19 Things You Can Do in iOS 13 That You Couldn't Before

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Happy iOS 13 day! If you’ve got an iPhone 6s or something newer, get ready for your iOS 13 update, which will roll out today. We’ve seen beta releases and on-stage demos, but here’s the definitive list of all the new features and settings you can now play around with on your phone.

This year is slightly different because not everything Apple’s teased for this update is going public just yet. Some of the features that Apple has previously talked about—including automation upgrades to Shortcuts and a live Share ETA feature in Apple Maps—aren’t going to be ready until iOS 13.1, which will drop on September 24, nearly a week earlier than its expected release date. Here we’ll concentrate on iOS 13.0 only.

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1) Switch between dark mode and light mode

Screenshot: Gizmodo

Perhaps the headline feature of iOS 13 is dark mode: You can enable it when you configure the phone for the first time, or switch to it from the Control Center, or pick between modes from Display & Brightness in Settings (tap the Automatic toggle switch to have the theme change on a schedule). Most apps should follow the lead set by the operating system.


2) Set up a contact profile in iMessage

So the people you share your number with don’t have to set these details manually, iOS 13 lets you set up a picture, a first name and last name that represents you as a contact in iMessage. When you share your details with other people, they can choose to update their contacts with the info you’ve provided. To create your profile, go to Messages and Share Name and Photo in Settings.

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3) Add AirPods (and more) to your Memojis

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Memojis come with some extra options in iOS 13, so you can trick out your cartoon caricature to be more like you than ever before. As usual, you’ll need to tap the Animoji button in a conversation in Messages, then the three dots (bottom left): Extra customizations you can add this time around include earrings, makeup, and piercings.


4) Mute email threads in Apple Mail

Among a smattering of new features coming to Mail with the arrival of iOS 13 is the ability to mute particular threads—perfect if you’re getting a lot of emails in one particular conversation and you’d rather catch up with them later (or not at all). Swipe left on a thread from the conversation list, then tap More and Mute (or Unmute to reverse it).

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5) Do much more with Reminders

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Reminders is one of the apps that gets the biggest overhaul in iOS 13, with a slick new look that rearranges your reminders in a number of ways, along with several other new features. You’ve got more customization options for each list, easier ways to add times and locations to reminders, and better support for natural language (“pick up some flowers at 5pm”).


6) Add favorites and collections in Apple Maps

Apple Maps draws a little closer to the feature set of Google Maps with the ability to set places as favorites, and a new collections feature that lets you curate lists of places within Apple Maps (for an upcoming vacation, for example). The easiest way to add a place to your favorites or a collection is via its info card, which you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen.

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7) Look around in Apple’s Street View

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Speaking of established Google Maps features now arriving in iOS 13, Apple Maps now comes with a Street View-esque feature called Look Around—although at the moment you can only “look around” in San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Honolulu. A Look Around option automatically shows itself if you search for or mark a place where it’s supported.


8) Reduce cellular and wifi data use

In iOS 13, Apple has added a Low Data Mode for cell networks (Cellular, Cellular Data Options from Settings) and wifi networks (tap Wi-Fi then the network name from Settings). All Apple says is that this “helps apps on your iPhone reduce their network data use”—automatic uploads to your iCloud Photo Library get paused, for example.

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9) Do much more with your photos and videos

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The Photos app gets a major upgrade with iOS 13: Improved navigation, intelligent thumbnails, photos grouped by event, the ability to combine search terms, better control over filter strength and non-destructive video edits are some of the new features, alongside additional editing options including sharpness, white balance, and vibrancy.


10) Sign in with Apple

You can use your Apple ID to sign in to websites or apps just as you might already sign in with your Facebook or Google account. We’ve previously covered this new feature in a lot more detail, but essentially you get a safe and secure way of signing up for a new service or app—complete with a disposable email address if you don’t want to unleash your real email address to the spam-filled world.

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11) Try Apple Arcade for free, for a month

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Apple is into subscriptions and services in a big way these days, and Apple Arcade is helping to lead the charge. It’ll cost you $5 a month for access to a growing library of more than 100 exclusive games (check out the new Arcade tab in the App Store), and when you install iOS 13, you’ll be given the chance to sign up for the first month free of charge.


12) Cut, copy and paste with gestures

Manipulating text just got easier in iOS 13—to copy selected text, pinch in on the screen with three fingers; to cut the same text, pinch in on the screen with three fingers again. To paste text, pinch out with three fingers when the cursor is at the right point. There are new gestures for undo (three-finger swipe left) and redo (three-finger swipe right), too.

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13) Do much more with Notes

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Notes gets a ton of new features with the arrival of iOS 13, from a new gallery view that shows notes as visual thumbnails, to shared folders that make collaboration inside the app more straightforward. New checklist options are now available within Notes as well, and the improved search function lets you look for text identified inside images.


14) Automatically close down idle tabs in Safari

How many times have you opened up extra tabs in Safari on your iPhone and then promptly forgotten about them, only to rediscover them months down the line? To stop this from happening in iOS 13, delve into Settings, then tap Safari and Close Tabs—your choices here are Manually, After One Day, After One Week, or After One Month.

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15) Find devices even when they’re offline

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iOS 13 introduces a new Find My app that looks for both devices and friends for you. When it comes to devices, this now works even when your gadgets are offline, thanks to an anonymous, encrypted, Bluetooth mesh network Apple builds between registered devices. If you don’t want such a thing in your life, you can disable this feature for your iPhone by going to Settings and choosing Find My, then Find My iPhone.


16) Take photos in High-Key Light Mono

If you’re a regular user of the Portrait mode in your iPhone’s Camera app, you’ve got a brand new shooting mode to take advantage of. High-Key Light Mono attempts to separate your subject from the background, then paste in a completely white backdrop, and it looks like it works very well. From Portrait mode, slide the selector wheel to the left to find this option.

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17) Set some reading goals

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One of the smaller improvements in iOS 13 that you might not notice straight away is the new reading goals feature in Books, which you’ll find at the bottom of the Reading Now tab. Set a target of how much reading you want to get through each day, and Books will keep tabs on this for you, telling you how many minutes you’ve read for and how far you’ve still got to go.


18) Type with a swipe

The default iOS 13 keyboard at long last lets you swipe across letters to type. If you’re familiar with the feature from third-party keyboards (or Android), you already know how this works: just tap and hold on the keyboard, then swipe over the letters you want to type. Not into it? You can still just tap on keys as you would in previous versions of iOS—and if you really don’t want this to be an option, open up Settings then choose General and Keyboard.

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19) Choose wifi networks from the Control Center

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You no longer have to delve into the iOS Settings to change the wifi network you’re connected to because you can do it from Control Center. To choose a network, long-press on the wifi icon, then long-press on the wifi icon again. You can still turn wifi on and off from Control Center as before, with a single tap on the icon, but the added tweak in 13 is a useful new feature.

Update 3 p.m. ET, September 19: Apple has bumped the release of iOS 13.1 to September 24, six days earlier than previously planned.

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