iOS 13 and iPadOS: Every important feature you need to know right now



iOS 13 is a pretty big update for your iPhone. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Apple released iOS 13 and almost immediately released iOS 13.1 alongside iPadOS, specialized for tablets. iOS 13.1 came just a few days after the launch of the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. With the release of iOS 13, Apple has made your iPhone faster, smarter and more secure. New features include the gesture-based QuickPath keyboard, a tool to block unknown callers, new photo-editing tools and a dedicated dark mode. 

There are also new Maps tools that finally start to close the gap with Android, security features such as Sign in with Apple and the ability to customize Memoji avatars. New tools in iPadOS will make your iPad more productive as well. 

With iOS 13, Apple takes on Google’s Android 10 in the never-ending battle to be the most powerful, private and easy-to-use OS. Sounds dramatic, but with Android on about 90% of the world’s phones, Apple has its work cut out for it to maintain its status and reputation.

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Apple’s ability to engage buyers with iOS 13 is particularly important in 2019. The company has seen iPhone sales slow in step with competitors across the board. 

Apple’s latest iPhones lag behind Android rivals in key features like support for 5G speeds, but have caught up with new iPhone camera features such as a standalone night mode for ultraclear camera shots. Over the years, Apple has proven that it can create must-have software tools and apps, like FaceTime video and iMessage.

Here’s everything you need to know about iOS 13, from getting it on your iPhone to its best features for your phone.


iOS 13 and iPadOS also have new privacy features you should know about. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Install iOS 13 

Apple released iOS 13 on Sept. 19, followed by iOS 13.1 on Sept. 24 and then iOS 13.1.1 on Sept. 27. If you haven’t updated to iOS 13 yet, don’t worry — you won’t have to install three different updates. You can update directly to the latest version of iOS. But before you update, it’s a good idea to get your iPhone ready by removing old apps and creating a current backup of your phone. Then, you’ll be OK to install iOS 13. 

See if your iPhone or iPad works with the new OSes

Here’s the official list of devices that will run iOS 13 and iPadOS 13:

Devices that will support iOS 13, iPadOS 13

iPhone XS 12.9-inch iPad Pro
iPhone XS Max 11-inch iPad Pro
iPhone XR 10.5-inch iPad Pro
iPhone X 9.7-inch iPad Pro
iPhone 8 iPad (6th gen)
iPhone 8 Plus iPad (5th gen)
iPhone 7 iPad Mini (5th gen)
iPhone 7 Plus iPad Mini 4
iPhone 6S iPad Air (3rd gen)
iPhone 6S Plus iPad Air 2
iPhone SE
iPod Touch (7th gen)

Stop unknown callers

With a single button, you can effectively stop unknown callers from making your iPhone ring ever again. With the feature enabled, iOS 13 will only allow calls through from your contacts and numbers found in Mail or Messages. Everyone else will go straight to voicemail. 


Unknown callers will soon be a thing of the past. 

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Quicker Wi-Fi, Bluetooth selection

For years we’ve thought it would make sense for there to be some way to connect to Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth devices from Control Center, instead of having to open the Settings app and tap several times. 

With iOS 13, Apple has finally made it possible to view and connect to available networks or devices without ever opening Settings. Hallelujah. For us, this fixes one of the iPhone’s most annoying quirks.  

You don’t have to be precise when it comes to QuickPath on iOS 13. 

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That swipey keyboard

Android users have been swiping on their keyboards to type for years, using a number of third-party apps, like Swype and SwiftKey. At long last, Apple has added the capability, letting you trace a word to spell it out. 

Apple calls it QuickPath Typing. In theory, it’s faster than pecking away at the virtual keyboard, and just as accurate — and you still get spelling suggestions as you go along.

The feature is especially useful for one-handed typing and is ready for use as soon as you install iOS 13. Here’s how to use QuickPath on iOS 13. And we found a workaround that lets you cuss on the iPhone keyboard. 

Dark mode for all

Dark mode, which replaces the usual light screen with a dark screen, is available across core apps in iOS 13, including the calendar, music and photo apps. 

This appears to be systemwide, but we’ll need to see if there are any exceptions. Dark mode is a popular trend across apps and will come to Android Q, too. Here’s everything we know about dark mode for the iPhone.

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Deleting apps is a little different

Now that Apple has fully ditched 3D Touch on the iPhone 11, the way we delete and move apps around the home screen of our iPhones and iPads has changed. 

Photos app adds video editing tools

The Photos app received a pretty significant overhaul. Organizing and surfacing photos are both now easier, and the edit tools have a new look. But most impressive is the ability to use all of the picture editing tools you’re familiar with on videos in the Photos app.

Yes, that means you can apply filters, adjust brightness and even crop a video right in the Photos app. This is what you need to know about photos in iOS 13.


It’s true, with iOS 13 and iPadOS you can use a mouse to control your phone or tablet. 

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iPadOS gestures

The iPad is growing into its own computing platform, and with that comes plenty of new gestures used to get around apps and the homescreen. From opening multiple apps, or quickly switching between workspaces, we have you covered on iPad gestures. 

Hidden features

One of the best parts about using new software is finding features that haven’t been announced. Often these features are the most notable in a major update, and iOS 13 has its fair share of hidden features. 

Naturally, it can take time to discover hidden features, so right now our current tally of hidden features worth highlighting is at 11. As we uncover more, that list is sure to grow. 

