For starters, you may not be able to upgrade to iOS 13. For the first time, Apple has cut-off two generations of iPhones (iPhone 5S and iPhone 6) so you’ll need an iPhone SE, iPhone 6S or later. Apple has also cut iPads from iOS 13 and they now use their own dedicated platform: iPadOS.
As always, compatible devices should receive an automatic upgrade prompt, but if you haven’t go to Settings > General > Software Update. iOS 13.1 beta testers (more later), you must unroll your iPhones for iOS 13 to show up.
The Deal Breakers
While the feature list of iOS 13 is long, the deal-breakers are perhaps even longer. This is a great shame after Apple’s fine run of rock-solid iOS 12 updates.
These include app crashes, performance issues (particularly in the Camera app), erratic cellular signal, bugs with Mail, lost Reminders, misordered photos and a significant home screen security flaw. It even breaks Fortnite.
Unsurprisingly, the reaction has been strong with perhaps the most notable coming from the Department of Defence who used caps lock to warn staff and contractors that: “DOD Mobility strongly encourages you to NOT update, to avoid known Apple iOS 13 bugs.” Follow its lead.
Dark Mode. Go all in on lights out.
Dark Mode introduces a dramatic new look for iPhone. It’s thoughtfully designed to make every element on the screen easier on your eyes and is seamlessly integrated throughout the system. And it’s simple to turn on from Control Center or set to automatically turn on at night.
Sign In with Apple
The biggest theme of iOS 13 is privacy. Apple fired another salvo in its ongoing feud with Facebook by rolling out Sign In with Apple, a simple API developers can integrate into their apps to replace “social sign-ins” and give users one-tap, Face ID-authenticated sign-in to any app without any third-party tracking or revealing any additional personal information.
Anonymize Your Email Address
Not only is Apple making sign-ins more private, but they’ll also throw spammy apps and marketers off your trail. Apple will now give users the choice to share their own email address, or to hide it from whatever app or service they’re subscribing to and instead allow Apple to create a unique random email address for each app that forwards to your real email address and can be disabled at any time.
See Which Apps Are Tracking You
Apple is also keeping a closer eye on location tracking, taking some not-so-subtle shots at Google. users can share their location with an app just once and force the app to request permission again the next time it wants access. Apple will also compile reports on the apps that do have location access, and shut down backdoor location tracking mechanisms such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi scanning.
Powerful video editing
Nearly every tool and effect you use on your photos can be used on videos, including rotate, crop, and auto enhance.
Intelligent Photos Organization
Speaking of photos, Apple has redesigned the Photos app itself with machine learning to reduce clutter and duplicates, and intelligently organize your photos and videos. Aside from UI enhancements such as pinch-to-zoom, a new tab categorizes your photos by day, month, and year, grouping meaningful events together using AI. Portrait Lighting, meanwhile, will support lighting adjustments.
With the new intuitive audio sharing in iOS 13, you can share a snippet of audio, whether it’s a movie, a song, or a snippet from your life, with another iOS users with just a tap. The catch: it only works if you have AirPods.
Apple completely overhauled the Reminders app in iOS 13 with a more intuitive layout, labeled lists, and the ability to tag other contacts in your reminders. The app also got smarter: simply type in your reminder and iOS will know when and where to notify you about it.
Deeper Memoji Customization
Apple really wants you to trick out your virtual avatar. The iOS 13 release adds significantly more customization for Memoji, including makeup and accessories, from eye shadow and lipstick to hats, glasses, and yes, AirPods.
Apple and Facebook do both agree on one thing: they have no qualms ripping off whatever Snapchat is doing. New Memoji Stickers, available in iOS 13, give users packs of different Memoji expressions accessible right from the keyboard in iMessage or any other app.
Improved AR Creation
At WWDC, Apple made three new announcements around its continued investment in mobile augmented reality creation available across iOS 13 and its other operating systems. In addition to ARKit 3, which boasts better motion capture and people occlusion, Apple released two new tools: RealityKit, which leverages a native Swift API for photorealistic rendering and camera motion blur, and a new Reality Composer tool to build interactive AR experiences with a built-in AR content library.
Siri Suggested Automations
Siri will enjoy a host of improvements across different platforms such as HomePod and CarPlay, but the most powerful capability comes in the Siri Shortcuts app. A new suggested automation feature will help those who’ve never used Siri Shortcuts before to take their habits and personalize them, adding AI-assisted templates for things like heading home to going to the gym.
Lookaround Mode in Apple Maps
Sure, it may be a carbon copy of Google Street View, except 3D and in Apple Maps. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun to tap around and explore new places in HD.
Apple iOS 13 Verdict: Stay Away
In terms of features, iOS 13 is a solid, if unspectacular, generational upgrade. It ticks the boxes of some long-requested user favourites but there’s nothing revolutionary going on.
In terms of temptation, this is probably a good thing because there’s no way I can recommend you install iOS 13 given the sheer number of bugs in this upgrade. Apple has even (partly) acknowledged this by promising to shorten the release date of iOS 13.1 from September 30 to 24. This update will bring several features which didn’t make it into iOS 13 as well as a lorry load of bug fixes.
Consequently, there really is no reason to install iOS 13 right now. I suspect, had the new iPhone 11 range not been launching, the company would have pushed the release date and rolled up the iOS 13.1 fixes into a single, more reliable upgrade.
One tip: iOS 13.1 has so many bugs that I suspect it will take more than one update to root them all out. So if you’re on iOS 12, I’d still urge caution when iOS 13.1 arrives.
The Road Ahead
iOS 13.1 will launch on September 24 and I’d expect several ‘minor point’ upgrades (iOS 13.1.1 etc) to appear within weeks. Apple had been on a fine run of iOS 12 updates but iOS 13 brings this to a screeching halt. It’s an ominous start for iOS 13 but, despite one major concern, it’s worth placing faith in Apple to fix things sooner rather than later.