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23 annoying problems with iOS 9, and how to fix them

Apple’s iOS 9 looks an awful lot like iOS 8, but you’ll find some new features lurking within. There are a handful of new apps, Siri has gotten proactive, the latest iPhones get 3D Touch, and the latest iPads have split screen. But new platforms always have their troubles and iOS 9 is no exception. We’ve gathered together some of the most common iOS 9 problems people are reporting and we’re offering up advice on how to work around them or fix them.

Bug: Device stuck on Slide to Upgrade screen

A lot of iOS 9 users were horrified to find their devices stuck on the Slide to Upgrade screen and totally unresponsive after the update. The screen freezes on Slide to Upgrade and simply won’t respond. Apple acknowledged this bug and posted advice, so here’s what to do:

Solution 1 (if you already updated to iOS 9):

  1. You should connect your device to a computer and open up iTunes.
  2. With your device connected, press and hold the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons until you see the Connect to iTunes
  3. When asked, choose Update.
  4. Once the restore is done, follow the onscreen steps to set up your device.

Solution 2 (if you already fixed this with a restore prior to the iOS 9.0.1 release):

  1. Update your device to iOS 9.0.1.
  2. Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase all Content and Settings to wipe your device.
  3. Set the device up as new.
  4. When prompted to restore from a backup, select either iCloud or iTunes and follow the steps.

Problem: Wi-Fi won’t connect, disconnects, or slow

Reports about Wi-Fi issues pop up after every platform update. If you find that your iOS 9 device is refusing to connect to a router, keeps disconnecting, or is just generally sluggish, then there are a few things worth trying:

Potential solutions:

  • Begin with a simple restart. Hold down the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons together for around 10 seconds and you should see the Apple logo as the device reboots. It’s also worth restarting the router if you can. This will often resolve issues.
  • Go to Settings > Wi-Fi and tap on the problem network, then choose Forget this Network and tap Forget. If you go back to the Wi-Fi page now you should be able to choose your network and set up a fresh connection.
  • Try resetting all your network settings by going to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. You’ll have to put passwords in again.
  • Some people report success after disabling Wi-Fi Networking services, which you can do in Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services.
  • It’s possible that Wi-Fi Assist is actually causing a problem for you. It will switch you to your mobile data network when Wi-Fi is patchy. Go to Settings > Cellular and scroll down to toggle Wi-Fi Assist
  • If your router has MAC filtering turned on, then you may need to turn it off. It is possible to add your iOS 9 device’s MAC address, but due to Apple’s MAC randomization there’s a good chance it’s going to change and refuse to connect the next time you try. The simplest solution is just to turn MAC filtering off altogether.
  • It’s possible that your DNS settings are the problem. You can change them in Settings > Wi-Fi by tapping the “i” icon next to your network and scrolling down to DNS. Tap on the numbers and change them to 8.8.8.8 or 8.8.8.4 if you want to use Google’s servers, or you could use OpenDNS, which is 208.67.222.222 or 208.67.222.220.
  • If you’re using a VPN service make sure you check in and get any updates that may be required for iOS 9. You may even need to uninstall and reinstall it.
  • Make sure that your router firmware is fully up to date. You may need to check with your ISP or the router manufacturer.

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Glitch: Touchscreen unresponsive

Quite a few people have reported that the touchscreen on their iPhone or iPad will freeze occasionally and no longer react to taps or swipes. If you find that your touchscreen becomes unresponsive, it’s usually pretty easy to fix, at least temporarily.

Workaround:

  • Some people have found that plugging the device into a MacBook enables the touchscreen to work properly, while it is plugged in.

Potential solutions:

  • Double tap the Home If you were in an app when it froze, then swipe up on that app’s card to close it. It should work again if you relaunch.
  • You can also hold down the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons together for around 10 seconds to reboot the device.
  • If you notice that the problem repeatedly occurs with a specific app, then make sure that it is up to date in the App Store. If it is, then you might consider uninstalling it and then reinstalling it.
  • You could try a restore. Plug your device into your computer or laptop and go to File > Devices > Restore from Backup in iTunes.

Issue: Game Center doesn’t work

Quite a few iOS 9 users have run into an issue with Game Center. After updating, when they open Game Center, it just hangs on a blank page. It will eventually load for some people, but for others, it will crash. It also freezes their device and crashes if they go to Settings > Game Center. People have tried resetting the settings, logging out and back in, reverting to iOS 8.4, and a few other fixes to no avail.

