iOS 13 Features: Everything coming in Apple’s next mobile OS update

Apple’s iOS 13 is coming to iPhones later this year – here are all the new software features

Apple’s next major smartphone software update, iOS 13, is just around the corner. It’s important to make the distinction that iOS is now explicitly for Apple’s iPhones (and iPods) now, as the newly-rebranded iPad OS takes the company’s software experience in a different direction that focuses on making the most of a tablet form factor.

The long-rumoured iPhone 11 and iPhone XR 2 are slated to be the first devices to launch with iOS 13 onboard out-the-box, while older iPhones and iPods will be able to benefit from the new experiences that the update brings a few days beforehand.

Depending on the device you’re using, and you’re history with previous iOS updates, you’ll either be excited or wary of a new major entry in the operating system’s timeline. Fear not, here we detail every major aspect of iOS 13 and how it’ll change the way you use your iPhone.

When will iOS 13 be released?

As far back as 2012, the release of each new iteration of iOS has been intertwined with the unveiling of the next generation of iPhone. Apple rolled out iOS 6 alongside the arrival for the iPhone 5, and the company is expected to do something similar for 2019.

The phones that Apple is set to showcase will likely launch on the Friday following the event, if tradition is to be observed, while existing iPhone users will have already had a couple of weeks to enjoy the newest iOS features by that point.

Those itching to get a taste of iOS 13 even sooner don’t technically have to wait for Apple the hit the ‘GO’ button. If you’re up to the task, you can register for access to the developer beta. To access it, just jump across to Apple’s dedicated iOS developer website and follow the guide there to get set up.

Will I be able to run iOS 13?

With regards to which devices will enjoy the benefits of iOS 13 – excluding the new handsets launching in 2019 – Apple has released a rundown on its company website.

The devices that have made the cut are as follows:

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)

This means the following iOS 12 devices miss out: iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and the sixth-generation iPod Touch.

iPads that will remain on iOS 12 (or earlier), rather than picking up the all-new iPadOS, would include the original iPad Air, the iPad Mini 2 and the iPad Mini 3.

iOS 13 – Dark Mode

Dark modes across a range of devices have been growing in popularity recently and it’s now one of the key features that comes as part of iOS 13.

This black and grey-themed interface will be accessible from the Control Centre and will come in handy if you want to use your phone at night without being blinded by a stark white backlight.

iOS 13 Dark Mode collage

Diving into the iOS 13 beta, there are a number of new wallpapers to choose from (four in total), all of which come in both a light and dark version. If you’d rather use your own wallpaper, there’s also a new toggle within the display settings menu called ‘Dark Appearance Dims Wallpaper’, which pushes the contrast on your chosen wallpaper image to better complement iOS’ new darker hues.

Elsewhere is dark mode, widgets also adopt a darker backdrop, while bright text in apps like Notes, Calendar, Messages, Photos and Music all take on a red hue and their respective backdrops switch to true black. The native iOS keyboard also embraces a black/grey palette too.

iOS 13 – Performance

iOS 12 placed a heavy emphasis on performance, and Apple isn’t resting on its laurels anytime soon – Craig Federighi stated that iOS 13 has been designed to “make everything faster, top to bottom”. But what does that actually mean?

Firstly, quicker unlock times. Face ID was never as snappy as older iPhones’ capacitive fingerprint sensor-based Touch ID authentication, but according to Apple’s numbers it should function up to 30% faster on iOS 13.

Beyond that, Apple has also restructured the way apps download and update, resulting in 50 percent smaller download file sizes and up to 60 percent smaller app updates. What’s more, apps themselves are going to be able to open twice as quickly, thanks to this new packaging system.

iOS 13 – Memoji and messages

Apple’s signature Memoji avatars are gaining a ton of new customisation in iOS 13. You already had the ability to pick and choose features like eye shape and colour, skin tone and hairstyle but iOS 13 brings makeup and accessories to the table, plus a whole lot more.

You can give yourself braces or a gold grill and even place small virtual AirPods in your Memoji’s ears, because… fashion?

Users typically need an Apple device with a TrueDepth camera, like the iPhone X, XR or XS to interact and manipulate Memoji, as they rely on face tracking, however, with iOS 13 the company is also introducing ‘Memoji Stickers’ – static expressions that you can paste into chat directly from the keyboard.

Memoji Stickers and the ability to edit Memojis will be coming to any iOS 13 devices that tote an Apple A9 chip, meaning the TrueDepth camera is no longer a barrier to entry in order to toy with this unique iOS feature.

