Apple Releases iOS 9.3 With Night Shift, New Quick Actions, App Improvements, '1970' Bug Fix and More

Apple today released iOS 9.3 to the public, marking the third significant update to the iOS 9 operating system since it launched in September of 2015. iOS 9.3 has been in testing since January 11 with new features, refinements, and bug fixes added throughout the beta testing period.

iOS 9.3 is available immediately to all iOS 9 users as an over-the-air update. It can also be downloaded through iTunes on the Mac and PC.


As a major update to the iOS 9 operating system, iOS 9.3 introduces several new functions, important bug fixes, and feature refinements. Perhaps the biggest change is the introduction of Night Shift mode, designed to reduce the amount of blue light iOS users are exposed to in the evening by shifting the iPhone or iPad display to a warmer (yellower) color spectrum.

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Night Shift mode can be set to turn on automatically at sunset or it can be manually toggled on when needed via the Settings app or through the Control Center Night Shift icon, shaped like a sun. For full instructions, check out our Night Shift how to.

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For iPhone 6s and 6s Plus users, several apps are gaining new Quick Actions. Weather, Settings, Compass, Health, App Store, and iTunes Store all offer new or improved features when pressed on the Home screen. Settings, for example, offers quick access to Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Battery settings, while the App Store now offers an option to update all apps.

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In Apple News, users will find better personalized recommendations, more frequent updates, support for in-line video, and a landscape view on the iPhone. In Health, there's a new Apple Watch-style "Activity" view, and in Notes, there's now an option to password protect individual entries with a passcode and/or Touch ID. Third-party apps, like Shazam are able to add songs to Apple Music playlists, and Verizon Wireless subscribers can now use Wi-Fi calling.

CarPlay includes "New" and "For You" sections in Apple music for better content discovery, and iOS 9's Nearby feature is now available in CarPlay Maps for more information on local points-of-interest located close by. When paired with an Apple Watch running watchOS 2.2, an iPhone running iOS 9.3 can support multiple Apple Watches.

For the education sector, there are multiple features to make the iPad more appealing to teachers and students. There are better tools for managing Apple IDs, accounts, and courses, along with a Classroom app that lets teachers guide students through app-based lessons. Multi-user login is also supported in iOS 9.3 for educational users, and while a highly desired feature, it not available to the general public. Apple is also introducing improved transparency for its Mobile Device Management users, which encompasses iOS devices controlled by schools and businesses, to let people know when an iPhone is being tracked and controlled by an organization.

As for bug fixes, iOS 9.3 fixes a bug that caused 64-bit iPhones and iPads to be disabled or "bricked" when the date on the device was set to January 1, 1970. In iOS 9.3, devices can be restored to working order using iTunes, and it is no longer possible to set a date before 1/1/01 at 12:00 a.m. GMT. Other general bug fixes are listed below:

- Fixes an issue where manually changing the date May 1970 or earlier could prevent your iOS device from turning on after a restart
- Fixes issues that could prevent some iCloud Backups from completing
- Fixes an issue for some users where Health data was incomplete after restoring from an iCloud Backup
- Fixes an issue where an inaccurate battery percentage could be displayed
- Addresses an issue that prevented iMessage or FaceTime activation for some users
- Addresses an issue that could prevent displaying the iPhone interface when receiving a phone call
- Fixes an issue that enabled overriding restrictions applied to cellular data toggle
- Fixes an issue that caused notification settings to appear in the Watch app for apps that were not installed on Apple Watch

In early iOS 9.3 betas, Apple Pencil navigational functionality was removed, preventing iPad Pro owners from using it to select text, scroll, swipe between apps, and more. Apple restored the functionality in iOS 9.3 beta 5, and at release, the Apple Pencil is working as normal.

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Along with the above listed additions, there are numerous other minor tweaks, performance improvements, and bug fixes in iOS 9.3, designed to refine and improve the overall functionality of the iOS 9 operating system. The update comes with a long list of release notes covering new features and improvements, well worth reading through on your iOS device.

