Apple seeds massive new iOS 9.3 beta to developers with new Night Shift mode, improved Notes/News/Health apps, and more

By , Jan 11, 2016

iOS 9 icon

It’s a big day for Apple beta releases, as is highlighted by the seeding of iOS 9.3 to developers. iOS 9.3 is a major new release that incorporates tons of new features to iOS. Outside of a major version number update, this update is one of the biggest iOS updates that we’ve seen in a long time.

iOS 9.3 contains a new Night Shift mode, which basically Sherlock’s f.lux, along with new Touch ID security options for the Notes app, improved CarPlay functionality, an upcoming Multi User mode for schools, and much, much more.

Put it this way, this update is so big that Apple has devoted an entire web page for previewing many of the new features. That’s something that it usually only does for major version number releases, but the content contained in iOS 9.3 apparently warranted the fanfare.

Night Shift

Night Shift is a brand new feature that is very much like f.lux. In fact, when the folks at f.lux made it possible to install their app on iOS 9 thanks to Xcode’s new sideloading capabilities. The project was shut down not long after. Now it’s clear as to why.

Blue Light Reduction Night Shift

Night Shift, also called Blue Light Reduction, uses your iOS device’s clock and location to determine when it’s sunset in your location. It will then automatically shift the color of the display to the warmer end of the spectrum, which makes it easier on your eyes. It should be noted that Blue Light Reduction can also be enabled manually via the Display & Brightness portion of the Settings app. I’ll have a video that breaks it all down soon.

iOS 9.3 Night Shift mode teaser 001

This is exactly what f.lux was capable of, and it makes us wonder if Apple didn’t make a deal of some sort with the team at f.lux in order to incorporate the technology. More on that in a later post.

New Quick Action 3D Touch shortcuts

Apple has added lots of new 3D Touch shortcuts to its default app icons on the Home screen. You’ll find new shortcuts for the Settings, App Store, iTunes, Stocks, Weather, and Compass app.

new-3d-touch-shortcuts-ios-9.3.png

Notes

notes-app-touch-id-.png

Apple has upgraded the stock Notes app with the ability to secure notes that contain sensitive data using Touch ID. You can also sort notes using date created, date modified, or alphabetic sort options.

notes-settings.png

News

Updates to the For You section inside the News app results in better article curation, and new trending topics help you discover new Favorites. Videos can now play directly from your News feed, and it’s now possible to view everything in landscape mode while on iPhone. Apple says that the News app should now be more responsive, resulting in quicker access to the latest news.

news-app-9.3.png

Health

Health Categories like Weight, Workouts, and Sleep now make it easier to find Health-compatible apps by means of a new slider menu. Health now displays your move, exercise, and stand data, along with goals, from Apple Watch. This allows you to see all health metrics in a single place and easily sharable with third-party apps.

activity-health-ios-9.3.png

CarPlay

iOS 9.3 adds new features to CarPlay like enhanced Apple Music support. Now you can view the New and For You sections in Apple music to find curated music based on your tastes. A new Nearby feature in maps makes it easier to find points of interest like gas, parking, coffee, etc., in a single tap.

Education benefits (coming soon)

One of the biggest new additions to iOS is a new education preview that brings multi user options to iOS for the very first time. Along with a new Classroom app, which teachers can use to guide students through lessons and monitor progress, students can now log into any iPad in any classroom via multi user profiles to make it their own.

iOS 9.3 Education Preview

Apple is also releasing a new Apple School Manager, which is a portal where administrators can create Managed Apple IDs, purchase apps, etc.

Multiple Apple Watch support

In order to take advantage of the ability to pair multiple Apple Watches through the Watch app, the Apple Watch must be running watchOS 2.2, which is currently only available to Apple developers.

apple-watch-multiple-pairings-9.3.png

I’ve always found it frustrating that you can only pair a single Apple Watch to the iPhone, so it’s nice to see that Apple is evolving its stance on this.

A massive update

I can’t remember the last time that such a huge iOS update that’s not a major version release landed in our hands. We’ll be back with plenty of additional coverage that will break down each of the features highlighted here. Stay tuned, and sound off with your thoughts down below in the comments.

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  • Tommy

    what about 9.2.1?? and jailbreak :/:/:/

    • Andrieux Querido

      I think that now we will have to wait more

      • Tommy

        ugh well this will probably have multiple betas for at least a month or so, so if 9.2.1 is released this week, we could see a jb if taig or pangu have something.

