Best new features in iOS 13 and iPadOS

Dark Mode

I’m not the biggest dark mode fan, but I know a lot of people are. Apple has joined the club and have added dark mode to iOS and iPadOS. It can be scheduled based on time or sunrise/sunset. It can also be manually controlled from Control Center. There’s also new wallpapers that will change with dark mode.


The keyboard has been improved with QuickPath, allowing to swipe from letter to letter to create words. This is currently available in a limited amount of languages with support for English, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Portuguese. The QuickType keyboard gains support for next word predictions in Swedish, Dutch, Vietnamese and Arabic.

The new floating keyboard puts an iPhone style keyboard on the iPad that can be moved to wherever preferred. Putting it at the side allows for one handed typing while holding the iPad.

Dictation now automatically detects the spoken language. A maximum of four languages can active for the feature, chosen from the keyboard languages enabled on the device.


The Files app gets some major new features, including a new column view with rich metadata.

External drive support is added, making it possible to access USB drives and SD cards in Files. Local storage is also added, making it possible to create folders locally on the device. File server support will be useful for many, with the ability to access SMB network shares in Files.

Search suggestions help finding files, and quick actions for the iPad help rotate, mark up and create PDFs. There’s a new downloads folder that collects files downloaded through Safari and Mail. iCloud Drive now supports folder sharing. Files also gains support for zip files, allowing to zip and unzip. There’s also a new document scanner in Files as well as a bunch of keyboard shortcuts.


Photos has had some big improvements. A new photos tab will make it easier to find good photos with the ability to focus on significant moments and highlights, or view all photos. Duplicates, screenshots and similar are hidden so as not to interfere with the beautiful photography everyone has on their phones. Live photos and videos will be autoplaying with muted audio. Birthday mode will show photos of contacts with assigned birthdays on they birthday. Search has also been improved.

The big new feature is video editing! Videos can now have adjustments, filters and crops and rotations applied just like photos. And just like photos the edits are nondestructive.

There’s also some new adjustments available, including vibrance, sharpen, definition, noise reduction and white balance. White balance can adjust temperature and tint. Finally!

Sign In with Apple

Sign in to apps and websites using this new feature. Just like Sign in with Google and Sign in with Facebook this allows a user to sign in without creating and remembering yet another set of credentials. Unlike the two previously mentioned Sign in with Apple puts privacy first. It will hide the users email address, or choose to use a unique address created by Apple for the specific app or website. It works on all Apple devices and even Android and Windows. Apple doesn’t track usage, and it required two-factor authentication to be turned on for the Apple ID.


HomeKit Secure Video stores video form surveillance cameras securely in iCloud, and HomeKit-enabled routers isolate all HomeKit accessories to prevent attacks in the event a malicious actor gets access to a specific accessory.

AirPlay 2 speakers can be used in scenes and automations.

Find My

The Find My Friends and Find My iPhone apps have been merged into one, and can now also find offline devices. A device that is offline will send out a bluetooth beacon signal, which when the device has been marked as missing will be picked up by other Apple devices nearby and reported to Apple in an anonymized and end-to-end encrypted way so that it can show up in the Find My app even though it’s not online.


Safari has a new start page with favorites, frequently visited and siri suggestions. You can now choose to resize a photo before it’s uploaded in Safari. Per-site settings remembers which sites you have enabled access to things such as camera, microphone and location. Open tabs can be saved as bookmarks so that they can later be quickly reopened. You can now email a web page as a link, PDF or in reader view.

The download manager allows for quick access to downloaded files, checking the status of ongoing downloads. Files can now be downloaded in the background. Safari history and open tabs are now end-to-end encrypted in iCloud. There’s weak password warnings, 30 new keyboard shortcuts, full toolbar in split view and page zoom.

Safari for iPadOS now also shows the desktop version of websites scaled for the iPad.


The health app has a new summary view, highlights, interactive charts for historical data by hour, day, week, month or year and filters with overlays for historical averages and alerts. The new profile page collects personal health information in a profile containing medical ID, organ donation status, health records and connected apps and devices.