The volume indicator gets out of the way

Know how iOS has always had an annoying volume indicator that took over the screen, disrupting whatever it was you were watching? Well, on iOS 13, that’s gone. The volume indicator is minimal and gets out of the way — there’s even a cool new trick for adjusting the volume.

Custom fonts inside apps

Apple will still limit font selection for iOS as a whole. However, the company is opening up iOS 13 to allow custom fonts inside apps. 

The added flexibility is perhaps an indicator that Apple is loosening its grip on controlling every aspect of the user experience. We haven’t had a chance to check this out yet, but rest assured, once Apple begins publishing new fonts in the App Store, we’ll be all over it. This is everything we know about installing, managing and downloading custom iPhone fonts.

Find My Phone and Find My Friends join forces

Apple combined Find My Friends and Find My iPhone into a single app now called Find My. And on top of combining the apps, Apple added the capability to help find lost devices for people you don’t even know. 

When you mark one of your Apple devices as lost, Apple will crowdsource the device’s location by asking all Apple devices to look for your device’s Bluetooth signal. Once another Apple device finds your lost phone, tablet or computer, you’ll receive an alert. Apple says the free service is completely anonymous and encrypted. 

Sign in with Apple won’t share your email address

A new privacy feature called Sign in with Apple logs you into accounts and apps without your having to add your email address, which Apple says will protect users from third-party apps that want to track them. 

This is Apple’s version of logging in with Facebook and Google, with one major exception. Those tools can be used to track you online, but Apple’s version will use your iPhone or iPad to authenticate your credentials when you log in. You tap to authenticate with Face ID without revealing any personal information about yourself. 

You can also choose to share or hide your email address, and can ask Apple to create a random email for the app or service that forwards to your actual email address, therefore masking your real identity without your needing to use a junk account.

Apple also blocks apps that track your location from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and lets you decide if you’d like apps to ask your permission each time they request your location data.


Memoji stickers are going to be everywhere.

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Memoji avatars come to Messages, stickers

Apple’s Messages apps will now get support for Memoji profiles, which puts a thumbnail of your Memoji (an emoji of your face) in the Messages app. New controls let you go in-depth with customization, makeup — even adding braces to your teeth. You also get a sticker pack across your iOS 13 devices.

iMessages will also now work on dual-SIM phones (unfortunately, we don’t have more detail than that).

Messages search is much smarter

With iOS 13, the ability to search old Messages conversations has been vastly improved. You can now find links, photos, attachments and even text within a message thread that’s several months old. 

Reminders has a new look

Reminders looks completely new, and it’s so much smarter. You can even tell it to remind you about something the next time you talk to a contact in Messages. 


Share ETA is a convenient way to let your friends know when you’ll arrive. 

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Apple Maps improvements

There’s now a Google Street View-like feature called Look Around, and a new feature that lets you share your ETA with a loved one so you’ll never feel bad about being unexpectedly late again. 

Share music or a movie with a second pair of AirPods

Instead of handing one of your AirPods to a friend or loved one so they can hear what you’re listening to, you can now tell your iPhone to stream audio to two pairs of AirPods thanks to Audio Sharing. And if you’ve used Apple Pay to buy something, you’re already a pro at setting up Audio Share.

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Sharing photos and links is different now

Whenever you tap the Share button to share a photo or link, you use the iOS Share Sheet. And starting with iOS 13, that sheet has gotten smarter. It will now suggest contacts and apps to share with. It’s also reorgainized into a new list of iPhone shortcuts and actions, which can be a bit confusing. 

Siri finds a new voice

Apple’s voice assistant Siri gets an audio update in iOS 13. Instead of the clipped tones often associated with AI, Apple is hoping the new Siri will sound smoother and more natural to your ears. Using a neural talk-to-speak network, Siri will speak with fewer gaps and fewer inhuman-sounding modulations.

iOS 13’s Siri also works better with AirPods ($144 at Amazon), the HomePod ($299 at Walmart), CarPlay and Safari:

  • You can create personalized shortcuts using a new Shortcuts app.
  • Siri reads messages as soon as they arrive and you can instantly respond.
  • Hand off a phone call or music from your iPhone to your HomePod.
  • CarPlay: Siri smart suggestions work here, like suggesting you open your garage door when you get close to home.
  • Siri Suggestions comes to the Safari browser.

Apple Maps gets a fresh new look in iOS 13 and iPadOS. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

More app updates in iOS 13

  • Mail: Gets rich new fonts and an option to mute threads. 
  • Notes: A new gallery view and support for shared folders.
  • Camera: Portrait Mode gains new lighting effects and the ability to control the intensity as well as lighting direction.
  • CarPlay: An entirely new Apple CarPlay design, with more information on the main screen as well as, “Hey, Siri” support. 

Subtle improvements to iOS 13 

  • Add attachments to events in Calendar.
  • Time-synced lyrics for Apple Music.
  • Support for 3D AR apps like Minecraft Earth, coming to iOS 13 this summer.
  • Face ID unlocking is now 30% faster.
  • Apps launch two times faster.
  • Downloads are 50% smaller and updates are 60% smaller.
  • Low-data mode.
  • 38 new language keyboards.
  • Language selection per app.

Originally published earlier this year. Updated with new information. 


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