iOS 13 will be available to download today (Thursday 19 September). First announced at WWDC back in June, one of the biggest surprises is that iOS 13 is strictly for iPhones, with the iPad getting its own iPadOS. But both platforms will see plenty of new features and design tweaks, which we outline in this article.

When will iOS 13 be available?

Apple will be updating the software on iPhones very soon. Here's what you need to know!

What day will iOS 13 arrive?

Date: iOS 13 will be available to the public later today (Thursday 19 September 2019).

What time will iOS 13 arrive?

Time: Apple doesn't announce an official launch time, but in recent years the download has arrived around 6pm in the UK, or 10am in California, where the company is based.

That translates to:

  • UK: 6pm, Thursday
  • San Francisco: 10am, Thursday
  • New York: 1pm, Thursday
  • Sydney: 3am, Friday
  • Beijing 1am, Friday
  • New Delhi 10.30pm, Thursday

When iOS 13 arrives you will be able to install it on your iPhone. We have a separate article showing how to install iOS 13.

Should I install iOS 13?

Good question! It's always the case that if you jump to install a new version of the iOS as soon as it becomes available you run the risk of introducing bugs to your iPhone. Despite Apple's beta program, there are often problems with new versions of iOS, and sometimes even new security issues. The company will iron these problems out over the coming weeks, and you might prefer to wait until the next update before installing iOS 13... Speaking of which:

How to get iOS 13.1

iOS 13.1 is already being tested by developers and public beta testers. If you'd like to get that iOS 13.1 update now, you could sign up for the iOS 13 Public Beta. But bear in mind that this is test software and may not function optimally, and at this late stage you really ought to wait until the public launch.

Which iPhones are compatible with iOS 13?

Can your iPhone run iOS 13? It will be available on iPhone 6s or later (including iPhone SE). Here's the full list of confirmed devices that can run iOS 13:

  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPod touch (7th gen)

iOS 13 will be pre-installed on the new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Max.

New iOS 13 features

Apple announced a heck of a lot for iOS 13, and further features have been discovered as users get to grips with the beta. Here, we've broken them down by headline feature or first-party app.

For a comparison with last year's iOS update, see iOS 13 vs iOS 12. We also have an iOS 13 review, and there is more information about the tablet-specific iPadOS update. Plus we have a run through of the best new features in iOS 13.

Performance

Craig Federighi, SVP of Software Engineering, said on stage that iOS 13 will bring:

  • 30% faster Face ID unlock
  • 50% smaller app download sizes
  • 60% smaller app update sizes
  • 2x faster app launches

Take these numbers with a pinch of salt as they will be rounded, and the speed claims will apply to specific models of iPhone - whichever are most favourable to the numbers. But all devices will benefit from some performance improvements.

Dark Mode

iOS 13 release date & new features: Dark Mode

The showiest new feature in iOS 13 is a system-wide Dark Mode, something that isn't ubiquitous on Android phones. Apple showed how it works across the operating system and throughout its first party apps - Messages, Photos, Mail - they all take in a dark theme to give a unified black look to your iPhone.

It's a small thing, but it will make your phone feel like new for a while. And if you have an iPhone with an OLED display (iPhone X, XS or XS Max) it'll actively save you battery life, as OLEDs work by lighting up pixels. Dark parts of display mean less energy used. Hooray!

Dark Mode won't automatically work with third-party apps: it'll be up to developers to build in compatibility. You can be pretty sure that absolutely all the major players will do this, however, so fear not.

We explain how this feature is implemented in How to use Dark Mode on iPhone.

Security & privacy

A great new feature is developers' ability to build in a Sign in with Apple option into their apps, much like you can currently do to sign into services with Google or Facebook.

When built in, even if you're using a service for the first time, you'll be able to confirm your ID with Face ID or Touch ID to sign in with a new account using just your Apple credentials.

The winning feature here is the option whether or not to share your email address with the app - you can select no, and Apple will create a unique random email address assigned to you to cover it. It's positively privacy minded, and great news for you.

Since the announcements in June, Apple has added another headline privacy-focused feature to iOS 13's armoury: VoIP calls from apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp will be restricted in the way they can run in the background to prevent them from collecting user data without reason or permission.

Keyboard

Taking a page out of Android circa 2013, the Apple default keyboard now supports swipe typing. About time, too!

iOS 13 release date & new features: Swipe typing

Safari

Safari will get small updates to include quick options to change text size and adjust preferences for specific websites.

Music

Real-time lyric playback for supported tracks is now built into Music, whether you're using Apple Music streaming or playing from your downloaded library.

Mail

Apple's email app now supports rich fonts. Which is nice.

Notes

Notes will get a lot more useful in iOS 13 with a better interface and options. Where it has been feature-light it will get a great Gallery view and proper folder system with tagging to help you archive better.

Reminders

iOS 13 release date & new features: Reminders

The Reminders app has been rightly given some love. We've found its interface confusing and unhelpful, so Apple has given it a full overhaul with smart lists, a better layout and organisation options, plus people tagging which syncs with Messages for collaboration.

Maps

Apple had a PR disaster when it launched its terrible v1 of Maps, so it's good to see it seemingly get even better in iOS 13. Apple claimed its cars have driven four million miles to collect better road, terrain and building data.

You will also get things like favourites and collections to group routes and frequently used searches, while Lookaround is an Apple version of Google's Street View.

Messages

As well as getting a lick of dark paint with the rest of the Apple apps, Messages got an update to include something a bit more fun (or annoying, depending on your opinion) in Memoji and Animoji integration.

You can add your Memoji or Animoji to your contact card and see your contacts' better in the app.

Memoji stickers will let you send Bitmoji-esque stickers of your face to anyone with Messages, but Apple says it will work with third party messaging apps such as WhatsApp. It also said these stickers will work across all iOS devices with an A9 chip or later (iPhone 6s and above).

Camera

A small update to portrait lighting will give more granular control to existing presets, while adding a new one to let you get better results, we hope - portrait lighting has not been great since its introduction on the iPhone 7 Plus.

Photos

iOS 13 release date & new features: Photos

The Photos app will let you easier edit your snaps within the app. As well as saturation, brightness and contrasts, Apple says it'll be adding more to tweak your photos without having to use third party apps like Snapseed or VSCO.

A big whoop went up in the keynote when Apple confirmed you'll be able to rotate video, a problem you probably don't realise you have quite often. You will also be able to apply filters and effects to videos in iOS for the first time.

You'll also be able to view photos by year, month or day, all with better auto play and presentation to bring your photos to life within the app, as well as supposedly surface memories better.

Location

Locations services will be more granular as they are in Android. You will be able to share location just once if you want, and the app will have to ask you for permission to share every time after - with the option to deny, of course.

It'll also build in background tracking alerts and apparently apply better Wi-Fi and Bluetooth protections for location sharing, but Apple didn't specify in the keynote how this works.

AirPods

A couple of new features will come to AirPods if you upgrade to iOS 13. Siri will read you incoming messages and, with Announce Messages, let you reply without using any trigger words. This cool feature will be available for third-party messaging apps too.

You'll also be able to share audio between iOS 13 devices with a tap, playing audio to two pairs of AirPods.

Finally, iOS 13 on iPhone will let you HandOff audio to your HomePod and vice versa. This will work for all audio including phone calls.