iOS 13 Is On Its Way: Dark Mode, Updated Maps, Improved Privacy & Security & Siri's New Voice

Now that iOS 13 has been revealed, we can start looking forward to all the new features and upgrades announced at today’s WWDC keynote. We’ve got everything you need to know about the privacy and security improvements, the new Dark Mode feature, the fully revamped Maps app with enhanced navigation and street-level viewing, plus when to expect the Public beta release for iOS 13. Read on to learn everything that was announced, what rumors were confirmed, and what disappointments were delivered during today’s big iOS 13 reveal.

Related: WWDC 2019 Recap: iOS 13, iPadOS, watchOS 6, macOS Catalina & More

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Unknown ObjectThis year's WWDC keynote event felt like a list of all the updates Apple didn’t have quite ready for iOS 12. While the announcement included a lot of improvements, there was no cohesive vision for those updates. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot to be excited about. The new Maps app looks like fun to navigate, the Photos app is getting a major organizational overhaul, and of course, the long-anticipated Dark Mode has finally arrived. The developer beta dropped today, but the public beta is expected in July with the official iOS slated for release this fall.

The Big Stuff

Performance

As always, the new iOS promises significant performance improvements. We’re looking forward to faster Face ID unlock, app size download reduction of 50 percent and an updates download reduction of 60 percent, and apps will load twice as fast.

Dark Mode

Apple dove right in with Dark Mode, and well they should, because users have been clamoring for Dark Mode for a long time. You’ll be able to put Dark Mode on a schedule to turn off and on automatically at certain times of the day. The new mode looks great, and from the demo, Dark Mode seems well integrated into other apps. This new mode will make night-time iPhone use much more comfortable and provides a sharp, dramatic look that makes colors pop on the iPhone. The mode is available to developers for third-party integration.

Siri

Apple is taking a new approach to Siri; the sampled voices are being replaced with a deep-learning computer algorithm that will sound much more natural than what we’re used to. The demo provided at the keynote was an improvement, although Siri still stumbled when using uncommon words or phrases. Then again, isn’t that a very human trait? The end result was a bit eerie, but also very exciting and points in the direction of continued advancements in deep-learning technologies.

Siri is also getting better at automating shortcuts. The Siri Shortcuts app will include templated shortcuts based on your habits and iPhone use that you’ll be able to edit to your preferences in the Shortcuts app. Apple promises this will make Shortcuts easier to use, but we’ll see.

HomePods and AirPods are getting Siri enhanced improvements, thanks to iOS 13. Your HomePod will offer multi-user support, and Siri will be able to distinguish different users and create unique profiles for each user. The new Handoff feature will let you tap your iPhone on your HomePod to switch your audio from your iPhone to the HomePod so that you can keep listening to your music or podcast without having to pause. You can also look forward to the new Live Radio with over 100,000 live radio stations available from around the world.

Siri will start reading your text messages to you as they arrive via your AirPods, and you’ll be able to reply quickly without having to pull out your iPhone. An improvement to third=party app integration means that in addition to reading your texts off of iMessage, Siri will be able to read any messages you receive from third-party apps that are SiriKit enabled. You can share your music and podcasts with friends by putting their AirPods close to your iPhone and iPad, and it’s all powered by improvements to Siri.

Privacy

The biggest quality of life advancements announced this year are, in my opinion, the security improvements. Apple is well known for taking user privacy and data mining seriously, and the new featured unveiled at WWDC this year take privacy to a new level.

First, there are improved protections for location sharing. The new Allow Just Once feature gives you more control over whether or not an app has continued access to your location. Apple has added a new sign in feature to replace Facebook and Google called Sign In With Apple. It’s fast, it’s easy, and there’s no tracking. Additionally, if an app or website asks for your email, you can now enable a feature that will hide your real email address and instead provide a randomly generated email address that points to your inbox, but that cannot be tracked to create a profile based on your habits.

HomeKit has gotten a major upgrade, and new security cameras are hitting the market soon that will incorporate Apple’s new approach to encrypted footage. In the past, video has been stored and analyzed on the cloud. With HomeKit Secure Video, the footage will be analyzed on your device and encrypted before being uploaded to the cloud. That means only you can view the footage, and you get free 10-day storage on iCloud.

Routers are also coming to HomeKit. HomeKit routers will create a network specifically for the devices in your home network. A firewall for each device will protect you from outside attacks and shut down vulnerable security points into your home network. The routers will also be hitting the market close to the release of iOS 13.

