Apple is releasing major software updates for all its hardware brands over the coming weeks with some of them, like iOS 13 watchOS 6, and tvOS 13 available September 19, while iPadOS 13 launches September 30 and macOS Catalina will be available sometime in October. Here's what's new in Apple's major software releases.
iOS 13 is going dark! You can to switch between dark and light themes across iOS and even select a dynamic wallpaper, which changes from dark to light, depending on the time of day. Apple Maps has some improvements, the biggest of which is "Look Around," which is like Street View on steroids. We've got some security changes with Sign In with Apple and HomeKit Secure Video. In iOS 13, you can make your own Memoji stickers (even if you don't have a device with Face ID). There are major changes to the user interface of the Photos app. AirPods (first and second generation) get Siri improvements and audio sharing and HomePod supports multiple user accounts. Voice Control, an accessibility feature, is a mind-blowing update to VoiceOver that lets users navigate their devices with voice commands. Speaking of accessibility, iPhone and iPad now have mouse and trackpad support, but don't go crazy. It's called "Pointing device" and is intended to be a precision pointer for accessibility needs, though we've all been using a mouse with our iPad since the beta launched. There's so much more in iOS 13 that we can't even list everything here. We've got a comprehensive list of what's in the update in our link below.
What's that? A new operating system? That's right. The iPad has grown so much in its short existence that Apple decided it needed a dedicated interface. It's based on iOS, but has it's own layers that make it a unique experience that can only be done on an iPad. It's not a big iPod touch anymore! What's special about iPadOS? How about multiple apps in Split View and apps in multiple spaces. It's not a multi-window experience the way you'd get it on Mac or PC, but its about as close as you can get, designed for iPad. You can pin widgets to your Home screen, there's a new set of tools for Apple Pencil and developers can create their own tools for their apps. Cut/copy/pasting has a whole new experience with three-finger pinching and spreading to "pick up" a section of text and then "dropping it" in a new location. For those wanting more storage or a faster way to transfer photos on the go, iPadOS 13 supports connecting an external hard drive, and yes, that covers iPads with a Lightning port. And yes, those do exist. iPadOS will launch on September 30. In the meantime, check out everything new in iPadOS right here.
macOS Catalina (10.15)
The real winners of the update to macOS are developers. With Catalyst, mobile developers will be able to easier transform their iOS apps to Mac and only have to make minor adjustments so that their iOS app makes sense on Mac. No more building from the ground up here. In macOS Catalina, Apple has split iTunes up into multiple apps, similar to how it works on iOS. Your music library will move to the Music app, your movies and TV show library will move to the TV app, and your podcast library will move to the Podcast app. Apple also added Screen Time to the Mac, including the ability to implement some pretty strict parental controls. My favorite new feature in macOS Catalina is Sidecar, which allows you to turn your iPad into a second screen, wirelessly! Many of the new features in iOS 13 are also available in macOS Catalina, like Voice Control, the combined Find My app, Sign in with Apple, and a whole lot more. macOS Catalina launches sometime in October (no official launch date yet)
All models of Apple Watch (except "series zero") support watchOS 6, which gives us a calculator, new health tracking for women, a hearing health app called Noise, and an on-board Watch App Store (no more going to your iPhone to download new apps). The Activity app gets some new features to help you track your progress over time and makes you aware of times when you're under-performing. Oh, and let's not forget the new Watch faces that really make your Apple Watch look like a new accessory.
WatchOS 6 launches September 19 for Apple Watch Series 3 - Series 5. It will be available later this fall for Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2.
The new features in tvOS 13 this fall may seem like small potatoes compared to what's in the other operating systems, but it's got it where it counts. For example, Apple TV now supports multiple user accounts, so each person in your family can set up their home screen just the way they want it, with apps and games customized to their own preferences. With Apple Arcade on Apple TV, we also get major game controller updates with official support for the Xbox Wireless Controller and the Playstation DualShock 4 controller. Apple TV's fancy screensaver now goes underwater in tvOS 13 with some relaxing ocean shots from the BBC's Blue Planet.
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Updated September 2019 Added the latest information on Apple's software releases.
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