Health will also show audio levels used with headphones, and categorize them into two ranges, OK and loud. It will also include environmental audio levels collected from the Apple Watch, categorized into the same two ranges. It’s also possible to track audiograms from hearing tests.

Oral health has been added to track toothbrushing time.

Activity trends will show long term progress, comparing the last 90 days to the last 365 days. If the trend is going down, there will be personalized coaching to help improve the situation.

Messages and Memoji

A new feature allows users to set up a name and photo that will show up for recipients that don’t have their contact information stored. It can be shared with everyone or just contacts. Search has been worked on and suggests items before even typing anything, but when typing search will show categorized results. It’s also possible to search within a conversation. The details pane now organizes links, locations and attachments that have been shared in the conversation.

There are three new Animoji characters. A mouse, an octopus and a cow. Memoji stickers are created automatically for your Memoji, and can be used on any device with an A9 chip or above. They can be used as regular stickers, and they will also be suggested amongst emojis.

Notes and Reminders

Notes is improved with a new gallery view, shared folders, better and more powerful search, folder organization and nested subfolders, view-only collaboration and new checklist options including swipe to indent, move checked items to the bottom, reorder using drag and drop and a uncheck all option to reuse checklists.

Reminders is completely redesigned and provides some real improvements over the previous version. A quick toolbar has options to add times, dates, locations, flags and attachments to reminders. Siri helps understand written reminders and suggest suitable suggestions. Tasks can be added under reminders, and multiple lists can be grouped.

Attachments can be added to reminders, including photos, documents, scans and web links. Smart lists shows reminders in categories such as today, flagged as important or all reminders. Reminders now also integrates with Messages, with the ability to tag a person in Messages to have the reminder show up when communicating with the person tagged. Lists can have their appearance customized with 12 colors and 60 symbols.

New Accessibility Features

Voice control allows iOS and iPadOS devices to be controlled with the voice alone. Dictation has improved accuracy and custom words can be added to make sure voice control recognize them. All audio is processed on device in a true Apple privacy minded manner.

Voice control supports rich text editing, seamless transition from dictation to commands, recorded commands and the ability to perform gestures with voice commands.

Optimized battery charging (iOS)

A new option has been added to iPhones to help prolong the battery’s service life by stopping when reaching 80%, then continuing to charge in time for the iPhone to be ready when it’s needed. It learns from the users usual charging routine.


Siri has gotten a much improved voice with neural TTS technology. Siri can now play music, podcasts, audiobooks and radio with third-party apps supporting SiriKit. Siri also offers personalized suggestions in Apple Podcasts, Safari and Maps, as well as reminders in messages and events in third party apps.


Apple has rebuilt the maps from the ground up, with much improved detail. They also added a Street View like feature names Look Around. Favorites can be added for quick and easy navigation, and locations and favorites can be stored in collections. Junction view helps with lane selection, and the new ability to share ETA should keep family members calm.

Siri guidance has gotten a bit of polish and will use more natural language for navigation instructions. There’s real-time transit schedules, flight status information, and an improved CarPlay experience. Developers can use MapKit to add overlays to maps.


The shortcuts app is now built into the OS. Conversational shortcuts allow conversational interaction with apps. Automations can be set up to run shortcuts based on over 100 different triggers, and automations are also suggested.

Share Sheet

The share sheet will help make sharing easier by offering one tap suggestions for photos and documents, allow for removing location from photos sent to friends. A new sharing row makes it easy to share with AirDrop and apps are sorted based on the content being shared.

Text Editing

Scroll bar scrubbing makes it easy to navigate long documents. Moving the cursor has been made easier. Text is selected by tapping and swiping. Sentences and paragraphs can be selected by triple or quadruple-tap. Intelligent selection selects addresses, phone numbers and email addresses with a double tap. 

