I've been using Apple's big new iOS 13 update for 24 hours, and the new Messages and Photos updates are the best part
Brittany Hosea-Small/Getty Images
- Apple released the iOS 13 update for iPhones this week.
- The update comes with an updated Photos app, the long-awaited dark mode, and other changes.
- While some say that iOS 13 is off a buggy start, I've had a good experience so far.
- The best part are the changes to the Messages and Photos apps, both of which have updates that help you find exactly what you're looking for.
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Apple released iOS 13 for iPhones as old as the 6S on Thursday - and although some people have been using the public beta since June, it's new to me.
I downloaded iOS 13 to my iPhone XR soon after it was released, and so far I've been impressed. While I haven't had the time to extensively test out every new feature in the sweeping new update, some updates stuck out immediately as clear improvements.
In this update, Apple focused on privacy, on performance, and on improving core apps like Photos, Maps, and Messages. I've been pleasantly surprised to find that those tweaks make my phone a little better and more useful: The new design of the Photos app makes it more usable, so you can quickly find the photo you're looking for. I also found some useful updates in the Messages app and in the App Store.
Finally, I'm optimistic about Shortcuts, the Apple-made app for helping automate common tasks on your phone. It comes built-in to iOS 13 (before, it was a separate download), and suggests some helpful uses based on your habits. I've already used some of those routines several times.
The actual usefulness of these changes will become more clear over time, but here are some of my first impressions after a day with iOS 13:
Messages got an update with some features that are already proving useful in the day I've had iOS 13.
I frequently go back in a message thread to try and find something I saved for later. In iOS 13, you can see photos and links separately under "info," eliminating the need to scroll up. I can already tell this will save me time and frustration.
It's also easier to manage and delete messages (something I should do more frequently to clear up space on my phone). Instead of swiping to delete individual threads, there's now a button that will allow you to "Manage Messages List" and delete multiple threads at once in one go.
I'll always happily take more Memoji options. Memoji are Apple's custom-made emoji that use the iPhone's front camera to track and match your facial expression — only available on the iPhone X and newer models.
Your options to share a message look a little different from before. The new design isn't exactly worse, but moving AirDrop down next to Messages means I've almost accidentally airdropped several random links to people on the train while trying to send them to my sister. The muscle memory is hard to unlearn.
A minor App Store change is already proving helpful. Now, you can delete apps straight from the same screen where you see all your pending app updates. That's handy, as seemingly every single app updates to support iOS 13 — I've seen a lot of apps that I've forgotten about, and that can now be deleted.
In the same spirit of decluttering my phone, I'm excited about the ability to automatically close tabs after certain periods in the Safari browser. I'm embarrassed to say how many were actually open when I went to test this feature.
As a devotee of Twitter dark mode, I was excited to finally have the feature for my iPhone. Right now, I'm trying out the "Light Until Sunset," feature, letting my phone automatically switch between light and dark.
Typing by swiping across the keyboard is one of my favorite new features. I previously used Gboard to enable this feature, but occasionally updates would break it and I'd have to re-add the keyboard manually. Having the swipe built into keyboards makes it effortless to use.
So far, the Photos redesign has made it easier for me to find pictures and sort through old photos.
Some new shortcuts look promising, although I haven't gotten to try them all out.
After a short time using the update, my advice is to download iOS 13 now, no need to wait for iOS 13.1. I haven't noticed any major bugs, and the system is certainly usable as-is. Playing with the cool new features — especially those updates to Photos and Messages — is worth any minor risks of bugginess, in my opinion.
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