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Apple iOS 13 release date and features: iOS 13.3 is live but you might want to read this before updating

iOS 13 introduces Dark Mode, new photo and camera features, performance boosts and more

iOS 13 began rolling out to handsets on 19 September and brings with it a vast number of new features and design changes. 

Unveiled at WWDC 2019, the first iOS 13 beta went live to developers in June and the full and stable release followed the day before the new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max went on sale. You can read more about the latest Apple event on our hub. 

However, the rollout has not gone as smoothly as Apple may have hoped.

As of 20 December, there have been eight updates pushed out to handsets (including the original release), each include bug fixes created or spotted in previous versions as well as feature updates. The latest, iOS 13.3, added support for Communication Limits in Screen Time, lets you disable the Memoji and Animoji stickers from emoji keyboard, and added support for FIDO2 security keys over Lightning, USB or NFC in Safari. 

If you haven’t yet been prompted to download iOS 13.3, or you don’t have automatic updates enabled, go to Settings | General | Software Update. This will force the update through. In the UK, the update usually appears around 18:00pm BST on the day of release.

However, be warned that Apple has already stopped signing iOS 13.2.3. This mean that if you upgrade and something breaks, or you don’t like the changes, you can’t revert back to previous versions. This is typically because being on the most up-to-date operating system makes your phone more secure and stable but it might be worth waiting to see if 13.3 comes with any issues before taking the leap.  

iOS 13 release date

Apple’s iOS release date schedule runs like clockwork and therefore it was very easy to predict we’d see the iOS 13 beta release details at WWDC 2019.

And, as we predicted, the full iOS release coincided with the launch of the next iPhones. iOS 13 went live on existing handsets from 19 September and the new phones went on sale a day later. 

iOS 13 features: Dark Mode

iOS 13 is finally bringing a so-called Dark Mode to iPhones. iPads will get the same feature as part of iPadOS. This new dark colour scheme will work across the entire operating system, and all native apps, to make the phone easier to use in low-lighting. This is also likely to save battery life. Additionally, Dark Mode is available to third-party app developers so they can build the functionality in their own apps. Twitter, for example, already offers its own version of Dark Mode and others may not be able to follow.

This Dark Mode builds on Apple’s Night Shift feature which reduces the amount of blue light on your display during the evening and throughout the night. 

iOS 13 features: Sign in with Apple 

To boost privacy on iOS 13, Apple has released an alternative to the ‘Log in with Facebook’ or ‘Sign in with Google’ widgets that are popular across websites and apps.

Instead, you’ll be greeted with a Sign in with Apple’ option that gives you all the convenience “without all the tracking.” This is a nod to the fact both Facebook and Google have been criticised for tracking users.

Sign in with Apple uses Face ID and creates an account “without revealing any of your personal information.” If you want to hide your email address, Apple can also generate one for you, forwarding anything sent to it on to you, but never sharing your actual address with websites or advertisers. If you’re fed up with the contact, you can remove this unique throwaway address at any time, as every app or website gets its own fake address.

iOS 13 features: Reminders 

The Reminders app has a new look and offers “intelligent ways” to create and edit reminders. This should make it easier to organise and keep track of any reminders as well as more easily add times, dates, locations and flags, or add attachments. 

iOS 13 features: Hide My Email

If you don’t want to share your email address with a particular app you’ll be able to choose to share or hide it in iOS 13. You can also choose to have Apple create a unique email address for you that forwards to your real address.

iOS 13 features: Messages

With iOS 13, Messages can automatically share a user’s name and photo, or customised Memoji or Animoji, so you know who is in the Messages thread at a glance. Memoji will be automatically made into sticker packs built into the iOS keyboard, which means they can be used in Messages, Mail and other Apple apps and Memoji are getting new hairstyles, hats, makeup, piercings and accessories to tailor them more closely to how you look.

With iOS 13.3, Apple added the option to diable the Memoji and Animoji from appearing by default on the emoji keyboard. 

iOS 13 features: Siri

As had been rumoured, Siri is getting a more “natural voice”, and Siri Shortcuts now supports Suggested Automations that offer personalised routines for things such as going to work or to the gym. Plus, when used with AirPods, Siri will be able to read messages as soon as they arrive, via Apple’s Messages app, or any SiriKit-enabled messaging app. Its Voice Control has also been made more accurate. 

iOS 13 features: Cycle Tracking

As part of WatchOS 6, Apple Watch’s next operating system, wearers can track their menstrual cycle and fertility and this features is also available on iOS 13. Elsewhere, the Noise app on both WatchOS 6 and iOS 13 monitors ambient noise levels to warn you if they’re too high and could damage your hearing. 

iOS 13 features: Performance boosts

To make all of these new iOS 13 features run smoothly, Apple has made some changes to the backend on iOS 13 to improve launch and download times, as well as battery life. According to Apple figures, iOS 13 (when used on its flagship devices) makes the system more responsive with faster Face ID unlock.

During the Apple event in which it unveiled the iPhone 11 range of devices, Apple said iOS 13 working with the A13 Bionic chip make the flagship phones 20% faster than their predecessors and boost battery life by up to five hours. 

The company has also developed a new way to package iPhone apps on the App Store to reduce app download sizes by up to 50 percent. This apparently makes app updates over 60 percent smaller and means apps launch up to twice as fast.

iOS 13 features: Emoji

If you’re into emoji then you could be in luck with iOS 13. The Emoji Consortium recently released candidates for 2019, which include a yawning face, guide dogs, a flamingo and an ice cube. Apple is a member of the Unicode Working Group, meaning it’s an active member of the Emoji Consortium.

iOS 13 features: Photo and video improvements

Using the new triple-camera array on the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, once footage has been recorded, it can be rotated and cropped via advanced editing tools in iOS 13, the exposure can be adjusted post-recording and filters can be applied to all videos.

The camera interface has been redesigned on iOS 13, too which lets you, for the first time, to record video without switching out of Photo mode. 

Elsewhere, iOS 13 will identify and hide duplicate photos, screenshots, whiteboard photos, documents, and receipts so you see only your best shots.

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