If you’re an iPhone user, you probably already know that Apple releases a major new version of the device’s software every September. This year is no different, with iOS 13 coming out very soon. If you’ve got an iPhone 6s or newer, you can download the update this Thursday.
I’m a nerd, so I’ve been playing with the beta versions of iOS 13 all summer. But I know that a lot of people are wary of updating their phones and having to learn new features, so I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite things about the software and why I think it’s worth the update.
Here are my iOS 13 highlights.
Let’s be real: Besides texting and browsing Instagram, the thing people most use their phones for is taking and viewing photos. No vacation or visit to the coffee shop is complete without a few snapshots, right? We love taking pictures with our phones, and Apple knows that. Which is why they’ve completely remade the Photos app this year with a focus on discovering old pictures you may have forgotten.
Now, the Photos tab is broken up into sections. You’ve still got the All Photos view that you’re used to, but if you swipe to the right, you’ll see new views called Days, Months, and Years. As you’d imagine, these views group your photos based on time and show you highlights from each period.
My favorite is Months. When I go to this view, I can scroll through a timeline of highlighted photos and videos from each month all the way back to when I first got an iPhone. I see vacations, birthdays, big events, and some small moments I’d forgotten about, all in one beautiful feed. It’s a great way to re-discover old photos that I normally wouldn’t come across, and I absolutely love it.
If you take a lot of pictures with your phone but don’t always do the best job of keeping up with them, the new Photos app can really help with that. I was amazed at how many pictures I’d forgotten about. Finding them again was a fun, meaningful experience that I wouldn’t have been able to have without iOS 13, and I hope you can have an experience like that, too.
To-do lists are my native language. The only way I can get anything done is by putting it into my task management app as a reminder. I get a miniature adrenaline rush every time I check something off my list, and that’s what keeps me motivated throughout the day.
That’s why I was very excited to hear that Apple was completely redesigning the Reminders app for iOS 13. I’ve always found the app to be a great way of getting things done, and with the new features it’s getting this year, it’s an even more indispensable tool for anyone who wants to use their phone to stay organized.
The most noticeable change in this update is the new Reminders main screen. At the top, you’ll see four new smart lists: Today, Scheduled, All, and Flagged. And underneath those are the traditional lists that you create yourself. I’ve found this new layout to be much more functional and enjoyable to use than the old, card-based look.
I love the Today view. It allows me to focus in on just the tasks that I have scheduled for the day without getting distracted by things I need to focus on down the line. I keep my lists very meticulously scheduled, and this allows me to stay on top of my tasks without ever getting behind. The Today view is definitely the one I find myself using the most. For example, I check it every morning to see what I need to be doing for the blog, and it keeps me on track.
I also really appreciate the new customization options for traditional lists. They now include an array of colors and a whole slew of icons that you can use to set each list apart. In addition, new organizational features allow you to group lists together and break tasks down into sub-tasks with different details and due dates.
Basically, the new Reminders app gives productivity-minded people like me tons of new ways to stay organized the way we want to while still maintaining the simplicity of the previous version. Whether you use Reminders to keep up with your grocery list or manage all of your tasks at work, this new update will help you stay organized in the way that best fits you.
Please don’t read this header and think, “I’ve never even heard of that. I should skip this section.” Even if you don’t know what the share sheet is, I’m sure you’ve used it before. And if you update to iOS 13, you’re going to notice pretty quickly just how different it is.
Have you ever been looking at a photo or a link on your phone and wanted to send it to someone? What did you do? You probably hit that little button that looks like an arrow coming out of a rounded square, right? That’s called the Share button, and that big list of icons that comes up when you tap it is called the share sheet.
Basically, the share sheet is just a list of a ways that you can send things to your friends or from one app to another. It’s a great way to send a picture from the Photos app, for example. And in iOS 13 the share sheet has been completely reimagined in a great way. The new layout is going to mean easier access and faster sharing for everyone.
