Apple iOS 13 is here, but it arrives in a blaze of controversy. So should this major generational upgrade go anywhere near your iPhone? Absolutely Not. And this is why.
Who Is It For?
For starters, you may not be able to upgrade to iOS 13. For the first time, Apple has cut-off two generations of iPhones (iPhone 5S and iPhone 6) so you’ll need an iPhone SE, iPhone 6S or later. Apple has also cut iPads from iOS 13 and they now use their own dedicated platform: iPadOS.
As always, compatible devices should receive an automatic upgrade prompt, but if you haven’t go to Settings > General > Software Update. iOS 13.1 beta testers (more later), you must unroll your iPhones for iOS 13 to show up.
The Deal Breakers
While the feature list of iOS 13 is long, the deal-breakers are perhaps even longer. This is a great shame after Apple’s fine run of rock-solid iOS 12 updates.
I have already written a full breakdown of iOS 13 problems. These include app crashes, performance issues (particularly in the Camera app), erratic cellular signal, bugs with Mail, lost Reminders, misordered photos and a significant home screen security flaw. It even breaks Fortnite.
Unsurprisingly, the reaction has been strong with perhaps the most notable coming from the Department of Defence who used caps lock to warn staff and contractors that: “DOD Mobility strongly encourages you to NOT update, to avoid known Apple iOS 13 bugs.” Follow its lead.
So What Do You Get?
Forbes’ contributor David Phelan has a detailed list but, if you like living by the seat of your pants, here’s what upgrading to iOS 13 will give you (apart from problems):
Systemwide Dark Mode – requested for years, has finally arrived. It not only looks great but will save battery life on iPhones with OLED displays since they don’t need to light black pixels.
Google Photos – has been thoroughly overhauled with a new tab showing user highlights based on the day, month and year, an upgraded bottom-based editing UI, smart removal of screenshots and documents from the main reel as well as non-destructive video editing and much more.
Find My – combines Find My iPhone and Find My Friends into a single app and can even track devices when they’re offline using Bluetooth with nearby iOS devices – useful, if scary.
Sign in with Apple – a rival to sign-in options from Facebook and Google, but one which prioritises privacy to hide your details from third parties. Apple will even go as far as generating a single-use email address for registration. Two-factor authentication is supported.
Location Tracking – like Android 10, iOS 13 cracks down on apps which access your location in the background and give you granular control over where to permit it.
Apple Maps – has increased coverage, more precise addresses and improved pedestrian data at launch for select cities with a wider roll-out coming next year. Meanwhile, Collections lets you share your favourite places with friends, Favorites saves your frequent routes and Look Around debuts Apple’s version of Google Street View.
Camera – most editing tools from Photos are now directly accessible from the Camera gallery, including video filters and Portrait Lighting adjustments.
Siri – gains a new, more natural voice, support for Live Radio and a Suggested Automations feature to create shortcuts for regular requests.
Safari – intelligent suggestions have been added to the Safari home page for frequently visited sites, bookmarks, Reading List selections and even links you have been sent from Messages.
Keyboard – years late, but still welcome: the Apple keyboard finally supports swipe typing
Audio Sharing – AirPods and Beats headphones can share music and video audio to anyone who has a second pair of AirPods or Beats. This is great for travelling when you share a single screen.
Health app – Menstrual cycle tracking and environmental noise monitoring have been added.
Reminders – has a new user interface, improved organisation and tighter integration with Messages.
Volume – the HUD is finally less obtrusive so it no longer covers most of the screen when adjusted
New Memoji – make your own Animoji avatar while the new Stickers function let you share this with more apps. The Animoji set has added a cow, mouse and octopus.
App Downloads – you can now download apps of any size over an LTE cellular signal
Apple has also promised a large number of security fixes in iOS 13 but, for the first time I can remember in a generational release, the company does not have this data ready on its Security Page.
Apple iOS 13 Verdict: Stay Away
In terms of features, iOS 13 is a solid, if unspectacular, generational upgrade. It ticks the boxes of some long-requested user favourites but there’s nothing revolutionary going on.
In terms of temptation, this is probably a good thing because there’s no way I can recommend you install iOS 13 given the sheer number of bugs in this upgrade. Apple has even (partly) acknowledged this by promising to shorten the release date of iOS 13.1 from September 30 to 24. This update will bring several features which didn’t make it into iOS 13 as well as a lorry load of bug fixes.
Consequently, there really is no reason to install iOS 13 right now. I suspect, had the new iPhone 11 range not been launching, the company would have pushed the release date and rolled up the iOS 13.1 fixes into a single, more reliable upgrade.
One tip: iOS 13.1 has so many bugs that I suspect it will take more than one update to root them all out. So if you’re on iOS 12, I’d still urge caution when iOS 13.1 arrives.
The Road Ahead
iOS 13.1 will launch on September 24 and I’d expect several ‘minor point’ upgrades (iOS 13.1.1 etc) to appear within weeks. Apple had been on a fine run of iOS 12 updates but iOS 13 brings this to a screeching halt. It’s an ominous start for iOS 13 but, despite one major concern, it’s worth placing faith in Apple to fix things sooner rather than later.