Tag: iOS 9.3

Top Rated Comments

ryanmcv Avatar
63 months ago
Full release notes:

With this update your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch gain improvements to Notes, News, Health, Apple Music and a new feature called Night Shift that may even help you get a better night’s sleep by shifting the colors in your display to the warmer end of the spectrum at night. New features, improvements, and bug fixes include:

Night Shift

* When enabled, Night Shift uses your iOS device’s clock and geolocation to determine when it’s sunset in your location, then it automatically shifts the colors in your display to the warmer end of the spectrum and may even help you get a better night’s sleep.

Notes improvements

* Protect notes that contain your most personal data with Touch ID or a passcode
* Sort notes alphabetically, by date created, or by date edited
* When sketching, quickly bring up a fresh canvas with a two finger swipe, or by tapping the New Sketch button
* A new checklist button at the bottom of every note makes it easier to create lists
* Show thumbnails instead of large images and attachments by long-pressing on any image or attachment in a note
* Choose whether photos and videos taken within Notes are stored only in Notes, or also added to Photos
* Long-press on an Evernote Export file to import its contents into Notes

News improvements

* New Top Stories section in For You highlights the most important stories of the day
* Discover something great to read in Editors' Picks, a selection of channels and topics handpicked by our Apple News editors
* Swipe left on stories in For You on iPhone to quickly share or save or swipe right for more options
* Play video stories right from For You — without opening the article
* Read stories and watch videos in landscape orientation on iPhone
* Change the text size in articles to make reading easier

Health improvements

* Related third-party apps for select data types such as weight, workouts and sleep are displayed in the Health app
* Health dashboard adds support for move, exercise, and stand Activity data and goals from Apple Watch
* Easy access to Dashboard and Medical ID using 3D Touch Quick Actions from the Home screen
* Third-party apps now have access to Activity rings and summaries from Apple Watch through HealthKit

Apple Music improvements

* Add songs from the Apple Music catalog to playlists without having to add them to your library
* Watch music videos on iPad in full screen
* See what’s playing on Beats 1 directly from the Radio tab — without having to tune in
* Tap the name of the currently playing song in Now Playing to go to the album
* See which songs are most popular on albums in the Apple Music catalog

Photos improvements

* Extract the still image from a Live Photo by tapping Duplicate which will give you the option to duplicate the Live Photo, or just the still image
* Improved download performance of full size original photos or videos stored in iCloud Photo Library
* Share Live Photos between iOS and OS X through AirDrop and Messages

iBooks improvements

* Adds the ability for iBooks to store your PDFs in iCloud, making them available across all of your devices
* Adds support for downloading previously purchased audiobooks from the iBooks Store
* Adds the ability to share your audiobook purchases with any of your family members using Family Sharing
* New controls for reading Manga more comfortably with faster page turns and simple controls for enlarging text
* Adds Apple Pencil support to highlight and save your favorite passages for later

Education improvements

* Introduces a preview of Shared iPad that enables multiple students to use the same iPad at different times throughout the day
* Adds support for signing into iCloud with Managed Apple IDs
* Adds compatibility for the new Classroom app
* New configuration options to control the organization of apps on the Home Screen
* New controls to determine which apps to show or hide on the Home Screen
* Adds support for new restrictions for iCloud Photo Library and Apple Music

CarPlay improvements

* Apple Music members now have access to their For You and New content in CarPlay
* New Nearby screen in Maps to quickly find Gas, Parking, Restaurants, Coffee, and other driving essentials
* Siri speaks more concisely when reading back and composing messages in CarPlay
* Equalized sound levels between different audio sources in CarPlay

Dolby Digital Plus

* Adds support for playing video encoded with Dolby Digital Plus audio streams with support for multichannel output using the Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter

