Great iOS 9 features for interpreters (and translators)

In late 2015, Apple have released a new version of their operating system for iPhones and iPads: iOS 9. Why should you care? You’ll find out in this video.
iOS 9 works on all existing iPads – except for the very first one, which, alas, does not have enough power to run it. Now let’s take a closer look.

At first sight, not much is different: There is a new font, called San Francisco, which is very readable and good-looking.
The search function has changed quite a bit, though. You can not only pull down from the top of the home screen, you can also swipe over to go to the search pane.
Siri, the voice assistant in your iPhone or iPad has become much smarter. Here in the search, Siri will show you frequently used contacts, apps that you may want to use, nearby coffee places and other locations and the latest news, too. The cool thing is that you can now also search within more apps than just Mail, Contacts or Calendar: You can search for your meeting documents in Readdle Documents or all of your notes in Evernote and then quickly jump to those from the search results.
Oh, and speaking of search: The iPad settings app is now searchable! Want to, say,  quickly turn the multitasking gestures off when using a handwriting app? No problem, just go into settings, search for it and – voilà – there it is!
The app switcher has gotten a facelift. You already know you can bring it up by double-clicking the home button or by swiping up with four fingers. All your recent apps are shown as cards and you can navigate them easily.
Here is one of my favourite features: the keyboard cursor. Entering text is quite easy with the big iPad keyboard. But what if you need to go back a few characters, words or even navigate between lines and paragraphs? The engineers from Cupertino have found a nifty way: put two fingers on the keyboard and move them around. It’s as easy as that. Two fingers on the screen, and the cursor shows up. You can even use this method to select text quickly: Again, two fingers on the screen, but this time, hold them right there for a moment, until the text selection tool shows up.
Of course, there are many more new things in iOS 9: For example, the battery should last longer and using an external keyboard has become more comfortable and functional. But Lourdes and I can only show you so much. And what we do want to show you, are some new features and functionalities that we as interpreters will appreciate particularly.
Remember how I mentioned the smarter Siri assistant earlier? Well, Siri now also helps out with unit conversion, such as currencies or units of measurement. If this doesn’t help you impress your boothmates next time the speaker talks of miles, yards or ounces, I don’t know what will.
Next up: files. All those files! Meeting documents, presentations, invoices, the list goes on. Well, the iPad now finally has a file manager that helps you organise and retrieve all that stuff. It’s called the iCloud Drive app. You might have to enable it first in the iCloud settings (remember, you can now search in settings). That’s nice in and of itself, but that also means that you can finally save attachments directly from the Mail app to your iPad (even to Dropbox or Google Drive, if you have those apps installed). Inversely, it has also become easier to send attachments via email.
Last but not least, the Safari web browser on the iPad finally lets you upload more than just photos and videos to a website.
What else is new? The Notes app. Yes, the Notes app. It may not look like much, but once you start using it, you’ll come to appreciate its functionality. Because Notes gives you lots of options to capture stuff: there’s text, of course, with the most used formatting options. You can make lists and checklists, too, you can add photos, videos and even file attachments – no matter if it’s PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint or whatever else. On top of this, Notes can be used as a little digital scratch pad. Just pick the pen, the sharpie or the pencil and a color and start scribbling. Need a ruler? An eraser? Want to start from scratch? No problem. It’s the perfect tool for those little notes in the booth, either for you or your booth mate.
When you’re done, organize your notes in folders and keep them either offline, just on your iPad, or in sync across several devices and the web with iCloud sync.
Probably the best part of the Notes app is its extension. Extensions are those little buttons popping up everywhere that let you do things with your stuff. In the case of the Notes app, this means that whenever you see the share button, chances are you can take what you’re just looking at and store it in a note for later: An interesting paragraph from a web article. A Wikipedia definitian. A PDF white paper. A tweet. Share it and store it as a note (or append it to an existing note). A great way to collect information when preparing for a meeting.
If you’d rather keep your information as PDF documents in a central place, there’s an extension for you, too: “Save PDF to iBooks”, which does exactly what is says on the tin.
And if you’re more into handwriting on the iPad, you’ll be glad to hear that Apple have worked a lot on the technology that draws lines when you move your finger or stylus on the screen, so expect improvements there, too.
Finally, here’s THE big feature of iOS 9 on the iPad: multitasking. Yes, finally we can have two windows open side by side.
Caveat: It has to be two different applications, you cannot have two documents side by side from the same app, say, GoodReader. Maybe some day in the future…
For now, it depends on which iPad you have to which extent you can use multitasking. On older models, you can use SlideOver with a primary app to the left and a secondary app to the right. Works very well when you want to reference something quickly, check incoming email or look something up in a dictionary app without having to leave, say, your document or your glossary.
When you want to watch an educational video and take notes at the same time, use the video overlay feature. You may know this from your television as picture-in-picture. Very simple, and very useful.
Now, should you have an iPad Air 2 or plan to buy the iPad Pro, then you’ll be able to run two full applications side by side.
So, there you have it. Lots of goodies for iPad users in this latest version of iOS. You can read more about them online. Why not check if your device is eligible and give iOS 9 a try?

Let me know how it goes – on tabletinterpreter.eu or on Twitter.

My handle is @TabTerp.

Alexander DRECHSEL is staff intepreter at DG INTERPRETATION, EUROPEAN COMMISSION.

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