Solution:

  • Apple has finally fixed this problem in iOS 9.3.2. Make sure you have the latest update via Settings > General > Software Update.

Bug: Can’t turn cellular data on for some apps

There have been a flood of complaints about this glitch with cellular data. People have found that the toggles under Settings > Cellular, where you would normally choose to Use cellular data for and then pick the apps you want to use it for, are not working. You can toggle it on, but when you leave the menu it reverts, and cellular data will not switch on for that app. It seems as though the apps that were toggled off before the update to iOS 9 are now stuck off. It’s worth noting that people report mixed results before we look at some possible solutions, but most people suffering from this problem have been unable to fix it, even with the steps below. There is no guaranteed fix yet.

Potential solutions:

  • It’s always worth trying a reboot. Hold down the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons together for around 10 seconds.
  • Try turning Airplane mode on and off again in the Control Center.
  • Try resetting all your network settings by going to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. You’ll have to put passwords in again.
  • Try going to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings. Once again, you’ll have to enter some settings again.
  • You could try uninstalling and reinstalling any problem app.
  • Some people report success after fully wiping and setting up the device with a clean install, but others say that the problem persists afterward. If you’re really fed up, it could be worth trying. If you do decide to do it, then make sure you don’t restore apps from a backup, or the problem is likely to return. You have to install them manually. To try, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.

Problem: Bluetooth won’t connect or drops

This iOS 9 problem is popping up for a few people. Just like the Wi-Fi issues, it’s something we see at least a few cases of every time there’s a platform update. Maybe your iOS 9 device is refusing to connect, or perhaps it connects but keeps dropping for no obvious reason.

Potential solutions:

  • Make sure that you’re following the pairing process correctly. Some accessories have a button you need to press to make them discoverable.
  • It’s always worth trying a reboot. Hold down the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons together for around 10 seconds.
  • Go to Settings > Bluetooth, find your device and tap Forget This Device. Now toggle Bluetooth off and on again, and set up the connection from scratch.
  • Your Bluetooth accessory or car system might have reached its limit. Try deleting old profiles, if possible.
  • Check with the manufacturer of your Bluetooth accessory or system that the firmware is up to date.
  • Try resetting all your network settings by going to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. You’ll have to put passwords in again.
  • As a last resort, you could try a factory reset. Here’s how to factory reset an iPhone.

Glitch: iMessage and FaceTime activation not working

After the update to iOS 9, some people have had trouble with activating iMessage and FaceTime. Any attempt to log in results in a pop-up error message. If you’re connected to your data network or Wi-Fi network and you keep getting this error, then there are a few of things you can try to resolve it.

Potential solutions:

  • Go to Settings > Messages and turn iMessage off. If you’re having trouble with FaceTime too, then go to Settings > FaceTime and turn it off as well. Hold down the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons together for around 10 seconds. When the device restarts, go back into Settings and turn them both on again.
  • Take a look in Settings > General > Date & Time and make sure it’s correct.
  • Try going to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings. You’ll have to set up some things again, but this has worked for a lot of people. If it doesn’t straight away, then reboot afterward by holding down the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons together for around 10 seconds.
  • If the problem persists, contact your carrier and discuss your options. You might need a new SIM card.
  • This is reportedly fixed in the iOS 9.0.2 update.

Problem: No notification sound or Siri muted

Quite a few people are reporting that notification sounds for incoming messages are intermittent. For some messaging apps, they don’t seem to be working at all. Sometimes they work as normal, at other times a message will come in with no sound. Skip to the last step if your issue is with Siri.

Potential solutions:

  • Start with the obvious things: Turn the volume up, check that the mute switch isn’t on, and take a look under Settings > Do Not Disturb.
  • Take a look under Settings > Notifications and try toggling them on or off, rebooting the device, and going back in to turn them on again.
  • You could try Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings, but it means re-entering a lot of your settings afterward.
  • If your Siri is muted, then go to Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Speech > Default Dialect and select the one you want. It should start working again. Make sure that your Mute switch is off, too.

Issue: Battery life is poor

You should find that battery life is improved after upgrading to iOS 9, but if the opposite is true, there are a few things you can try.

