Apple’s iOS 9 is now available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and it brings a lot of new features… even if some of them may seem like old hat to Android users.

But there are some features that stand out, either because they’re truly new or because they could change the way we all interact with technology. Support for multitasking with split screen apps is one. Another is Apple’s Proactive feature, which attempt to anticipate your needs by presenting suggestions before you even ask for them.

Here are three more iOS 9 features that we think are pretty awesome.

Picture-in-Picture on iPad

iOS 92

While watching movie on Hulu, a play-by-play in MLB at Bat, a video clip in Pocket or a TV show in BBC iPlayer, iPad owners can minimize the playback screen and continue using their tablet. The window shrinks down to about 4″ x 2″and sits in the corner of the screen. You can access any and all other apps, including games, while the video player continues along its merry way.

You can also toss the floating window into any of the four corners to get it out of the way. And, if the video is still blocking something else you want to work on, you can pinch it to shrink it down even further to about 2″ x 1″.

So far, picture-in-picture is only compatible with the above-mentioned third-party apps and Apple’s native video player (it doesn’t even work with Netflix yet). However, it is just a matter of time before devs realize the usefulness of this feature and add support in their own player windows.

Note that some Android phones have had similar features, but it’s not exactly standard.

Content Blocking

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Apple added support for content blocking in Safari Extensions. Developers can create extensions that allow users to block cookies, images, resources, pop-ups, and other content while browsing in the iOS native web browser, Mobile Safari. These third-party extensions make it possible for users to block content that can cause slow loading in Safari. Well-made apps will provide customizable blocking structures that make it possible to filter out certain content while allowing others.

Some web publishers are a bit hot under the collar over Apple’s support for content blockers because one of the major options is the ability to block advertisements that appear on sites. Advertising is the main source of revenue for many websites (including this one) so making it easier to use ad-blockers on mobile devices could affect a site’s ability to continue existing at all.

However, these content blockers do more than just hide advertisements, and some will allow you to load ads, even while blocking other CPU-stressing content. They also allow users more control over their privacy with cookie and tracking blockers, which stop most programs from being able to gather data about your browsing activities.

While there are some ways to block ads on Android devices, you can’t use an ad-blocker with Chrome for Android, since the browser doesn’t support extensions.

Pinch-to-Zoom Video

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In iOS 9, users can now pinch to zoom in on videos they’ve recorded on their iPhone or iPad. We’re not talking about zooming in while recording, but after the fact, in playback. It doesn’t permanently edit the video or anything. It simply allows you to get closer to an object in the video. For example, if you are filming your family at Disneyland and later notice that Brad Pitt is walking across the screen in the background, you can zoom in to prove to your friends that it was really him.

It doesn’t just zoom into a stationary position either. You can pan around by dragging your finger on the screen to the new location.

These are not the only new features in iOS 9, but they are the coolest ones. We also have been disappointed with a few features with Apple’s new mobile operating system that didn’t pass muster, in our opinion, but that is a story for another time.

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13 replies on “Three cool features in Apple’s iOS 9”

  1. I’d probably have picked three different ones… or at least two of the three. 😉

    Like the new app back button. It’s similar to Android, but more consistent and labeled. Conversely, that label covers key information like signal strength. Interesting design choice. The deeper hooks of universal search is also quite notable. For example, from the general Spotlight search window, you can search direct into apps (that you’ve preselected) like 1password to find a site you were looking for. Another new feature is “stability and performance” — there must be a lot of cleanup going on here, as iOS 9 – even while in beta form – generally performed better than iOS 8.

    On the other hand, the widget area still makes no sense. It’s listed under “Today” activities. Android is so far superior in this regard, it isn’t even funny.

    1. The bar is to find 3 features non-ios users might care about. Clearly, some folks disagreed with our assessment.

      What are your picks?

  2. Though I will agree that the split-screen mode might be a game changer. Yes, it has been done before and such but this is the first time that it is STANDARD on a mobile OS. Yes, from what has been seen on the preview of M, Google is working on it but hopefully this will make them not take forever to implement it.

  3. What happens with Airplay when used with Picture-in-Picture? If it were to only send the video to the remote screen that would be a nice option and allow you to use the tablet for something else while throwing a video to the TV, etc…

  4. Not looking to start a flame war, and I’ve always found Liliputing to be very good when it comes to objectivity towards iOS and Android, but I’m not seeing how these features are game changers.

    PiP wasn’t only available in stock Galaxy SIII; there were media players like StickIt Player that’ll work on any Android. Probably other media players too. You can also run supported apps on top of other apps (see windowed mode in Calculator++), not just a media player.

    Content blocking was available in the various web browsers you could install in Android. You could block ads in Chrome too if you were rooted. The great thing of course with Android is that you’re not forced to use the system renderer, but you can implement your own.

    PinchToZoom video? I guess it depends on the video player. I’ve seen pinch to magnify in MX Player, but

    only around the center. It’d be trivial to make it any other “center”.

    Nice features, and a positive addition to iOS 9 (9!!), but no game changers IMHO.

    1. Alright, I actually changed Lory’s original title because my original assignment was to find cool things in iOS 9 that even non-Apple users might care about. I think she did a pretty good job, but I wanted to spruce up the headline a bit to suggest that these things might eventually change the way we *all* use mobile devices.

      But y’all have convinced me… “game-changer” might have been a bit strong, so I’ve changed the headline back. 🙂

      1. 🙂 and this is why I really like Liliputing (and whitelist it in ABP; the ads dominate a little, but it’s worth it if it supports the site).
        It’s objective, technical knowledge is above the others, the editors look at feedback, and it doesn’t *need* some kind of BS clickbait titles or articles.
        Nice one Lory. Nice one Brad.

        1. Thanks Eddie!

          I’d love to cut back on ads in order to speed up the page load speeds, but I’ve got three cats to feed.

          We do try pretty hard to avoid annoying ads though. If they’re the kind of ads I don’t like encountering on other sites, you won’t see them on Liliputing, which is why we don’t have interstitials, in-text ads that pop up when you mouse over them, etc…

      2. funny thing is I only read the article *after* the change and still thought this is an Apple sponsored post 😉
        The features are probably new and nice to have on iOS but are just that and not that “cool”. PiP I don’t really know what to think about, for most cases apps side by side (strip with video on the side would be almost the same) and is available elsewhere in some form or another anyway. Pinch to zoom Video: Actually thought this was possible, never tried this out anywhere so maybe did not even expect this to be available or even useful. And Content blocking is a double edged sword it seems. Nice for consumers but OTOH where will content be monetized in the end? Just today heard of a Wired article being available on the (ad supported) website only in a few days, if you want to read it now you need Apple News, which seems to uses its own non blockable ads?! So this move by Apple really seems more a move AGAINT Google and not FOR the comsumer. It is mainly good for Apple…
        So this may even be a “game-changer” but not in the positive way this normally means :/

    2. I totally agree, though the PiP video players are few and the ones I know of haven’t been updated in ages (both StickIt and Dice Player haven’t been upgraded since like a year ago or more). Do you know of any other ones which might be up to date, the player loses a lot of functionality for me if it doesn’t have HEVC playback…
      One reason I like MX Player =)
      Speaking of which yeah, you can only zoom in the center, which is why I always took it more for those videos which include black bars and such so that it can be properly made to fit the screen.

      1. MX Player only zoom in the center but can be panned by dragging with two fingers, if the zoom & pan option in player control setting enabled

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