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iOS 13 launches Sept. 19: This is your complete guide

Apple’s newest updates for iPhone and iPad are filled with features. We got your back

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iOS 13 is a pretty big update for your iPhone. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Apple will release iOS 13 on Thursday, Sept. 19, one day before the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max launch. (Preorders open Sept. 13 at 5 a.m.) We've been using the beta software since it was made available in June at WWDC, giving us a clear picture of how the new OS updates will work, and what kinds of questions you might have that we can answer. 

With the release of iOS 13, Apple will make your iPhone faster, smarter and more secure. New features include the gesture-based QuickPath keyboard, a tool to block unknown callers, new photo-editing tools and a dedicated dark mode. There are also new Maps tools that finally start to close the gap with Android, security features like Sign In with Apple and the ability to customize Memoji avatars. New tools will make your iPad ($249 at Walmart) more productive as well. 

With iOS 13, Apple takes on Google's Android 10 once again in a never-ending battle for the most powerful, private and easy-to-use OS. Sounds dramatic, but with Android on about 90% of the world's phones, Apple has its work cut out for it to maintain its status and reputation.

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Apple's ability to engage buyers with iOS 13 is particularly important in 2019. It's seen iPhone sales slow in step with competitors across the board. 

Meanwhile, the next iPhones will likely lag behind Android rivals in key features like support for 5G speeds, periscope zoom and a standalone night mode for ultraclear camera shots. But over the years, Apple has proven that it can create must-have software tools and apps, like FaceTime video and iMessage.

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You won't have to wait much longer for iOS 13 and iPadOS. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Install iOS 13 

Apple will release iOS 13 on Thursday, Sept. 19 for the iPhone and iPod touch. iPadOS will launch on Monday, Sept. 30. Software updates usually show up around 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET. 

It's a good idea before the update is available to get your iPhone ready by removing old apps and creating a current back up of your phone. That way when it does launch, you're able to install iOS 13 right away

See if your iPhone or iPad works with the new OSes

Here's the official list of devices that will run iOS 13 and iPadOS 13:

Devices that will support iOS 13, iPadOS 13

iPhone XS 12.9-inch iPad Pro
iPhone XS Max 11-inch iPad Pro
iPhone XR 10.5-inch iPad Pro
iPhone X 9.7-inch iPad Pro
iPhone 8 iPad (6th generation)
iPhone 8 Plus iPad (5th generation)
iPhone 7 iPad Mini (5th generation)
iPhone 7 Plus iPad Mini 4
iPhone 6S iPad Air (3rd generation)
iPhone 6S Plus iPad Air 2
iPhone SE
iPod Touch (7th generation)

Stop unknown callers

With a single button, you can effectively stop unknown callers from making your iPhone ring ever again. With the feature enabled, iOS 13 will only allow calls through from your contacts and numbers found in Mail or Messages. 

Everyone else will go straight to voicemail. 

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Unknown callers will soon be a thing of the past. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Quicker Wi-Fi, Bluetooth selection

For years we've thought it would make sense for there to be some method to connect to Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth devices from Control Center, instead of having to open the Settings app and tap several times. 

With iOS 13, Apple has finally made it possible to view and connect to available networks or devices without ever opening Settings. Hallelujah. For us, this fixes one of the iPhone's most annoying quirks.  

You don't have to be precise when it comes to QuickPath on iOS 13. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

That swipey keyboard

Android users have been swiping their keyboards to type for years, through a number of third-party apps, like Swype and SwiftKey. At long last, Apple has added the capability, letting you trace a word to spell it out. 

Apple calls it QuickPath Typing. In theory, it's faster than and just as accurate as pecking away at the virtual keyboard, and you still get spelling suggestions as you go along.

The feature is especially useful for one-handed typing and is ready for use as soon as you install iOS 13. Here's how to use QuickPath on iOS 13.

Dark mode for all

Dark mode, which replaces the usual light screen with a dark screen, is available across core apps in iOS 13, including the calendar, music and photo apps. 

This appears to be systemwide, but we'll need to see if there are any exceptions. Dark mode is a popular trend across apps and will come to Android Q, too. Here's everything we know about Dark Mode for iPhone.

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Photos app adds video-editing tools

The Photos app received a pretty significant overhaul. Organizing and surfacing photos are both now easier, and the edit tools have a new look. But most impressive is the ability to use all of the picture editing tools you're familiar with on videos in the Photos app.

Yes, that means you can apply filters, adjust brightness and even crop a video right in the Photos app. This is what you need to know about photos in iOS 13.

