iOS 13, the next major update to Apple's iPhone/iPad operating system, will be unveiled in the summer of 2019. If you're wondering what changes the update will bring, you've come to the right place: in this article we round up all the latest leaks and rumours about iOS 13's release date, new features, design changes and more.

For information about the current software, read our iOS 12 review and tutorial explaining how to update iOS.

Release date

Apple's big yearly iOS updates happen on a predictable schedule, so we're reasonably sure about the following timeline.

  • Jun 2019: Apple announces and demonstrates iOS 13 at WWDC
  • Jun 2019: Straight after the demo, a beta preview version of iOS 13 is made available for developers
  • Jul 2019: A public beta is rolled out, available for everyone who signs up. (Here's how to install an iOS beta.)
  • Jul-Aug 2019: A series of updates betas roll out, each coming closer to the final version
  • Sep 2019: The final public version of iOS 13.0 is released

Apple will then continue updating iOS 13 and releasing smaller point updates, such as iOS 13.1, through the rest of 2019 and into 2020. Mostly these point updates consist of tweak and security patches, but occasionally a relatively major feature is added in this way.

Which iPads & iPhones will be able to run iOS 13?

Here's the list of devices that can currently run iOS 12.

  • iPad Pro (10.5), iPad Pro (11), iPad Pro (12.9, 2017 and 2018)
  • iPad 2017, iPad 2018
  • iPad mini 2, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4
  • iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X/XS/XS Max/XR
  • iPod touch (sixth generation)

Barring the new products, that's the same list Apple issued for iOS 11 the year before. It hasn't dropped any devices off the list for a while now, which makes us nervous for the iPhone 5s and iPad mini 2 owners: those may not be given the all-clear for iOS 13.

New features coming in iOS 13

We're hopeful that 13 will be a lucky number for iPhone and iPad owners.

Reports indicate that a number of planned features were pushed back from the iOS 12 update to iOS 13. This was so that the firm could implement the stability improvements and bug fixes that were the priority for iOS 12.

On Twitter, Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman has discussed some of the expected features of what he calls 'Yukon', the codename for the 2019 update. He says Files will get a revamp, and there will tabs in apps, two screens of the same app side by side, and updates related to the Apple Pencil.

Most intriguingly, Gurman points to a redesign of the home screen, focused on the iPad. This ties in with an earlier prediction by Axios that "a refresh of the home screen" had been pushed back to 2019.

Here's some more details of the features we're expecting and hoping for in iOS 13.

Siri improvements

Siri got some important updates in iOS 12, most notably the new appearance of Siri shortcuts. But after apparently expanding its Siri team (according to a Fortune report there were 161 openings relating to Siri in April) and hiring Google's former AI boss, we think still more improvements are on the way.

A patent application, for example, indicates that a future update to Siri could offer users a way of personalising the response to a call that can't be taken.

Currently if the phone rings you can choose to answer or reject it, but in the future it may be possible to automatically send a text message to the caller, explaining the reason for the call being declined. The patent application details an "Intelligent Digital Assistant for Declining an Incoming Call" (via Apple Insider).

If the user had CarPlay integration in their car, they would be able to see multiple message options, including the details of their location if they were driving home, as shown in the image below.

Snoozing notifications

Bloomberg thinks that there will be new features for snoozing notifications in the next version of iOS.

We hope that there will be more options, currently we are limited to 5 minutes, an hour, or tomorrow, but how about the option to remind us in a week, or on a particular day or time.

Improved Emoji search

Jeremy Burge, Chief Emoji Officer and creator of World Emoji Day, has called for Apple to improve emoji search. In his blog he explains how bad it is currently.

If you were trying to search for the emoji shown below left, for example, and you typed plate or knife into the emoji search bar, you wouldn't see it as an option, even though it clearly contains those things. You specifically need to search for fork or dinner.

iOS 13 release date and new features: Emoji search

The name given to the emoji is fork and knife with plate, so it's not clear why the words knife and plate weren't associated with it.

Burge also points to the woman with a raised hand - you won't find that emoji if you type raised, although raising will work. This is because Apple calls that emoji "Happy woman raising one hand".

With Burge's findings in mind, it certainly looks like it might be time for Apple to make emoji search smarter.

Multiple user accounts

The iPhone might be overwhelmingly a personal device but many iPads are not; some performing a second duty as child pacifier, others being shared with house guests or used by multiple members of staff in retail. And iOS users have been asking for user accounts for years.