      • I don’t think they’re gonna burn an exploit with the iOS 9.3 on the works…

  • Interesting. I would have thought it would be wiser to have it the other way around. Connect an Apple Watch to multiple devices.
    Seems as if iOS 9.2.1 will be released this week. If iOS 9.3 patches any exploits, we could see a jailbreak soon, unless the teams want to wait for iOS 9.3. But that’s just my guess.

    • Daniel Akierman

      Couldn’t agree more, I have no clue as to why one would want to pair multiple watches to one iPhone. One for each wrist or what? I for one would be able to pair both my private and work phone to my apple watch, that’s useful.

      • Anonymous

        I think what they mean by multiple watches is not that you’d ware two watches out on the town together. But that you coukd pick between a sport/steel/gold watch and not have to go through a long tidous pairing process. Because currently you can only link one apple watch with one iphone.

      • Daniel Akierman

        Hmm, I see your point. Although I don’t believe that’s a problem many people have compared to the amount of people owning two phones (private and work) and would be able to pair both phones to your watch.

      • Anonymous

        Im sure that will come in the future. Perhaps apple is gearing up to relase another watch models and excpets some users to want to be able to switch bettween there new and old watches. But i do see your need to be able to connect between two phones. I guess apple must feel its not a pressing issue at the moment.

      • Jason Lisnak

        So its a feature for rich people?

      • Anonymous

        Well i suppose you could put it that way. But lets face it apple isnt excalty the poor mans brand either. They make a premium product at a premium price.

      • igorsky

        Only if owning a $350 watch makes you feel rich.

      • HamptonWalley

        Yeah Man, I have been already wearing Apple watch on my both Wirst. And it is really cool, girls loves it.

    • Newgunnerr

      Wait AGAIN?

    • raulortiz318

      Great point!

  • Mike M. Powell

    lets just say we wont b getting a jailbreak till iOS 999.999.999, by the way apple keeps d1ck’n us around w/ these betas lmao

    • John

      What IS this f.lux I keep hearing about and what’s it benefits because I’m honestly still not understanding what it does.

      • Mike M. Powell

        Dims the phone screen to a “cooler” color to cause less strain on your eyes, especially at night time

      • Wilber Alexander Flores

        You mean warmer

      • Mike M. Powell

        Whoopsie, yea warmer, my mistake xD

      • mrgerbik

        look up studies on how blue light effects sleep.
        flux is always one of the first tweaks i install when JB’ing

      • John

        Thanks, I assume (regardless if this is a popular jb tweak or not) that this is a useful feature to have?

        Does Android have this yet?

        /@mikempowell:disqus

      • Mike M. Powell

        not to my knowledge, but android has some apps that are similar that can do almost the same

      • tariq

        Yeah, i had android phone and theres many similar apps to it that work pretty well

      • mrgerbik

        Try it out.
        Its like switching to a regular incandescent or ‘warm light’ fluorescent from a ‘bright white’ fluorescent light bulb.
        If you’re anything like me, you may hate bright blueish white light at night.

  • Oh shit now we will wait more and more and more

  • Mukund Bhatla

    The game of the number 9 is never ending

  • nyangejr

    What’s with the single iPhone and multiple apple watches?

    • Fede777

      Maybe someone has a Gold one for parties and a Sport one for the gym (?)

    • pegger1

      I wish I had the problem of having too many Apple Watches that I couldn’t pair them all.

    • Mike M. Powell

      Probably for the rich that have multiples .-.

  • Blip dude

    I don’t expect the final version of this to be released for another 2 months, assuming if Apple has a March event this year, you can expect it there.

    That being said, whether we can see a Jailbreak after 9.2.1 Final or wait until after 9.3 Final is anyone’s guess at this point.

  • Chris Wagers

    This update sounds awesome especially night shift!

  • Daniel Waske

    I’d rather be able to pair ONE Apple Watch to TWO iPhones…

    • Usama

      yeah. why does one want to pair two watches?

  • I hope someone will publish a public download for this beta in the next hours 😀 I neeeed it tomorrow :>

    • Troy

      apple will most likely publish it to public beta testers themselves

    • Blip dude

      A) Mind if I ask why you need it tomorrow??

      B) Apple will just release a Public Beta for it. I’ve been constantly harassed by updating to 9.2.1 beta 2 that I thought about just deleting the Beta profile. Now with this update, I will consider playing with 9.3 beta at least until a Jailbreak is released.