Potential solutions:

  • Hold down the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons together for around 10 seconds to reboot your device.
  • Take a look under Settings > Usage > Battery Usage and see if there’s a particular app causing problems. Make sure it’s up-to-date, or consider uninstalling it and using something else instead.
  • You could try out the new Low Power Mode in Settings > Battery. It restricts performance and some background tasks to extend your battery life.
  • Go to Settings > iCloud > Keychain and toggle iCloud Keychain off, then reboot your device. When it restarts, go back and toggle iCloud Keychain on again.
  • There’s an outside chance that your settings are causing an issue. Try going to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings. But be warned, you’ll have to re-enter some settings afterward.
  • Check out our 20 tips to boost your iPhone battery life for more ideas.

Glitch: Spotlight Search doesn’t include contacts

A number of iOS 9 users have found that searches in Spotlight are not including contacts, even if that name is included in a search and the contact is listed on the device.

Potential solutions:

  • Go to Settings > General > Spotlight Search and make sure Contacts is on.
  • Go to Contacts > Groups and tap Hide All Contacts and then tap Show All Contacts.
  • If it’s still not working, try going to Settings > General > Spotlight Search and turn off all apps, then hold down the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons together for around 10 seconds to reboot your device. Now go back to Settings > General > Spotlight Search and turn everything you want, including Contacts, back on again.
  • This might be caused by syncing contacts with Facebook or another app. Some people report success after removing the Facebook link in each contact, though that could be a time-consuming process.

Problem: App won’t install or update

Some iOS 9 users have been complaining about stalled app downloads or updates. There’s no obvious pattern to this one, but some apps when downloaded for a fresh install or updated, just hang on the home screen with “Installing” displayed. Unfortunately, the install never completes. Before we move on to possible fixes, take a look in Settings > General > Usage > Manage Storage and make sure you have space.

Potential solutions:

  • Open up the App Store app and go to the Updates Choose the app that’s stuck, click on the app icon at the top left, then tap on the app icon when it’s placed on your home screen and it should start installing.
  • Open iTunes on your computer or laptop and select the problematic apps in there, update them, and then plug your iPhone or iPad in and sync.
  • Go to Settings > General > Usage > Show All Apps and you can delete the stalled apps in here and then download them again.
  • Hold down the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons together for around 10 seconds until you see the Apple logo to reset your device.
  • Try signing out via Settings > iTunes & App Store > Apple ID, then turn your device off and on again, and go back to Settings > iTunes & App Store and sign in.
  • If you plug your device in and do a restore via iTunes you should get them working again, just make sure you back up first.
  • Your final option is to factory reset the device.

Issue: Can’t open email message

A lot of people have found that some messages in the email app won’t open, usually those with an attachment, and the error popping up is “This message has not been downloaded from the server.” This is related to POP email accounts. Normally, with a POP email account, an email will be deleted from the server after it is downloaded unless you specify otherwise. Devices running iOS 9 won’t store the message on the device, so when you try to open it, your iPhone goes back to the server only to find that the message is no longer there. It may take a few hours for messages to “disappear”. A lot of people report that they are accessible for up to 24 hours after arriving, but then inaccessible after that.

Workarounds:

  • You could change the settings on all devices accessing your POP account to prevent them from deleting the messages from the server. On your iOS device go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars and choose the email account in question, then tap Advanced > Delete from server and set it to Never. Do the same on any other device that accesses that account. Unfortunately, this may defeat the purpose of using POP in the first place.
  • When you get an important email with an attachment, make sure that you save the attachment separately. If you save it elsewhere on your device, not just in the email app, then you’ll always be able to get at it.
  • If you’re concerned about not being able to access sent emails, then cc or bcc yourself to get a copy of each sent mail on another device.
  • Try downloading and using an alternative email app. Some people report success with third-party email apps, but you are going to lose the ability to use the Share via email link because it defaults to Apple’s mail app, and you can’t change the default.

Potential solutions:

  • A lot of people have tried deleting their accounts and setting them up again from scratch, resetting devices, and restoring backups. The vast majority report that none of these actions has worked. It’s also worth noting that, even if you find a solution going forward, the lost messages are probably lost for good. If they’ve been deleted from the server, then there’s no way to retrieve them.
  • You should report the problem to Apple or go into an Apple store and report it.

