iOS 9.3 release date: Apple's new software update not likely to hit phones for weeks

It’s possible to get the release already — if you dare

Apple has released the newest version of its iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 9.3 — but only to a select few people.

The public are likely to have to wait for weeks before the new features arrive on their phones. The only way to get access to the software now is to be part of Apple’s developer or public beta programmes.

iOS 9.3 brings a range of new changes. Perhaps the biggest is the introduction of Night Shift, a special mode that changes the colours of the screen so that they are less glaring at night time.

The last major update for the phone, iOS 9.2, was given developers at the end of October. It reached the public on December 8, about six weeks after the first beta version was made available.

That release brought few new headline features beyond Arabic Siri, but it did bring updates that developers had to work into their own apps. Most of the changes in iOS 9.3 are to Apple’s own apps, and so the changes could take less time for developers to integrate.

The quickest way to get access to iOS 9.3 is to sign up for Apple’s public beta programme, which gives people in it early access to Apple’s operating system updates. But the software can still be patchy when it is released through that programme, and it is not recommended that people use it with their primary or especially important devices.

Apple’s next major event is rumoured to be taking place in March. At that event, Apple has been said to be unveiling a new version of the iPhone that goes back to the old, smaller size, as well as a new Apple Watch.

The company could wait until then to release iOS 9.3.

Apple still has another version of iOS in testing with developers. iOS 9.2.1 was pushed out to users on 4 January, and that will presumably have to make its way to phones before iOS 9.3 does.

As well as the introduction of Night Mode, iOS 9.3 will bring with it changes to the Health and Notes app, and the introduction of special education features for the iPad.

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