Apple announced iOS 13 during the keynote presentation at its 2019 Worldwide Developer Conference on June 3, and the new operating system is now available. The next version of its mobile operating system will not only come to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod near you soon, but will also arrive on the new set of iPhones, including the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max.
Here’s everything you need to know about iOS 13.
Dark Mode is finally coming to iOS, and it will be available to users starting with iOS 13. Dark Mode essentially puts a dark background and darker highlights on iOS in general, as well as all of Apple’s stock apps, like Mail, Messages, and so on. Not only that, but Dark Mode is also being made accessible to developers, so it’ll be available in third-party apps. Dark Mode can be switched on permanently, or you can set it to turn on at a specific time or when the sun sets. There are even a number of new wallpapers that leverage Dark Mode — and change depending on whether or not Dark Mode is on or off.
HomeKit is getting some major new features too. Perhaps the biggest addition to HomeKit, apart from the small UI changes, is the addition of HomeKit Secure Video. Select HomeKit-enabled security cameras will now tie into HomeKit on a much deeper level, allowing you to store recordings in iCloud and control exactly when cameras record footage.
Apple wants to bring some privacy and security controls to routers too. Apple has announced that HomeKit will now support routers, and you’ll be able to use the Home app to control which devices and services can communicate with your router. Only some router models will support the new feature.
AirPlay 2 speakers will now get a little more control too. While AirPlay 2 speakers do show up in iOS, with iOS 13 you’ll be able to use them to play specific songs, playlists, and radio stations through automations and scenes.
Messages is getting a few new features too, like the ability to automatically share your name and a profile picture with users when you start a conversation with them. You can decide whether or not you want this information shared with everyone or just your contacts — which is a nice touch. Search in Messages is getting better too — simply tap on the search bar in the app, and you’ll see recent messages, people, photos and more, and those results will refine as you type.
Perhaps the biggest change to accessibility in iOS 13 is the addition of Voice Control, which makes it easy for users to control their phones using only their voices. The system uses the Siri speech recognition algorithm to ensure that it is accurate, and allows users to add custom words. It leverages on-device processing too — so personal data is kept safe and secure.
Apple released this change without so much as a whisper, but it really should have been shouting it from the rooftops. iOS 13 sees some improvements to FaceTime video calls — specifically, eye positioning during calls. In iOS 13, FaceTime will use ARKit to scan your face and subtly change your eye position, so it seems like you’re looking your caller directly in the eye, instead of gazing underneath them at a screen. This is a fairly small addition, but it’s an impressive one and something that anyone who’s spent some time on FaceTime will welcome.
Apple has long taken privacy seriously, and that continues in iOS 13. In the new mobile operating system, you can control the location data that apps get, thanks to new granular controls. In the app, you’ll be able to choose to grant access to location data to an app only once, or any time that you use the app. Apps will also now be prevented from accessing your location through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You’ll also have more control over location data in Photos — when you share a photo you can set whether or not the location of that photo is shared too.
The new iOS 13 software will have better performance than ever before, said Apple’s Craig Federighi. Several statistics were highlighted, including a beneficial 30% increase is speed when unlocking your phone using FaceID. App downloads will be 50% smaller and updates will be 60% smaller, while app launch speeds will be twice as fast compared to previous editions. Mail, Notes, and Safari will all be among the standard apps updated.
Siri can read incoming messages through your AirPods when they arrive, and you can respond right away. This function does not need a wake word to be activated and works with any third-party messaging app that’s built using Sirikit. A Share Audio experience that quickly lets you share music with a friend using AirPods has also been introduced.
For the HomePod, Siri will hand off music when you arrive back home with a tap of your phone. Siri can now play 100,000 radio stations from around the world using the Live Radio feature and includes a sleep timer. Finally, you can create personal routines quickly using Suggested Automations inside Siri Shortcuts
In iOS 13, Apple will combine the Find My iPhone and Find My Friends features into one app — the Find My app. Find My allows you to locate offline devices too through Bluetooth if they’re marked as lost.
Memoji and Animoji
New Memojis and Animojis have more customization options, from makeup to jewelry, hats, glasses, and even a different look for your teeth. You can also give your character AirPods. New Memoji Stickers are created automatically and accessed through the iOS keyboard, ready to be shared across apps including Mail and Messages, plus different platforms, such as WeChat.
Camera and photos
The Portrait camera mode as a new lighting effect called High-Key Mono and new editing features let you change the intensity of the light, which helps smooth skin and brighten eyes. This mimics moving lights around in a studio.
The image-editing feature in Photos has a new design and swipe-based controls. Happily, most of the settings used for stills can now be used to edit videos too. It adds filters and even a way to rotate video. The Photo library removes duplicate images and concentrates on what Apple calls your best shots. These are organized by day, month, or year, and displayed in a new album view.
The Photos app, in general, is getting a whole lot more powerful. Live Photos and videos will now auto-play in the new Photos tab, and in that tab you’ll be able to see the location, event or holiday, and so on. There’s even a new birthday mode, that allows you to see the photos of someone on their birthday. If you take a lot of screen recordings, they’ll now all be grouped in one place — so you don’t have to scroll through the Photos app to find all your screen recordings.
