iOS 13 ushers in new enhancements for iPhone and iPad, including dark mode, revamped built-in apps, and industry-changing privacy features.
Apple unveiled iOS 13 at its June 2019 Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). Apple wasted no time getting into the nitty-gritty details of the new mobile operating system, and had quite a few surprises like splitting up support for iPad and iPhone into their own unique OSes with separate features for the first time since the iPad was released.
This cheat sheet is available as a download, Apple iOS 13: A cheat sheet (free PDF).
What is iOS 13, and will it work on my device?
iOS 13 is the 13th major iteration of Apple's mobile operating system called iOS. The OS can run on the following iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices that are available as of this writing.
- iPhone 11
- iPhone 11 Pro
- iPhone 11 Pro Max
- iPhone Xr
- iPhone Xs
- iPhone Xs Max
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8 / 8 Plus
- iPhone 7 / 7 Plus
- iPhone 6s / 6s Plus
- iPhone 6 / 6 Plus
- iPhone SE
- iPod touch (7th generation)
- iPad Pro 4th Generation
For information on which devices are compatible with iPadOS, see the iPadOS cheat sheet.
- Apple iOS 13: New Siri voice, camera tools, Dark Mode, privacy tools for iPhone (CNET)
iPhone XS: A cheat sheet for professionals (TechRepublic)
What are the key features in iOS 13?
Apple continues to improve performance on the mobile OS and shared these stats about iOS 13:
- Face ID unlocking is 30% faster.
- With a new app packaging feature, app downloads are 50% smaller and updates are 60% smaller, meaning that downloads and updates will be much faster.
- App launch speed is now up to 2x as fast as iOS 12 apps
One of the biggest changes to the UI in iOS history is available in iOS 13: A system-wide dark mode that's available for iPhone and iPad. The dark mode allows OLED devices to consume less power than when brighter elements are displayed, and it's easier on the eyes for many users.
The dark mode feature will be available system wide in all first-party apps, keyboard, and in third-party apps as well with integration support.
The Reminders app has been completely rewritten and includes the ability for text detection to detect the reminder, location, and time and automatically configures the reminder with the appropriate information. In addition, there's the ability to tag people in a reminder and create outline style reminders for a more powerful task list.
Apple continues to build out its custom maps team, and the results of that are apparent in iOS 13. The new version includes highly detailed maps that include building outlines, park outlines, road outlines, and more. These new maps will roll out to all users in the US by the end of 2019 and to other countries next year.
A new Look Around feature mimics and improves on the idea of Google Maps Street View, and allows you to see a 3D street view right from within the Maps app. Apple went further by allowing the user to tap on the street view to virtually drive down the road.
Maps also now allows for building out a favorites list for frequently visited places, putting those favorites into a collection and sharing them with friends and family, or using the collections to plan trips. You can also now share an ETA during your drive via messages.
Apple continued its stance on building out the ultimate privacy-focused mobile OS. This year, Apple focused on Location, Login, HomeKit, and Messages.
When giving access to your location to apps on iOS, you now have the option to allow the location just once per launch. In addition, a background tracking alert will alert you when apps continue using your location in the background without your knowledge.
Apple is cracking down on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth misuse that could determine the user's location when she has not given location access. Apple will require apps to request access to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
SEE: Video: WWDC 2019: Everything Apple announced and what really matters to business (TechRepublic)
Many apps now support single sign-on through Gmail or Facebook, giving those apps access to certain information that you may not want to share, including address, email address, name, and more. Apple created its own single sign-on API--this new feature allows apps to include a Sign in with Apple button. When you tap the button, you'll authenticate with Face ID, and a new account will be created just for that app without revealing any information to the app. If an app requires information like name or email, then you have the ability to control what you share with it. In the event you share your email, a randomly generated email address will be created for use in the app that forwards to your iCloud account, and that address can be disabled or deleted at any time.
HomeKit's new features are designed to protect privacy and security inside of your home. Apple is adding support for cameras this year through a feature called HomeKit Secure Video; this allows your compatible HomeKit security cameras to send video to your iPad or Mac inside of your home for analysis and encryption. The encrypted video is uploaded to your iCloud account for secure storage--10 days of storage will be included for free. Initially this service will launch with HomeKit camera partners Logitech and Netamo.
Apple also announced HomeKit-enabled routers from Eero, Linksys, and Charter Spectrum that will ensure that your router can put a firewall around HomeKit devices to keep intruders from gaining access to these smart devices.
