Traditionally, Apple's minor iOS updates have been nothing to write home about , each so-called "point release" simply adding its usual bug fixes and perhaps making a few tweaks to its devices' native apps. Released to developers earlier this week, Apple's latest update, iOS 9.3, appears to provide a refreshing break from this pattern, pushing the envelope with a series of more substantial changes.
Before it is pushed to the general public, likely sometime next month, let's take a look at a few of the most exciting changes coming up in iOS 9.3:
Upgraded Education tools
With iOS 9.3, Apple launches a strong offensive in its latest battleground with Google, the classroom. iOS 9.3's all-new multi-user support for iPad allows students to log onto any Apple tablet and get full access to their apps, books, documents and places them exactly where they left off. A new "Photo ID" feature will display the student's picture once logged in to avoid mixing up iPads during class.
Plus, the new "Classroom" app allows teachers to control all student iPads in a class, giving them the ability to launch particular apps on all devices in the class or even monitor individual students' activity on their iPads. Teachers will further benefit from the new "Apple School Manager" hub, which enables them to compile courses, purchase class books and apps, track individual iPads and more.
It has long been known that blue light can wreak havoc on our bodies' melatonin levels, making it difficult to fall asleep after spending time looking at a screen. According to Apple, iOS 9.3 will use clock and geolocation data to track sunset times, automatically shifting display colors to the "warmer end of the spectrum" after dark to promote better sleep.
While Apple's native Notes app was never intended to store sensitive information, more and more users have taken to jotting everything from login credentials to financial and medical information on the handy notepad for quick reference. Cupertino has taken notice, and with iOS 9.3 offers users the ability to lock specific notes with passwords or TouchID. The upgrade also makes it possible to sort notes by date created, date modified or alphabetically.
Improved 3D Touch
One of the more subtle components of the latest point release may in fact be one of the most important. According to Forbes's Gordon Kelly, Apple has added new 3D Touch Quick Shortcuts for the App Store, Compass, Health, iTunes Store and Weather in iOS 9.3. Kelly says this is an important step as Apple seeks to make 3D Touch more effective, as users must be able to expect pressure control functionality across all of its apps in order to use it intuitively.
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