Apple iOS 13

iOS 13 brings exciting new features to popular apps this fall.

Apple held its annual developer conference last week and announced some pretty big improvements coming for its next iPhone operating system, iOS 13. Yes, you’ll have to wait until September, but it’s encouraging to see what’s in store. Keep in mind, the update will be compatible with iPhone 6 and later. If you have an older model, it may be time to start planning an upgrade, which we’ll leave for another column.

Of course, the update includes performance enhancements. Apple said app update times have improved, app launch times are two times faster, app download sizes have been reduced by up to 50 percent and Face ID is 30 percent faster. Like with many things processor-based, these improvements are welcome, but not likely to make a noticeable difference to the user. With around 200 new features, here are six of the most practical.

Three of my top five picks involve privacy. Apple is adding a new Sign In feature for apps and websites that offers more privacy than those of its established competitors, Facebook and Google. You’re probably familiar with Sign in with Facebook, Sign in with Google or sign in to an app or website using your email address. With Apple’s entry into this ubiquitous arena, you will use Touch ID or Face ID to sign in. Those on the other end will see only a unique, random ID rather than your real information

Further, Apple said it will not allow third parties to access this data. The new sign in will also be able to generate random email address, so you won’t have to share your real one. And of course, two-factor authentication is built into the system for an additional level of security.

iOS 13 will also offer new controls for limiting location data shared with apps. You will be able to limit apps to accessing your location only once when that’s appropriate—an app like Maps would be an exception. Apple will also make it much more obvious when an app is using your location in the background.

Certainly not as important as the foregoing privacy and security features, but still a neat timesaver for people who use a lot of apps, is the new ability to delete an app from the App Store’s update list. When you go into your list, you will be able to do a quick swipe to delete, rather than going out to your homescreen.

And here’s my favorite! iOS 13 will let you “Silence Unknown Callers,” which should go a long way in reducing the number of interruptions from spam or other unwanted callers. While this feature is not as robust as some of the apps that actually identify spammers, this is a strong step in the right direction. And not to worry about missing a call from a number that’s not in your contacts—all of these unknown calls will be sent directly to your voicemail where you can review them when it’s convenient.

Finally, Apple introduced a new Optimized Battery Charging feature, which should extend the life of your iPhone’s battery. In recent years Apple has come under fire for slowing down the processing speed of phone’s with older batteries and later offered free batteries for those affected. With this new feature, your iPhone will typically charge up to 80% and then wait to charge the last 20% at a later time. For instance, if your phone detects you always charge it at night, it will proceed to 80 percent when you plug it in and then wait until an hour or so before you wake up to finish the charge. This way, the battery will be kept at an optimum level and extend its life by not keeping it at 100 percent on the charger.

While this last one didn’t make my list, it certainly made headlines. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Dark Mode, the feature that has already mean added to Apple’s computers. Why this is so exciting is beyond me—I’ve never been one for black backgrounds—but if you’re a fan of white on black, you’ll love it.

Leslie Meredith has been writing about and reviewing personal technology for the past eight years. She has designed and manages several international websites and now runs the marketing for a global events company. As a mom of four, value, usefulness and online safety take priority. Have a question? Email Leslie at asklesliemeredith@gmail.com.

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