New Messages features

A Bloomberg report refers to improvements to Apple's social features that are designed to "more effectively connect users with their contacts". Apple wants to offer a means to consolidate communications between users into single panels. For example, two friends could be able to see all text messages, e-mails, and social network interactions between each other in a single window, according to Bloomberg's source.

We'd like to see support for read receipts in group iMessages - a feature available in WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Smart Wi-Fi

The P9 is one of a number of Huawei phones to offer a feature called Wi-Fi+ (or Wi-Fi+ 2.0). This encompasses a number of elements, such as the prioritisation of stronger connections, but the one we like best is its ability to automatically turn Wi-Fi on or off depending on your location. It remembers the location of known networks and activates in order to join them, but when you leave the area it turns Wi-Fi off to save battery.

Given the iPhones' recent difficulty competing on battery life with the top-end Android devices, something along these lines would be a fine addition to iOS 13.

Ability to change video resolution in-app

All currently available iPhones can record video in full 4K resolution at 30fps, as well as the standard 1080p at 60fps or 30fps. The only issue we have is that there is no easy way to change between the resolutions from within the Camera app, and we have to exit the app, head to Settings > Camera to be able to change it.

Certain situations, such as filming in low light, require a lower frame rate (fewer frames = more light captured) and changing it manually takes around 10-15 seconds, which isn't ideal. We would love a way to quickly change the resolution and frame rate, possibly by tapping an icon in the Camera app. It's a simple change to make and would be largely appreciated by those that like to capture video on their iPhones.

While we're on the subject of photography, it would be nice if Apple allowed us to take and store photos in RAW format.

View Favourites in Contacts app

Another fairly simple change we'd like to see made in iOS 13 is the ability to view and edit the list of favourites, currently only found in the Phone app. It makes sense to be able to access your favourite contacts from within the Contacts app, and we're not quite sure why Apple hasn't yet added this functionality. Sometimes we want easy access to our contacts for other reasons, not just for calling!

Contact Availability Status

Apple has filed a patent that could be summarised as a system that detects where your friends are, and whether they're available and the operating status of their iPhone (such as silent or Airplane mode), and presents that information in the Contacts app.

The patent shows that Apple is considering a new feature that would enable iPhone users to view at a glance whether their contacts are available for a conversation, and where they are.

The abstract of the patent reads:

"A command is received at an operating system of a first mobile phone for displaying the contact information of a remote user having a mobile phone number of a second mobile phone. In response to the command, a request is transmitted to a remote server from the first mobile phone over a cellular network requesting an operating status of the second mobile phone.

"The operating status of the second mobile phone is received from the remote server over the cellular network. The operating status of the second mobile phone is displayed on a display of the first mobile phone as a part of contact information of the remote user associated with the second mobile phone, where the operating status includes current locality of the second mobile phone."

Which sounds complicated, but can be further summarised as a system that detects where your friends are, and whether they're available and the operating status of their iPhone (such as silent or Airplane mode), and presents that information in the Contacts app. If you're thinking that has the whiff of surveillance about it - well, it does, but only to the same extent as Find My Friends, and it would presumably be optional for both parties.

iOS 13 release date rumours: Patent

Finger-detecting dynamic keyboard

Apple has been granted a patent covering dynamic keyboard positioning on touchscreens, whereby the individual keys are placed in response to the detected position of the user's fingertips.

iOS 13 release date & new features: Finger-detecting keyboard patent

United States Patent 9,489,086, entitled Finger hover detection for improved typing, describes a concept whereby typing "is improved by dynamically and automatically positioning the desired home-row keys of an onscreen keyboard below the user's fingers while their fingers are hovering above the surface, thus reducing the need for the user to look at the onscreen keyboard while typing".

We wouldn't be surprised if the concept appears in the system-wide keyboard (albeit presumably as an option) in a future update of iOS, although it appears to be targeted at tablets only. This wouldn't be the first iOS feature to be restricted to iPad use, of course: the most famous example is probably the split-screen viewing modes added to the iPad with the launch of iOS 9.

While the granted patent was published in November 2016, this is in effect a ratification of Apple's acquisition of the patent when it bought Typesoft Technologies back in September 2014; Typesoft's Dryft virtual keyboard uses a similar principle in an effort to enable touchscreen touch-typing, as shown in the following video:

Finally, and quite aptly if we've got this right, there appears to be a typo in the introduction specifically where the patent is talking about making typos.