The first thing you’ll notice in the new share sheet is the row of people at the top. Using artificial intelligence (basically Siri), your phone will suggest people it thinks you might want to share with. Usually it’s the people you talk to the most. And if the person you’re wanting to share with is in that list, all you have to do is tap their picture, and voila! You’ve shared it.
If what you’re looking for isn’t in the top row, though, the second row is a list of apps that you can use to share. You can use this row to send a text or an email, AirDrop to a nearby device, or access other apps or services you have installed on your phone.
Underneath that is a vertical list of actions and shortcuts specific to the type of object you’re trying to share. If it’s a photo, you can add it to an album. If it’s a link, you can bookmark it. If it’s text, you can copy it. And so on. Each action has a handy icon that you can use to quickly find what you’re looking for and get it done.
I really like the new share sheet because it allows me to do whatever it is I’m trying to do more quickly and efficiently. It also just looks great, especially if you take the time to add photos to your contacts. Plus, it’s completely customizable, so you can rearrange everything to make it work for you! While the share sheet isn’t the flashiest iPhone feature ever, I think that these changes really will make a difference in the everyday lives of iPhone users who decide to update.
It’s undeniable, people love dark mode. Whether it’s to conserve battery life, to save your eyes from blinding whites when you first wake up, or just because you like the way it looks, dark mode is finally an option on the iPhone. It might take some time for app-makers to get onboard with the new look, but at launch, every Apple app supports it, which makes for a very cool experience.
I personally don’t use dark mode full-time. Instead, I have my phone set to switch to dark mode at sunset and then switch back to light made in the morning. That way, I get the best of both worlds! I think it’s really handy that Apple included this option with the dark mode feature, and I’d suggest you give it a try.
Bonus: Why You Should Update Your iPad, Too
I’m an iPad fanatic. I use my 11-inch iPad Pro for everything from reading to graphics work to writing this very blog post. And this year, Apple is splitting the iPad’s operating system off from the iPhone’s. Starting in a couple of weeks, iPads will no longer run iOS, but iPadOS.
Of course, the two systems still have a lot of similarities. The iPad is receiving every new feature that the iPhone is, including all of the ones listed above. But, with iPadOS, Apple is taking things even further and adding features traditionally thought to belong to computers. And thus, they are making the iPad even more powerful.
On the most basic level, iPadOS rethinks the home screen, allowing for more apps to be included and, for the first time, home screen widgets! There also some deeper system changes like mouse support and finally allowing USB flash drives to be accessed in the Files app. And possibly my favorite iPadOS feature is the full, desktop-class Safari. I can actually edit my website on my iPad now!
These are features that iPad users have been requesting for a long time. The truth is that the device has outgrown its roots as a “giant iPod touch.” People (including me) are using iPads as full-blown computers now, and these updates are Apple’s way of acknowledging that and helping us take the iPad to the next level.
More New Features Coming
Of course, these are just a few of my favorite iOS 13 features. There are plenty more included in the update. If you want, you can download it now and try them all for yourself.
There are also more new features coming in future updates to iOS 13. Rather than putting everything in one big release, Apple has started phasing in some new things throughout the year. The next version, iOS 13.1 is coming September 30, and I’m sure it won’t be long until we hear what’s coming in iOS 13.2 as well. Here are a few things I’m looking forward to:
automatic ETA sharing in Maps
sending audio to multiple sets of headphones from one iPhone
the ability to download and add new fonts to the system
shared folders in iCloud Drive
the single most popular feature every year: new emoji
The iOS platform is vibrant and booming. I am always so excited to keep up with what’s happening in it. People use the iPhone because it offers an incredible mobile experience, and that experience is only further enhanced by the updates in iOS 13. It’s a fun, solid update that I’d suggest to anyone who uses an iPhone.
Now I want to hear from you: What do you think of all these new features? Which is your favorite? And are you planning to upgrade? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments or on social media.
Thanks for reading my iOS 13 preview! I hope you enjoyed it, and I also hope you enjoy all these great new features if you do decide to update. I’ll see you all next week.