Posts Tagged ‘iphone’

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So, iOS10 has finally dropped, it has bricked some iPhones but the majority have got away unscathed. We are still trying to decide what we think, but here are the changes this shiny new firmware will bring you;

iMessage – This is probably the biggest update in iOS10 with the ability to be able to draw messages with your finger and send the animation to someone else. You’ll be able to use rich links in Messages. Share a link and, as it would in Slack or Twitter, artwork and a precis of the article may be pulled in, so your friends can get an idea of what they are about to click on.

Bad news for the emoji haters as iMessage will now add emojis into predictive text giving you the option to swap full words for pictures. The death of the English language is nigh.

It has also been opened up to third party developers, meaning that there will soon be apps in the messaging service that can be used to order food, shop, book tickets and send people money within a chat. We are loving the iMessage Super Mario App.

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Voicemail Transcription – iOS is apparently going to put your voicemail into text so that you can glance at it without having to listen to it. It will be interesting to see how accurate this is.

Home App (HomeKit) – Finally the launch of the hotly anticipated HomeKit. Those of you with automated homes will be able to link most devices under one app which has always been an annoying thing with automation. HomeKit will allow you to quickly dim lights, tell Siri to turn up the heating and have access from the lock screen to do all of these. We are especially looking forward to seeing how this feature handles scenes which will allow at a click of a button or a few words to Siri and your room will be ready for movie night with a raft of set processes starting ie lights going off, Apple TV turning on and blinds closing.

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News – Redesigned and now looking simpler, the News app is the go-to for any news. Subscriptions have now been allowed so we assume Newstand will soon disappear. There is also a ‘Breaking news’ notifications from the app. You can toggle the feature from settings and even custom-tune the publications you wish to see pushed to your device.

Photos – Apple says it will use deep learning techniques to analyse faces, places and objects. The app can now draw together photos and videos that are linked by place, people and time and then automatically create reels and trip customisable short clips which Apple is calling ‘Memories’.

Siri – We have seen a deeper involvement with Siri in iOS10 with HomeKit making full use of voice control. But more interestingly it has been opened up to third party developers meaning that soon you will be able to ask Siri to check other apps other than Apple ones. A great step forward.

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Feature Changes; 

•’Slide to Unlock’ has been removed, and instead you’ll see ‘Press home to open’. This will prompt you to enter your pass-code or will unlock the phone if you use Touch ID.

• Deleting Stock apps has been a real issue for some people and now you can delete as you wish. Enjoy the power!

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• Apple will now keep track of where you park your car so you don’t have to bother. Apple maps will detect when you park and automatically drop a pin so that you can find it later.

• Bedtime is the new clock feature which you tell what time you want to get to bed on a given night of the week, and your phone will let you know when the clock strikes that hour to remind you to get some shut eye.

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• The update will bring with it more than a hundred new and redesigned emoji characters with multicultural and gender types.

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A couple of years ago, I reviewed one of the first generation of smart thermostats on the market in the UK. Long before Nest was available, the German made Tado was making significant inroads into our fledgling IoT marketplace.

Two years have now passed and Tado have released v2 incorporating an upgraded Smart Thermostat and an Extension kit for dual zone control. In my opinion this is sorely needed so I have big hopes that it works as well as intended.

Before continuing to review this upgrade, we need to look at a some statistics from the 2 years the 1st generation system has been in my property.

Straight energy saving comparisons between Tado v1 and the traditional method of heating that was pre-installed in my property (the legacy thermostat) are actually difficult to quantify for a number of reasons. We cannot compare money spent as we have fluctuations in energy prices which would cause us some calculation issues. Secondly, the weather. Of course this is being tested in Britain, weather changes all the time, so one year could have been considerably hotter or colder than the next so please keep this in consideration.

KW/h expressed in units are what are reported but for the purposes of this review I will refer to them only as units. I took an average of the three years prior to my time with Tado (with the same energy provider) and compared the result to the units used each of the two years with the device.

