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iOS 13 release date, news and rumors

TechRadar logo TechRadar 24/04/2019 Matt Swider
a screenshot of a cell phone on a table: techradar.com image © Courtesy of techradar.com techradar.com image

News about iOS 13 release date and features will almost certainly drop in June, and we're already hearing substantial leaks about the big iPhone and iPad update.

Apple is poised to include a long-awaited features like Dark Mode and the first-ever home screen redesign, as well as a brand new easier-to-access undo gesture.

iOS 13 is bent on making an iPad more like a computer, too, with stackable app tab windows for true multitasking and mouse support, according to new rumors.

Some of these ideas we've heard about before. But there are also fresh concepts to come, like a brand new volume slider UI – a long-overdue change for iOS users.

Even if the iPhone 11 hardware isn't expected to see dramatic changes, the software could shift a bunch, and that's still good news for Apple's sluggish iPhone sales.

Basically it's everything that didn't make it into iOS 12 and iOS 12.2, which has mostly focused on stability. The time has come for Apple's major UI and app redesigns, and we're expecting lots of features that make navigation and UI easier.

Here's everything you need to know about iOS 13 and a lot of what we're itching to see in the lead up to Apple WWDC 2019 on June 3.

iOS 13 release date

  • Monday, June 3: WWDC 2019 keynote takes place in San Jose, California
  • Early June: iOS 13 developer beta meant for paid Apple Developers  
  • Late June: iOS 13 public beta may launch for adventurous testers
  • September 2019: iOS 13 likely to launch with new 2019 iPhones

iOS 13 reveal date is Monday, June 3, as TechRadar correctly predicted months ago. Apple has historically unveiled its new software at its WWDC 2019 keynote in San Jose and it's always the first Monday in June. Last year is was Monday, June 4, 2018, and the year before it was Monday, June 5, 2017. We certainly see a trend here.

iOS 13 developer beta: The first iOS 13 beta will likely arrive at or a few days after the WWDC keynote, but it's going to be restricted to paid Apple developers. You should probably wait for the public beta, which is always more stable.

iOS 13 public public beta: This is Apple's way of testing features on a larger scale, and that may happen toward the end of June. It's typically a more refined version of the iOS developer beta, although it can still be rough and never includes all of the features implemented in the final version of the software.

Tim Cook standing in front of a building: iOS 13 release date announcement: when will it come out? © Courtesy of techradar.com iOS 13 release date announcement: when will it come out?

The official iOS 13 release date: We'll get the new iOS 13 software in its final, stable form at the iPhone launch event, what we're calling the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Max and iPhone 11 XR at the moment. The date? Probably mid-September. We'll know for sure at the iPhone launch event.

iOS 13 compatibility

Apple has continued to support the iPhone 5S, the first phone with a 64-bit chipset inside of it. It's seen six versions of iOS, as have the iPad Air and iPad mini 2.

a bunch of different cell phones © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd.

iOS 13 could revert to shedding the oldest devices from Apple's compatibility list, like it used to do before 2018. That means iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, and iPod Touch 6th generation might be the oldest devices on the iOS 13 compatibility list.

Apple would essentially require devices to have the A8 chipset or newer to upgrade to iOS 13. This also happens to be the chip in the HomePod and Apple TV 4th generation, so it brings everything into line. In reality, it's in Apple's best interest that you upgrade your hardware, too. We saw what happened when the company price-dropped its battery replacement service in 2018.

Don't expect it to go too far with the iOS 13 compatibility list cuts . There's a rumor that iOS 13 will also axe support for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, iPad Air 2, and even the iPhone SE. However, you shouldn't buy into this early speculation. Some publications like guessing in hopes of getting it right vs reporting factual information.

One thing's for sure: Whatever happens, don't expect Apple to make an official announcement at WWDC 2019 if the iPhone 5S isn't compatible with iOS 13. The iOS 13 compatible phones will just show up on a slide, or they won't. Also, remember that not every iOS 13 feature will come to all devices on that list. Some new ideas may require the TrueDepth camera, a rear dual-lens system, or 3D Touch.

