As expected, Apple has announced iOS 13 onstage at WWDC 2019, giving a first look at the company’s latest software for the iPhone. According to Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, iOS 13 is the “next big release for iOS,” and it will offer a variety of improvements to the operating system.
Chief among those is a new (and long-awaited) dark mode, improvements to performance, and more changes.
As with last year’s iOS 12 update, Apple is putting a big emphasis this year on improvements to performance, especially for older devices. Hopefully, the company has learned from its past issues where new versions of iOS resulted in slowed-down phones, although we’ll have to wait until iOS 13 makes its way into the world before we can know for sure if Apple’s succeeded a second time.
Apple promises things like Face ID will unlock 30 percent faster and that apps will launch twice as fast in iOS 13.
Probably the single most anticipated change, and the biggest visual update Apple’s made to iOS since it introduced the current software design in iOS 7, iOS 13 is finally offering a true, system-wide dark mode.
All of Apple’s first-party apps are supported, and even notifications and the dock get new dark hues to go with it.
New swiping keyboard
While Apple has offered support for third-party keyboards on iOS for years, it’s updating its own default keyboard with a new feature: a swiping function that should be familiar to anyone who’s used SwiftKey, Swype, or Gboard over the years, which Apple’s calling the “Quick Path” keyboard. It’s not a huge upgrade, but it’s nice to see Apple finally getting with the times.
Long overdue for an update, Apple is redoing the Reminders app entirely in iOS 13, adding new “Today,” “Scheduled,” “Flagged,” and “All” filtering options for sorting your tasks, along with a whole new visual look. Apple’s also pushing big AI integration here — you can type and Reminders will automatically suggest when you’d like to be reminded, and you’ll be able to tag contacts and be reminded when you open up their thread in Messages.
Also gone is the weird, paper-like texture that had been a mainstay of the old skeuomorphic iOS design since the original version of iOS.
Updates to Apple Mail, Notes, and Safari
Apple’s also tweaking a few of its core applications on iOS 13. Apple Mail is set to get new desktop formatting. Safari is getting per-website preferences, and Notes is getting a new gallery view for looking at all your notes at once.
Apple is completely redoing Apple Maps with iOS 13. The company says that it’s rebuilt the app from the ground up, with more comprehensive map data and a new mode that’s... basically just Google Street View. The new map will be available in select cities and states to start, and will roll out across the US by the end of 2019 and internationally in 2020.
As is expected for Apple, privacy is a big part of the announcement here: now, you can choose to give your location data to an app “just once,” preventing it from constantly being able to ping your location when you’re using it.
Apple is also launching a new “Sign in with Apple” feature, which it’ll be making available to developers for logging into apps and services. Users will be able to log into Face ID and create a new account for a service “without revealing any personal information.”
Apple accounts will also be able to automatically create new, private email addresses on a per-app basis that forward to your real email, preventing apps from getting access to your email or spamming you.
iMessage profile pictures
iOS is getting WhatsApp- and Facebook Messenger-style profile pictures and display names that let users share their name and photos with other users for Messages — in other words, Apple will make your phone look like its product demos where all the contacts have proper names and pictures.
And of course, you’ll be able to use your Memoji as a profile picture, too. To that end, Apple is also adding tons more options for customizing Memoji, as well as adding the ability to use your Memoji as iMessage stickers, similar to the way that Bitmoji does. Those sticker packs will also be usable as custom emoji in apps like Mail and even third-party apps like WeChat.
New photo and video editing tools
Apple’s adding a new editing interface to iOS for photos — and for the first time, videos. You’ll be able to edit brilliance, highlights, shadows, contrast, saturation, white balance, sharpness, definition, vignette, and noise reduction on your content. And for videos in particular, you’ll finally be able to rotate them directly on the device.
The Photos app is also getting a new UI, which will use machine learning to remove duplicates and weird clutter like screenshots for easy browsing.
The old Find My Friends and Find My iPhone apps are being merged together into a single app, simply called “Find My.” The new app puts all of Apple’s tracking in one place, letting you track both missing devices and friends and family members all at the same time. The new app can also locate devices that are offline by sending a secure Bluetooth beacon to other Apple devices, relaying it back to Apple, and then, ultimately, to you. (The whole thing is end-to-end encrypted and shouldn’t affect data use, battery life, or privacy.)
Finally, iOS will be able to pull files from SD cards and USB flash drives to import into the Files app.
iOS 13 will be available to iPhone devices (starting with the iPhone 6S, meaning that iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 users will be left behind). A developer preview will go live today following the keynote, with a public beta program later this month.