Here are my results;

Year 1: 21% less units used

Year 2: 26% less units used

As you can see, under my conditions, using Tado has saved a significant amount annually which would have easily paid for the price of the 1st Gen model in the first year.

The bottom line is that Tado deliver on their promise.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the new upgraded version.

smart_thermostat_hardwareTado with cool white LED display

I opted for a professional to install it for me, firstly as I did not want to mess around with my heating system but more importantly I wanted to see how Tado handle the entire upgrade.

As the equipment arrived with instructions on how to install, my first thought was that Tado had got a little mixed up as the instructions advised me to register the device before booking my installation which sounded a little odd as I already had a Tado system in the house.

But I should have had more faith in Tado because my new devices were registered and a professional installation were booked in an instant by following the instructions.

I will say that I think that Tado could improve on their communication with their upgrade  customers, specifically that the proper procedure is to register new devices first which will eventually allow you to book an engineer install further along in the process.

Each step felt like it was leading up to a manual setup which I did not want.

Secondly they could just advise the user that your old setup will run alongside the new one until the professional fits the devices which does become apparent at the end of the process.

But with all that said, Tado continue to impress me with not only the devices but the way they make setup so easy to follow. You may have a nagging feeling that the setup process will eventually lead you down the wrong path but if you stick with it, you will have no problems. Tado know what they’re doing and I could name a few tech companies who could take a lesson or two from these guys.

The only thing that seemed to cause the engineer some trouble was pairing each device.

I think this was more due to the engineer’s lack of knowledge rather than Tado’s design as one call to Tado themselves and it was fixed remotely in a matter of minutes.

If you can take anything from this review – call the Tado support team if you have any problems – the service really is second to none.

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Anyway, back to the devices. The first generation Tado thermostat has been replaced with a similarly looking white plain thin box. When discussing the aesthetics with my wife, she hit the nail on the head when she said “the box just disappears into the wall, you wouldn’t even notice it day to day” and that is exactly what a thermostat should be. Clever but invisible.

But don’t be fooled by the boring exterior, one press of the front button and the device wakes to show the temperature set in a very cool white LED. Each press flips to a new display showing the current mode:

Heating Status (On or Off)

Temperature

Hot water setting (if you have configured the system for this)

The next two pages show the conditions. Two touch sensitive led little arrows allow you to change the settings on each page.

Tado has been set up in my property to control two zones and my hot water tank. I can control each zone independently from the device or my iPhone.

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Above is the photo of the first page showing the main temperature in that room and of course below the set point temperature which is where the heating will come on if the room temp drops to that level. You can see at the bottom the fact that Tado tracks where it’s users are, which in my opinion is the best thing about this system. It is simply brilliant that the system knows when I am just round the corner and may need the heating ready for when I get back as the room temp is below the set point temp, but equally if we are 20 miles away at work, the system knows not to do this as it will take at least an hour to get home.

Equally zone 2 also operates in the same manner and can be set independently from zone 1 which is downstairs for us. The system allows you to set times when the system will operate, so for example in zone 2 we only need it to work in the evening as we normally go up there to relax and watch TV. But because of the timing feature, if we were home during the day this zone would not be heated as it was outside of the time range we had set. This is all very versatile and will fit around any family household but again is all very easily over-ridden by going manual on the app or simply clicking the button on the thermostat which with a few finger presses lets you override.

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Tado are a very interesting company and have already signed up to Apple’s HomeKit. The eagle-eyed amongst you would have noticed the Tado logo in the HomeKit presentation in Apple’s WWDC earlier this week which means that not only are the company working with the whole HomeKit which will become available in Autumn 2016, but it should also allow the device to be able to work alongside the other brands that were also on screen in the pic below.

IMG_0579Apple HomeKit Brands

Imagine what this means for a moment, if Tado get this right you will be able to have the device interact with brands that are nothing to do with Tado themselves. For example temperature spikes as it is in Manual Mode in error – flash my Philips Hue lights red to notify me. Or even better, use Tado’s geo-fencing properties to know when I am coming home to ensure heating is on (Tado), lights downstairs are on and ready (Philips Hue) and the garage door is now open (Fibaro Z-Wave Sensors). This will be subject to the Extension Kit being upgraded by Tado as I have been informed this will not be a simple software upgrade as the Extension Kit came out before Apple’s certification process.