Glitch: iMessage not working properly

Some people have reported problems with iMessage after updating to iOS 9.0.2. Sometimes sent messages are not being received by the recipient, sometimes incoming messages are not arriving. There are also issues with messages not showing as delivered, even when they have been, and messages being sent as text messages. This seems to be more of an issue when people with iOS 9.0.2 are trying to send or receive messages to and from people with older versions.

Potential solutions:

  • Turning off Wi-Fi Assist seems to have helped some people. You can turn it off in Settings > General > Cellular > Wi-Fi Assist.
  • Others report that the problem resolved itself and speculate Apple has fixed something behind the scenes that doesn’t require an update.
  • A few people report success after factory resetting their iPhone.

Problem: iCloud backup not working

It seems that some people are having trouble getting iCloud backup to work properly. They may be getting failure or error messages, such as “iCloud Backup Failed” or “The last backup could not be completed.” Make sure you definitely have space available and you’re connected to Wi-Fi. Beyond that, there are a few things worth trying.

Potential solutions:

  • Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage. Check exactly what is being backed up and how much space it is using. You might want to make some changes.
  • Try resetting your iPhone by holding down the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons until you see the Apple logo.
  • Make sure that you have backed up on iTunes on your computer, then go to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage and select your device, then tap Delete Backup. Go to Settings > iCloud > Backup and turn it off. Reset your iPhone, then go back to Settings > iCloud > Backup and turn it on, then tap Back Up Now. If you find that you can’t delete the backup from your iPhone, then try accessing your iCloud account on another device and delete it from there.

Glitch: Dropped FaceTime calls

A number of people have run into an annoying glitch with FaceTime calls where they are frequently dropped, the call ends randomly, or the quality of video continually decreases, and the voice goes choppy. In some cases, the other caller is unable to see you, even though you may be able to see them, or vice versa.

Workaround:

  • Try using Skype or another video call app. This is a good idea anyway, to test whether the problem is related to your network or some other environmental factor. If Skype or another video calling app works fine, then you know the problem is specific to FaceTime.

Potential solutions:

  • If you’re having the problem regardless of the video calling app you use, then it may be down to your Wi-Fi or cellular connection. Take a look at the Wi-Fi problem for suggestions on that.
  • Quite a few people have tried restoring their devices and factory resetting to no avail, but it’s a standard troubleshooting step that could help. The next stage is to contact Apple.

Issue: Alarm not going off

A few people have found that their alarms failed to go off after updating to iOS 9.1. Don’t be alarmed. It seems that this is related to the update overnight feature, so it should only happen once, and only if you use that feature. If the problem persists, then you need to look for another cause.

Workaround:

  • When you see a new software update, you may also see the option to Install Tonight. It seems that choosing to do so is going to prevent your alarm from going off in the morning, so don’t choose that option. You either want to choose Install Now, or Install Later and then Remind Me Later.
  • If your alarm keeps failing to go off, then you could use a third-party alarm app. It’s also worth checking to see if you’re using any app that might interfere with your iOS device’s clock, volume, or alarm function.

Bug: Gray bar in Messages app

Quite a few people have encountered a problems where a gray bar with “0.00” at the end appears on top of the text box in the Messages app, making it impossible to type messages. It’s only supposed to appear when you’re recording audio.

Workarounds:

  • It might be enough just to double tap the Home button and swipe the Messages app up to close it, but the problem can return.
  • Turning your iPhone off and on again should also resolve the issue, at least temporarily.
  • Some people report success after going to Settings > Messages and turning on Show Subject Field and Character Count. If it solves the issue for you, then you can go back in and turn them off again and it shouldn’t come back.
  • You can also get rid of the gray box by going to Settings > Messages and turning iMessage off. Once the box is gone, go back in and turn it on again.

Potential solution:

  • This is listed as one of the bug fixes in iOS 9.1, so if you haven’t updated, then you might consider doing so.

Problem: Activation failure

After updating to iOS 9.3, a number of people are having trouble with activation. You may get a message about the activation server being unavailable. This seems to be particularly common for iPad 2 owners, but it may not be limited to that device.