Apple now allows for the creation of iMessage profiles, complete with a Photo, Memoji, or Animoji profile picture. Whenever you message someone, this photo and your name will be shared so you'll never wonder "Who's texting me?"
Camera and photos
Photo and video editing
You can now make changes to all editing aspects of photos, including new tools for editing the vibrance, white balance, sharpened, definition, vignette, and noise reduction. This also lets you adjust the same features in video as well as rotating video, applying filters, and other effects.
New photo browser
There are so many photos on our devices that we don't need. Apple is using machine learning to remove duplicates and de-clutter your photos. This also creates a new diary view of your life, using Live Photos to add life to your photo library and auto play when scrolling through photos.
When wearing AirPods, can read your messages to you as soon as they arrive by announcing the message and letting you reply immediately through voice. Audio sharing is also available, letting two users tap their devices together to share audio from one device to multiple sets of AirPods.
HomePod now includes hand-off support to allow seamlessly transitioning music, podcasts, or phone calls by tapping your iPhone to your HomePod. Siri can also now play live audio from TuneIn, Radio.com, and more--just ask to play more than 100,000 radio stations. In addition, HomeKit can now recognize who is talking and personalize the response.
CarPlay is now available on more than 90% of cars sold in the US. This year, Apple is updating CarPlay with the biggest set of changes, including a new Dashboard that lets you see multiple views at once, including a map, calendar, music, and more. Siri also now works with third-party apps on CarPlay through SiriKit.
Other new features for Siri include:
- Multi-step shortcuts can be run through the Siri Shortcuts app
- Suggested automations
- A neural TTS voice that is entirely generated by software instead of using small audio samples. This adds clarity when Siri is speaking technical terms or long sentences.
More changes available in iOS 13
- Single sign-on for enterprise accounts
- Multiple iCloud account support for work and personal accounts
- New Quick Path keyboard allows you to swipe to type on the iOS keyboard
- Redesigned UI in the Photos app
- New share sheet has sharing suggestions for commonly messaged people and shared-to apps
- The Music app displays time-synced lyrics while playing music
- Safari can change the text size
- Mail gets desktop-style text formatting and support for rich fonts
- A new fonts app lets you install and manage system-wide available fonts
- Notes has shared folders and more organization options
- Memoji includes additional accessories, skin tones, and makeup options to make the custom emojis even more lifelike
- Memoji sticker sets are created for each of your Memoji that can be used in messages, mail, and other third-party apps via the emoji keyboard
- Ability to send unknown callers to voicemail
- Low data mode
- iOS 13 and iPadOS: 11 hidden features and how to use them (CNET)
- WWDC 2019: Apple confirms Dark Mode is coming with iOS 13 (CNET)
- WWDC 2019: iOS 13 will make your iPhone and iPad faster (ZDNet)
- iOS 13 on the iPhone: Here's what Apple needs to fix urgently (ZDNet)
When was iOS 13 released?
- iOS 13.0 beta: Released at WWDC on June 3, 2019
- iOS 13.0: Released to the public on September 19, 2019 for iPhone devices (iPadOS 13 released on September 24, 2019)
- iOS 13.1: Released to the public on September 24, 2019
- iOS 13.2: Released to the public in October 2019 and included Deep Fusion camera for compatible iPhone models, AirPods Pro support, and Siri privacy changes
- iOS 13.3: Released to the public in February 2020 and included changes to Apple News+ layout, and additional parental controls for Screen Time
- iOS 13.4: Released to the public on March 24, 2020
- Hiring kit: iOS developer (Tech Pro Research)
- Apple releases third developer beta of iOS 13, iPadOS, macOS 10.15 Catalina, WatchOS 6, TVOS 13 (ZDNet)
- How to become an iOS developer: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- The Apple Developer Program: What professionals need to know (TechRepublic)
What is in iOS 13.1?
When Apple announced the features of iOS 13, the company did not specify that some features would be coming later in the year. Apple clarified that some features of iOS 13 were delayed but are available in iOS 13.1, which released on September 24, 2019.
