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Everything you need to know about iOS 9.3 and how to get it on your iPhone and iPad

You can finally download iOS 9.3 on your iPhone or iPad and sleep better at night

If you have been eagerly waiting for the latest iOS update — worry no longer: iOS 9.3 is available today. Apple announced the update at its media event in Cupertino, where it also announced updates to the Apple TV, iPad Pro, Apple Watch, iPhone SE, and more.

Here’s everything you need to know about iOS 9.3

Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPod, iPhone, and iOS product marketing, took the stage at the event to relay that iOS 9 is currently running on 80 percent of active iOS devices. He compared that to how many devices are running Android’s latest operating system. “…two percent,” he said, receiving laughs from the room.

iOS 9.3 arrived on March 21 for the iPhone, iPad, and the iPod Touch. The update has been in beta since January, and brings a number of changes to the operating system and to apps like Notes, News, and Apple Music.

For starters, there’s a new Night Shift mode in 9.3 that removes some of the blue light from the display. Research shows that removing the blue light from digital devices helps you sleep better at night. More and more companies have been addressing this issue in their products — Amazon added a feature called Blue Shade late last year to its Fire tablets, and Google added a Night Light mode in its Google Play Books app. The upcoming version of Android will also have a Dark mode that addresses the issue.

Another big feature is one that affects Notes — you can now password-protect certain notes in the app, keeping them safe from others using your phone. The new feature makes use of Touch ID, to allow access into your private notes with the touch of a fingerprint.

Related Offer: The iPhone SE. A big step for small.

For Apple Music, you can allow third-party apps to access your library so they can add songs from the iTunes Store, and even manage your playlists. Other app updates include the Health app, which can now suggests apps; News, which has three new categories: Top Stories, Editor’s Picks, and Trending; and CarPlay, which has a better Maps app and will now suggest songs during your rides.

iOS 9.3 also has a heavy focus on education, with a new Classroom app that allows teachers to manage student activity more. The teachers can even see what students are up to with Screen View, launch apps in student iPads with Remote Control, and reset forgotten passwords within the app. There’s more administrative support, too, so schools can manage Apple IDs better with Apple School Manager. The update allows multiple students to use the same iPad, with support for multiple profiles.

iOS 9.3 will be available sometime on March 21 as an over-the-air update. You can go to Settings General Software Update to check if the update has hit your device.

Now you can sync two Apple Watches with watchOS 2.2

Although Apple didn’t mention watchOS 2.2 at its event, the update is rolling out to users now. WatchOS 2.2 brings several improvements to the Glances section of the Maps app. It can run searches, offer quick directions to saved locations, and also includes Nearby. Much like in the updated CarPlay, it marks points of interest and adds subcategories like Travel, Food, and Shopping.

Apple is also letting developers add more detailed workout summaries, offering data on active energy burned, the time spent exercising, and total stand hours earned. The highlight of watchOS 2.2, though, is multiple watch support — meaning that you can pair more than one Apple Watch with a single iPhone.

We’ll update this post as we learn of more features and improvements to Apple’s mobile operating systems.

All the rumors and news prior to launch

Apple just offered a sneak peek at iOS 9.3 and watchOS 2.2. Both of the OS updates, which are up for download on Apple’s developer portal, include several cool new features for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Here’s a breakdown of everything that’s in the two updates:

iOS 9.3 focuses on education

The newest developer beta for iOS 9.3, beta 2, was released on Monday, and follows the publication of Apple’s blowout preview earlier this month. A big focus is education: Apple’s making it easier for institutions to keep track of iOS devices in the classroom. It’s now easier for teachers to log in and share a device with multiple students, for instance, and share curriculum materials when the log in.

Photo ID lets teachers set each student’s picture on their assigned iPads, so that students can easily find their personal device. Younger students will only have to type in a four-digit PIN on the lock screen to get into their shared iPads.

ios 9.3
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The update also introduces a new Classroom app, which teachers can use to guide students through a lesson and even see what their students are seeing with Screen View. Teachers can launch apps, websites or pages in textbooks via Remote Control, project any student’s work on an Apple TV compatible screen, and reset forgotten passwords within the app.

In addition, iOS 9.3 introduces Apple School Manager, a centralized service which allows school administrators to control iPads and manage and distribute Apple IDs.

Night Shift mode, improved Health data, 3D Touch apps, and more

Apple’s iOS 9.3 offers new features for ordinary users, too. The preview page details a new Night Shift mode, which alters your iPhone or iPad’s screen so that less blue light is emitted and your eyes are protected. The new mode should help you get a better night’s sleep after staring at your phone before bed. The addition of a night mode isn’t too surprising, as rumors hinted that Apple would make its own version of the feature after it shut down the popular app f.lux, which essentially did the same thing if you jailbroke your device.

The company also updated more of its apps to support 3D Touch and brought more security to the Notes app. Now, you can set a password or a fingerprint to lock your notes away from prying eyes. The News app will curate its stories selection to better suit your tastes, and the Health app will help you find HealthKit-friendly apps. It also integrates data from the Apple Watch better, if you have one strapped to your wrist.

The update sports a few interface improvements too. iPhone 6S and 6S Plus users can open Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and wallpaper options from new 3D Touch shortcuts in the Settings app.

On the CarPlay side, iOS 9.3 adds a brand-new Music app with Apple Music features such as “For You” and “New” sections and a tab for recently added playlists and music. And a new Maps app adds Nearby, a feature which suggests stops that might prove useful on the road (gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and the like) and relevant details about them (distance, price levels, and star ratings).

The public beta for iOS 9.3 and watchOS 2.2 is available now for users with a registered Apple development account. It’s unclear when both new versions of the software will hit consumer’s devices.

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Julian Chokkattu
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Julian is the mobile and wearables editor at Digital Trends, covering smartphones, fitness trackers, smartwatches, and more…
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