I’ve been using Apple’s new iPhone software for the past week — here are my 5 favorite things about iOS 13 so far

The iPhone XS, left, and the iPhone XS Max.

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The iPhone XS, left, and the iPhone XS Max.
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Getty

  • Apple’s iPhone software updates usually launch in the fall, but an early beta version of the latest iOS 13 software is already available to the general public.
  • The update, which Apple announced last month, brings many useful changes to the iPhone’s software and Apple’s apps.
  • After using iOS 13 for about a week, I’ve found the new Photos app and Dark Mode to be among the most meaningful changes to the iPhone’s software.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Come September, the software on your iPhone is set to look a little different.

As Apple typically does every June, the firm last month unveiled its next major iPhone update during its Worldwide Developers Conference. The new software, which usually launches in September at about the same time Apple debuts its new smartphones, will introduce several useful changes, like a new Dark Mode aesthetic and an updated Photos app, among many other features.

I’ve been using the public beta of iOS 13 for the past week, and here are a few features that have stood out to me the most so far.

Read more: I tried tracking my sleep using 3 free Apple Watch apps – and there was a clear winner


The new Photos app

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Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider

Apple’s Photos app is getting an overhaul that makes it much easier to see your photo collection organized by the day, month, or year.

In the new version of the app coming in iOS 13, the Photos tab will have four separate sections: Years, Months, Days, and All Photos. As their names imply, these sections divide up your photo library based on different periods of time. The current Photos app, in iOS 12, displays your most recent images by default and requires you to tap an arrow near the top of the screen to zoom out and view photos and videos taken over longer periods of time in different locations.

Of all the new tabs in the refreshed Photos app, Years was my favorite. Each year gets its own batch of rotating cover photos, one for each month, which it cycles through automatically. You can also scrub through these images by holding your finger down on the year and sliding your finger on the screen.

But I sometimes found myself questioning the photos the software chose to represent a given month. There were some instances in which it selected some of my favorite memories that I hadn’t revisited in years, like a wedding from 2012. But other times it chose a seemingly random photo to represent a particular month, like a selfie instead of photos I had taken at a concert with friends.

Regardless, it still provides a much quicker way to browse through cherished photos you may have forgotten than what’s available in iOS 12’s Photos app or in Google Photos. And since the software is still in beta, it could improve by the time the final version launches.


Dark Mode

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Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider

Dark Mode may be one of the most anticipated new features coming to iOS 13, and for good reason. The new mode makes certain user-interface elements and apps look much cleaner and easier to read than before. This was especially true when it came to text-heavy apps like Mail and Messages, since the white text pops sharply against the black background, making it look even crisper than in standard mode. I especially liked how the blue bubbles that surround iMessages looked in Dark Mode compared with the standard mode.


Bluetooth and WiFi options in the Control Center

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Lisa Eadicicco/Business Insider

For years, you’ve had to navigate to your iPhone’s Settings menu to search for different WiFi networks or nearby Bluetooth accessories. Thankfully, that will no longer be the case in iOS 13.

From the Control Center, just press and hold on the section that contains controls for airplane mode, cellular, WiFi, and Bluetooth to launch these settings in a standalone window. Then press and hold on the WiFi icon to see nearby WiFi networks without having to launch the settings menu. You can perform the same action on the Bluetooth icon to connect to nearby accessories quickly.

It’s a small but useful addition to the iPhone that makes connecting to networks and accessories much more convenient.


A more natural Siri

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Florence Fu/Tech Insider

In iOS 13, Siri’s voice will be entirely generated by software, and it sounds much more natural. This may not matter too much if you typically just ask Siri about the weather and traffic, but I found it to be really helpful when asking Siri to read my text messages out loud. Siri’s inflections are much more natural, and it consistently interpreted common abbreviations like laughing out loud (LOL) and rolling on floor laughing (ROFL), whereas the Siri in iOS 12 would sometimes just read those shortcuts as a word.


Faster Face ID

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Hollis Johnson

The 30% speed boost for Face ID in iOS 13 may be slight, but it’s certainly noticeable, making the feature feel smoother and more useful. I found that Face ID on my iPhone XR running iOS 13 generally worked in 0.74 to 1.02 seconds when I timed it, whereas my iPhone XS Max running iOS 12 would do so in 1 to 1.1 seconds. It’s a small boost but one that comes in handy given the number of times I unlock my phone on a daily basis.