Apple is expected to release a major iOS update this spring, for iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices. It will bring several new features, including CarPlay enhancements, and we're particularly excited that iOS 9.3 will introduce tweaks that will be perfect for families.

The additions are already part of a preview update that was made available to developers previously and is now part of a more general public beta. The features include a new Night Shift colour mode, TouchID protection for Notes, a new Classroom app and a bunch of enhancements to the 3D Touch functionality for owners of the current iPhones.

We take a look at some of these, particularly those that make family use on Apple devices a better experience.

Of all the new features iOS 9.3 will bring, Night Shift is most interesting if your children use their iPad, iPod Touch or your iPhone for bedtime stories. As has been suggested for some time, the blue light emitted from this technology stimulates your brain and affects circadian rhythms in a way that can make it harder to fall asleep.

The new feature uses the iOS clock and location to determine when sun-rise and sun-set is in your area. This information is then used to shift the colours used in the display to a warmer tone in the evenings.

Trying the mode with the family, it’s still a little early to see any definitive difference in sleep patterns.

However, seeing the kids’ faces illuminated by a soft warm glow in the evening, rather than harsh blue, certainly looks more restful.

This is a feature long been championed by F.lux on desktop Macs. Recently, F.lux was released on iOS but was pulled because it contravened Apple’s app guidelines.

While the third-party app was more fully featured, having it built into the operating system in this way ensures all families have access to this feature more easily.

AppleiPhone iOS 9-3

The Notes app also gets further enhanced in iOS 9.3. In addition to being able to integrate note taking with other apps, adding doodles and photos, the new update adds TouchID and password security to the app to keep all that crucial information safe.

This extra level of security also makes Notes a good place to store your passwords and important numbers — similar to a competitor of the likes of 1Password. It also means that you can keep confidential lists on your iPhone without the worry of them being discovered by the kids — as we discovered to our cost when a particular son stumbled upon his Christmas present list last month.

The News and CarPlay features also get a general spruce up. More interesting for families though is the iPad multi-user features for education.

Children in school will be able to log into any iPad in the classroom and access their own profile. Younger children can even log-in with a special, simpler four-digit PIN from the Lock screen. Teachers get new tools to guide students through lessons and see progress to keep them on track.

AppleiOS 9-3 Education

This is great news for schools and colleges but also holds out hope of some similar features in the home for families. I’d love to be able to setup our iPad Pro with user log-in for each of our children. That feature’s not in iOS 9.3 yet, but seeing how the Classroom app works it seems likely in the future.

All these features add up to enhancements not to be missed out on. If you don’t often upgrade for these minor revisions do consider it this time. Make sure you have backed up your iPhone or iPad data and then go to Settings > General > Software Update. When 9.3 is fully released it will appear in this location on your device.

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