This iteration of the mobile operating system is slated to launch with the new iPhones that will release in fall of this year.
There's a slew of new features that are coming to the latest version of iOS, and some of them will raise i-brows while others break the mold that Apple has cast for itself. Gone will be the days of navigating the settings menus to find radio toggles; iOS 13 will let you do that straight from the Control Center. You'll worry less about the longevity of your phone battery or whether an older i-device will fluidly run new OS releases as Apple has reportedly committed to u-turning on its hardware throttling and lack of regard for battery-charging habits. We're a little skeptical of that second point, but at least Apple has mentioned that it's a point of priority for them, so let's give them this one chance to prove themselves.
iOS 13 cuts support for many older devices and will only release for those that have been released within the past four years. In other words, these are the oldest devices in each category that are compatible with it:
Of interest to the savvier users, the beta for iOS 13 is rolling out in four distinct steps. At the time of writing this, we're in the first stage: the developer beta. Apple has released it for anyone to grab, but they're recommending that only developers mess around with it since it's probably not too stable at the moment. Over the next few months, the following development tree for the beta is as follows:
- Developer beta (June)
- Public Beta (July)
- "Golden Master" (beginning of September)
- Final release (mid-September)
With that said, here are 10 upgrades to look forward to in the thirteenth iteration of Apple's mobile OS. There are a few smaller ones that we left out, including text formatting within emails, an updated Maps app and a combined "Find My" app that helps you locate both friends and your own devices in a single convenient interface. If you add those up, that makes 13 features for iOS 13. Depending on who you ask, that number might signify luck or doom, but it's looking pretty upbeat from here. Let's take a look.
1. Dark Mode
This is the first feature that most users bring up when they think of the announced iOS13 upgrades. It's long overdue and even more important now that Apple has outfitted their handsets with OLED panels, which tend to use more power than LCD when displaying brighter hues. Dark mode will also help prevent the burn-in that's associated with showing static images for too long, and this is more likely to happen with brighter hues, so that's a double-benefit before we get to the obvious implications for nighttime usage.
We're not sure why Apple has waited so long, but we're wagering that it has something to do with Android already implementing it to some degree with Android Pie while Android Q will reportedly push it across the whole OS interface and any app that's launched.
2. Inbuilt Swipe-Typing
You'll no longer need to download third-party apps such as Gboard to get your hands on swipe-typing in iOS. iOS 13 will internalize the feature, called QuickPath, in the QuickType keyboard that ships default on all Apple handsets. For anyone who preferred Apple's layout or just wants to save some storage, this will come as a welcome improvement. As with Swiftkey and other apps that have supported it for years, QuickPath will allow you swipe-type from the same keyboard that you type from, meaning you can hot-swap between the two typing modes by simply swiping or tapping the keys.
The iOS 13 that your iPhone receives won't be the same as the kind that will be pushed to your iPad. Apple has decided that tablets' role as laptop replacements should be complemented with an OS that makes the most of the improved screen size. This forked road will take you down a path of split-screen functionality, pinned widgets, multi-app juggling, floating keyboard and more. Most of these features won't appear on the iPhone's version of iOS 13, and that shouldn't come as a concern since it's a phone: small profile, single-handed operation and an emphasis on battery life.
4. Apple Tag
Apple Tag is said to allow users to stick a Bluetooth tracker on their possessions and use their iPhone or iPad to track the exact whereabouts of these items. We were hoping for some implementation of augmented reality (AR), but this works too.
5. Performance and Battery
This isn't an ordinary bump to speed and efficiency; Apple is actively attempting to lengthen the lifespan of their devices by reducing the amount of time they stay on a charger. They're also trying to make iOS 13 more friendly for older devices by lightening the load, which should make everything quicker and relatively easygoing on the juicer. Unlocking your device with FaceID should be around 30 percent faster while cutting down on app download sizes by up to 60 percent, which will also save on internal space.
The most important aspect of this may be the new learning algorithm that tracks how you use your device to optimize charging. This is reportedly done by preventing the device from charging more than 80 percent before you unplug it. For those who are less savvy about batteries, here's a crash course: Experts have found that you can maximize your battery longevity by keeping it charged between 40 and 80 percent. It's this middle ground where charging and discharging causes the least amount of damage to the battery and results in using far fewer charge cycles in the long run.
We're happy to see that Apple is taking this seriously and making it a focal point in their new OS, but we don't expect most users will actually understand the 40-80 rule or adhere to it in the long run. Still, this feature aims to mitigate the damage that's caused by these usage habits, and if there's one thing that Apple knows how to do well, it's keep features boxed in so users can't mess it up. On the other hand, Apple's track record in recent years with the planned obsolescence scandal is a point against this idea since it might appear to some as nothing more than a PR coverup. That remains to be seen.
6. Siri Voice
Are you tired of Siri attempting to address you with a human element from behind that robotic drone? She's getting an audio overhaul for that natural touch to complement the human side of her interactions. If you don't use Siri — and a lot of users don't — then you can probably forget about this one.
The additions here are a mix of "dang, finally" and "meh, that's cool". What users have asked for is the ability to change the light intensity while shooting with Portrait Mode, which iOS 13 will finally address. Sidekicks to this change include High-Key Mono, which will turn Portrait Mode monochromatic; a Photos tab for organization; and a dramatically improved photo editor with the complete gamut of twists, turns and filters for that post-processing pop on already excellent photos to begin with.
8. Control Center: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Connections
One of the most convenient features of Android is finally coming to Apple: toggling hardware radios straight from the Control Center. On Android, you simply bring down the notification shade and punch the radio icon that you want to activate; on iPhone, you have to mosey through layers of settings menus to reach these options. This change will affect everyone, and it's just a few short months away if you're aiming to grab up one of the new iPhones at launch.
9. Console Controller Support
Are you sick of playing phone games with wonky on-screen controls? This is another feature that Android has had for years, and it's finally happening for iPhone: support for PS4 and Xbox One controllers. You should also be able to use these controllers to navigate the OS if you should so desire to avoid touching the screen. It's worth noting that while the OS itself will support it, it's up in the air whether all apps will support it. Some games, particularly multiplayer action titles, may prevent you from using a controller since it can confer an unfair advantage to those who happen to own a controller and are savvy enough to connect it.
10. Mute Unknown Callers
It's 9 a.m., and you're receiving calls already from some "ARJUN", "SWETA" or "SHEETAL" of whom you've never heard of or met. Chances are that you were sleeping or settling in at work, and in either case, you're probably not in the mood to be bothered by these calls. iOS 13 will simply send them straight to voicemail instead. We assume there will be a toggle somewhere to turn this off; imagine expecting a call from someone whom you just met only for your phone to automatically hang up on your behalf. Yeah, that wouldn't be fun.