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Operating Systems

Apple: Latest iPhone, iPad software surpasses 50 percent adoption

The company says the uptake for iOS 9 is the fastest ever for the software that powers its iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices.

iOS 9 adoption is the fastest ever seen among iOS versions, says Apple. CNET

The new iOS 9 software is now on more than 50 percent of iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches, according to Apple.

The company announced the figure on Monday morning, proclaiming it the fastest iOS adoption rate ever. Apple measures iOS adoption based on the number of devices that visit the Apple Store on a given date. The 50 percent mark is based on Apple's App Store stats as compiled on Saturday, September 19, the fourth day into the rollout of iOS 9.

"iOS 9 is also off to an amazing start, on pace to be downloaded by more users than any other software release in Apple's history," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior market VP, said in a press release on Monday.

Rolled out last Wednesday throughout the world, Apple's latest version of its mobile operating system improves and adds a variety of features. Apple refreshes the software that powers its iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices with new features and refinements that it hopes will entice users to upgrade and help it challenge Google's Android mobile operating system.

So how does iOS 9 adoption compare with that of its predecessors? Released on September 17 of last year, iOS 8 achieved a 48 percent adoption rate on September 22, 2014, as measured by the App Store. But then after that initial surge, the pace quickly started to drag, and it took until October 20 for iOS 8 adoption to climbpast the halfway point, reaching 52 percent.

iOS 8 initially suffered from several technical issues, requiring Apple to issue a number of updates until the software became more stable and reliable. Apple also started introducing new features to iOS 8, such as Apple Pay in version 8.1 and Apple Music in version 8.4.By September of this year, just days before the release of its successor, iOS 8 had ascended to an adoption level of 87 percent.

Given the initial woes with iOS 8, Apple needed to focus on reliability and stability with iOS 9 beyond adding and enhancing new features. So far, the new version seems to have avoided the severe range of problems that plagued its predecessor. But some iOS 9 users are complaining of such glitches as app crashes. Certain bugs are always to going wind their way into the release of any new software, especially as more users get their hands on it.

"The big picture here though is that this is the standard environment for a new operating system launch," Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said. "There are always going to be a spectrum of bugs but they should be solved within a few days. Apple can't get an OS to be stable until they have the full force of their base using it."

Munster said that any glitches are likely the result of the combination of apps and hardware on iOS devices. As people send diagnostic information back to Apple after downloading the iOS 9 upgrade, Apple will be better able to fix the bugs, he added.

Apple's 50 percent number for iOS adoption is higher than those of third-party mobile analytics firms. Mixpanel, for instance, pegged iOS 9 adoption at 29 percent on Saturday and 36 percent as of Monday. FTapjoy said Monday that it's seeing a 28 percent adoption of iOS 9 across all Apple devices. And Fiksu estimated a 32 percent adoption rate as of Monday.

Apple's numbers are usually higher than those of third-party analytics firms, which gather their data based on mobile app usage among iOS devices that carry their analytics software. Such numbers tend to analyze a smaller cross-section of users and devices than Apple is likely to see at its App Store.

iOS 9 carries with it several enhancements and new features. Like Microsoft's Cortana, the Siri voice assistant can now remind you of calendar appointments. The Notes app now lets you create checklists, draw sketches and add attachments. And the Apple Maps app has more mass-transit information, including schedules and subway station entrances for urban locales such as New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, Mexico City and Beijing.

In addition, iOS 9 promises better battery life with a new low-power mode that turns off certain features when you run below a 20 percent battery charge. A new split-screen feature lets you run two apps side by side, but only if you're using the iPad Air 2 or later iPads. And Apple has added an app called News, which aggregates different news sources to keep up with the latest stories around the world.

On a related note, Apple announced Monday that the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus would be available to customers who visit its retail stores starting at 8 a.m. local time on Friday, September 25. The new phones will be available to walk-in customers, though Apple is advising people to arrive early. The new models will also be sold through AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, as well as other carriers and select Apple resellers.