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iOS 9.2 Improves iBooks, Music, News, and Mail

Apple has released iOS 9.2 with notable improvements to Apple Music, Apple News, and iBooks, as well as the introduction of OS X’s Mail Drop feature to Mail. iOS 9.2 also adds support for Apple’s new $29 Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader.

Apple Music should be a little easier to use in iOS 9.2’s Music app. You can now create a new playlist by starting from a song, instead of first having to create a new playlist and then add a song to it. When adding a song to a playlist, your most recently modified playlist is now listed at the top so that it’s easier to find. You can more easily download albums and playlists in iCloud Music Library for offline listening by tapping the newly added iCloud icon. There is also a download indicator next to each song that lets you know whether the song has been downloaded for offline listening. Finally, there’s good news for classical music fans as Apple has added sections for works, composers, and performers in the Classical section of Apple Music (for more on the problems, see “How iTunes Fails Classical Music Fans,” 31 July 2015).

Apple News has added a new Top Stories section for users in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. It’s a human-curated collection aimed at surfacing the most important news stories of the day, and you’re prompted to add it to Favorites when launching the News app for the first time after updating to iOS 9.2. If you wish to search for it or find it in Favorites later, note that it’s listed under News Top Stories.

Mail in iOS 9.2 now supports Mail Drop for sending large attachments via iCloud instead of attaching them directly to messages; unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get it to work yet. On the Mac, Mail Drop (if enabled) kicks in if the attachment size exceeds 20 MB or so, storing attachments up to 5 GB in size in iCloud, where they’ll remain available for 30 days. Mail Drop usage does not count against your iCloud storage quota, but there is a storage limit of 1 TB total. For more, see Apple’s support article on Mail Drop. Mail in iOS 9.2 also addresses a bug that caused text to overlap in attachments, and another that caused some attachments to be inaccessible for POP email users.

iBooks offers a few improvements in iOS 9.2, including support for 3D Touch to peek and pop pages from tables of contents, notes, bookmarks, and search results. iBooks added audiobook support in iOS 8.4 (see “Apple Releases iOS 8.4 with Apple Music,” 30 June 2015), and now in iOS 9.2 you can do other things in the iBooks app while listening to an audiobook, such as browsing your library or the iBooks Store and reading other non-audio books.

Accessibility improvements in iOS 9.2 include a fix for VoiceOver when using Camera face detection, support for VoiceOver to wake the screen and invoke the App Switcher, a fix for issues using Guided Access to end phone calls, and a fix for the speech rate of Speak Screen.

Apple promises improved stability for Safari and Podcasts in iOS 9.2, though Podcasts still hasn’t brought back fullscreen video. The Safari View Controller has been changed slightly, moving the Done button from the upper right to the upper left.

For international users, iOS 9.2 adds Siri support for Arabic, improves punctuation input on 10-key Chinese keyboards, and fixes a caps lock problem for Cyrillic keyboards.

iOS 9.2 also includes fixes for:

  • Sluggish keyboard responsiveness when using Quick Reply
  • Live Photos turned off after restoring from an iCloud backup
  • Empty search results in Contacts
  • Calendar not displaying all seven days in week view
  • Data not appearing in Health
  • Broken Wallet updates and Lock screen alerts
  • Alarms not going off
  • iCloud backups not completing
  • The iPad keyboard accidentally triggering text selection mode
  • Activity app instability when viewing the day of Daylight Saving Time transition

Security updates are included as well, with 30 vulnerabilities blocked.

iOS 9.2 is probably most easily installed directly on the device via Settings > General > Software Update, although it should also work fine if installed via iTunes. Regardless, always make sure a backup has completed before updating.

Unless you desperately need one of the fixes or new features listed above, we recommend waiting a few days to see if any major problems emerge in iOS 9.2. We have yet to run across any in our initial testing, but one advantage of iOS having hundreds of millions of users is that unexpected problems will be noticed quickly. That said, there are enough big fixes here that this isn’t an update to avoid for long.


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Comments about iOS 9.2 Improves iBooks, Music, News, and Mail
(Comments are closed.)

paolo savonuzzi  2015-12-15 11:36
Apps auto-updating though, broken by 9.0, still is

On both an iPad Air and an iPhone 6s, both re-setup from scratch when 9.1 was released :-/

With 9.2 things get even worse on the iPad: I now have a permanent red badge on App Sore that won't go away even removing the app that's supposed to need an update

Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2015-12-15 09:34
Very weird, especially given that you set up the devices from scratch with 9.1. Auto-updating seems to be working on all our devices since 9.0 (which was when I finally gave up and turned it on because I couldn't keep up with the manual updates).

Have you tried signing out and back in in Settings > iTunes & App Store? That sometimes fixes problems.
paolo savonuzzi  2015-12-15 11:35
haven't tried, yet, on 9.2 (but did in 9.1)

will try restoring the iPad (no way I'll set it up from scratch once more =:-p )
let's keep fingers crossed :-/

thanks, Adam
paolo savonuzzi  2015-12-16 07:17
ok, performed a restore *from scratch* on the iPad and now looks auto-updates are working :)
(fingers crossed though)

performed an iTunes Store logout/device restart/iTunes login on the iPhone 6s and... still no auto-updates
(actually... when multiple updates are available *one* is automatically performed. must manually update all remaining ones though)

William Conable  2015-12-17 10:19
I upgraded my iPhone 6 to iOS 9.2 and now my battery life is screwed. Tried a whole bunch of online fixes, no joy. Force restarted phone, overnight with no use and a full battery and only a couple of apps running it went from 100% down to 22% and use and standby were both 9h47m. What's going on?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2015-12-17 10:51
Any obvious culprits in Settings > Battery > Usage? Or something using a lot of data in Settings > Cellular?
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2015-12-17 11:02
If your usage and standby times are the same, then something is preventing your device from sleeping, though I couldn't tell you what.
William Conable  2015-12-17 12:37
Turned out that the update was incomplete. I reset all settings and the problem seems to be solved; I had to reinstall all my ApplePay credit cards and also the lock screen image and default fonts have changed and I now need a 6-digit PIN.
David Emme  2015-12-17 17:40
I have the same problem. What exactly did you do ("reset all settings")?. My "Battery" Settings screen shows Usage and Standby with the same values, and says "Battery information will be available after using iPod Touch for a few moments.". But the usual battery usage information never becomes "available".