On top of this Tado support have told me that the devices themselves also have some unused sensors inside which they may use at some point in the future. This intrigues me as it shows they are future proofing themselves. They have also now signed up to IFTTT, the popular website which again connects devices.

We are looking forward to testing the individual radiator controls as this is the logical next step to total heating management in the modern home allowing you to control individual radiator temperatures per room, but these are due Q3 2016.

To conclude, Tado is a no-brainer for me, if you haven’t got one, then start looking into it as it should quite rapidly save you money in an area which seems to be getting more and more expensive.

The system is solid, with even more solid support to go with it. It will fade into your wall as you forget it is even there and I think this is exactly what it is designed to do.

 

TheTechSpy Rating: 10/10

 

Apple used the stage on Monday to unveil the 9.7” iPad Pro. Clearly the unwieldly 12.9” iPad Pro isn’t for everyone and they know it. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a slightly upgraded Air 2. Make no mistake, it’s every bit an iPad Pro, packed with all the same features.

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When Apple launched the iPad Pro, a lot of people were put off by its size. At 12.9”, it was more of a coffee table tablet than something you would take around with you. Sure, it’s marketed as a professional tool rather than just a bigger iPad, but we’re pretty sure Apple wouldn’t mind ordinary folk paying more for the flagship model if it were only a little more accessible….

Enter the 9.7” iPad Pro.

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Packing the same A9X chipset as the 12.9” model, the 9.7” model is remarkable due to the fact that they’ve managed to shoehorn all of the 12.9” features into a smaller chassis and yet sell it at a lower price point.

Apple seem alone in this new way of thinking. Let me explain:

Go into any computer retailer and take a look at the laptops. The specs and the prices of models seems utterly bewildering to most people. The reason is that there’s no real cohesion in pricing.

There could be a 15” model sporting an Intel Core i5 CPU coupled with a respectable GPU, SSD, with 16GB RAM for around £500.

Next to this, there could be a 13” model with the lower end Intel i3 CPU, integrated Intel graphics, 8GB RAM and a rotary HDD, priced at £599.

The reason? Well, components shrink with each new iteration. It’s the reason that Moore’s Law still holds – roughly every 18 months, you can double the amount of transistors on a chip. More transistors can perform more calculations, and smaller transistors require less power. It’s the reason that an iPad 2 is roughly on a par with a Cray supercomputer from 1995 in terms of raw processing power, yet you can hold it in your hand.

So, a 15” model may well have faster components and the price may be lower than its 13” counterpart, but that’s because the 15” has last generation components which are larger and more power hungry. You can also buy the 13” model with the same specs as the 15”, but you’d be looking at a considerable bump in price, possibly to £700-£800. And that’s because you are buying bleeding edge technology.

Back to Apple…

Apple make such a huge profit on hardware that they can afford to flip this system upside down.

As an example, an iPhone SE packing the same features as the 6S but in a smaller body is a manufacturing challenge and will be more expensive if both were launched at the same time. It may be that Apple have managed to reduce the die size of the A9 processor in the last 9 months and can now fit these components into a smaller body. That manufacturing process at a smaller size serves two purposes – 1) to produce the last generation CPU at a smaller die size, and 2) to ‘tool’ or prepare for the next generation CPU.

I’m aware that the bill of materials (BOM) for iPhones show that the larger screens cost a fraction more than the smaller screens, but this isn’t the real issue here. Don’t forget that the battery will be smaller too, so a reduction in power usage is required.

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They have launched the SE as a lower end model though, and that’s what’s interesting. In order to continue with this system, you will never see an iPhone SE launched at the same time as the larger iPhones. That’s because the next generation (iPhone 7 and 7+) will be launched in September with the latest chipset. In the following months leading to March, the manufacturing processes will be advanced enough to shrink these components to fit into the new SE model.

