Apple wants you iPhone to be faster, cooler and more secure when iOS 13 comes out this fall, as long as it's compatible with the new OS. That's Apple's goal in rolling out new features like dark mode, new photos tools and a swipeable keyboard. The software also includes new Maps tools that finally start to close the gap with Android, security features like Sign in with Apple and the ability to customize Memoji avatars. With iOS 13, Apple takes on Google's Android Q once again in a never-ending battle for most powerful, private and easy-to-use OS. Sounds dramatic, but with Android on about 90% of the world's phones, Apple has its work cut out for it to maintain its status and reputation.
Apple's announcement of iOS 13's key features is just the beginning. The company — and Google, too — could very well unlock even more iOS 13 features when it announces the iPhone 11, holding back some surprises that are tied to the big September reveal. There may be more features still to come.
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Apple's ability to engage buyers with iOS 13 is particularly important in 2019. It's seen iPhone sales slow in step with competitors across the board. Meanwhile, the next iPhones will likely lag behind Android rivals in key features like support for 5G speeds, periscope zoom and a standalone night mode for ultraclear camera shots. But over the years, Apple has proven that it can create must-have software tools and apps, like FaceTime video and iMessage.
The iOS 13 developer beta is available now, with the final version coming to iPhones this fall. Look for the public iOS 13 beta to arrive in July. (Here's how you can download the iOS 13 beta right now.) And check out all of Apple's WWDC news.
Dark mode for all
Dark mode, which replaces a light screen with a dark screen, comes across core apps in iOS 13, including the calendar, music, and photos apps. This appears to be system-wide, but we'll need to see if there are any exceptions. Dark mode is a popular trend across apps, and will come to Android Q, too.
That swipey keyboard
Android users have been swiping their keyboards to type for years, through a number of third-party apps, like Swype and Swiftype. At long last, Apple has added the ability, letting you trace a word to spell it out.
Apple calls it QuickPath Typing. In theory, it's faster and just as accurate as pecking away at the virtual keyboard, and you still get spelling suggestions as you go along.
The feature is especially useful for one-handed typing.
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Portrait lighting for photos, rotate a video
A new photos tab gives you access to some of the new tools Apple's adding here. For example, you can now remove duplicate photos and highlight best shots.
Portrait lighting, the tool within your iPhone's native camera app, adds more lighting effects to smooth your skin — you can also change the intensity and location of your light for portrait lighting.
More editing filters add accents called vignette, vibrance, auto enhance and noise reduction.
Photo editing gets a boost, too, with a new ability to adjust pictures by tapping and dragging with your finger. The editing tools also come to video, which means — yes — you can rotate a video if you accidentally shoot it in the wrong orientation. You can apply the new filters and video effects as well.
Other new camera features in iOS 13
- The photo apps will automatically organize photos by year, month and date, which will make it easier for you to find photos.
- Live photos and videos play as you scroll.
- View photos based on each day, month or year.
Find My Phone and Find My Friends joins forces
The rumors were right. Apple folded Find my Phone and Find My Friends into a single app called Find My. While locating nearby friends is fine, the real value is in finding your lost or missing devices (e.g., the iPhone that fell behind the couch) even when they're offline, using a Bluetooth beacon.
The tool is encrypted and anonymous, Apple says, and it won't let phone thieves install or reboot your iPhone unless you activate it.
Sign in with Apple won't share your email address
A new privacy feature called Sign in with Apple logs you into accounts and apps without having to add your email address, which Apple says will protect users from third-party apps track that want to them.
This is Apple's version of logging in with Facebook and Google, with one major exception. Those tools can be used to track you online, but Apple's version will use your iPhone or iPad to authenticate your credentials when you log in. You tap to authenticate with Face ID without revealing any personal information about yourself.
You can also choose to share or hide your email address, and can ask Apple to create a random email for the app or service that forwards to your actual email address, therefore masking your real identity without making you use a junk account.
Apple also blocks apps to track your location from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and lets you decide if you'd like apps to ask your permission each time it requests your location data.
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Siri finds a new voice
Siri, Apple's new voice assistant, gets an audio update in iOS 13. Instead of clipped voices, Apple is hoping the new Siri sounds smoother and more natural to your ears. Using AI software (a neural talk-to-speak network, specifically), Siri will speak with fewer gaps and non-human sounding modulations.
- Create personalized shortcuts using a new Shortcuts app.
- Suggested automations so you can customize your and create a template.
- Siri reads messages as soon as they arrive and you can instantly respond.
- Share a movie or song with friend with one tap.
- Hand off a phone call or music from your iPhone to your HomePod.
- CarPlay: Siri smart suggestions work here, like suggesting you open your garage door when you get close to home.
- Siri Suggestions comes to the Safari browser.