Hardware keyboard improvements and fixes

* Enables the use of arrow keys to navigate through lists in Spotlight, Mail and Safari
* Enables the use of space bar to scroll in Mail
* Improves performance when using the space bar to scroll in Safari
* Adds the ability to bring up the software keyboard from the Shortcut Bar when a hardware keyboard is connected
* Fixes an issue that could prevent unlocking an iPad using the hardware keyboard
* Fixes an issue that caused hardware keyboards to become unresponsive in captive login pages
* Fixes an issue that could cause the Messages input field to disappear behind the Shortcut Bar when connected to a hardware keyboard

Other improvements

* Maps adds support for getting a highlighted view of destinations and stops for a specific transit line by tapping on it
* Maps now displays whether there are multiple transit line options for each route suggestion
* Wallet app adds the ability to view the app related to a card or pass in the Wallet app by tapping an icon on the card or pass
* Apple Pay adds support for signing up for store rewards programs with Apple Pay at point of sale terminal
* Podcasts adds support for fullscreen video playback
* Activity app adds a new Workout tab with monthly summaries of key metrics and the ability to filter by workout type
* Move to iOS now offers app suggestions from the App Store based on apps installed on your Android device
* iCloud Storage adds proactive status information and in-app notifications to let you know before you run out of space
* Two-factor authentication is now available for all iCloud accounts
* Support for Spanish (Latin America) system language
* Siri support for Finnish (Finland), Hebrew (Israel), and Malay (Malaysia)

Enterprise bug fixes

* Resolves an issue that could prevent some VPP purchased apps from launching after being updated
* Adds iCloud backup support for device-assigned VPP apps
* Addresses an issue that could prevent certificates from installing correctly when updating configuration profiles
* Fixes an issue for some IPSec VPN configurations that could cause the internet connection to be interrupted after a VPN session was ended
* Fixes an issue to prevent iBooks from emailing enterprise managed PDFs from unmanaged accounts
* Resolves an issue for some Exchange users that caused Calendar to send multiple responses to the same invitation
* Improves reliability for devices connecting to OS X Caching Server

Accessibility bug fixes

* Improves 3D Touch reliability with Switch Control Accessibility option
* Fixes an issue where VoiceOver interferes with speech after dictation
* Fixes an issue where VoiceOver users could not write a review on the App Store
* Resolves an issue where VoiceOver becomes unresponsive when receiving a phone call with a Bluetooth headset
* Fixes an issue where large text was unreadable in Reminders

Other bug fixes, performance and stability improvements

* Fixes an issue where manually changing the date to May 1970 or earlier could prevent your iOS device from turning on after a restart
* Fixes issues that could prevent some iCloud Backups from completing
* Fixes an issue for some users where Health data was incomplete after restoring from iCloud Backup
* Fixes an issue where an inaccurate battery percentage could be displayed
* Addresses an issue that prevented iMessage or FaceTime activation for some users
* Addresses an issue that could prevent displaying the Phone interface while receiving a call
* Fixes an issue that enabled overriding restrictions applied to cellular data toggle
* Fixes an issue that caused notification settings to appear in the Watch app for apps that were not installed on Apple Watch
* Improves reliability when using 3D Touch on the keyboard
* Improves stability of the Phone app when setting up voicemail
* Improves stability of the Mail app when your device is low on storage
* Improves stability in Mail while using Mail Drop to send large attachments
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KALLT Avatar
63 months ago
Really disappointed that Night Shift and low-power mode are mutually exclusive. It really bothers me, because it specifically affects me at the end of the day when my phone is running out of juice.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Somian Avatar
63 months ago

Just to be clear, is the earliest date iOS 9.3 allows still January 1, 2001?

Edit: Just read the article. It still is.

How horrible. This makes iPhones useless for time travelers.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bushido Avatar
63 months ago

why in the world would night shift turn off in low power mode?

you can cheat and enable it with siri
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jmh600cbr Avatar
63 months ago
why in the world would night shift turn off in low power mode?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pito189 Avatar
63 months ago
I really want them to give us the ability to make a playlist from "hearted" music. Man that would be awesome.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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