They did it with the iPad Mini 4 (a smaller iPad Air 2, but cheaper), and they’ve done the same with the 9.7” iPad Pro. It was a marvel only a few months ago what they’d managed to cram into such a thin 12.9” body. Now they’ve managed to fit all that tech into a smaller unit. Again, it’s cheaper, because Apple want to make it simple for people to decide entirely on display size.

This is only possible because of the obscene profits Apple make on hardware, but nevertheless, it’s an interesting flip on the classic PC pricing structure.

Talking of pricing, it’s interesting to see that Apple are offering a 32GB configuration in addition to 128GB and 256GB. That’s not offered on the 12.9” which seems to add weight to the theory that Apple consider the 9.7” as a semi-pro device aimed at both professionals and wealthy consumers alike.

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4” iPhone – iPhone SE

There’s clearly a lot of Apple’s customer base that have felt neglected or ignored since the decision to move to 4.7” and 5.5” displays. In the last year, Apple have sold 30 million 4” iPhones despite them housing yesterday’s technology – the iPhone 5S, the 5C etc. But now, in an attempt to win over those customers Apple have introduced the iPhone SE. It brings the 4” model bang up to date with the latest technology, which is exactly what those with smaller hands have wanted. For all intents and purposes, it’s a smaller version of the 6S, minus 3D touch, housed in a slightly modified 5S body.

The line-up now looks like this:

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TheTechSpy thoughts:

This is another savvy move from Apple from a business perspective, akin to the financial rewards of dropping the 32GB storage configuration of iPhones.

The iPhone SE replaces the 5C and 5S models at the lower end of the range but sporting almost the same specs as the flagships models. The iPhone 5C was a failed experiment in response to the overwhelming demand from the public for a lower cost iPhone, housing iPhone 5 components – which were already a year out of date – in a plastic body.

When Apple announced the 5C, it felt like they knew they were missing out on the low end smartphone market – the largest volume segment – but were just clutching at straws. The 5C always felt misplaced and doomed to fail (and that has proved to be the case), but worse, it dragged Apple’s premium brand image down.

Apple now know for certain that the premium reputation and standing of their products is not something that should be diluted, and with the iPhone SE that concern has been addressed quite emphatically.

I have never really liked the idea of a dash board camera as slowly we are letting everything we do be subject to a lens. Already we are recorded when we walk down the street and some of us even in our own homes, but now we are even letting the humble lens into our cars.

But as I found out, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

We were lucky enough to get sent the MiVue 658 WiFI to test in a real world environment and I have to say we were pleasantly surprised.

Before I even talk about the camera itself, I have to admit having the camera there made me think a number of things. Firstly, if these take off, which we can already see they are, I can see these becoming mandatory or a requirement from your insurance company.

Think of it….you ring up or go online to get your next quote and they will either supply it to you or give you money off your quote if you say that you will be using one.

Forgetting the obvious fact that this will pick up any accidents that may occur and later I could use as evidence against somebody else, this device really made me drive differently as suddenly I realised that if a crash was to occur my actions for the first time were actually going to be subject to investigation via the footage.

So its a good thing that we start with the fact that this dashboard camera comes with speed camera locations inbuilt and will warn you of any cameras that you are approaching. This comes as standard in the box and with free monthly updates for the life of the device which is very cool.Unboxed

So let’s take a look at the device in a little more details;

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Design:

This is a very neat little camera and pretty unobtrusive on your windscreen. I think this is best placed near your rear-view mirror as most of us are used to having something there, so to have a small device like this below would not distract you and is probably best placed for filming.

I really like the design, but I have to admit the suction cup mount is a little annoying. The actual USB charging cable is threaded into the mount itself so you have to pull the camera away from the dock which normally ends in you pulling the whole dock away from the windscreen. I would have much preferred a Sat Nav style dock.

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The other annoying thing is the extra long charging cable supplied which comes with a car style 12v adaptor fixed on one end and a mini USB on the other. The 12v cigarette style adapter is far bigger than most of the supplied adapters which come with Sat Navs today and I really cannot see why it has to be so big. I think a USB on the other side so that you can use the cable in your own multi USB adapter would have been better as the majority of car owners will want smartphones and sat navs being powered at the same time and will want to use this when they get home to charge or take data from outside of the car.

