Apple announced iOS 13 at its WWDC developer conference on Monday, and it’s looking like a substantial upgrade for iPhones and iPads.
Among the new features is a “dark mode,” similar to the one that launched on MacOS last year. Once enabled, it uses mainly black and gray colors to reduce eyestrain and conserve battery life on devices with OLED screens, such as the iPhone X and iPhone XS. Privacy was also a big theme for iOS 13. A new “Apple Sign In” feature will let users log into third-party apps without sharing personal data or their email address–it’s an alternative to existing sign-in options from Facebook and Google–and new location permissions will protect against apps that quietly collect a history of users’ whereabouts.
Meanwhile, Apple is making major updates to its built-in apps in iOS 13:
- Messages will let users send stickers of Animoji (avatars whose movements are controlled with the iPhone’s 3D camera), as well as Memoji (virtual cartoon likenesses). Those Memoji are also getting much more customizable with features like lipstick, piercings, and hats.
- Health gets a new main page that more clearly lays out the user’s daily activity, plus two new sections: One will track menstrual cycles, while the other will monitor the loudness of both on-device media playback and environmental noise.
- Maps is getting much more detail, along with Google Maps-style street views (called “Look Around”). It will also let users set favorite locations such as home and work.
- Home will have a built-in viewer for recordings from security cameras.
- Photos is getting new lighting effects for portraits, along with filters and editing tools for video. The gallery is also getting AI-driven filtering to keep out duplicates, receipts, and other detritus.
- Reminders will get support for daily and flagged tasks.
- The keyboard will support gesture typing, similar to what’s already available on third-party keyboard apps such as Google’s Gboard and Microsoft’s SwiftKey.
- Apple Music will get lyrics that synchronize with the music.
- Mail will get rich-text formatting.
- Notes is getting support for shared folders.
- Siri will be able to read and respond to incoming messages on AirPods, and will play music from live radio stations. It will also sound more realistic.
- Shortcuts will suggest multi-step automations, and will be installed by default in iOS 13.
- HomePod is getting a handoff feature to send music from a phone to the smart speaker, along with personalized responses based on who’s talking.
On top of all these improvements, Apple says it’s squashing bugs and optimizing performance even on older iPhones, just as it did with iOS 12 last year. The company says app launches will be twice as fast, and FaceID unlocks 30% faster. Apple’s also changing the way App Store updates work, so they’ll be 60% smaller than before. Although Apple presumably wants people to buy its latest and greatest phones, the company also wants to hit back against claims of planned obsolescence.
The only catch is that iPhone 6 and iPhone 5S users won’t be eligible for iOS 13, which will require an iPhone 6s or newer. Look for the update to land this fall.