THE latest version of Apple’s software that powers the iPhone and iPad - iOS 9 - becomes available to users this evening, with Apple claiming it makes devices more productive and secure.
The software, which will be available to download by any iPhone user with an iPhone 4s or newer, and iPad 2 or newer users, also comes with a new News app, which contains stories specially selected by the technology giant.
On the iPad, new multi-tasking features have been added, so users can split the screen between two apps for the first time; use them both at once, as well as also playing a video or taking a FaceTime video call using picture-in-picture mode.
Apple says these new features will enable iPad users to “make even better use of its large screen”. A similar feature already exists on rival platform Android.
Those eligible for the update will begin receiving notifications from today.
Rival Google is also set to release an update of its own Android operating system - called Marshmallow - later this year.
Apple’s much-maligned Maps app has also been updated as part of iOS 9, now showing public transport options routes for the first time. The feature is only in selected cities, but it will include buses, trains, metros and ferries.
The app has previously struggled with reliability issues, and even prompted an apology from Apple chief Tim Cook shortly after it launched in 2012.
Apple also says that iOS 9 will help to improve the battery life on some devices, thanks to power efficiency improvements included in the app software.
Improved security features are also part of the update, with default pin codes now six digits long rather than four. Apple says this increases the possible combinations from 10,000 to one million, and is therefore more secure against hacking.
Two-factor authentication, where a second layer is added to log-in, is also being introduced, with users now required to enter a code when they log in from a new device for the first time. This code will be sent to and displayed on a user’s other Apple products.
The software launch comes just over a week before the latest iPhones, the 6s and 6s Plus, are released.
They will come with iOS 9 built in, and Apple claims the current pre-orders for the new phones are “on pace” to beat the company’s record sales of the iPhone 6 last year.