So, what's included in iOS 13.1 that wasn't available in iOS 13.0? Some major and minor features, including:
- Shortcuts automations
- Share ETA in Maps
- Dynamic wallpapers
- AirPods Volume Indicator
- New HomeKit icons
- Mouse support improvements
- New TestFlight indicator on apps
- HEVC improvements
- Fonts management
- Reading goals in the Books app
- Apple releases iOS 13.1 and iPadOS, just days after iOS 13 launched (ZDNet)
- Does the iPhone 11 have a hidden feature waiting to be activated? (ZDNet)
What is in iOS 13.4?
iOS 13.4 is likely one of the final major iterations of iOS 13 before Apple unveils iOS 14 at WWDC '20. While the public has known about a few of the features in iOS 13.4--notably the iCloud Drive Folder Sharing support--Apple did surprise many people when they unveiled the 2020 iPad Pro models and announced full mouse and trackpad support for iPadOS users on iOS 13.4.
iOS 13.4 brings many great new features to the iOS ecosystem, such as:
- iCloud Folder Sharing (which we've previously covered how to utilize)
- Better and redesigned toolbar for Mail that makes it much less confusing to reply to and perform actions on mail items in the email reading view
- Nine new Memoji and Animoji expressions that can be used as stickers
- Support for the 2020 iPad Pro models with the new Magic Keyboard (iPadOS-only)
- New TV App settings that allow control of cellular and Wi-Fi streaming and download quality
- Shazam Shortcut app actions
What's new in iOS 13.5?
Apple introduced another major update to iOS 13 on May 20, 2020, that included some important changes. In April 2020, Apple and Google announced a partnership that saw the two companies creating a COVID-19 exposure API that can share with compatible apps the exchanged keys from other devices to allow users potentially exposed to a contagious person to get notified if they should quarantine themselves.
This feature and more are included in iOS 13.5. Let's take a look at all of the new features and fixes included in this iOS version:
- COVID-19 Exposure API: One of the biggest features in iOS 13.5 allows compatible apps (only available in certain areas) to access anonymous Bluetooth keys to notify users who've been in contact with someone confirmed to have been diagnosed with COVID-19. This technology helps contact tracing apps from public health authorities notify people quicker that they've been exposed and should take extra precautions, such as quarantining themselves. Learn more on Apple's website. You can enable or disable this feature as well as see statistics for checks in Settings | Health | COVID-19 Exposure Logging.
- Face ID now times out faster and requests your passcode when swiping up on the Lock Screen when a user is detected wearing a face mask. This makes it quicker to get into your device using a passcode when a mask is detected. This also works when authenticating with the App Store, Apple Books, Apple Pay, and other apps that support Face ID.
- Group FaceTime calls can now have tiles that do not shrink and expand based on when a participant speaks. To enable or disable this feature, navigate to the Settings App | FaceTime | Automatic Prominence | Disable or Enable "Speaking" option.
- Emergency Services can now be notified of your Medical ID stored in the Health app when placing a call to emergency services (911) in the United States. To set this up, navigate to the Health app | User Settings | Medical ID | Edit | Enable the option for "Share During Emergency Call"
- Apple Music now has a new feature that allows now playing songs to be shared directly to Instagram Stories. Tapping the Share button in Apple Music's Now Playing interface lets you easily create and share a story about the song with the information provided from Apple Music.
iOS 13.5 also adds the following patches and security fixes:
- Fixed two security vulnerabilities affecting the Mail app on iPhone and iPad where an at attacker could remotely infect an iOS device by sending an email that overwrote memory, allowing remote code execution on the device.
- Fixed an issue where users may see a black screen when trying to play streaming video from some websites.
- Addressed an issue in the share sheet where suggestions and actions may not load properly.
Are iPadOS and iOS parting ways?
iOS is splitting off into two separate OSes: iOS for iPhone and iPod Touch, and iPadOS for iPad. iPadOS includes all of the same features as iOS, but goes further to add new features like a new multitasking system, file manager, and more desktop-like app experiences.
With the release of iOS 13 for iPhones, and iPod touch devices coming about two weeks earlier than iPadOS 13, Apple is making it clear that these devices and their respective operating systems are officially splitting ways. Going forward, iPads and iPhones will have different feature sets and release cycles.
How can I get and install iOS 13?
Apple has released iOS 13 publicly for compatible devices. You can update your compatible devices to iOS 13 by performing these steps:
- Open the Settings app.
- Select General | Software Update.
- If iOS 13 is available, you will be prompted to download and install it.
If you are running iTunes, you can update your device there as well:
- Connect your iOS device to your Mac or Windows computer.
- Select your device in iTunes.
- Select Check For Update.
- iTunes will check for any updates and prompt you to upgrade to iOS 13 if it is available for your device.
- iOS 13 is now available: How to update, its best new iPhone features and more (CNET)
- Apple WWDC 2019 keynote: Scenes and surprises (ZDNet)
- iOS 13: New features let you install, manage and download fonts from the App Store (CNET)
Editor's note: This article was updated May 21, 2020, to include iOS 13.5 update information.