iOS 9 was released by Apple in 2015. It was a major update that brought new features like multitasking on iPad, enhanced Siri capabilities, Apple News, and improvements to Maps, Notes, and Wallet. iOS 9 also focused heavily on under-the-hood optimizations and stability improvements.
Now in 2023, iOS 9 is no longer supported by Apple. The operating system is several years old at this point and has not received software updates or security patches from Apple for quite some time. So is iOS 9 still usable today or should users upgrade to a newer iOS version? Let’s take a closer look.
iOS Version History and Support Timeline
To understand if iOS 9 is still supported, it helps to first review Apple’s history of iOS releases and their typical support lifecycles:
|iOS Version||Release Year||Final Update||Support Ended|
|iOS 1||2007||iOS 3.1.3 in 2010||2010|
|iOS 2||2008||iOS 3.1.3 in 2010||2010|
|iOS 3||2009||iOS 3.2.2 in 2010||2010|
|iOS 4||2010||iOS 4.2.1 in 2010||2012|
|iOS 5||2011||iOS 5.1.1 in 2012||2013|
|iOS 6||2012||iOS 6.1.6 in 2014||2014|
|iOS 7||2013||iOS 7.1.2 in 2014||2015|
|iOS 8||2014||iOS 8.4.1 in 2015||2016|
|iOS 9||2015||iOS 9.3.6 in 2016||2017|
|iOS 10||2016||iOS 10.3.4 in 2017||2018|
As you can see, Apple typically supports an iOS version for about 5 years after its initial release. Security updates and bug fixes stop coming after that point, essentially ending support for the older OS.
iOS 9 was released in September 2015. Its last major point update was iOS 9.3.6 in July 2016. Apple provided security updates for iOS 9 devices until about September 2017. Therefore, iOS 9 has not been supported since late 2017, over 5 years ago according to its typical lifecycle.
Current iOS Version – iOS 16
The current version of iOS as of November 2022 is iOS 16. iOS 16 was released by Apple in September 2022 and is the latest operating system for iPhones.
iOS 16 introduced several new capabilities:
– Customizable lock screen with widgets
– Focus modes enhancements
– iMessage improvements like edit, undo send, and mark conversations as unread
– Dictation via keyboard for voice typing
– Visual Look Up to extract images and text from photos
– Apple Maps improvements like multi-stop routing and transit updates
– Apple Pay Later installment plans
– Home app architecture updates
– Safety Check emergency reset option
By comparison, iOS 9 is now a 7 year old operating system. Apple has advanced iOS significantly since 2015 with features like face ID, dark mode, augmented reality, screen time, Live Text and Visual Look Up, enhanced privacy controls, and much more.
iOS 9 lacks all of the major features and updates added in the last 7 years. It feels extremely outdated and limited compared to modern iOS 16.
Is iOS 9 Still Secure and Usable?
With iOS 9 no longer receiving support and updates from Apple, is it still secure and usable on a daily basis? There are a few key considerations:
– **Security:** iOS 9 has not received any security patches from Apple since 2017. That means it could be vulnerable to recently discovered exploits that hackers could use to compromise your data and privacy. Using an unsupported OS is inherently less secure.
– **App Support:** Many newer apps require a more recent iOS version like iOS 12 or later. Using iOS 9 prevents you from downloading the latest apps. And many existing apps have dropped support for iOS 9 as well.
– **Features:** iOS 9 lacks thousands of features, enhancements, and optimizations added in the last 7 years. It feels extremely dated compared to modern iOS versions. Simple things like swiping to go back in apps may not work.
– **Performance:** Apple has refined and improved the performance of iOS extensively since iOS 9. Apps generally lag and stutter much more on iOS 9 compared to recent iOS versions.
– **Compatibility:** iOS 9 may experience issues syncing or communicating properly with modern Apple services and devices. There could be compatibility problems with current Macs, iPads, Apple Watches, AirPods, etc.
While it may be possible to use an iPhone running iOS 9 for basic calls, texts, and web browsing – the experience will be very limited. Even basic apps like social media, messaging, banking, transportation, and photography will have problems on iOS 9 today. And any sort of security is a major concern on an unsupported operating system.
Should You Update from iOS 9?
For all iPhones currently on iOS 9, updating to a newer iOS version is highly recommended. But what version should you update to? Here are some guidelines:
– **Minimum Recommended Version:** iOS 12. iOS 12 was released in 2018 and will receive updates from Apple until around September 2023. It still supports most common apps and has received years of security fixes. Updating to at least iOS 12 would be the bare minimum to remain reasonably secure and functional.
– **Best Version:** iOS 16. The latest iOS version always has all of the newest features and improvements. And it will be supported for many years into the future. Updating directly to iOS 16 would be ideal for the full modern iPhone experience.
– **Compatible Version:** Check which iOS version your iPhone model supports. Older models like the iPhone 5s can only upgrade to iOS 12. Ensure you update to the newest version available for your hardware.
Updating to either iOS 12 or ideally iOS 16 will provide a dramatically better and more secure experience compared to the extremely outdated and vulnerable iOS 9.
How to Update iOS Version
Updating to a newer version of iOS is easy. Simply follow these steps:
1. Connect your iPhone to power and wifi. Go to Settings > General > Software Update.
2. The latest available iOS version will appear. Tap Download and Install.
3. Follow the onscreen prompts to download the update. Your iPhone will restart multiple times during the process.
4. When completed, your iPhone will be running the new iOS version with all the latest features and security patches. Be sure to re-download any desired apps.
Some tips for a smooth update process:
– Use a reliable wifi connection and keep your device charged during the update.
– Make sure you have sufficient storage available on your iPhone before updating. Delete photos or apps if needed.
– For major updates, expect the process to take 10-15 minutes. The device will restart multiple times.