      • Troy

        you can just install 9.2.1 and after is done delete the profile and it will turn the public beta into a developer beta which will give you access to 9.3

      • Vidya sagar

        is it true that deleting public beta will enable to download 9.3

      • Troy

        you can try it. im not on wifi right now so cant confirm

  • Anonomous.TECH.man

    I hate when a big company like Apple pretty much steals ideas of small devolopers like f.lux.

    • Chris

      You really believe they never had the idea for a ‘night mode’ before a jailbreak tweak came along?
      And stealing? They built the platform. They’re going to continuously test and release new features. Those features will unsurprisingly always be in line with the a common demand for things that jailbreak tweaks cater to.

      • Troy

        true, hopefully they copy bio protect i feel like touch ID is wasted potential right now

      • Chris

        Likewise. The addition of Touch ID-protected notes is promising.

    • igorsky

      Yeah, I really hate it when a big company like Apple creates an operating system so that small developers can make a living.

    • ready1take1

      it’s not just f.lux…the list of jailbreaking apps and tweaks that apple has eventually released and claimed as their own keeps growing and growing.
      And quite honestly, I wonder what ios would look like today were it not for jailbreaking.

  • Troy

    I dont see why people are complaining saying that apple stole from f.lux. The more tweaks that are implemented into stock ios the better for us

    • Mike M. Powell

      It basically like the caveman inventing the wheel, then some random guy years later comes out with his “own interpretation” of the wheel as well n calls it something else. And gives no credit to the other
      (If that’s a bad analogy I’m terribly sorry lol)

      • Aditya Chandhrabhatla

        honestly i coundnt agree with your analogy . Apple invented and developed ios and they are trying to improve it . i respect the developers and their efforts , but the more the stock ios is improved the more the end user is benefited

      • Mike M. Powell

        True true, they have every right to do what they want with their own invention but in the eyes of jail-breakers is kind of like a low blow, just by looking @ r/jailbreak :/

      • Aditya Chandhrabhatla

        :p Actually today most people use apple because of jailbraek .

      • Dan

        Most people? Your naivety astounds me.

  • Eikast

    Well I have to give props to Apple. They have kept me off of jailbreaking on iOS 9. I didn’t want to pass up iOS 9.1 and iOS 9.2 was amazing. Now iOS 9.3 looks to be my favorite point update.

  • 5723alex .

    ..

  • techfreak23

    Jeff, why would you be frustrated that you weren’t able to pair multiple watches? If anything, I would have thought being able to pair to multiple phones would be a far more useful feature as it would apply to more people. I don’t know anyone, outside of developers, having more than one Apple Watch…

    • Mike M. Powell

      Yeah I don’t see a point in having more than one Apple Watch, I have 4 differ on the go watches for work since I don’t wear my Apple Watch there.

  • I’m unable to see any of the ‘Night Shift’ settings on my iPod touch 5th generation. Could this be only available for newer devices? That’d be a shame.

    • Most likely because that iPod does not have an ambient light sensor which also means no Auto-Brightness.

      • It shouldn’t need that though?

        “Night Shift uses your iOS device’s clock and geolocation to determine when it’s sunset in your location.”
        -Taken from Apple’s own website, linked in article.

      • Lol, having your location and the time doesn’t quite mean the iPod would know if your in a dark room. Or maybe it is just be a kink they need worked out.

      • Troy

        it most likely will use both location and ambient sensor

      • That’s what I’d assume.

      • Yes, but even f.lux has this exact functionality (using time and location to calculate sunset and dim the display) and it worked flawlessly, so there shouldn’t be a reason it shouldn’t work. I hope it is just a bug as this is a major feature, for me at least.

      • John

        1. This is not f.lux, so to say f.lux has the feature and Apple doesn’t is kind of silly.

        2. Since you’re a beta tester, you’ve obviously done the smart thing and contacted Apple and suggested this feature to them rather then just rant about not being able to do it?

      • 1. I know this is not f.lux, I merely pointed out the obvious similarity between the two.

        2. Yes, I did report it as all beta testers should. I apologize for giving off a ‘rant’-like vibe. Had Apple put a disclaimer on the bottom of their site stating certain features were only available on certain devices, like they did in the past, none of my comments would have existed. Be that as it may, I feel free to pursue other users’ views on the issue. It helps to know if others are experience the same problems, don’t you think?

    • mrgerbik

      should be no reason why it wouldnt wont work on any 9.3 device…. it uses time/location when it dims

  • Nightshift mode huh, Killing f.lux and eclipse at the same time? Forgive me if im wrong but I did skim read it for now lol.