There are new gestures for cut, copy and paste. Pinch up with three fingers to copy, do the same twice to cut, and pinch down with three fingers to paste. Undo and redo also got new shiny gestures. A three finger swipe to the left for undo, or to the right for redo. Multiselect allows for quick selection of email massages, files and folders by tapping with two fingers and dragging.

Multitasking (iPadOS)

Apple has made several enhancements to multitasking on the iPad. Starting with support for multiple apps in Slide Over. Slide over now acts much like a mini iPhone on the iPad with its own home bar and the ability to slide between apps, and swipe up to see all slide over apps. Slide over apps can be closed by flicking them up from the app switcher. It’s easy to move a slide over app to full screen, by dragging it to the top.

Multiple windows from the same app is another game changer for iPadOS, allowing the same app to have multiple windows in split view. It can be used to work on two notes, viewing two maps side by side, or organizing files in the files app. Windows can be opened by dragging the desired content into its own space. Dragging a link opens Safari, an email address opens Mail and so on.

The new App Switcher shows all spaces and windows for all apps, and the new App Exposé shows all windows for an app, just like on the Mac.

New Home Screen (iPadOS)

The home screen has been slightly redesigned to better fit the iPad with a tighter grid, allowing for more icons per home screen page. It’s also possible to pin the Today View widgets to the side of the home screen, and choose favorite widgets to always be visible on the home screen.

Custom fonts (iPad OS)

Fonts can now be added and managed on an iPad. Fonts can be downloaded from the App Store.

Sidecar (iPadOS)

Sidecar allows the iPad to be used an an external display for a Mac, with extended or mirrored desktop and Apple Pencil capabilities. It works wired, or wireless within 10 meters from the Mac.

Privacy and security improvements

Apple likes privacy and security, so does their users. New enhancements include granting apps a one time location permission, notifications for background location usage, measures to prevent apps from using WiFi and Bluetooth location without permission, better fingerprinting protection in Safari and maybe the biggest one, location control for shared photos!

It will now be possible to choose whether to include location with photos shared on social media! No need to keep location turned off for camera all the time just to prevent giving away a sensitive location.

Performance improvements

Apps launch up to 2 times faster and are smaller to both download (up to 50% smaller) and update (up to 60% smaller). Face ID is also up to 30% faster.

Low data mode

A new low data mode reduces the network data used by apps.

Honorable mentions

Some other new features and changes include new system experience changes, such as a new volume control that doesn’t get in the way as much, peek to preview email, web links and more, quick actions when pressing and holding app icons and the ability to select WiFi networks and Bluetooth devices from within Control Center.

Wi-Fi improvements include WPA3 support for added security, automatic personal hotspot when there’s no internet connection available, persistent personal hotspot that remains connected during device sleep, Family sharing for hotspot and popular WiFi network notifications.

Screen time has also seen some improvements with communication limits, combined app limits for app categories, usage data over the last 30 days, and contact list management for parents.

Language support has also seen some improvements with support for 38 new language keyboards, typing predictions in more languages, separate emoji and globe keys (this should remove a lot of frustration for multi-lingual users) and language selection per app to allow third party apps to use a different language from the system.

India got a shoutout from Apple too, with an Indian English Siri voice, support for all Indian languages, Hindi and English bilingual keyboard, typing predictions for Hindi, new Indian language system fonts, new document fonts for Indian languages and video downloads optimized for congested networks.

Music has gained time-synced lyrics and up next to see the queue with one tap.

Calendar now supports adding attachments to events.

Reading goals can be added to books.

HomePod Handoff makes it easy to hand off music, podcasts and phone calls between iOS devices and the HomePod.

iOS and iPadOS will now support Xbox One S and PlayStation 4 game controllers, just like tvOS.

Siri can now read notifications in AirPods, and two sets of AirPods can be paired to a single device for shared listening or viewing.

CarPlay has gotten a redesign to make it easier to use.

There are some new portrait lightning intensity adjustments, and a new lighting effect called High-Key Mono.