Apple’s huge WWDC developer conference kicked off on Monday, June 3, and as expected, the company took the wraps off iOS 13. It’s the next major revision for one of the most important and influential operating systems of all time, with iOS used daily on over a billion iPhones and iPads, and it looks to be a doozy.
Here are the biggest changes iOS 13 will bring to your iPhone and iPad when it releases this fall.
Yes, the rumors are true. iOS 13 is finally bringing Dark Mode to Apple’s mobile OS. Apple showed new dark backgrounds, notifications, and widgets. All the Apple apps you rely on, from Messages to Mail to News and more, have new colors and dark backgrounds. Third-party developers will undoubtedly be quick to support this.
Better performance, again
Apple focused on performance with iOS 12, making it much faster than the last few releases, especially on older devices. Apple has continued that work on iOS 13, taking a top-to-bottom approach to speeding up everything you do on your iPhone and iPad.
As an example, Apple says Face ID unlocks 30 percent faster. Apps are going to be packaged differently, making app downloads 50 percent smaller and updates 60 percent smaller. This also helps apps launch up to twice as fast.
Huge changes for iPad, including a name change
The iPad gets all the changes you find in iOS 13 for the iPhone, but Apple has been adding so many features specific to the iPad, it has decided to give it its own name: iPadOS.
If you’ve been hoping that iOS 13 would make your iPad into a better laptop replacement, you’ll be thrilled with the new iPadOS. You can pin widgets to your home screen, and easily browse and swipe through multiple slideover apps.
Split view gets huge improvements, including multiple split-view “desktops” that you can see in a new App Expose view. You can even run multiple windows of the same app—Apple demonstrated multiple Mail windows and two Word windows side-by-side.
The Files app gets SMB support, shared iCloud folders, support for USB thumb drives, and native zip and unzip support. And if you want to import files directly to an app (like images from your camera into Lightroom), you can now do that, too.
There’s lots more. Safari now shows desktop browser views, the Apple Pencil latency has been cut in half, you can download fonts directly from the App Store, and there are new gestures for navigating and manipulating text.
Smarter, smoother Siri
Siri gets a lot of improvements in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13. It starts with a new voice system called “Neural Text to Speech.” Instead of stitching together pieces of sounds to form words, the new system uses a neural network to entirely generate the voice in software. It smooths out complex words and sounds a lot more natural.
Siri Shortcuts is now built into the OS, instead of needing to download it from the App Store. It will use machine learning to create suggested automations for your common series of tasks.
Siri can also read messages to you as soon as they come in when you’re wearing AirPods, in any messaging app that supports SiriKit, and you can reply instantly without having to trigger Siri.
iOS in other places: CarPlay, AirPods, and HomePod
Apple’s mobile operating system stretches its tendrils to other devices, and Apple is improving the iOS experience for those with AirPods, a CarPlay compatible car, or the HomePod.
You’ll be able to share audio with a second person who is using AirPods. So you can listen to music or watch video together, sending audio to your AirPods and your friend’s. Sharing is initiated by tapping phones together.
HomePod can now recognize multiple voices and tailor responses to multiple users, including Music, Messages, Reminders, Notes, and more. HomePod also gets the ability to play live radio stations streaming over the internet—100,000 of them from around the world.
CarPlay gets what Apple calls its biggest update ever. You can see your maps side-by-side with other information. There’s a whole new Siri experience that doesn’t take over the whole screen. Siri also now works with more third-party apps. Apple called out Pandora and Waze by name. It’s a whole new design for CarPlay and could change the way you use your iPhone with your car.
Release date and beta
Apple didn’t announce an exact release date for iOS 13, but if it follows the usual historical pattern, we’ll get a final release pushed out to all compatible devices in September, just ahead of the release of this year’s new iPhones. Some features may not make it into the initial release, instead coming in point-releases over the following weeks and months.
As usual, Apple will beta test the new release with both developers and the public. Those with an active developer account can visit developer.apple.com/download on the device they want to install the iOS or iPadOS 13 beta on, and install the beta profile there. The developer beta should be released very soon.
The public beta typically starts a few weeks after the first developer beta. If you’re interested in running it on your iPhone or iPad, head to beta.apple.com on your device and grab the beta profile. You’ll be able to update your device to the iOS 13 beta when it is released by going to Settings > General > Software Update. Please note that iOS betas, while exciting, often have bugs, performance problems, stability problems, and poor battery life. It’s not recommended that you install it on your primary device.