Apple presented a whirlwind of announcements across all its major software platforms at its 2019 World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). From macOS to watchOS, and even a new fork of iOS called iPadOS, there was a lot to sort through.
Among all the announcements, the Cupertino, California-based company unveiled the next version of its popular iOS mobile operating system. For most, the new iOS tweaks, improvements and features will likely mark the most important parts of Apple’s WWDC keynote.
As such, here’s a round-up of the top five new things in iOS 13.
Privacy and security
Apple keeps talking about privacy and security, and it’s not hard to see why. The web has become a platform for huge companies to track you, gather data on you and use it to fuel advertisements, recommendation engines and more.
Thankfully, Apple is working to hand some of the control back to users through a variety of privacy tools introduced in iOS 13.
To start, the company’s newest mobile OS cracks down on location services. Along with allowing apps to access your location only while you’re using them, users can now force an app to ask for location permission whenever they open it. Plus, Apple is cracking down on apps that work around location permission by using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to triangulate your position.
When you do grant an app access to your location, iOS 13 will provide reports about when and how the app uses that information. This, I think, is by far the more critical functionality. Many people allow apps to use their location but don’t know how it does so. Hopefully, this feature makes it easier to see how apps use your data.
On top of the new location permissions, Sign In with Apple, offers users a more secure way to sign into websites, apps and services without compromising their security.
Google, Facebook and Twitter, among others, offer similar sign-on offerings. While these are beneficial in that users can sign-in using a trusted service like Google and manage their logins through Google, these services also allow companies to track you across the web.
Apple says its version won’t track users. Sign In with Apple will let you use your Apple ID combined with Face or Touch ID to sign into a service. Plus, for services that want your email, you can submit a randomly-generated single-use email that forwards back to your Apple ID, adding an extra layer of protection.
Ultimately, these security improvements will prove incredibly valuable to users, especially in a world where online security and privacy becomes increasingly important.
As expected, the iOS 13 reveal brought with it an announcement for the software’s dark mode. Speculation around the feature began when Apple brought a dark theme to macOS with Mojave in 2018.
However, it’s finally here for iOS, and it looks great. Based on the previews shown off on stage at WWDC, dark mode will encompass most of Apple’s apps, like Messages, Reminders and Photos.
Beyond turning the white space in apps dark, iOS 13’s dark mode also affects the ‘frosted glass’ elements, like notifications, turning them into a transparent grey instead of white.
Finally, users can turn it on and off through Control Centre, or schedule dark mode to turn on at specific times.
However, it remains unclear how dark mode will affect other apps. For example, will turning on the iOS dark mode also enable dark mode in Twitter and other third-party apps with their own dark themes? And what about apps that don’t have a dark mode?
We’ll likely learn more when iOS 13 rolls out to the masses this fall.
Improvements to Photos and Maps
iOS 13 also brings significant changes to both the Photos and Maps apps.
To start, Photos is getting a swath of new machine learning features to help organize pictures and highlight important events. Photos will also automatically remove clutter from your Photo library.
There are also new time-based features, where Photos will automatically organize images to highlight special events based on days, months and years.
As for Maps, Apple did a lot of work to improve its base map with 3D, high-res imagery. The base map improvements also bring more information and detail for users.
One result of the new base map is ‘Look Around,’ a fancy feature for exploring an area at street level that’s similar to Google’s Street View function.
Ultimately, these improvements should make Photos and Maps much better apps and allow them to compete better with Google alternatives.
Better voice control
Not to be outdone by Google, Apple announced Voice Control for iOS 13.
The new voice experience allows users to control their iPhones entirely with their voice. Voice Control relies on the latest Siri speech recognition technology.
Voice Control makes it easier than ever to interact with your iPhone, but it doesn’t stop there. The new feature is also on Mac and iPad, so users can interact will all their Apple devices with just their voice.
As smartphones and other gadgets continue to grow in popularity, making them accessible is incredibly important. Voice Control is a significant step forward in that regard.
All these new iOS features are great, but if your iPhone is slow, what’s the point?
Thankfully, Apple kept performance in front of mind when working on iOS 13, and made some tweaks to speed things up.
For example, Apple introduced a new way to package iOS apps on the App Store, reducing download sizes by 50 percent and shrinking app updates by 60 percent.
Further, the changes to how iOS packages apps mean apps should launch up to twice as fast on iOS 13 — great news for anyone with an older iPhone.
Apple also improved the speed of its Face ID system, so users with an X series iPhone will be able to unlock their device 30 percent faster.
Overall, it seems like Apple’s iOS 13 brings several meaningful improvements. Sure, it’s not packed with flashy new features, but it is full of thoughtful and useful upgrades.
You can learn more about iOS 13’s availability here. Meanwhile, a breakdown of other top WWDC announcements can be found here.