    • Troy

      i dont think is like eclipse

    • Xee

      I was hoping it was more like eclipse – would be more useful to me.

  • Blip dude

    Okay, I’ll play with the 9.3 public beta, at least until a Jailbreak is released. I want full night mode (Eclipse 3), not just f.lux, so get to it ALREADY!!!!

  • Isaiah Hunter

    Can someone email me the IPSW for the ipod 6th gen please?

  • chase

    im not a registered developer

    • chase

      ..

      • Troy

        are you on public beta or on 9.2.1?

      • chase

        iOS 9.2

      • Michael

        how did you get the beta without being a developer?

    • Blip dude

      *EDIT – Nvm

  • Ricky

    can someone post the wOS 2.2 Profile

  • Guilherme 

    Way to go, Apple! Now you have to give us the option to choose which apps should be able to have Touch ID lock enabled. Bio Protect is so freaking awesome!!!

    • iBanks

      That’s already possible outside of stock apps if that’s what you’re referring to. It’s up to the dev to implement it into their apps. Hence 1Password.

      • Guilherme 

        Yeah, I mean, I think Apple should implement this on stock iOS, cause if we’re gonna have to wait the devs for this… 1Password is a great example of a Touch ID enabled application.

  • Church Said

    The 3D Touch animation transition is so smoooth Holysh**** sooooo smooth
    OMG

    Quick 3D shortcuts on Settings App to Battery Mode
    OMG, awesome!!

  • n0ahcruz3

    Night shift mode is the only reason im gonna update my 6 lol

  • iPhoneWINS

    new update every damn week

    • John

      You’re saying it like it’s a bad thing.

  • TwinSon

    All I saw was “no jailbreak”.

  • justme

    emm.. only NOTES ?
    c’mon apple. check this….what if..
    we already have 3D touch capable screen on 6S
    we have a superfast fingerprint scanner.

    so…

    mix them and just put a goddamn lock icon on the 3Dtouch menu in every app to enable or disable “locked app” then you can launch and select any app you want, without going into settings app, find “apps locked by finger print” section and enable or disable one by one…

    remember “Think Different”….

  • Can anyone supply the ipsw for 9.3 iphone 6 plus?

  • mrgerbik

    one more must-have jailbreak tweak bites the dust…

  • Tom

    Also Siri supports Hebrew now!

  • Guy

    iOS 9.3 needs default black keyboard and password protection for photo and message apps

    • Mike M. Powell

      i have a feeling they gonna start adding touch ID/password protection for apps soon since they got it going for Notes

      • John

        I wonder why they started with Notes though and not something more…valuable (not sure if that was the word I was looking for) like Messages

      • Mike M. Powell

        only thing in my notes is…..nothing , that like them slapping this feature on “reminders” but hey, its not my call, perhaps this is a “test” to see how it goes since it is a “beta” ya? And then try to work their way up the ladder

  • :D

    I wonder if shared iPad can be used in families

    • John

      If you set your family up like a school.

  • iOS Kush

    Night Shift was the main reason I left 9.2.1 beta.

  • iannleon

    Jeff you should look into iCloud for iBooks

  • iannleon

    Force touch the settings icon

  • TheShade247

    Can someone share 9.3 beta 1 download link, I can’t find anywhere

    • Michael

      bump

      • TheShade247

        ??

  • Mr_Coldharbour

    The new f.lux style setting is great, and so is the ability to secure Notes (something that should’ve been released at least back in iOS 7 or 8). Though just like they did with iOS 7.1b1 with the ‘dark keyboard’ which they axed in beta2, this f.lux style setting just might face the same fate, why? Because Apple.

    Also I sure hope 9.2.1 fixes the occasional lockups in the lockscreen when unlocking with TouchID. Also the inaccurate battery percentage readings that many 6S and 6S Plus users alike are complaining about. Unacceptable.

    • Lance Baker

      I doubt they would axe the feature after having a dedicated page about it on the website.

  • Yujin

    Does it fix touch id issues where the iPhone won’t recognize the finger no matter what you do? Even when you add the same finger 5 times?

  • Ernie Marin

    When apple decides to finally allow real SB costumization, is the day Jailbreak dies, right now the only use for it is making SB look great, most new apps are freenium so no need to hack, and with more and more jailbreak only features now coming to iOS, it just seems like jailbreaking is becoming more and more useless.