"While there have been numerous proposals for disambiguating error-prone user input," reads the last sentence of the introduction, "many such proposals rely heavily on linguistic context and are unable to resolve interchangeable alternatives (e.g., where a user strikes ambiguously between keys T and 'o' followed by 'n' leaving uncertainty whether "in" or "on" was intended)." (Surely that's meant to be 'i' and 'o', rather than T and 'o'? Although we are happy to be corrected.)

Slide to unlock

Does that sound familiar? It should, because it was the way we unlocked iPhones and iPads in iOS 9 and every previous version of iOS and iPhone OS. In its most recent incarnation, it looked a bit like the one on the left below:

iOS 13 release date rumours: Slide to unlock

In iOS 10 Apple got rid of slide to unlock, changing the interface so you just press the Home button (simultaneously triggering the Touch ID fingerprint scanner on reasonably up to date iDevices, so it made more sense, on the whole). But some people aren't happy about this development, and a petition has been formed to ask for slide to unlock to be brought back.

Will Apple give in to popular pressure (well, relatively popular pressure - there are just 1,549 signatories at time of writing, although we've heard this sentiment quite widely) and bring back slide to unlock? We don't think so. Apple fans have had issues with interfaces before, most controversially with iOS 7, but most of us got used to the new look in time.

Merging of macOS and iOS

You might be able to run MacOS apps on the iPad and vice versa when it launches in the autumn. At least that's Apple's plan, according to reports from Axios and others.

Back in December 2017 Bloomberg wrote that Apple plans to combine iPhone, iPad and Mac apps as part of a secret project codenamed 'Marzipan'.

Bloomberg's sources said: "Developers will be able to design a single application that works with a touchscreen or mouse and trackpad depending on whether it's running on the iPhone and iPad operating system or on Mac."

However, a report from Daring Fireball at the end of April 2018 predicted instead that this project will be held back until 2019. John Gruber, basing his comments on "a few things, from first- and second-hand sources. Mostly second-hand, to be honest", said he is "nearly certain this project is not debuting at WWDC 2018 in June, and [doubts] that 2018 was on the table in December. It's a 2019 thing, for macOS 10.15 and iOS 13."

In any case, Apple CEO Tim Cook has quashed the rumours that Apple is planing to unify macOS with iOS, restating his belief that mobile devices and computers should remain separate with their own operating systems.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, following Apple's Education focused event at which the company launched the new iPad, Cook said: "We don't believe in sort of watering down one for the other. Both [The Mac and iPad] are incredible. One of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well. And if you begin to merge the two ... you begin to make trade offs and compromises.

"So maybe the company would be more efficient at the end of the day. But that's not what it's about. You know it's about giving people things that they can then use to help them change the world or express their passion or express their creativity. So this merger thing that some folks are fixated on, I don't think that's what users want."

Cosmetic/aesthetic customisation changes

In this infuriatingly intelligent and well-made video, EverythingApplePro proposed a wide range of changes for iOS 11, among them some radical new options for customising the way iOS looks and the way its interface is organised.

They call for dynamic animated app icons, showing for example your current location in the Maps icon and the current weather for Weather; the ability to place icons in any of the free grid slots on the screen rather than having iOS automatically re-sort it to the free slot nearest the top left of the screen; custom system fonts; and a change to the way Reachability works on larger-screen iPhones so that it shrinks the interface down to the size of a smaller phone rather than dragging the whole thing down and hiding many of the icons off the bottom.

We didn't get any of these changes in iOS 11 or 12; maybe iOS 13 will be lucky?

Concept illustrations & leaked screenshots

As iOS 13's launch gets closer, we hope to see leaked screenshots of the pre-release testing versions being tested at Apple HQ. But this far ahead we must make do with concept illustrations: images created by interface designers and other enthusiasts to show what could be done.

Naturally, these shouldn't be taken as evidence of anything more than what some people would like to see.

Our favourite illustrations were posted on Behance by iOS News And More. They envision some major upheavals to the iOS interface, including the removal of app names from the icons on the Home page, a new 'app bar' and the arrival of Split View from the iPad.

iOS 13 release date & new features rumours: Split View concept illustration by iOS News And More

iOS 13 release date & new features rumours: App Bar concept illustration by iOS News And More