Our quick iOS 13 review and the best features you need to try
Apple’s iOS 13 update is determined to change your old iPhone, so even if you don’t upgrade to the new iPhone, you’ll have plenty of new features to play with today.
Among the best iOS 13 features is Dark Mode, to tamp down on all of those white and light gray colors. But there’s more to the story than inverting bright hues.
We have a guide on how to how to get iOS 13 – that’s if you’re not buying an iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, in which case the software update is pre-installed.
But before you sink your teeth into iOS 13, here’s what Apple has changed and what we think of of it, starting with a mini iOS 13 review.
The two-minute iOS 13 review
Dark Mode: This is our favorite iOS 13 feature. It changes up the interface (except for some third-party apps), exchanging bright white and light gray colors for black and dark gray hues. That’s more pleasant on the eyes, especially at night. iOS 13 pro tip: You can schedule iOS 13 Dark Mode to turn on and off at particular times, and add it as a Control Center menu shortcut.
iOS 13 compatibility: iOS 13 is compatible with a lot of iPhones – as long you have the iPhone 6S or iPhone SE or newer. Yes, that means both iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 don’t make the list and are forever stuck with iOS 12.4.1, but Apple didn’t make any cuts for iOS 12, so it’s just catching up in 2019. Fair.
Photo editing tools gets advanced: You can now change up photos in 15 different ways, tweaking highlights, contrast and shadows. It’s more robust to the point where we’re opening Adobe Lightroom less. iOS 13 pro tip: Edits also work for video, and you can edit photos without destroying the Live Photo properties.
A new QuickPath keyboard: Want to swipe on the keyboard rather than tap? It’s now in there. There’s no line that follows your finger’s movement, and it’s a little tricky to get used to at first, but persevere and we think you’ll enjoy it. iOS 13 pro tip: We found this most useful on any large Max or Plus phone.
FaceTime correction: You know that thing in a FaceTime call where you look at your screen and therefore aren’t looking at the camera? Apple will use AI to move the direction of your gaze. A bit creepy in principle, but hugely useful.
Face ID is much better: We love this feature – the field of view for unlocking your phone with your face is wider, so looking at the phone on the desk will open your iPhone up without needing to lift the handset.
iOS 13 is not coming to the iPad: Tricked you. iOS 13 is strictly for the iPhone (and iPod Touch). iPadOS is debuting for iPad with exclusive productivity features for the bigger tablet screen on September 30.
‘Find my iPhone’ and ‘Find my Friends’ are fused: The two apps are now in one ‘Find My’ app, and Apple’s added in functionality that can find offline devices from other iPhones or iPads. Best of all, we got fewer timed out tracking errors.
iOS 13 improves battery life: By that we mean ‘lifetime of the battery’ not ‘time between charges’ – the new iOS 13 platform is smarter at charging and will curtail the power input at the right times. Dark mode should help too on iPhone OLED displays, though we’re testing that.
Reminders gets a huge (and useful) overhaul: A clear new design, Reminders now allows for attachments and better sorting. Might not sound massive, but a big jump for those that use it.
The camera is getting a big upgrade: Portrait mode (if your phone supports it) will offer more customizable lighting and a new ‘High Key Mono’ mode for when you want to look like you’re in a Calvin Klein advert.
Siri sounds better: A refined voice with more natural diction, Siri is much nicer to talk to now. You might not notice it without a side-by-side comparison, but it’s here.
All new Memoji to play with: You can add make-up, throw in Memoji stickers from the keyboard – if you’re into your own cartoon face there’s a lot to try here. iOS 13 pro tip: Stickers works on iPhone 8 and older iPhones, even if you don’t have the TrueDepth camera for moving Memoji.
Control Wi-Fi and Bluetooth more simply: We love this: long-press (or 3D Touch for certain iPhone models) on the Wi-Fi / Bluetooth buttons in the Control Center and you can access all your connections in one simple place.
Use your PS4 controller on your phone: Does what it says… now you can pair your console controller to play games in a more immersive way. PS4 support is here today, while Xbox One support is coming. Perfect for Apple Arcade, right?
OK, that’s the key stuff out of the way – but if you want to know more about the smaller features, or just a bit more depth on what your iPhone or iPad can do, read on:
Video: How to download iOS 13 right now (without having to wait):