Sign in with Apple
There’s a new fast and easy way to sign in to apps and services without the tracking associated with social logins. It’s called Sign in with Apple, and it authenticates sign-ins using your Apple ID, without revealing any personal information. The new service works with FaceID and TouchID, and has a two-factor authentication system. If the app you’re signing in to needs an email verification, Apple will create a random email address that forwards to your actual email, keeping your real details private. It will operate across all Apple’s platforms, from iOS to the web.
Apple Maps has been rebuilt from the ground up, with considerable alterations, including the addition of roads, beaches, buildings, and other areas, as well as heightened detail. There is a new Favorites feature on the main screen, plus a Collections menu to organize Favorites and plan trips. Look Around is a Google Streetview-style feature that allows you to see a location ahead of visits. Labels allow you to find out more about specific locations shown in Look Around. Apple stressed that it’s a private and secure service. The new Apple Maps will have the entire U.S. covered by the end of 2019, with other countries to follow.
Other smaller features include the ability to easily share your ETA with friends and family, improved Siri navigation, the ability to see up-to-date information about flights, and real-time public transportation updates.
Apple CarPlay is getting a revised interface too. You’ll now get a main screen called the CarPlay Dashboard, that will give you access to music or podcast playback controls, as well as see basic Maps information and control some HomeKit devices like garage door openers. It should help make CarPlay much easier to use at a glance.
CarPlay is getting a few other features as well, like a new Calendar app that shows you a quick view of the day while you’re traveling. Apple Music is better-designed to make it easier to discover music, and Apple Maps is a little more detailed in CarPlay too. CarPlay will likely get better integration with cars with irregular displays too — as CarPlay now supports displays other than rectangular ones.
Redesigned for iOS 13, Reminders has a toolbar to add in dates, times, and attachments, plus its integration with the Messages app has been improved, allowing the two apps to communicate together. This means relevant reminders will show up when you message the associated person.
Siri is getting integrated with Reminders too — you’ll now be able to type longer sentences, and Siri will offer relevant suggestions related to what you type. Siri will suggest reminders too — so when you’re chatting with someone in Messages, Siri will make suggestions to remind you of things it thinks you need to be reminded of.
Apple will add swipe typing to iOS 13, which was demonstrated during the introduction of its new Dark Mode.
All the functions available in the new Watch OS health app will be available on the iPhone. Watch OS has added activity trends and menstrual cycle tracking to the Apple Watch. The main app has also been redesigned with a new Summary view to show notifications, plus a Highlights section that shows fitness and health data over time. Machine learning is used to display those which are most relevant to you. It’s stored on the phone, or encrypted securely in iCloud, and you can opt to choose whether to share any information at all with other parties.
Apple has announced iPad OS. This tablet-specific software includes everything from iOS 13, with new features designed to take greater advantage of a large screen. This means new multitasking features, split-screen options, and a new Home screen.
Other smaller tweaks are available in iOS 13 too. While they may not be important enough to get their own section, we’ve listed them below.
- Apple Arcade will integrate with iOS 13.
- Apple News+ will show relevant business content in the Stock app.
- Your phone will optimize battery charging to ensure that your battery lasts longer.
- The Books app will now give you a reading goal of five minutes per day. Applies to audiobooks too.
- When you call a business, iOS will suggest that you start a business chat with them. Only works with supported businesses.
- You can now add attachments to events in the Calendar app.
- There are new relationship labels for contacts in the Contacts app.
- The Files app now has a Downloads folder and allows you to zip and unzip folders for easy email sharing.
- You can install custom fonts for use in some apps, and fonts will be available in the App Store.
- PlayStation 4 and Xbox controllers are now supported.
- Music now offers time-synced lyrics, so you can better read lyrics along with what’s being sung.
- Notes has a more powerful search tool, and a gallery view that allows you to quickly find the note you’re looking for.
- Safari has an updated start page and a download manager. It can also resize photos when they’re being uploaded, and create specific settings for specific websites.
- Screen Time now has a “one more minute” feature aimed at allowing you to quickly save games or files before you get kicked out of an app. You can also now combine app limits into groups — like social media, for example.
- You can now select Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth devices straight through Control Center.
- You can scroll through text by dragging the scroll bar instead of using the magnifying glass, and there are new gestures for cut, copy, and paste.
Things have changed for iOS 13, and it will not be compatible with all the devices you could install iOS 12 on. Apple states iOS 13 will be available for all iPhone models after the iPhone 6S. This means the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, and most likely the iPhone SE will not receive iOS 13. The 6th-generation iPod Touch and the latest 7th-generation model should also be included.
Things will change for the iPad in 2019, as many models will use the new iPad OS rather than iOS 13. All the iOS 13 features will be part of iPad OS, along with all its tablet-specific features, and iPad OS will work with the iPad 2 or later, all iPad Pro tablets, all iPad Mini tablets after the Mini 4, and the iPad 5th generation and after.
The consumer-ready version of iOS 13 is now available to iOS users who want it. If you don’t already have the update, head to the Settings app, then tap General > Software Update. You should then see the option to update to iOS 13.
Updated on September 19, 2019: iOS 13 is now available.
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