Skip to content

iOS 9.3: A look at the new features

Apple’s March Special Event is almost upon us, in which the company is expected to unveil a new iPhone, a new iPad and an update to iOS, amongst other things. We’ll be live-tweeting the whole event, so make sure to follow us on Twitter to get all the juicy announcements as they happen.

Follow us on Twitter

Meanwhile, we’ve taken a look at the latest version of iOS, which is set to be unveiled to the public today. Though it’s not a huge update (we’ll have to wait for iOS 10 for that), there are several new features which could prove very useful to iPhone and iPad users. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect from iOS 9.3.

Night Shift

Ever check your iPhone in the dark only to be nearly blinded by the screen? Well, from iOS 9.3 onwards you’ll no longer have to recoil in horror at the intense brightness when checking the time or responding to a text in the middle of the night.


Night Shift is probably the most anticipated new feature of iOS, automatically adjusting the lighting and colors of your device screen late at night in order to cause less strain on the eyes. It swaps out the bright blue tones – which studies show makes it harder to fall asleep – for a gentler, yellower light that’s much healthier bedtime viewing.

By default Night Shift will automatically enable every night from sunset to sunrise, but you can set it to a custom schedule if you prefer. You can also customize just how much the feature changes the colors if you prefer a slightly warmer or cooler screen adjustment. All these options can be tweaked from the updated Display & Brightness page within the iOS Settings app.


Secure Notes

Notes aren’t just for ideas and shopping lists – people use the iOS Notes app to store all kinds of information. If that ever includes important personal data like passwords, bank details or addresses, this simple addition to the app could be massive for the security of your data: you can now password-protect your notes.

From iOS 9.3, Apple has added the ability to secure particular notes using a password or – even better – the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. To set this up, open the Settings app and press Notes followed by Password Protection. You can then Set Password, making sure to enable Touch ID if you wish to use that feature.

This doesn’t automatically protect all your notes. You have to manually choose to ‘lock’ your information on a note-by-note basis. Within the Notes app, open a specific note you wish to protect. Tap the Share button in the top right and then select Password Protect Note. That will turn the feature on for the currently selected note.

Improved News

If you use the News app in iOS to stay up to date with your favorite publications and news outlets, you’ll be pleased to hear that the app has taken a leaf out of Apple Music’s book in an attempt to further personalize the experience. A For You section includes trending topics and Editors’ Picks, just like the App Store. You can also play videos right from the news feed and read everything in landscape mode on an iPhone.

Health dashboard

A new Dashboard view within Apple’s Health app makes it easier to find third-party health-tracking apps. Apple has also made it easier for other apps to communicate with Health, meaning more widget-style additions to the dashboard. Simply access the slider menu from certain categories to add apps to the dashboard.

CarPlay features

iOS 9.3 has benefits for those using CarPlay as well – two main improvements, in fact. Apple Music now shows its New and For You sections as part of CarPlay, and the Nearby feature of Maps helps you to find nearby points of interest right from the car dashboard. Handy.

Live Photos

Those of you using the moving photos available to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will be pleased to know that Apple has added a much easier way to convert an animated Live Photo into a regular static image.

Open up a Live Photo and tap the Share button. When the familiar share sheet appears, press the Duplicate button and then select Duplicate as Still Photo from the pop-up menu. Previously Live Photos had to be manually edited before they would lose their animated touch, but this is a much simpler method.

Quick Actions

Another feature only available on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, Quick Actions allow easy access to some apps’ most used features with a hard press from the Home Screen app icon. iOS 9.3 adds Quick Action support to even more stock apps such as Weather and Settings. Press firmly on either of these icons to reveal a menu of options to give you quick access to your favorite places or useful shortcuts like the Battery page of Settings.