Apple's Native App Updates

Maps

Apple is working on a completely new map, and the demo looked awesome. Increased street detail with 2D models of buildings and parks make the map much easier to follow. But wait, there’s more! Maps is finally getting a street-level view, and it was worth the wait because this new view looks like fun to navigate. Unlike other street-level maps, Apple Maps view lets you move seamlessly up and down streets. Plus, buildings are not only labeled, but they also have icons indicating what type of building it is, such as restaurants, bookstores, and cafes. You can find where you need to go and get a preview of where you’re headed to make navigation much easier.

Voice Control

Another big quality of life improvement is the new accessibility feature, Voice Control. Voice Control will be available in iOS, iPad OS, and Mac OS, and it will allow users to navigate the operating system entirely by voice. The demo was very exciting, and I look forward to testing out this feature when it becomes available.

Reminders

At last, Reminders is getting a comprehensive update. You’ll have new filtering options, like Today, Scheduled, Flagged, and All, to make it easier to find the right reminder. A new quick bar also makes adding times, dates, locations, and attachments to reminders. One of the coolest new features bridges iMessage and Reminders by allowing you to tag a contact in a reminder. The next time you open a conversation thread with that contact in iMessage, the reminder you tagged them in will pop up on your screen.

iMessages

There are quite a few minor tweaks to iMessages. In addition to connecting iMessages to Reminders, Apple is making it easier to share names and images with other iPhone users. Now, when getting a message from an unknown number, Apple can share that person’s profile picture and name with you so that you have an idea of who’s trying to reach you.

Apple loves Memojis, and was very excited to show off the newest additions to the Memoji creator. Eyeshadow, lipstick, hairstyles, hats, and other tweaks make Memoji more customizable. And now, your Memoji will be turned into an auto-generated sticker set that will be available in your emoji keyboard. That means you’ll be able to share your Memoji in sticker form on other platforms like Facebook and also with contacts who don’t have an iPhone.

QuickPath Keyboard

The keyboard is getting a boost with swipe-through typing. Instead of having to tap the keyboard for individual letters, users will be able to swipe through the letters in a word to make writing easier.

Photos

The Photos app has been reorganized, and I can’t wait to view pictures in the improved gallery that Apple demoed today. Photos and videos will be organized by year, month, and day, and those categories will be accessible in a menu and the bottom of the screen.

New editing tools are coming for videos, photos, and to users with iPhones that support Portrait Lighting mode. If you don’t like the orientation of a video, you’ll be able to rotate the video. Filters are also coming to video editing, so you can employ the same vignettes that have been available for photos since iOS 12. Portrait Lighting is getting a new mode, High-Key Mono, and users will have more control over Portrait Lighting in general with the ability to increase or decrease saturation levels, which has the same effect as when the lights are closer or farther away from the subject.

Notes

A new gallery view makes it easier to view notes and locate specific notes. New search tools make it easier to find a specific note as well. Apple didn’t specify but did promise improvements to checklists. On top of all that, you’ll also be able to share note folders with contacts.

Find My

Instead of Find My Friends and Find My iPhone, both functions will be combined under one application called Find My. Locating devices that are asleep and not connected to Wi-Fi will be possible using local Bluetooth signals off other Apple devices. The Bluetooth communications will be encrypted for privacy and will make it possible to locate your device much more easily.

CarPlay

If you have a CarPlay enabled dashboard, then this iOS 13 update is an exciting development. The CarPlay dashboard is getting a new look with a split-view feature that will place apps like Apple Music next to your map for ease of use. Siri integration with third-party apps will once again be improved, allowing users to use third-party music apps that are SiriKit enabled.

iPadOS

Finally, Apple announced that the iPad would be getting its own OS, the iPadOS. Like the watchOS, the iPadOS makes it easier to tailor apps and features that are unique to the iPad. For iOS users, this doesn’t mean a big change, but it does mean that Apple is moving closer to the “iPad is Just a Crappy Macbook” territory.

What Does This all Mean?

Compared to previous updates, the changes coming in iOS 13 feel relatively minor. Apple hasn’t been making as much money from iPhone sales in recent years, and with the new push to sell services, the focus is shifting from iOS as a whole to improvements to specific apps and services. There’s also only so far Apple can push the iPhone, and the age of the system is beginning to show. Adding too many bells and whistles to the iOS would make the system unwieldy, and operating an iPhone is already complicated enough. Making small quality of life improvements to native apps, like the new approach to organization in Photos, is a smart move, at least for now. Apple needs to focus on improving the services and apps that are already offered, like making Siri Shortcuts accessible to the average consumer, before adding the Next Big Innovation to an already comprehensive and broad ecosystem.

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Tamlin Day's picture

Tamlin Day is a feature web writer at iPhone Life. He has a degree in Media and Communications from Maharishi University of Management and his work has been published in the Rio Review and Breathe Free Press.