Big iPad changes needed like mouse support

  • Big iPad changes: iOS 9, iOS 11... iOS 13 is next?
  • Mouse support leaked for a future update
  • Could act as an external monitor for Macs
  • External hard drives may worm with iPad Pro better

Every two years, the iPad seems to get a flurry of meaningful changes. We saw this with iOS 11 nearly two years ago and iOS 9 two years before that.

a close up of a computer © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd.

That means – in our minds at least – the iOS 13 update is destined to change up the iPad software in an effort to make the iPad a better 'computer'. That was our chief complaint of the iPad 11 and iPad 12.9. Even if iPads have laptop-rivaling specs, iOS 12 has felt limiting on a tablet when we wanted to do real work.

We'd love to see a 'Desktop Mode' to improve our workflow, with a menu and taskbar across the top and bottom. Going along with this is our wish to see Bluetooth mouse and cursor support with iOS 13.

That may well happen, as multiple sources have now said Apple is working on mouse support (though not necessarily for iOS 13, as no time frame was given). What's more, they also mention USB mice, so it might not be limited to Bluetooth.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 added desktop mode and mouse features in 2018, but with terrible touchscreen execution. Apple could do what it does best: refine an existing Android idea until 'it just works.'

Interestingly, the latest home screen rumor (more on that below) mentions that it's an iPad-specific change. Apple could be building its new home screen UI revamp for the iPad before it changes anything on the iPhone.

The iPad may get external help in two ways when iOS 13 launches. First, iPads could acts as a second monitor for Macs. It sounds sort of like the idea behind third-party apps Luna Display and Duet, but baked into Apple's software and lag-free.

Second, iOS 13 could soon give you more access to external hard drives and DSLRs you plug into to the iPad Pro USB-C port. Right now, every photo and video requires importing through the Camera Roll instead of directly to something like Lightroom.

We'd like to see external storage support go even further, allowing us to transfer all sorts of files between a hard drive and iPad. It'd allow the iPad Pro to become more productivity-friendly device, as would the long-rumored multi-user support. iPads, after all, are often shared among family members.

Home screen redesign

  • The tiled home screen design hasn't changed since 2017
  • This redesign was supposedly pushed back from iOS 12
  • Could include glanceable information like the 5-day forecast

iOS 13 may bring the first-ever major changes to the iOS home screen, and it's overdue. We've had this app tile layout since the first iPhone launched in 2007. It works, sure, but it's also a bit stale.

a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd.

While last year's rumors mentioned a home screen refresh, it didn't go into detail about the potential changes. We'd, however, envision parts of the current Today screen (that leftmost widget-like screen) making its way onto the home screen.

Being able to peek at snippets of information – the 5-day weather forecast, your next calendar appointment, and the latest Apple News headlines – would be a welcome addition to the unchanged iOS app grid. 

When talking up Apple Watch face complications, the team behind it used the words 'glanceable information' a lot. That would be a natural fit for the iOS 13 home screen.

However, the newest iOS 13 rumors suggest that this is an iPad-specific change. We'll have to wait to see if the iPhone can get in on the home screen UI changes, too.

iOS 13 Dark Mode seems very likely

  • Overdue Dark Mode has ben tipped multiple times for iOS 13
  • We saw macOS get a system-wide Dark Mode in 2018

iOS 13 may in fact be the update in which Apple finally comes through with the long-rumored 'dark mode.' We've been hearing about it for a number of years.

Apple introduced a dark mode for macOS Mojave at WWWC last year, so it's fitting to hear Bloomberg report that iOS 13 is going to do the same for the iPhone and iPad in 2019.

Another report backs Bloomberg's up, and lists a few more features like an 'undo' gesture and a volume bar redesign.

If the rumor is accurate, this will make it easier to look at apps at nighttime. There's a lot of white and bright hues among current app color schemes, so toning them down would be a great way to compliment the blue-light-reducing Night Shift mode.

