Apple has finally unveiled iOS 13, the next big update for the iPhone. The upcoming software introduces several new features, including Siri improvements, Sign In with Apple, and Dark Mode, the latter of which should be a boon for iPhones with OLED displays.
When will iOS 13 be released?
Apple typically releases new iOS updates in the fall, and iOS 13 will be no different. No exact release date has been shared by Apple, but we can expect the software to be available in September. For what it's worth, iOS 12 launched on September 17, 2018.
What devices support iOS 13?
When iOS 13 becomes available, it'll support a dozen devices, plus whatever new iPhone models Apple announced this fall.
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max
- iPhone XR
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone 7
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 6s
- iPhone 6s Plus
- iPhone SE
- iPod touch (7th generation)
There's a new dark mode
The most exciting new feature is Dark Mode, a system-wide feature that turns iOS into a stealthier software. Instead of stark, blinding whites, Dark Mode is dark and easy on the eyes—and it should look great on OLED displays.
The feature can be toggled on and off manually, or you can set up a schedule to automatically turn Dark Mode on/off according to what time of day it is. It looks really nice, particularly in something like Messages, where most iPhone users spend their time.
Apple is making Dark Mode available to third-party app developers to easy integration into their own apps.
You can sign in with your Apple ID
Instead of signing in with Google or Facebook, you can now use your Apple ID. The only difference is Apple's method will be much more secure and focused on privacy.
Apple says "Sign In with Apple" will protect users' privacy by providing developers with a unique random ID. If a developer does ask for a name and email address, you can choose to keep your email private and share a unique random email address instead.
"Apple does not use Sign In with Apple to profile users or their activity in apps," according to Apple.
Reminders has been remade from the ground up
Apple has completely revamped Reminders into a full-fledge to-do app, with smart lists, powerful Siri integration, and more. With Siri integration, you can type in reminders with natural language and Reminders will intelligent parse through what you need.
For example, there's a new quick toolbar feature for adding times, dates, locations, photos, and even scanned documents to your reminders. And if you mention someone in your Reminder, that same Reminder will be mentioned in your Messages conversation with that person.
As for smart lists, you can automatically organize your reminders and group them by flagged, scheduled, and today. If you've ever used the excellent Things 3 to-do app, Apple's new Reminders looks very reminiscent of that.
Apple Maps competes with Google
Apple Maps has undergone a major revamp, with Apple saying it drove 4 million miles to "rebuild baseman from the ground up." Now, you get a much more detailed view of what's around you with richer details and better road coverage.
Apple Maps also features a new Look Around feature, which is essentially Google Street View. In Look Around, you can explore a city with beautiful street-level imagery, as if you're walking down the street yourself.
Users can view real-time transit, flight status, and a new Junction View feature, which will help drivers better navigate by lining them up in the correct lane before they need to turn.
Apple Maps also now supports a Collections feature, so you can save and easily share your favorite restaurants and spots with friends and family. There's also a Favorites for navigating to frequent destinations, including home, work, and more.
Photos is now like Google Photos
Apple highlighted a new Portrait Lighting Control feature in iOS 13, which allows users to changing the intensity of light. It's like being in a studio and bringing lights closer or farther away from your subject.
Photos is also being revamped for easier and smarter navigation. There's a new Photos tab, which features a curated view of your best moments from every day, month, and year. The view is designed to only show you your best stuff, rather than every single shot.
Editing is being improved as well with new tools for greater adjustments, including vibrance, sharpen, white balance, and more. And many of these new editing features will be available for video, too, making it possible to rotate, crop, and apply filters from within the Photos app.
CarPlay has undergone a redesign
It's been a while since CarPlay was shown any love by Apple. In iOS 13, it's finally getting a much-needed redesign, including album art in the Music app for a more visual experience.
In the new CarPlay, there's now a new dashboard view that can not only show you navigation directions, but music controls, designation information, and even quick shortcuts for things like opening your garage.
CarPlay also features a calendar app, so you can view your whole day at a glance. If one of your upcoming meetings has an address attached, you can simply tap the card and CarPlay will bring up navigation.
Lastly, CarPlay now supports independent app views, so you can fiddle on your phone without affecting what's display on the CarPlay screen. It's a nice feature because it means your passenger can pick a song while the driver can still see directions.
Siri is smarter and sounds better
In addition to becoming smarter, Siri has a new, more natural voice thanks to advanced neural text-to-speech technology. Apple demoed the new voice on stage at WWDC 2019, and Siri did indeed sound a lot better.
Siri is also making your AirPods and HomePod smarter. With AirPods, Siri can quickly read incoming messages, which you can reply to without first saying, "Hey Siri." The upgrade, in turn, makes the AirPods more powerful, too.
HomePod users can now take advantage of multi-user support, thanks to Siri improvements. That means that everyone in your household can get a more personalized experience.
Quickly type with QuickPath
Apple has introduced QuickPath typing, which is similar to other swipe-based keyboards. Just swipe your finger from one letter to the next without removing it from the keyboard, and the word will appear. It's a much faster way to communicate, especially if you're holding your device with one hand.
Memoji is also getting a boost with more hairstyles, headwear, makeup, piercings, and even AirPods. And going forward, Memoji will now automatically be turned into sticker packs that you can use in Messages, Mail, and more.
Lastly, Messages will support a feature that will allow you to control how friends see you in their Messages app, including name and photo.
Health gets cycle tracking
Apple is adding several improvements to its Health app, including cycle tracking, period prediction, and even notifications about your fertile window if you're trying to get pregnant.
Additionally, Health will now show you highlights using data from apps and devices you use most, so you can see your progress with charts and graphics.
Apple also talked about hearing health. In iOS 13, you can view audio levels from headphones you use with decibel levels. If things are too loud, your phone will warn your that it could be harmful to your hearing.
Performance is even better
Apple claims that apps will launch up to 2x faster in iOS 13. However, Apple's data comes from testing the latest iPhone XS and iPad Pro (11-inch), so you might not see the same performance gains on older hardware.
Apple says that apps will be smaller this fall, too—up to 5 percent smaller, in fact. That means you'll be able to download them faster. In turn, Apple says that app updates will be 60 percent smaller on average.
Unlocking your device with Face ID will also be greatly improved, by as much as 30 percent faster. Face ID already feels quick, so any improvements to speed are icing on the cake.
There are other hidden features, too
iOS 13 offers so many other new features, including the ability to control whether you share your location when sharing a photo on social media, Siri shortcuts in automations, new Animoji, new relationship labels in Contacts, Mail improvements, Notes improvements, and much more.
You can download the iOS 13 beta now
If you want to take iOS 13 for a spin now, you can download the beta. As of now, only the developer beta is available, but Apple typically launches a public beta as well.
We caution against installing beta software, because there is the potential to brick your device.
Features still missing in iOS 13
Apple may be introducing a lot of new features in iOS 13, but the software is still missing a lot of features. For one thing, the home screen is still the same grid of icons it's always been. And there's virtually no customization options. It's a familiar story and one that will likely never change.