Key Features:

This dashboard camera is jam-packed full of tech. This is the real top end with GPS, camera locations and WIFI included. With all of this said, when you turn the device on, you get a real pointless “Welcome” spoken out loud….not sure why, but they have….let’s move on.

Let me start with the speed camera locations, this is superb, a nice notification to let you know at just the right distance that you are coming up to a camera and it even shows you the distance counting down. The only thing that was a little weird was when in a 30mph zone, the traffic sign is shown on screen, but for some reason it shows a speed sign with 29 in it (which as a sign doesn’t exist in the UK). Very odd, but I am sure it is easily rectifiable with a firmware upgrade.

WIFI connectivity is a very cool feature. I do like the ability to have the phone connected and instantly be able to download the footage just recorded to your phone. If you have your smartphone connected via WIFI all the time, then by clicking the orange button on the right of the dashcam screen it will instantly backup the footage to the MiVue App. Even though you are connected via WIFI, your phone is still able to receive data over 3/4G allowing you to use the phone normally.

With the help of the inbuilt accelerometer, if you have a collision the device automatically creates a 20 second video clip and transmits it to your phone’s MiVue app for safe storage and if you feel like uploading to social media the app makes it very easy. Oh dear!

The device accepts a micro SD up to 128gb which helps when you are filming in such a high quality and using things like Parking Mode, which are triggered with movement and can be used in the car while you are not present. You can also use the dashcam in Photo Mode which allows you to remove the device from its dock and use it to take photos of any damage that may have occurred in an accident. The good thing is here is that GPS coordinates are also stamped onto the photo for further evidence of the accident.

I think lastly we have to look at video quality as if this is bad then the device might as well go in the trash. Overall I am extremely pleased with the quality and would happily use this in my own car. Registration plates can be a little hard to see with motion, but with a few well timed pauses on the footage I was able to pin point the exact registration.

Here is some video footage from the device;

Video During the day

Video in Dark Conditions

Key features:

All in all I think the quality is fine and like the fact that the speed and GPS coordinates are stamped onto the footage so that you do not have to dig around in the software looking for them. Of course it could be sharper as motion blur does at the first instance make it harder to look at finer details, but once downloaded to your phone or PC you can easily find out what you need as the internal stabilisation has done its job.

Along with having great quality video footage this device is more importantly easy to use. I couldn’t see many people having to dig out the manual and that is important in something that is going to be used in this manner.

You can buy these now at £159.99 on the internet and we think this is well worth a try especially if you drive for a living.

TheTechSpy Rating 8/10

It seems like a while since we reviewed a dock for the iPhone or iPad and now their are plenty on the market to choose from, so looking for that one that deserves pride of place on your bedside table has got harder.

Premium One from Enblue Technology is today’s contender and a valid one it is indeed. We have the W3 to review which is one of three in the range.

Premium One Range

As you can see, this was released to look after your Apple Watch but of course many of us have a range of Apple devices that need charging. If you are like me, your Watch and iPhone go on charge every night without fail as they wouldn’t last very long the next day without it.

The W3 is simple, but you can see it has Apple’s simplicity about it and that is something most of us find attractive. As we once said “the dock looks like it could have been made by Apple themselves” and we still think so. The dock is crafted out of aircraft grade aluminium and comes in silver, black and a bi-colour which I have to say is quite cool. Mixing aluminium and mahogany is quite a gamble, but one that has paid off in this instance.

Of course this isn’t simply a stand but a charging dock too and that is where it gets interesting. We have had a few of these kinds of docks in the past and most of them have separate cables for each device as the stand is simply supporting your cable infrastructure.

The W3 has two lightning cables in-built which exit the stand as one cable which of course looks much better than multiple leads dangling out of the back where ever you have this situated. Supplied is a smart charging adapter which accepts 4 USB’s at a maximum of 5A which is more than enough to charge all of these devices at once taking up only one plug socket on the wall.

