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Apple iOS 9 has arrived in public beta but is it worth it?

Apple has spent a lot of time building up excitement around iOS 9, which will launch officially in the fall – but users don’t have to wait that long to get their hands on it, as Apple decided that public beta’s would serve the company well moving forward more aggressively into an information sharing age. For what it was worth, I loaded the latest update onto my iPad Air, wondering what it would bring me and having relatively tame expectations to start.

To be fair, I was simply hoping that my iPad would boot up after updating to iOS 9. Thankfully, it did, but when the download was complete – which didn’t take long – it took me about 10 minutes to sift through all of the changes and really get a feel for how things worked. What I had heard early-adopters say, was that iOS 9 on iPad’s would be significantly more impressive than iOS 9 on a traditional iPhone. Combine that with the fact that I run an iPhone 5, and didn’t want to risk my personal device – I skipped out on running a trail operating system on it.

The changes were interesting. There wasn’t anything immediately groundbreaking, and moreover, the update to iOS 9 felt more like an update to iOS 8.5, than anything else. There will be nay-sayers who argue that I’m simply not appreciated the changes enough, but there was also enough build up time for this update to bring a little more to the table than giving me the ability to split-screens on my iPad. I’m not complaining about that – but Apple probably could have done better than that.

Even something as small as a font change was something that many hardcore users were excited about and really chatting up leading into the public beta. Yet, the font change is really only noticeable in the task bar, and I’m not entirely sure why that is. It’s described by many people as a larger, chunkier font, but the truth is that it really just leaves a lot to be desired. However, you can completely understand why Apple chose the font that they did. A more significant change could have alienated some of their users, and that is the last thing Apple would ever want with any of their products or updates.

Toggling between apps is another thing that has been made easier. When users switch between apps, the toggle screen has gotten larger and swivels a lot more smoothly than it ever has in the past. I found that to be ironic given the fact that Apple had a very conservative and very modest selection for an app toggle screen. It also shows more information on the screen, which is a huge benefit.

The rest of the changes were very minor. Obviously, Apple Music is a significant upgrade – but that was made available in iOS 8, so I don’t want to say that this is something that makes iOS 9 better. Apple made it clear that they weren’t going to go overboard with this particular update, and I can’t say that I blame them. However, I also can’t say that I was blown away by any single part of this update.

It all felt very conservative and very mundane. There is still time though for Apple to put together some extra features to go live in the official launch this fall. Perhaps the most impressive takeaway for me was the fact that for those looking to update to iOS 9, but felt nervous about the upgrade – that fear might be a little misguided. Obviously, with a beta there are no absolute guarantees, but even after going through the process – I feel significantly more confident now, than I did before downloading about putting this operating system on my iPhone 5. The thing to remember here is that iOS 9 was about making the overall Apple operating system better, and not trying to make a significantly different – this time around.