Reminders app in dark mode with iOS 13 logo on top
Khamosh Pathak / How-To Geek

Apple released iOS 13 today on September 19, 2019. It comes with a new dark mode, improvements in stock apps, better privacy controls, and much more. Head to Settings > General > Software Update to get it.

Another update is coming soon, too. iOS 13.1 will include additional software features and will launch on September 24.

A Note About iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 Release

For the first time, Apple is splitting the iOS release into two. iOS 13 for iPhone and iPadOS 13 for iPad. We’ve already talked about how iPadOS 13 will almost turn iPad into a real computer. So in this article, we’ll focus purely on the iPhone specific features. iPadOS 13 won’t arrive until September 24.

Apple is set to release iOS 13 to the iPhone 6s and higher. To check if the update is available on your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Software Update.

Dark Mode

Widgets screen in dark mode in iOS 13
Khamosh Pathak / How-To Geek

This is the big one. The one you’ll push that update button for. iOS 13 brings a system-wide dark mode that flips the script—white text on a black background.

It uses a true black theme, meaning that the background in many apps is pitch black. On iPhones with OLED screens (iPhone X, XS, and XS Max), this looks exceptionally beautiful because the black pixels don’t light up. This also might help save a small bit of battery life.

To enable the dark mode, go to the Control Center, tap and hold on the Brightness slider, and then tap on the “Dark Mode” button.

Dark Mode toggle in Control Center shown on an iPhone running iOS 13
Khamosh Pathak / How-To Geek

You can also set up a schedule by going to Settings > Display and Brightness > Schedule. You can enable dark mode based on when your local sunset takes place or a custom schedule.

Just like macOS Mojave, the dark mode switch extends to apps and websites (in Safari). If the app or website supports it, they’ll automatically switch between the light and dark appearance.

RELATED: How iOS 13's Dark Mode Works on Your iPhone and iPad

New Photos Tab

Photos tab with better organization in iOS 13
Khamosh Pathak / How-To Geek

Apple is making it easier to browse through your photo collection by organizing them down into years, months, and days. When you open the Photos app in iOS 13, you’ll see a new “Photos” tab in the bottom toolbar. Tap on it and you’ll see four sections: Years, Months, Days, and All Photos.

Apple intelligently selects the best photos from your library. You’ll find autoplaying videos and Live Photos as you scroll through. Thankfully, screenshots and downloaded images don’t make the cut in this feature.

The Year section displays your best photo from the given day across all years in the past, making it a simpler alternative to Timehop.

New Photo and Video Editor

New photo editor in Photos app in iOS 13
Khamosh Pathak / How-To Geek

When you go to the Edit menu while viewing a photo or video, you’ll find a new editor. The redesigned photo editor features a more straightforward Instagram-style interface. Below the image, you’ll notice a carousel of editing tools. Select a tool and then use the slider to set the intensity.

iOS 13 also adds some new editing tools for adjusting Vibrance, White Balance, Sharpen, Definition, Noise Reduction, and Vignette. Further, Apple now allows iPhone owners to set the intensity for filters.

Video editing view for changing aspect ratio in Photos app in iOS 13
Khamosh Pathak / How-To Geek

In the new video editor, you can quickly change the aspect ratio, crop, or rotate a video. The video editor also has its own set of adjustment tools which lets you increase the exposure and apply filters to your video.

All edits for photos and videos are now non-destructive. You can revert to the original media at any given time.

Download Files in Safari

Download popup for files in Safari in iOS 13
Khamosh Pathak / How-To Geek

You can now download files using Safari. When you come across a download link, tap on it to reveal a popup asking if you want to download the file. Tap on the “Download” button to reveal a new Downloads icon in the toolbar. From here, you can monitor, control, and open all downloads.

By default, downloaded files go to the Downloads folder in your iCloud Drive. You can switch to the local storage on your iPhone by going to Settings > Safari > Downloads and choosing “On My iPhone”.

Tighter Location and Bluetooth Access Controls

Some rogue apps have been using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi data as a workaround for tracking your iPhone’s location. In iOS 13, you can now disable Bluetooth access for apps you don’t trust. This has nothing to do with using Bluetooth devices for audio playback. Some apps (like Google apps) require Bluetooth access for connecting to accessories like Chromecast.

iOS 13 also revamps the Location Services feature in a big way. An app can no longer get access to constant background location tracking instantly after it’s installed. When you first see the popup for location access, the “Always Allow” button won’t be available.

New popup for location tracking in iOS 13
Khamosh Pathak / How-To Geek

Instead, the options are now “Allow While Using App”, “Allow Once”, and “Don’t Allow”. “Allow Once” is a new feature that will stop location access once you quit the app (which is great for apps like Uber who are known to exploit this feature).

You can select the “Allow While Using App” to grant location access while using the app. The app can still ping and ask for your location in the background. When it’s done that multiple times, you’ll see a popup with a map showing how often the app requested your location.

Now you have a choice to either always allow location access in the background or to continue to enable location access only when using the app. You can change this setting at any time by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.

Memoji Stickers

Memoji Stickers selection screen in iOS 13
Khamosh Pathak / How-To Geek

iOS 13 will automatically create a sticker pack for every Memoji character. This is Apple’s version of Bitmoji stickers. You can find the stickers in the Memoji Stickers app in the Messages app.