Beyond Memojis, the Messaging experience within iOS 13 is going to support integrated context-aware search, so you can more readily find not only recent conversations, but contacts, photos, links, and locations you might also be looking for. Chats will also come with an improved ‘details pane’ so you can view links, locations and attachments on a chat-by-chat basis.

iOS 13 – Sign in with Apple

As part of Apple’s push on security and privacy during the opening WWDC19 keynote, it introduced a new login system called ‘Sign in with Apple’.

Designed to operate as an API for developers to use in their apps or available for use on the web, the ‘Sign in with Apple’ feature is aimed at giving the user greater control over what information they share when they login to multiple third-party services using a single connected account.

Unlike the seemingly similar ‘Login with Facebook’ or ‘Login with Google’ systems, Apple’s solution doesn’t immediately grant the third party your email address or any additional information you might have disclosed to those specific services, like gender or age.

‘Sign in with Apple’ gives the user the option to pick and choose which information is shared when they first sign into a new service.

If they prefer, they also have the option to hide everything, providing the service in question with a randomly-generated email address that automatically forwards any communications onto your actual email address, with the sender never knowing what your actual address is.

This operates on an app-by-app basis, so you can disable each service independently, too.

iOS 13 – Maps

Apple Maps isn’t exactly the most loved mapping solution out there, although the company’s successes with CarPlay have unquestionably helped with its adoption. With this in mind iOS 13 gives Apple’s native Maps app a significant upgrade.

The company has used a combination of cars and planes equipped with LIDAR to cover four million miles of terrain for newer, more accurate maps. Apple has promised that the entire United States would be covered by the end of 2019 and it will turn its attention to other countries soon after.

What’s more, Maps now has a richer Google Street View-esque viewing mode called ‘Look Around’ that offers impressive fluidity as you follow routes in first-person based on street-level photography.

Other improvements include ‘Junction View’ for clearer navigation when in complex road systems, real-time transit information, favourites for locations you like to keep track off and collections which consolidate favourite locations into lists you can share.

iOS 13 – Everything else

AirPods Audio Sharing: You’ll soon be able to share the music playing through your AirPods by tapping your iPhone with a friend’s iPhone (if they also have AirPods), creating a sort of wireless headphones splitter-like experience.

Camera: Users will now find an intensity slider to adjust the strength of the effect of virtual portrait lighting in their photos.

CarPlay: This unique in-car experience gets a reworked user interface, including a torchlight mode, plus more developmental display tools for automotive manufacturers.

Find My: Apple is consolidating Find My iPhone and Find My Friends into a single experience. This new feature will also support offline device location, letting you search for your lost Apple products using encrypted Bluetooth connectivity. When you mark your device as missing, other user’s devices will passively use Bluetooth help locate it – not dissimilar from Tile’s location tracker solution.

Gamepad support: Gamers will appreciate the option to use their DualShock 4 or Xbox One S controllers with iOS over Bluetooth.

Handoff to HomePod: Whether playing music, a podcast or taking a call, you’ll now be able to instantly resume it by simply holding your iPhone next to your HomePod.

HomeKit: For those with a smart home security setup, Apple is introducing HomeKit Secure Video-certified cameras.

Rather than pushing captured footage to the cloud for analysis, Apple is trying to remove any such vulnerability by instead having captured video assessed locally on your own iOS or tvOS-enabled device. Only then is it sent to iCloud as an encrypted file.

Netatmo, Logitech and Eufy are already on-board to create compatible cameras.

Apple is also pushing HomeKit-enabled routers from Linksys, Eero, and IP service providers like Spectrum, which will help support this greater focus on security.

Phone: Unknown callers can be auto-forwarded to answerphone automatically.

Photos: iOS 13’s native Photos app already supports rich editing tools but in iOS 13 additional features like ‘sharpen’ and ‘noise reduction’ join the fray. These editing tools will now, for the first time, also carry across to videos and, what’s more, you’ll finally be able to rotate videos on-device without the need for third-party apps.

Reality Composer: A new app to help developers create AR (augmented reality) experiences without prior experience.

Low Data Mode: A new option that will help reduce data consumption on an app-by-app basis.

Voice controls: Richer voice controls allow for greater accessibility with support for custom words, word correction by voice, gesture use by voice and attention awareness. This automatically enables and disables voice recognition based on whether or not the iPhone’s TrueDepth camera senses that you’re looking at your iPhone or not.

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