– Your data and settings will remain intact after updating, but it’s still wise to backup your iPhone before updating just in case.
With a few simple taps in Settings, you can update to the latest iOS version. This will revitalize your iPhone with new capabilities and maintain critical security protections.
Can You Still Use iOS 9?
While iOS 9 is not considered secure or functionally ideal today, is it still *possible* to use an iPhone running iOS 9 in 2023? Here are some key points about usability:
– You will need to be extremely vigilant about security vulnerabilities and avoid sensitive app usage like banking.
– Many apps will not work properly or at all. App choices will be very limited.
– Features and performance will feel extremely outdated. Common tasks will be frustrating.
– Compatibility issues may arise with newer Apple services and devices.
– You will miss out on thousands of enhancements made over the past 7 years.
Using iOS 9 today would provide an extremely poor and potentially unsafe iPhone experience. But if you are exceptionally cautious in your app usage, wary of security risks, and tolerant of very outdated software, iOS 9 can technically still power an iPhone for simple functions like calls and web browsing.
But for the vast majority of iPhone owners, running iOS 9 today would not be considered practical. The security, compatibility, and usability downsides are simply too significant at this point.
Downsides of Using Obsolete iOS Versions
Let’s recap the notable downsides associated with using iOS 9 or another unsupported iOS version today:
With no updates being released, iOS 9 harbors years of accumulated vulnerabilities that put your privacy and data at risk:
– **Malware infections** – Outdated software is prone to malware from hackers exploiting known security holes. This could allow spying on your activity or stealing of sensitive data like financial info or passwords.
– **Phishing attacks** – iOS 9 lacks protections against sophisticated new phishing threats aimed at stealing personal information through convincing websites or apps.
– **Network attacks** – Modern cellular and wifi networks have new standards to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. iOS 9 may lack compatibly with the latest networks protections.
– **Device takeovers** – Old iOS versions could have vulnerabilities that let hackers remotely take control of your device if connected to the same network. This poses risks to your data.
– **Data breaches** – iOS 9 does not have Apple’s latest hardened security protections for Apple services like iCloud and Apple Pay. Your sensitive information is at risk on older iOS.
App capabilities and catalog will be extremely limited on iOS 9 today:
– **Latest apps unavailable** – Most apps released in the past 2-3 years require much newer iOS versions and will simply fail to install on iOS 9.
– **Buggy app performance** – The few apps that still install on iOS 9 are likely to crash or exhibit problems since they are not optimized for the outdated OS.
– **Loss of app features** – Apps will lack many of their newer capabilities and enhancements when forced to run on iOS 9. Their feature set will be cut down significantly.
– **No app updates** – Apps stuck running on iOS 9 will no longer receive updates with bug fixes, optimizations or support for new iPhone features. They become outdated.
– **Web browsing issues** – Many modern web sites have dropped support for old browser versions. Browsing on iOS 9 may yield confusing layouts or non-functional web pages.
iOS 9 lacks thousands of enhancements added to the iPhone experience over the past 7 years:
– **No performance optimizations** – iOS 9 does not have Apple’s continued refinements for faster app launch times, smoother scrolling, and less system lag. It will feel slow.
– **Missing features** – New useful features like temporary private browsing, system dark mode, Screen Time usage reports, bedtime reminders, and live text translation are not available.
– **Incompatible services** – Some Apple services like spatial audio, Apple Card, SharePlay streaming, and iCloud Private Relay may not work properly or at all on iOS 9.
– **No interface improvements** – iOS 9 is stuck with outdated interface conventions without all the usability refinements added over the years.
– **Lack of customization** – You miss out on extensive new customization options for widgets, fonts, emoji stickers, focus modes, notifications, and much more.
– **Reduced accessibility** – Modern accessibility features like Magnifier, Door Detection, and improved VoiceOver support are absent.
The Bottom Line
iOS 9 was a major leap forward when it launched in 2015. But in late 2022, it feels extremely outdated and limited. With no security updates since 2017, keeping iOS 9 on your iPhone today poses huge risks for your privacy, data, and overall usability.
While it may technically be possible to squeak by on iOS 9 for basic functions, you will miss out on thousands of features and optimizations added over the past 7 years. Apps, websites, services, and even new iPhones will have limited compatibility with the obsolete operating system.
For any iPhone currently running iOS 9, updating to at least iOS 12 is strongly recommended, with iOS 16 being ideal. This will restore proper security protections, expand app capabilities, and provide access to all the latest iPhone advancements. Continuing to use iOS 9 is not practical or advisable for most users today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions about iOS 9 support and updating:
Is iOS 9 completely unusable today?
iOS 9 is not completely 100% unusable, but support has degraded to the point where most users will have a poor experience. Very basic apps may still work. But even typical activities like social media, web browsing, photos, and messaging will be problematic on the long outdated OS.
What happens if I don’t update from iOS 9?
If you continue using iOS 9, your security and privacy will be put at serious risk. Functionality and app support will become more limited over time. Newer iPhone hardware may no longer sync properly. Overall usability will decline on the unsupported OS.
Can I still update if I’m on iOS 9?
Yes, you can update to a newer iOS version directly from iOS 9. Apple allows updating to the latest compatible iOS version for each iPhone model. But updating sooner rather than later is wise to minimize security and app support problems.
Will updating delete my data?
No, installing a newer iOS version via Settings will not delete your data or files. But it’s still smart to backup your iPhone before updating, just in case. And be sure you have enough free storage for the iOS update file.
Is iOS 12 still reasonably secure today?
iOS 12 is not as secure as the latest iOS 16, but it does receive occasional updates for critical issues. Updating to iOS 12 improves security considerably compared to very vulnerable iOS 9. Running iOS 12 or later is the bare minimum recommendation for reasonable security.