Hands-On with iOS 13 Beta

Posted on June 4, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple, iOS with 36 Comments

Apple’s latest and greatest version of iOS landed last night. The first ever developer beta of iOS 13 went live last night, and unlike like the previous releases, Apple is making it a little harder for anyone to install the new beta. So unless you are an actual developer with an Apple account, you will find it a little difficult to get your hands on the beta as it comes as an actual iOS build (.ipsw) instead of simply an update profile that you can install to get the new update via an OTA.

Thankfully, I had an Apple developer account and was able to easily install iOS 13 on my iPhone X. It was still a longer process than simply being able to get the update over-the-air, but nonetheless, it’s kind of worth it.

Either way,hHere’s a closer look at some of the new features.

First up, let’s talk about the dark theme. iOS 13’s dark mode is absolutely gorgeous, and it’s been a long time coming. And yes, dark modes aren’t anything new or innovative so don’t bother writing a comment about that before even finishing to read the article. The dark mode on iOS is actually very nicely done, too. All of the Apple apps I checked worked with the dark mode and had a really nice feel to them, with apps like iMessage, Settings, Apple Music, etc. looking absolutely gorgeous with the dark mode on.

Apple lets you schedule the dark mode according to the sunset and sunrise, but you can also set your own schedule which is pretty cool. But if you are a dark mode fan like most of us, you can simply have it on all the time.

There are some areas where the dark mode needs work, or simply doesn’t exist. Some areas of the OS — for example, the AirPods connecting UI still has the light theme — but maybe that’s intentional. The keyboard also doesn’t have a dark mode all the time, and it differs between apps — if you are on an app like WhatsApp, it displays the light theme of the keyboard, and apps like Twitter (with the dark mode) shows the dark mode keyboard. It’s a pretty intuitive experience, but I feel like some users might prefer to have the dark mode keyboard all the time.

Moving on from the dark mode, let’s talk about the new Memoji and Animoji. There are three new Animoji (mouse, octopus, and cow), and loads of new customizations for Memoji. Memoji are the Animoji that you can create yourself, and this year they are getting a bunch of new customizations like new hairstyles, eyeshadows, earrings, etc. And Apple even lets your Memoji now have AirPods which is kind of cool.

Apple is also making these new things called Memoji Stickers that you can use on iMessage and other apps. They work kind of like regular stickers and are simply integrated into the iOS keyboard so you can easily use them on other apps. They don’t have native integration with apps like WhatsApp and Telegram where stickers are supported natively — so instead of being sent as actual stickers on those platforms, the Memoji Stickers get sent as pictures, which is not ideal because most WhatsApp users have their chat pictures set to automatically download, and these stickers could clutter their camera rolls, for example.

Talking about galleries, let’s talk about the new Photos app. Apple always does something new with the Photos app every year, and it’s introducing a new gallery view for the app, along with some new editing features this year. The new Photos view makes it so it’s much easier to look at your photos. And if you are like me and have thousands of photos, that’s going to be particularly useful. The new Photos view organizes photos by year, month, and days — so you can easily view pictures from the different time periods. The views are also contextual, so when you are on the Years view, for example, it will show you pictures you took on a year ago on the same day. That’s a really nice touch.

There’s also a bunch of new photo editing effects as well as new Portrait lighting effects. But more importantly, you can now use the Videos app to rotate videos, crop videos, and more. You can even apply effects to videos now:

And that’s really handy, especially since we had to rely on third-party apps for things like cropping and rotating videos in the past. What’s even handier are the new Control Center enhancements. Apple finally (yes, finally) lets you switch between different Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth devices from the Control Center without having to open the Settings app. And for the first time ever, there’s a new volume control bar that slides in from the left and doesn’t disrupt your viewing at all.

And if that wasn’t handy enough for you, Apple finally includes the ability to swipe and type on the keyboard. It’s calling the experience QuickPath, and it works just like you would expect. This is more of a 2013 feature that’s finally made it to the iPhone, so I guess we are allowed to complain.

Oh, there’s also another 2016/2017 feature on the iPhone: an intelligent sharing sheet. The new share sheet automatically suggests different people you can share things with, but it only seems limited to iMessage. That means when you want to share something, it only shows the conversations from iMessage that you can share to, and not other apps like WhatsApp or Twitter DMs. Classic Apple.

Talking about iMessage, you can now have profile pictures and a default name for yourself for your profile. Much like WhatsApp, you can choose any picture as your profile picture, and you can also use your Memoji or Animoji as your profile picture. iMessage also lets you control who sees your details, so any stranger with your phone number won’t be able to see your profile picture.

Apple’s even introducing an improved search feature for iMessage that lets you quickly find photos, contacts, and links shared within conversations. iMessage’s search feature has been really weak in the past, so it’s nice to see Apple finally make some improvements here.

