With every new Apple product and OS update comes a slew of new terms and features for us to wrap our heads around. The idea behind this post, the first in an ongoing series (I hope!) is to look at the new words and phrases that these updates have brought, as well as changes to existing Apple ecosystem vocabulary.

watchOS 2

Activation Lock

Launched on the iPhone and iPad, Activation Lock is now on Apple Watch, and prevents it from being activated without the iCloud ID it was first set up with.


Those small windows into information from your watch and apps on your watch face have a name, and that name is “complication” - the term comes from horology. They’ve been there since watchOS 1, but now developers can make their own.

Nightstand mode

Nightstand mode allows you to use Apple Watch as an alarm clock. When in this mode, any movement of the watch or pressing of the buttons will cause the screen to show the date, time and your alarm (if you have one) in green. When your alarm goes off, press the side button to turn it off or the Digital Crown to snooze.

Replace “People button” with “side button”

The small button next to the Digital Crown has been given varying names by different people, but the most popular was “People button”. This is now known as the “side button” and is used for accessing People, Apple Pay, and turning the Watch on or off.

Time Travel

Time Travel, new with watchOS 2, allows you to move the Digital Crown to move your watch face forward or backward through time. Seeing events that have passed, events that are coming, or future information from your complications.

iOS 9


Slide Over, Split View, and Picture in Picture are bundled together by Apple under the heading of “multitasking”. (Not “multi tasking” or “multi-tasking”!). These features, available on iPad, help you get more done on your iPad.

- Slide Over

The first type of multitasking, Slide Over allows one application to slide over another, and use up to 1/3rd of the screen to quickly present some information, then slide away to access the previously used. This feature is available on iPad Pro, iPad Air or later, and iPad mini 2 or later.

- Split View

Split View allows newer iPads to display and run two applications side by side at the same time, giving the ultimate in multitasking power on iPad. This feature is available on iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 4.

- Picture in Picture

Picture in Picture on iPad, like on your TV, allows a video application to display media whilst it runs in the background. This means you can watch a video whilst working in another app, or even have a FaceTime call whilst surfing the web or working on a document. This feature is available on iPad Pro, iPad Air or later, and iPad mini 2 or later.


“Proactive” is a new way of describing Siri on iOS 9. It’s the features that bring suggestions and commonly used shortcuts to the search screen. It’s the features that suggest which app to open when you plug in headphones, or it’s a certain time, or you’re at a certain place. It’s the features that let you know when to leave, let you know who may be calling, and suggest people you may want to CC: in on that email.

Replace “Spotlight” with “search”

Since it’s introduction in 2004, and it’s integration into iOS 3.0 in 2009, Spotlight has been how we search our Apple devices. With iOS 9, Spotlight has been replaced by Siri’s assistant and proactive features and is now just called “search”.

Shortcut Bar

The Shortcut Bar, at the top of the iPad keyboard, shows a list of shortcuts applicable to the current application and action. These shortcuts can be customised by the app being used, to increase productivity.

iPhone 6s

3D Touch

3D Touch is a new way of interacting with elements on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Instead of just tapping an icon, you can now press an application icon or element with varying degrees of force to do different things.

- Peek

Pressing lightly on an email, web address, or a recently taken photo will allow you to “peek” at the content within. Also available within App Store apps.

- Pop

Pressing firmly on an email, web address, or a recently taken photo will “pop” open the target, so that it fills the screen. Also available within App Store apps.

- Press

As well as tapping an icon on screen, you can now “press” it. On the Home screen, this allows applications to show Quick Actions that will open the app to the right action.

N.B. I suggest that we use “press”, rather than “3D Touch”, with a force modifier to describe how to interact with 3D Touch-enabled applications. To invoke a “Peek” you would “press lightly” and to make it “pop” you would “press firmly”.

Live Photos

Live Photos, taken by the camera on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, contain the image taken and up to 1.5 seconds of video and audio each side. These photos can then be viewed on devices running iOS 9, watchOS 2, and OS X El Capitan.


The 3D Touch technology in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus screens allow iOS to detect variations in pressure and force applied to the screen, giving different feedback to an application. A drawing app could use this to alter brush stroke effects, for example.

Quick Actions

Quick Actions, invoked by pressing on an app icon on the Home Screen, allow an application to offer a list of actions to undertake as soon as the app opens. This list can contain static elements - such as “Selfie Camera” - or dynamic elements - such as a list of recently searched terms.


A press on the iOS keyboard on iPhone 6s and 6s Plus will turn it into a trackpad, making it easy to move the cursor through blocks of text and select phrases or sentences to edit, remove, or format.

Did I miss anything?

Do you think there’s something missing from this vocabulary list? Let me know! Liked what you’ve read? Share it on twitter or with your friends and colleagues!