iOS 13: Features and Improvements for Users and Developers

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Last year, iOS 12 seemed a little boring to users, as it focused on performance and security issues. Though this year there are still lots of performance and security improvements, Apple developers have given us flashy new features. In this article, we provide a iOS 13 review (and its 13.1 update); we also discuss the changes that await iOS app owners.

Apple users and developers have been waiting for the recent iOS 13 update since WWDC 2019, which took place in June. As Apple gave only a sneak peek of what users could expect from the new operating system, people started to predict what would be included in the release and discuss possible pros and cons of the new OS.

We also speculated on what might be added. You can read our predictions we made before iOS 13 release date and find out how right we were about the new iOS 13 now that it’s out.

Though the latest version of iOS appeared not so long ago, there have already been updates and fixes. Here are the versions released so far:

  • September 19 – the release date of iOS 13
  • September 24 – iOS 13.1
  • September 30 – iOS 13.1.2

These minor version updates offer improvements to the user experience and fix bugs. For example, the latest iOS version 13.1.2 fixed issues with iCloud backup, the flashlight, the Camera app, and other functionality. There were also some changes to iOS 13 for developers.

Before we dive into the new features, let’s talk about what users will be able to enjoy them. Here’s a list of all iOS 13 compatible devices:

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)  

This is the first year the iPhone 5, 5S, 6, and 6 Plus aren’t compatible with the new operating system. This news will likely make some dedicated iPhone users upgrade their devices to take advantage of the new features.

In this article, we’ll talk about ios 13 new features for developers and for users as well. Let’s start with the users and discuss what’s new in iOS 13.

ios 13 iphones compatibility
Not all iPhone users will be able to enjoy iOS 13 update: any devices older than iPhone SE aren’t compatible

Top 13 new features of iOS 13

Swipeable keyboard

QuickPath is a long-awaited feature that will enhance the typing experience. It allows you to type words by just swiping across the keyboard.

This makes typing much easier and faster, as it’s harder to miss a letter. Moreover, the keyboard is smart, suggesting three options for the word you’re trying to type.

swipe keyboard ios quickpath
QuickPath is a system swipable keyboard that allows even quicker texting

Currently, the QuickPath keyboard is available in seven languages:

  • English
  • Simplified Chinese
  • French
  • Spanish
  • German
  • Italian
  • Portuguese

Control over callers

This feature will help you filter spam callers: Siri will scan your contacts to see if you’ve previously contacted a caller in Mail or Messages. If the caller isn’t on the list, the call will go directly to voicemail.

This feature is great for users who suffer from cold calls.

Next-gen photo editor

Many people buy iPhones for great photos. Now they’ll make sure to buy a device compatible with iOS 13, as it provides even more opportunities to get a stunning shot.

photo editor ios 13
Now with 15 new ways you can make your photos amazing

The latest version of Photos offers 15 different tools for tweaking photos, letting you adjust highlights, contrast, shadows, and more.

Video editor in Photos

Previously, the most you could do with a video in the Photos app was crop it. In iOS 13, Apple extended editing capabilities to videos as well.

Now you can apply filters to your videos and change the contrast, saturation, and brightness to make videos more vivid. If you don’t like the effect you’ve applied, you can always revert to the original.

Long-awaited dark mode

dark mode ios 13
System-wide dark mode will make all Apple applications dark, but developers also can also add darkness to their third-party apps

Even before WWDC 2019, rumors about a system-wide dark mode had been circulating among developers and users. Now, dark mode is finally here, and it’s one of the most anticipated iOS 13 features. You can enable it in settings, and it affects the whole system.

Contrasting colors stand out on the black and dark-gray background, and this is implemented in all native iOS applications. Third-party apps can integrate dark mode as well. We’ll talk about how in the developer’s section of this article.

Custom Memoji

This year, Apple added even more personalization options to Memoji. Now you can change everything from hair style and skin color to accessories like AirPods. You can also add braces, earrings, hats, and all kinds of individual details that make a Memoji suit your appearance and character.

memoji ios
You can use your own sticker pack across Apple’s apps like Messages and Mail

Create a Memoji once, and the system will make a sticker pack you can use in Messages, Mail, and other applications.

Almost invisible volume indicator

As many media sources predicted, the annoying volume indicator that got on users’ nerves is now gone. In the new iOS version, the volume bar is really almost invisible, appearing as a thin bar that doesn’t obstruct the screen.

ios 13 updates
iOS 13 users celebrate the HUD that doesn’t obstruct the view due to its more thin design

Custom app fonts

When it comes to fonts, Apple has always been rather strict: third-party apps have limited options for the fonts they may use in their interfaces. However, in iOS 13, developers and designers finally have more freedom.

In the Mail app, users now can change fonts or customize their color, size, and style.

Find my Phone and Friends

Find my Phone and Find my Friends were two separate apps, but now they’re one in iOS 13. This app allows you to find other iPhones, iPads and Macs even if they’re not connected to the internet.

Smart search through your messages

Search in Messages has become much more advanced. Now you can search your history not only by words or key phrases but by shared files, photos, and more.

The Search screen will show you recent messages and also the photos, files, links, and locations you’ve shared. Search will prioritize the most recent and matching results from your messaging history.

To find shared files and links, tap the “i” icon. It will show you everything you’ve sent and received in a chat, with the newest attachments coming first.