And lastly: privacy. Along with the new Sign In with Apple feature, Apple is making it much harder for apps to track your location. iOS now gives you the option to give an app the access to your location only once, so it will have to ask you for location access once you reopen the app. That’s really useful for apps like Google Maps or Uber, especially if you are worried that they are tracking your location unnecessarily.

Apple is also taking actions against apps that use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to try and track your location. Now, Apple will ask you for permission to give apps access to data sharing via Bluetooth, which is really useful since some apps do exploit the functionality to track you. And even if you do disable Bluetooth data sharing access for an app, you will continue to be able to use Bluetooth for listening to audio output. So for example, if you decide to disable Spotify’s access to Bluetooth data sharing, you will still be able to listen to music via your Bluetooth earphones.

And that’s really about it. There are a whole lot of new features in iOS 13, and I simply can’t go over all of them. But so far, the first developer beta of iOS 13 has been pretty good. I love the new dark mode and all the tiny new changes across the OS. There’s also been some noticeable improvement in performance, especially for Face ID unlock as my iPhone seems to unlock a lot faster on the iOS 13 beta.

Of course, being a developer beta release, there are a lot of rough edges and it’s not a completely smooth experience at the moment. So if you want a smooth, bug-free experience, you are probably better off waiting for the public beta or the public release later this year.

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Comments (36)

36 responses to “Hands-On with iOS 13 Beta”

  1. Tony Barrett

    After all this time, iOS still looks like it was designed by children, for children. It may be designed to be super simple to use, but that sort of makes the OS super simple in itself. I guess that's what a lot of people want though, but the whole thing just looks so.... childish.

    • TheJoeFin

      In reply to ghostrider:

      I see people make this general argument all the time, but I do not understand what specifically is the childish design? The rounded corners? The photo editing page is pretty dense and feature rich.

      The only part of iOS in my opinion which is overly simplistic is the home page grid of app icons. But also it is just a simple app launcher. That is like saying the start menu in Windows 7 was too simple because it was just a list of apps... but that is the point, to be simple for a simple use.

      • Hifihedgehog

        In reply to TheJoeFin:

        The UX/UI looks unabashedly like the interface you would see on a Fisher Price or VTech children's computer. It is simplistic to the point that it provides quick and easy access to a mere sliver of sanitized choices to prevent any damaging outcomes is given overwhelming preference over being able to administer and fine tune. It is more or less a digital cattle chute whose sole purpose is content consumption and instant gratification. Only recently it has had a few productivity boon-dongles bolted onto it and they do not mesh at all as they would in a true productivity oriented UI/UX.

        • TheJoeFin

          In reply to Hifihedgehog:

          iOS is first and foremost a mobile OS which means it needs to be touch first. Again your comment is just a greatest hits criticism of touch friendly buttons and interfaces. Is iOS that different from Android? They both have big buttons, rounded corners, and are optimized for common mobile tasks.

          Maybe take iOS and as a design exercise make it less "childish." I'd be interested to see what you come up with.

          > It is simplistic to the point that quick and instant access to a sliver of sanitized choices to prevent any damaging choices is given the nod over being able to do anything else. It is more or less a digital cattle chute whose sole purpose is content consumption and instant gratification. Only recently it has had a few productivity boon-dongles bolted onto it and they do not mesh at all like true productivity oriented UI/UX.

          this whole section of the comment is so strange. What are you doing with your phone that iOS does not work well for? I use my phone to text, call, listen to music/podcasts, navigation, take photos, recall notes, social media, and short internet searches. Are you complaining that Apple has focused on making an operating system which gets users where they are trying to go quickly? Who fucking cares if the corners are rounded?

        • Chris_Kez

          In reply to Hifihedgehog:

          If consumption is the primary function for the vast majority of smartphone users, shouldn't that function inform the design of the UI/UX?

      • djross95

        In reply to TheJoeFin: The top-justified "grid of icons" home page is indeed dreadful, and I can't believe Apple hasn't changed it. It can't be that hard to do. And I wish Apple would let you change the default apps, but at least those apps are being improved (especially Safari). Aside from those two admittedly big drawbacks, the rest of iOS has been improved nicely. I've never bought an iPhone, but I'm considering one for my next purchase given Google's recent actions (planning to stop ad blockers, etc.). I'm tired of being spied on.

    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to ghostrider:

      After all this time, iOS still looks like it was designed by children, for children.


      I so very much love this website. Sometimes it is better than a movie.

    • GuyDye

      In reply to ghostrider:

      Have you SEEN Android?? XBOX?? More importantly, have you USED iOS to see the difference between the standardized (albeit locked-down) design aesthetic of iOS and the, uh, LESS CONSISTENT design of Android or even Windows? I use 'em all...and pretty much like 'em all...but iOS is childish? Uh, no.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to ghostrider:

      And Windows 7 looks like a cheap Linux theme from 2004. Does my opinion of the Aero theme change the fact that Windows 7 is a high quality and well respected desktop OS?