Potential solutions:

  • It’s possible that there’s a problem on Apple’s end. Take a look at the Apple Services, Stores, and iCloud status page to check.
  • Try plugging your device into your computer and launching iTunes. Choose your device, and click on Summary > Update.
  • If that didn’t work, make sure that you have the latest version of iTunes installed and restart your computer.
  • When it restarts, load iTunes, try selecting your device, and click in on Summary > Update again.
  • Go to Settings > iCloud and turn off Find My iPhone, then try updating through iTunes again.
  • If that didn’t work, it’s time restore your device. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons on your iPad or iPhone until the Restore option appears on your device.
  • When it’s finished, you can restore a backup and utilize iOS 9.3.

Issue: Night Shift grayed out or missing schedule

The new Night Shift feature gradually changes the color temperature of your screen based on the time of day. This is designed to help you sleep better, because too much blue light can keep you up at night. However, some people have found that the feature is completely grayed out, and others are missing the automatic Sunset to Sunrise schedule as an option. Note that Night Shift is only available on iPhone 5S or later, iPad Pro, iPad Air or later, iPad Mini 2 or later, and iPod Touch (6th generation).

Potential solutions:

  • If you have Low Power Mode turned on in Settings > Battery, then Night Shift will be grayed out. There is a way around this, though. Simply bring up Siri, and say “Enable Night Shift,” and you can use it, even with Low Power Mode on.
  • If it’s the Sunset to Sunrise schedule you’re after, but you can’t see it in Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift > Scheduled, then you’ll need to make sure Setting Time Zone is toggled on in Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services.

Glitch: Can’t connect to LTE

A few people have updated to iOS 9.3 only to find that they can’t connect to LTE, even with Cellular Data toggled on under Settings > Cellular.

Potential solutions:

  • Try a simple reboot first, by holding the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons together until you see the Apple logo on screen.
  • Make sure there’s no carrier update available by going to Settings > General > About. A prompt should pop up if there is one available.
  • This step will wipe your network settings, so you’ll need to enter Wi-Fi passwords again, but it can help with connection issues. Try going to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings.
  • If you’re still having issues, it’s time to contact your carrier and/or Apple.

Bug: iPad Pro shows “Error 56”

A number of iPad Pro 9.7 owners were faced with “Error 56” after updating their devices to iOS 9.3.2. Now, their iPads refuse to start up normally and constantly show the “Connect to iTunes” screen. Apple has formerly acknowledged the problem and is working on an update, but in the meantime, it has pulled the iOS 9.3.2 update for the iPad Pro 9.7.

Potential solutions:

  • Error 56 is supposedly a hardware issue, at least according to Apple support. The company advises that you make sure that you have the latest iTunes software, update your computer’s operating system, and restart your computer and your iPad before trying to restore it again.
  • If that doesn’t work, then you’re going to have to wait for Apple’s fix.

Problem: Can’t hear caller or caller can’t hear you

Quite a few people have run into issues with hearing callers during calls or being heard on the other end. There are a few different reasons that this might happen. You can test your microphone and your speaker by opening Voice Memos and recording one, then playing it back, or by recording a video. You should also test your phone’s speakerphone function during a call to see if it makes any difference.

Possible fixes:

  • Try holding down the Power and Home buttons together for a few seconds, or until your device reboots and you see the Apple logo on screen.
  • If your device is new, check to make sure there’s no protective film blocking your microphones or speaker. If you just put a new screen protector or case on it, take a look to make sure you aren’t blocking anything.
  • Take a close look at the speaker, receiver, and microphones. Is there any dirt or dust in there? Gently blow or use a soft brush to clean it out.
  • Make sure that there’s nothing plugged into your audio jack.
  • Try turning Bluetooth off, or make sure that there are no Bluetooth devices or systems connected to your phone.
  • Test your phone in different locations, or check with your carrier to make sure it isn’t a network issue.

Issue: Receiving someone else’s messages

Do you keep receiving text messages meant for your wife? Or maybe your son’s messages are coming through on your iPad. There’s a good chance that this is because you’re using the same Apple ID. Thankfully, it’s easy to fix.

Solution:

  1. Set up a separate Apple ID for each person’s device.
  2. Go to Settings > Messages > Send & Receive and tap Apple ID at the top of the screen. Then, tap Sign out.
  3. Tap Use your Apple ID for iMessage and log in with the correct Apple ID and password.

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Simon Hill
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Simon Hill is an experienced technology journalist and editor who loves all things tech. He is currently the Associate Mobile…
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