iOS 13: What You Need to Know

What to know about iOS 13 including compatibility with your iPhone

iOS 13 delivers a ton of cool new features. From a system-wide Dark Mode to major improvement for photos and videos to key new security and privacy features, iOS 13 should make the device it runs on even better. Learn all everything you need to know about iOS 13 — if your device supports it, its other features, and more — in this article.

An array of iOS 13 screenshots on iPhones
Apple Inc.

iOS 13 was updated quickly after launch to iOS 13.1. This information in this article encompasses both releases with the general term 'iOS 13.'

The Arrival of iPadOS

Maybe the most important thing to know about iOS 13 is that it doesn't run on the iPad. That's because the iPad is getting its own dedicated OS, called iPadOS. Version 13 of iPadOS is based on iOS 13, but it's designed to be used specifically on the iPad, with its shape, features, and how people use tablets instead of phones. This article only covers iOS 13 on the iPhone and iPod touch, but keep an eye out for our coverage of iPadOS 13 soon.

iOS 13 Compatible Apple Devices

In recent years, Apple has emphasized making new versions of the iOS compatible with as many older devices as possible. That trend continues with iOS 13, which supports devices released as far back as 2015.

iPhone iPod touch
iPhone 11 Pro Max 7th gen. iPod touch
iPhone 11 Pro  
iPhone 11  
iPhone XR  
iPhone XS series  
iPhone X  
iPhone 8 series  
iPhone 7 series  
iPhone 6S series  
iPhone SE  

If your device can't run iOS 13, it likely can still use iOS 12, which is an excellent operating system. To learn more about it, check out iOS 12: The Basics.

Getting iOS 13

As with all previous versions of the iOS, iOS 13 will be a free upgrade for all users who have devices that can run it. Upgrades will be done in the same way they are now. To learn more, check out:

Key iOS 13 Features

With iOS 13 introducing hundreds, or even thousands, of new features, we can only list some of them here. But these are the new features that really caught our eye:

  • Dark Mode: This system-wide feature allowS users to change the colors shown on their device to match the time of day and their preferences for how bright the interface is. Think of changing colors that are currently light to be dark. This can reduce eye strain and make use in the dark more pleasant. Apple introduced a similar feature in macOS Mojave.

A version of Dark Mode can be used on current versions of the iOS. To learn more, read How to Invert Colors (aka Dark Mode) on Your iPhone and iPad.

  • Photos and Videos: The already-great Portrait Lighting feature gains the ability to adjust the intensity of its lighting and to add monochrome colors, among other things. You can also rotate videos for portrait to landscape right on the phone and use a new suite of photo-editing tools.
  • Privacy and Security: Apple continues to enhance the privacy and security features of the iOS by adding new controls for how apps can use your location data and new robo-call screening features. Maybe most importantly, though, it's also introducing Sign In With Apple, a new user account system for apps and websites that lets you create an account without sharing any personal information with the app.
  • Look Around: A new feature of Apple Maps that brings a feature like Google Street View to the Maps app.
  • Better-Sounding, Smarter Siri: Siri's voice is totally new in iOS 13. Instead of being created using recorded clips of people speaking, the voice is now generating by computer code, resulting in a much more natural and expressive voice. Beyond that, Siri can now recognize different voices, which enables multi-user support on HomePod.
  • Improved Augmented Reality Features: Rumor has it that at least one model of the 2019 iPhone will include a three-camera system for improved 3D and Augmented Reality features. Expect iOS 13 to be updated to support that.
  • Memoji Customization: The options for customizing your Memoji are much more extensive and flexible. Memoji are also now automatically turned into sticker packs that can be used in iMessage.
  • App Overhauls: The pre-installed apps that come with iOS 13 also are getting some big improvements. Most notably, Reminders is completely revamped and much more powerful. The Health app is adding support for menstrual-cycle tracking, while the Mail, Safari, and Notes apps are also getting improvements both major and subtle.
  • Speed Improvements: In iOS 13, Face ID unlocks up to 30% faster, apps launch up to 50% faster, and download faster, too.
  • Custom Fonts: Users will be able to add custom fonts to their devices by downloading them from the App Store.
  • New Emoji: The standards body that governs the emoji standard is expected to introduce new emoji in 2019. Apple will include them in iOS 13.
  • New CarPlay Interface: Apple has simplified and improved the CarPlay interface to make the feature easier to use while also staying safe while driving.

iOS 13 Release Date

The official release of iOS 13 was September 19, 2019 which was quickly followed up by iOS 13.1 on September 24.

Apple continues the Apple's Public Beta Program if you want to, for some reason, live in a perpetual state of beta-ness.