In early June, Apple will conduct its annual developer shindig, the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) where it will take the wraps off the next version of four operating platforms: macOS, iOS, tvOS and watchOS. Of those, iOS is by far the most widely used and will attract the most attention.
iOS has a big game of catch up to play with Android. Can the new version pull something unexpected out of the bag? Here's everything we know so far about iOS 13.
Yesterdays' announcement of the new Samsung Galaxy Fold might not have been as well executed as a famous Steve Jobs reveal but it was every bit as revolutionary. In the same way the iPhone and iPad completely changed what we expected from mobile devices, the Samsung Fold is poised to change the tech world. But while the hardware looks incredible, it's the software I want to focus on. In that brief glimpse, we saw how far iOS has fallen behind Android.
iOS 13 will be revealed during the first week of June at WWDC. We can expect that to be on about 3 June 2019. A developer beta will quickly follow with the public beta program to launch either in late June or early July.
There will be a series of betas - perhaps as many as 10 - released every two weeks or so with developers getting bleeding edge updates with the public beta being a little more stable.
The final version will be released in September as a lead in to the announcement of the next round of iPhones.
Apple's typical modus operandi is to support hardware back for several generations although older devices might not see the entire feature set of the latest software.
iOS 12 supports the iPhone 5s as well as a broad suite of other iOS devices.
Given the age of the iPhone 5s' processor, I'd not be surprised to see compatibility shifted with the iPhone 6 becoming the oldest supported device, potentially with some features disabled if they require specific hardware such as Apple's AI engine.
This is almost certain. iOS 13 will feature a true Dark Mode, like macOS received with MacOS 10.14 Mojave last year.
This will be far better than the current hack which involves using the "Invert Colours" option under iOS' accessibility features.
It's Time To Refresh the Home Screen
Rumours have abounded for a couple of years that Apple has been working on a completely revised home screen, ditching the heavily icon-driven Home Screen in favour of a mode information-rich interface that makes it easy to get things done.
That means widgets and other dynamic elements will become part of the iOS front end.
Initially, I expect this to be tightly controlled by Apple and only available to their core apps before the necessary APIs are opened to developers. Apple, according to Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, has codenamed this new interface "Yukon".
Somewhat. iOS 13 “Yukon” will have a big iPad-focused feature upgrade as well, including an updated Files app. some other things in the works are tabs in apps like in MacOS, same app side by side, Apple Pencil stuff. The home screen redesign is iPad focused.
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) May 4, 2018
Making The iPad More Productive
If you want to start a bar fight between nerds, open a conversation with "The iPad is a great laptop replacement".
The iPad is great a lot of things but it struggles to be a full-blown laptop replacement, particularly for power users. Apple's steadfast refusal to give users access to the filesystem and limits in how you can multitask such as not allowing two windows from the same app to sit side-by-side, other than in a few limited situations, seriously hamper the iPad's functionality.
Gurman's sources say that the Files app will get a refresh and that tabbed windows for apps and the ability to have two instances of the same app running, so you can compare documents for example, will be added.
The Apple Pencil will get some smarter software as well. I like the new Apple Pencil but it would be great if I could customise the double-tap functionality.
Although the iPhone is a personal device many families share an iPad. That's a pain as it means email accounts and other personal information are exposed. Also, many schools have fleets of iPads that are shared between students.
Enabling a multi-user mode, with solid administrative tools, will greatly increase the usefulness and ease with which iPads can be used in shared environments.
This is the kind of change that I think would never have flown under Steve Jobs' leadership as he saw the iPad as a very personal device. But I think the idea of multi-user accounts on the iPad has come.
Better Health And Well-Being
Apple's Health and Activity apps on the iPhone are pretty good but having information fractured across two apps seems silly. And, you can only view your health data from one device - the iPhone.
There have been a few murmurs that Apple will be adding health and well-being apps to the iPad making it possible to see your data on the larger screens.
The other advantage is that it opens the potential to smarter software that can turn all that data into actionable advice. At the moment, I know what exercises I did, the weather, what I ate (If I track that with a compatible app) and how well I slept. But putting that together to get some insights so I can adjust my behaviour is tricky.
Apple has been working with healthcare pros for several years. iOS 13 could be the release where they shift from data collection into data insights.
CarPlay is great but it was rumoured that Apple pushed back an update last year as iOS 11 left them with a long bug list to squash.
A revamp of the CarPlay UX is definitely needed with better control over notifications definitely on the cards.
Messaging Gets More Aware
Apple's iMessage service is, arguably, the platform's killer app. Whenever I ask people dissatisfied with iOS why they won't move to another platform, the most commonly cited reason is those little blue messaging bubbles.
Messages is likely to get a nifty (depending on your perspective) update that will let you know if your contacts are nearby and online. It will be like the Facebook Messenger indicator to tell you when a friend is online.
We can also expect a new view where all messages and interactions with contacts are aggregated. So, when you look up a friend's name, you'll see all the recent emails, messages and other interactions in a single view.