Look around in Apple Maps

look around ios 13
Look around feature functions pretty much like Google’s Street view

Apple Maps got a big makeover in iOS 13. Apple developers say they basically revamped Maps with more detailed information. For example, there’s now more information for pedestrians. Overall, Maps got wider coverage and more precise addresses.

Note that the new Maps are available in only a few states and cities for now. Apple promises full US coverage by late 2019. Other countries will get their new Apple Maps in 2020.

But there’s another big update to Apple Maps. Last year, we enjoyed the new bird’s-eye view Apple presented. Though it was really beautiful, I found it not that useful. This year, the new view in Maps is more practical. It’s called Look Around, and it’s basically the same as Google’s Street View.

Siri’s smart suggestions and natural voice

In iOS 13, Siri sounds more human. Apple got rid of the artificial pauses and intonations to make Siri sound natural while reading notifications and answering user requests. This is especially obvious during longer phrases.

Siri update ios 13
Siri is now able to play music from Spotify and also connect to different podcasts stations and play radio

Apart from sounding great, Siri has also become smarter. Now she’s able to make suggestions in Podcasts, Maps, and Safari, while also adding content to Reminders automatically.

If you like listening to radio, Siri can now play live radio streams from TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and

What’s new for developers

Each iOS update brings something new for developers as well, but this year we saw some major changes that will make the iOS development very different from what it used to be. The Combine library and new machine learning library are the biggest updates. Here’s my top new ios 13 features for developers.

Dark mode

Dark mode is a novelty for developers as well as users. Developers are now able to integrate their app’s style with the system’s dark mode. To do that, they’ll need the Xcode 11 Interface Builder and the Dark Mode API.

Native elements will adapt their color scheme to the dark mode automatically, but custom UI elements will need to be tweaked. The color of custom elements can be changed in the Color Set asset, where developers can specify the light and dark versions of each color. Consequently, they’ll need to test both dark and light versions of the app.

Augmented reality

ar augmented reality ios 13
The new ARKit 3 can not only place objects on surfaces, but also take human bodies into consideration and place objects relatively to people

The new ARKit 3 was released along with iOS 13, and this year it’s focused on people and their movements. With ARKit 3, developers will be able to consider human movement in an app and position objects relative to humans – for example, behind or in front of them.

To create AR and integrate it into an app, developers will need Reality Composer and RealityKit: an app and a framework for easily creating augmented reality experiences.

Siri shortcuts

In the new iOS version, developers have even more possibilities to incorporate Siri. With SiriKit, developers can link Siri with their content, such as music, radio, audiobooks, or meditation stories.

Third-party developers will also be able to ask Siri to set reminders for reservations or show the route to a specific location in Maps.

Machine learning

The next generation of machine learning is here: Apple has released its Core ML 3, providing a whole gallery of models and the ability to train them on the device. This is a huge update, since previously, training could occur only on the server through a framework like TensorFlow.

The best part of the Core ML update is that no machine learning expertise is needed

Training models on a device has a big advantage: it allows for training models individually, according to the needs of each particular user, instead of offering everyone a one-size-fits-all solution.

With Core ML applications, developers will be able to train and build their own models. The best part of this update is that no machine learning expertise is needed.

Core ML 3 also provides lots of opportunities for computer vision. Developers will be able to integrate it in their apps to see and detect everything from faces and shapes to text and documents.

Xcode 11

All developers that want to develop or update their existing apps for iOS 13 will need Xcode 11. It has some new tools and features developers are yet to fully explore. Apple has warned the iOS development community to get their apps ready for iOS 13 in six months and migrate to the new Xcode 11 to use the following SDKs:

  • iOS 13
  • iPadOS
  • watchOS 6
  • tvOS 12
  • macOS Catalina

Among the new programming tools, the Combine library is the most notable. It’s used for reactive programming. While previously developers had to use a third-party library, RX, for reactive programming, this native solution from Apple now performs the same tasks right in Xcode.


Alongside new development capabilities came new tools for app layout and design. SwiftUI is a brand-new native library for iOS 13 that will change the way developers work with an app’s layout.

ios features for developers
SwiftUI reminds me of Flutter that I recently tried: it’s also based on widgets

The older library, called UIKit, is very different from this new one. UIKit has been around for about 10 years and works with all previous versions of iOS. The SwiftUI library is somewhat similar to Flutter; it uses widgets as its main element.

Also, Apple developers made sure SwiftUI is fast to work with. For example, to make a list on the screen, a developer will need only 3 to 4 lines of code. UIKit required much more than that, and it took longer to implement UI elements.

SwiftUI also offers a new simulator so developers can see all changes in the runtime. This means developers can see how lines of code actually look in the interface.

Final thoughts

This year, we saw a truly interesting update that included more features for users. Apple listened to users and introduced several long-awaited features: dark mode, the QuickPath keyboard, and of course the minimalist sound bar.

Developers also got a few major updates that made Swift a more up-to-date and competitive development tool. Native libraries for reactive programming and the user interface will make development much easier and faster. And though these tools are currently available only for iOS 13, in a few years they will become common, as developers will support newer versions of iOS.

If you need to update your existing app to iOS 13 or develop a new one taking advantage of Apple’s latest technologies, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our iOS developers, myself included, will be happy to come up with the best solution for your business and integrate new features in iOS 13 into your app.

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