdict: Yes, Unless You Jailbreak

At the time of publishing, iOS 9.2 looks to be the release many users have wanted: one that marries a lorry load of bug fixes with some sensible OS tweaks and app improvements.

Furthermore, at the time of publishing, no major new bugs appear to have been introduced and my sources within the developer community seem happy. Naturally I’ll update should this change, but right now only those with jailbroken iDevices should steer clear. All signs point to iOS 9.2 being a very solid release.

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