Camera app revamp

  • Apple's camera app is very basic and sorely in need of redesign
  • Expect it to still be streamlined and easy to use for average users
  • We'd at least like to change resolutions without diving into Settings

Apple's camera app is extremely basic. It's been a blessing and a curse. It's easy for less tech-savvy iPhone owners to use, but more advanced users are missing out on features that would let them fine-tine their photos and videos.

a man holding a laptop © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd.

A revamp to the camera app was also among last year's leaks, and that's the change that piqued our interest the most. The Samsung Galaxy S9 has the ability to snap a photo with gestures, while the LG V40's video tools allow you to fluidly zoom into anywhere on the screen, not just the dead center. The Google Pixel 3 has added a Night Sight mode that aims to end the need for a frequently-photo-ruining flash.

Expect Apple to keep the camera app streamlined, but sprinkle in more advanced tools. And if all we get is the ability to change resolutions and frame rates from within the camera app (and not in the settings menu), that'd be good enough.

Health and Activity apps on the iPad

  • We'd like to see Apple's Health and Activity apps on the iPad
  • Doctors could review health data with patients on a big screen

Your health and fitness data deserves to be seen at 9.7 inches and 12.9 inches, and that's what we're hoping for from the iOS 13 update in the coming months.

Both the Apple Health app and Activity app (the one with the rings) present a lot of data to comb over, and seeing bars, graphs, running maps, and various numbers stretched out on the big screen would be ideal. Right now, both apps are limited to the Apple Watch and the iPhone.

We think Apple will do this eventually. Doctors could review health data with patients more easily, for example, and senior citizens have complained to us that their iPhone is too small to read all of the health data. We'd also like to see both apps on macOS, but one tracked step at a time. 

SPAM call blocking

  • Google Pixel phones impressed with a SPAM call blocking feature in 2018
  • Apple did add a way for third-parties to block calls, but it often costs money

iOS 13 needs better SPAM call blocking. Absolutely needs it in 2019. It's one of the best features of the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, yet the increasing nuisance of telemarketers persists on the iPhone.

Okay, last year's iOS update did at least add a call blocking and identification option. But users have to invest in an app (that often costs money annually) to get good SPAM call blocking protection. Apps like Hiya cost $2.99/month or $14.99/year for premium service.

The good news is that we see a big shift happening. Verizon is making its SPAM and robocall feature free starting in March, and Apple was recently issued a patent for this sort of feature.  

Clipboard manager

Clipboard manager apps do exist, allowing for multi-copy and paste and copy and paste history, but they're all rather limiting because they're not built into the UI.

Apple could change this in iOS 13, and it's another way in which productivity on the iPad could be enhanced. Having a full clipboard manager work at the system level would also help prevent copying over what's in our clipboard currently.

Change WiFi and Bluetooth via Control Central

Connecting to new WiFi networks or Bluetooth devices without exiting the app you're using is impossible. Sure, Control Center allows you to toggle WiFi and Bluetooth on and off via this drop down menu, but switching between connections requires you to dive into the Settings menu and submenus. That's rather annoying.

a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd.

iOS 13 could easily change this, with another frosted overlay menu that lets you pick your connections without kicking you out of your current app. This would be especially handy when traveling and constantly cycling through multiple open WiFi networks. It'd be a shortcut within a Control Center shortcut, and we'd be okay with that.

Four new Animoji

A handful of new Animoji could be added as part of iOS 13, with a rumor suggesting that a cow, mouse, octopus and emoji face are all being added.

There are currently 24 Animoji is Apple's iOS 12.2 roster, so the iOS 13 update would bring the total number to 28 in addition to customizable Memoji avatars.

More iOS 13 news to come

iOS 13 is still several days away, even in beta form. However, as we get closer to Apple's WWDC 2019 keynote in June, we expect more leaks to emerge about what the company is working on. If they do pop into the news, we'll report on them here.

We'll have to wait for the final version of UI, likely in September with an iPhone 11 launch event. However, the potential iOS 13 features above give you an idea of where the iPhone and iPad software could head in 2019.

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