Memoji and Animoji stickers will be available in the Emoji menu in the keyboard so you can access them in any messaging app. Apps like WhatsApp will be adding support for Memoji stickers while unsupported apps will allow you to send them as images.

A Better Maps App

New panel UI for Maps app in iOS 13

The Maps app gets quite a significant overhaul in iOS 13. Thanks to Apple’s new mapping project, the maps data in popular western cities is much improved. Apple will bring the same improvements to more areas around the world as its mapping project progresses.

The Maps app now has a Favorites section where you can highlight a place for quick access. You can also use the Collections feature to create a collection of places that you want to visit.

Look Around feature in Maps app in iOS 13

The Maps app also brings its own Google Maps Street View-style feature called Look Around. When you’re in a supported location, you can tap on the “Binoculars” icon to jump into the immersive mode. Pan and swipe to move around whichever city you’re exploring.

A Whole New Reminders App

Reminders app dashboard screen in iOS 13

The Reminders app in iOS 13 gets a much-deserved redesign. After opening the app, you’re now greeted by a dashboard with smart lists at the top. You can create multiple grouped lists, which can each contain tasks and subtasks with rich media attachments.

One of the best features in the new Reminders app is Suggested Dates. It’s Apple’s version of natural language input that you find in apps like Todoist and TickTick.

Smart suggestions for date and time in new Reminders app in iOS 13

It makes creating reminders with a date and time much more straightforward. You can type something like “Doctor’s appointment tomorrow at 5 PM,” and it will show “Tomorrow, 5:00 PM” as a suggestion for the due date. Tap on it and it’ll instantly be added to the reminder.

Audio Sharing for AirPods

AirPods Audio Sharing in iOS 13 AirPlay screen

If you and your friend both have a pair of AirPods or PowerBeats Pro headphones, you can now connect them to a single iPhone and share the audio to both devices. If both of you have the latest iPhone, you can just put your friend’s handset over yours to get a popup for sharing audio.

You can also do this manually by pairing a second pair of AirPods to your iPhone. Flick open the AirPods case and then press and hold on the Round button at the back of the case. Tap on “Connect” on your iPhone.

Once paired, the AirPods will show up in the AirPlay menu. Just select the second pair to share the audio.

Silence Unknown Callers

Silence Unknown Callers Toggle in Settings App
Khamosh Pathak / How-To Geek

We’ve already written about the Silence Unknown Callers feature before. Once enabled, the feature will automatically silence calls from any number that’s not in your contact list. This can be a great way to stop spam and robocalls on your iPhone.

RELATED: How iOS 13's "Silence Unknown Callers" Will Stop Phone Spam

New Text Editing Gestures

iOS 13 makes text manipulation of the iPhone much simpler. The first change allows you to tap and hold on the cursor to pick it up and move it around.

The second is the ability to swipe on a block of text to instantly select it. After selecting the text, pinch-in with three fingers to copy it. Pinch out with three fingers (expand the fingers) to paste it.

Undo is a three-finger left-swipe gesture. Redo is a three-finger gesture to the right. If you’re not a fan of the gestures, tap and hold on the screen with three fingers to reveal the new formatting bar which contains shortcuts for cut, copy, paste, undo, and redo.


iOS 13 has dozens of little features. From the new dashboard in CarPlay to Apple’s upcoming Sign in with Apple authentication feature for developers.

Here are some of the various features that you should know about.

New Volume HUD and Silent Mode Switch

Volume HUD in iOS 13 on iPhone
Khamosh Pathak / How-To Geek

iOS 13 finally fixes the big ugly Volume HUD that used to take over the middle of the screen. Now, it’s a small slider that shows up next to the volume buttons.

When you switch the physical mute switch on the iPhone, there’s also a new pill-shaped pop-up that appears in the top of the display. The new interface shows you what mode your handset is in and what the ringer volume is set to (when applicable).

Smart Battery Charging

In Settings > Battery > Battery Health, you’ll find a new toggle called “Optimized Battery Charging“. This feature is designed to reduce battery aging.

Once updated to iOS 13, your iPhone will learn your charging pattern and will only charge the phone up to 80 percent. When it thinks that it’s almost time for you to wake up, the smartphone will recharge to 100 percent.

Download Large Apps Over Cellular

iOS 13 removes the download limit for app downloads over cellular data. When you try to download an app larger than 200MB using mobile data, you’ll get a popup asking if you’re sure you want to go ahead with the download.

You can also disable the popup by going to Settings > iTunes & App Store > App Downloads > Always Allow.

Gesture Typing for The Keyboard

Apple iPhone Swipe Keyboard
Justin Duino

You now have access to gesture typing on your iPhone. Similar to how the feature works on Android, you can use one hand to swipe between letters on the keyboard to write out a message.

The feature can be disabled by going to Settings > General > Keyboard and toggling off “Slide to type”.

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Khamosh Pathak is a freelance technology writer who specializes in tutorials. His work has also been published on Lifehacker, iPhoneHacks, Zapier's blog, MakeUseOf, and Guiding Tech. Khamosh has nearly a decade of experience writing how-tos, features and technology guides on the internet.
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