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It's true, with iOS 13 and iPadOS you can use a mouse to control your phone or tablet. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

iPadOS gestures

The iPad is growing into its own computing platform, and with it comes plenty of new gestures used to get around apps and the homescreen. From opening multiple apps, or quickly switching between workspaces, we have you covered

Hidden features

One of the best parts about using new software is finding features that haven't been announced. Often these features are the most notable in a major update, and iOS 13 has its fair share of hidden features

Naturally, hidden features have to actually, well, be discovered, so right now the current tally of hidden features worth highlighting is at 11. As we uncover more, that list is sure to grow. 

Custom fonts inside apps

Apple will still limit font selection for iOS as a whole; however, the company is opening up iOS 13 to allow custom fonts inside apps. 

The added flexibility is perhaps an indicator that Apple is loosening its grip on controlling every aspect of the user experience. We haven't had a chance to try it out yet, but rest assured, once Apple begins publishing new fonts in the App Store, we'll be all over it. This is everything we know about installing, managing and downloading custom iPhone fonts.

Find My Phone and Find My Friends join forces

Apple combined Find My Friends and Find My iPhone into a single app now called Find My. And on top of combining the apps, Apple added the capability to help find lost devices for people you don't even know. 

When you mark one of your Apple devices as lost, Apple will crowdsource the device's location by asking all Apple devices to look for your device's Bluetooth signal. Once another Apple device finds your lost phone, tablet or computer, you'll receive an alert. Apple says the free service is completely anonymous and encrypted. 

Sign In with Apple won't share your email address

A new privacy feature called Sign In with Apple logs you into accounts and apps without your having to add your email address, which Apple says will protect users from third-party apps that want to track them. 

This is Apple's version of logging in with Facebook and Google, with one major exception. Those tools can be used to track you online, but Apple's version will use your iPhone or iPad to authenticate your credentials when you log in. You tap to authenticate with Face ID without revealing any personal information about yourself. 

You can also choose to share or hide your email address, and can ask Apple to create a random email for the app or service that forwards to your actual email address, therefore masking your real identity without your needing to use a junk account.

Apple also blocks apps that track your location from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and lets you decide if you'd like apps to ask your permission each time they request your location data.

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Memoji stickers are going to be everywhere.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Memoji avatars come to Messages, stickers

Apple's Messages apps will now get support for Memoji profiles, which puts a thumbnail of your Memoji (an emoji of your face) into the Messages app. New controls let you go in depth with customization, makeup -- even adding braces to your teeth. You also get a sticker pack across your iOS 13 devices.

iMessages will also now work on dual-SIM phones (unfortunately, we don't have more detail than that).

Share music or a movie with a second pair of AirPods

Instead of sharing an AirPod with a friend or loved one, your iPhone can now stream audio to two pairs of AirPods thanks to Audio Sharing. If you've used Apple Pay to buy something, you're already a pro at setting up Audio Share

Siri finds a new voice

Apple's voice assistant Siri gets an audio update in iOS 13. Instead of the clipped tones often associated with AI, Apple is hoping the new Siri will sound smoother and more natural to your ears. Using a neural talk-to-speak network, Siri will speak with fewer gaps and fewer inhuman-sounding modulations.

iOS 13's Siri also works better with AirPods ($145 at Walmart), the HomePod ($299 at Walmart)CarPlay and Safari:

  • You can create personalized shortcuts using a new Shortcuts app.
  • Siri reads messages as soon as they arrive and you can instantly respond.
  • Hand off a phone call or music from your iPhone to your HomePod.
  • CarPlay: Siri smart suggestions work here, like suggesting you open your garage door when you get close to home.
  • Siri Suggestions comes to the Safari browser.
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Apple Maps gets a fresh new look in iOS 13 and iPadOS. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

More app updates in iOS 13

  • Mail: Gets rich new fonts, an option to mute threads. 
  • Notes: A new gallery view, support for shared folders.
  • Reminders: You can add details for when and where to remind you of an item. Message integration lets you tag a person in a reminder, and the reminder will show up the next time you're messaging that contact. 
  • Camera: Portrait Mode gains new lighting effects and the ability to control the intensity as well as lighting direction.
  • Maps: Apple Maps has a new look, with more details for things like roads, buildings and even beaches. Expanded Favorites support, and a built-in option to share your ETA with a contact. 
  • CarPlay: An entirely new design, with more information on the main screen as well as "Hey, Siri" support. 
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Subtle improvements to iOS 13 

  • Add attachments to events in Calendar.
  • Time-synced lyrics for Apple Music.
  • Support for 3D AR apps like Minecraft Earth, coming to iOS 13 this summer.
  • Face ID unlocking is now 30 percent faster.
  • Apps launch 2x faster.
  • Downloads are 50% smaller and updates are 60% smaller.
  • Low-data mode
  • 38 new language keyboards
  • Language selection per app

Originally published earlier this year. Updated with new information. 

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