The dock is designed to accept the new Apple Watch charger which just sits in the hoop nicely. It is made to be able to thread the cable through the dock itself keeping the minimalist style that Enblue have tried so hard to achieve here.

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The first thing I noticed when I got this out of the box was the sheer quality. It has just the right amount of weight, the lightning cables do not shift when used and also the little touches of pads where your iPhone and iPad will sit so that neither the dock or device gets scratched.

I have to say after a few weeks of living with this dock, I really do like it and have now relegated my Elevation Dock elsewhere as cables are always the issue which this product eliminates for me. This would be at home sitting on your bedside table, office desk or home study. Some may find issue with its price which is 139 Euros for the W3. It sounds expensive but when you actually consider the build quality, weight, material and of course the inclusion of lightning cables it is well worth the price tag.

Looking for a dock that takes all of your devices and charges them? Look no further, this might just be the best multiple Apple dock we have ever reviewed.

TechSpy Rating: 9/10

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So iOS 9 has now been released and is out in the wild, some bugs have been reported and even some serious enough for a security firm to offer a bounty to find them…..But for most of us we just want to know what has changed.

So here are the updates you need to know about;

Public Transport Directions – Along with the iOS update, Apple have also updated the Maps app which now allows you to see buses, trains and tubes (subways) for your journey. This is very clever, as not only will it show you the times of your nearest public transport, but it will also factor this in to any journey planning you try to do.

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Split Screen – For all you iPad owners out there, you can swipe in from the right to reveal a new menu which allows you to open up another app alongside. So if you are on the web in Safari and hear your notification that an email has arrived, you can swipe in and read it without even exiting the Safari app.

Auto Events into Calendar – You now will be automatically prompted to add a date that was found within your email to your calendar.

iCloud App – When upgrading you would have been asked if you wanted the iCloud App on your home screen. This places an app on your home screen which gives you full access to all the documents that you have saved on your cloud taking on the likes of Google Drive and Dropbox directly. You can remove this app after via settings if you no longer need it.

“Back to” Feature – This has proved very useful already for me. Simply, if you for example click on a link in an email which then takes you to Safari to view, you will see a “Back to Mail” in the top left of the screen which when you have finished will conveniently take your back to where you were in Mail.

Markup – Ever wished you could write on an email attachment you have just received and then send it back? Well, now you can with Markup. If iOS 9 allows it, when you open an attachment you will see a small “Markup” button appear which will allow you to annotate on the file…or if you are like most of us, suitably deface the attachment and then send it back.

Improved Notes – This is one we have been waiting for! Notes is used by many and yet has stayed relatively the same since its inception. Now you can take notes, add web links, attachments and pics to your heart’s content.

Ad Blocking – We now have the choice to block ads in Safari. If you go into the Safari section in Settings, you’ll see a new Content Blockers option which you will have to install first.

Low Power Mode – I think Apple are finally starting to listen to their clients….The battery life is shocking, but has been improved in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus dramatically. Now they offer “Low Power Mode” which gives you over an hour more battery life but of course sacrifices a few processes in the process. Think of it as your saviour when you are coming home from your night out with only a few percent of battery life left, this could be just what you need.

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Track Pad – When a keyboard is not enough, Apple have allowed you to turn the keyboard into a trackpad by simply placing two fingers on the touch screen.

Attachments in Mail – Apple have spoken and you can now attach other documents to emails within Mail where prior to this you could only attach a photo. On clicking “Add Attachment” you will be ushered to the iCloud Drive to add a file, but you should know that the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive are supported so you will pretty much be able to send any file via Mail.

Fast Photo Selection – You no longer need to tap individual photos when you want to choose multiple. Just keep your finger on the screen after selecting the first photo and drag it to select as many as you want in a single action.

Quick Calculator and Currency Conversions – Spotlight in iOS 9 now gives you answers to calculations and currency questions as you type into the text box.

As you can see a lot of features have been added to an already cool line up. Let us know if you find any neat tricks you want to share with the rest of the world and we will post them with your name for credit.