      No. ?

    • nbplopes

      In reply to ghostrider:

      You have other options that maybe be a better fit for your adult brain. Don’t understand the problem you seam to argue.

  2. rmlounsbury

    With the whole Apple sign in feature and the ability to provide a stub email address instead of your real email address it sure would be handle if Apple would bring back custom domain support. I'd actually consider moving my personal email domain over to iCloud Mail to take advantage of this functionality. Even if the iCloud web experience is really out-dated and kludgy.

  3. captobie

    It's the little things that get me the most excited... being (finally!) able to change wifi networks without going into settings is far and away my favorite feature here. I've been annoyed by the lack of this feature since my very first iPod Touch so many years ago.

    • ommoran

      In reply to captobie:

      This is the only "major new feature" that seems useful, at all. Focusing on "memojis" who the hell cares.

      Apple is starting to feel as relevant as facebook.

  4. Chris Payne

    Typo in the 3rd graf: "Either way,hHere’s a closer look at some of the new features".

  5. jjonas51

    I just want to be able to display the weather on the lock screen. Is that too much to ask?

  6. igor engelen

    Lately there was a big fuzz about how Apple had to be more transparent about things like performance impact etc when there is an OS update. So far I haven't seen any reports along those lines though.

  7. Winner

    Still can't move icons around on the screen apparently. A 2011 feature.

    • curtisspendlove

      In reply to Winner:

      I keep hearing this...is that really something so many people want to do?

      I have had a relative ask me if there was a way to arrange the icons around their wallpaper (picture of their kid) which was a valid question. My standard workaround was tell her she had waaaaaay too many icons on her home screen and we moved most of them off to the second screen (she rarely tapped those ones anyway).

      Also, the icon placement flexibility on a few Android phones and tablets irritate me. I wish I could set them to never be able to put an icon in some strange place. Nearly every get-together I have to find icons for people and show them (again) how to move them, etc.

      I'm skeptical on the pinning widgets feature too. I never really liked Android widgets. But who knows, maybe it will grow on me.

      Not opposed to the features for others, I just haven't found a whole lot of use for it for me (and in my circles).

    • nbplopes

      In reply to Winner:

      You can. They simply snap on to a grid

  8. antimnafak24

    Thanks For Your valuable Information

  9. epguy40

    it looks like the iOS 13 betas will only work with iPhone 6s or newer

    too bad iOS13 can't be used on iPhone 5s & iPhone 6

  10. prajit

    thanks for info

  11. shamolhasan

    Nice article. And IOS 13 is best

  12. jaboonday

    I'm kind of shocked that I never realized apps could track you via data sharing in Bluetooth. I'll be looking for this update as soon as it's available so I can disable that.

  13. rtodd_us

    I'm curious about the Apple sign in. Is this one of those things that sounds good on paper, but implementation will not be supported? I don't see developers that get money from those type of tracking allowing their app on IOS, read all google apps.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to rtodd_us:

      Well it's required if you have third party logins. There is a story here that talks about that. Second the Google apps just support a Google sign on so they won't have to support this. This is for apps that let you login with your Facebook or other third party account.

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to rtodd_us:

      From what I understood in the keynote, it’s completely transparent to the app.

  14. Elindalyne

    Any word on improved progressive web app support? It's kind of a mess in iOS 12.

  15. Hifihedgehog

    Apple is evil. You should be able to easily procure and use a third party app over a first party one and you should also be able to make that third-party one the default for a given protocol or file type in the operating system's settings. What Apple has been squeaking by with iOS for now a decade plus would have been straightway penalized if Microsoft had done it with Windows. The fact that you still cannot select a default web browser or mail client in iOS flies in the face of decades of judicial precedent which have been served to Microsoft and others. I, for one, hope that immediate action is taken against Apple's draconian, despotic policies.

    • truerock2

      In reply to Hifihedgehog:

      Yes, the system model you suggest does have benefits. But, there is the Apple model which has different benefits. With Microsoft's semi-open model you have the flexibility to use many applications in a less controlled way - but, the obvious downside is that it is less secure and more complex to use and support.

      Hopefully we will continue to be able to use the Apple model and other delivery models offered by alternative providers - so, we continue to have a choice. If Apple is forced to be like Google and Microsoft then we have lost an alternative and we have less choice.

      Apple controls about 15% to 18% of the smartphone market. That is barely enough for it to continue as a viable alternative. If its market share slips below 10% then Apple's smartphones will become marginalized and less relevant.

    • Greg Green

      In reply to Hifihedgehog:

      By that standard MS and Sony are evil for locking people into their stores on XBox and PlayStation. Yet somehow they still sell 10s of millions.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to Hifihedgehog:

      Evil like many words in the American dictionary became voided of meaning. It became another concept victim of the Marketing drama.

  16. nbplopes

    It looks that Apple has switched gears this year across the board.