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iOS 13 Beta Review – These Features Changed The Way I Use iPhone

Apple has outdone itself by releasing iOS 13.1 Beta even before the official release of iOS 13. No one’s quite sure just what this means, but my guess is that iOS 13 has seen the implementation of so many new features and tweaks that several constant updates were needed.

Craig Federighi announces iOS 13 at WWDC 2019. Image: Apple

I’ve been using iOS 13 Beta for quite a while now, and it isn’t a stretch to say that this is the most significant iOS update since the big transition from skeuomorphic design in iOS 7 at WWDC 2013. 

Sure, iOS 13’s headline Dark Mode has required a thorough redesign of iOS elements and Apple’s extensive range of internal applications. But here’s overlooking Apple’s newly-developed SwiftKey-like QuickPath swipe keyboard, radically revamped Photos app and editing suite.

It’s in the final stages as the iOS 13 golden master, just days before the official software is expected to drop soon after the September 10 iPhone launch event. 

Dark Mode

Having easy access to toggle Dark Mode has been a life-changer, but I never deactivated it since I installed the beta.

Dark Mode for iOS 13 has been implemented across apps. Image: Apple

Apple’s iOS always been a very bright interface. Across Notes to Calendar, and from Mail to Photos – a glaring white background.

Having a unified darkened experience across apps is a huge step to user comfort over Apple’s True Tone and Night Shift modes. Respectively, these features tune the display colour temperature according to ambient lighting conditions or a pre-set one in the evening for improved sleep quality.

QuickPath keyboard

I’ve long loved SwiftKey’s “swipe” style keyboard, which essentially showed me to input long words accurately and with a single hand.

Installing SwiftKey (or Google’s Gboard) on my iPhone, however, was suboptimal as I missed out on the native iOS feature that allows you to move the caret (the blinking bar that indicates where your typed text is going to go) with 3D Touch or a long press.

QuickPath can be significantly faster than tapping long words out. GIF: Ian Ling

To my testing, QuickPath has been superbly accurate, and in many cases more pragmatic than typing out lengthy words individually. Best of all, it works great with Simplified Chinese, although pinyin’s short sounds and ubiquitous homophones make it hit and miss sometimes. Other languages with Latin scripts like Spanish, German, French, Italian and Portuguese are also supported.


Like many iPhone users, I take a ton of photos. iOS 13 reimagines the interface completely, now “curating” your massive jumble of photos according to year, months or days.

Your photos can be contextually sorted for a more intuitive experience. Image: Apple

Within the interface, users will be able to view their best photos of the year, month or day at a glance. Pinching will also zoom in and out of the picture gallery, allowing users to better navigate their thicket of images.

Another major revamp is in the native photo editing function within Photos. A more user-friendly interface allows every change to be easily monitored at a glance, with about every photo fun function like filters, rotating and cropping also carrying over to video.


I use both Google Maps and Apple Maps very frequently, and often alongside each other. With iOS 13, Apple takes on the hegemon with an incredibly realistic 360-degree Streetview-like experience. Flyover tours will also give users an incredible birds’ eye view of the city without any extra dough for helicopter rental.

Apple dubs this feature “Look Around”, and it virtually takes you on a trip down long streets with realistic effects. GIF: Ian Ling

A more user-friendly favourites section allows for easy access to your top locations or an itinerary for a holiday. 


With a simpler, more user-oriented design, Reminders in iOS 13 is much easier to use and is integrated with Messages.

Reminders gain contextual intelligence, and an all-new vivid interface on iOS 13. Image: Apple

Right on top of the keyboard are options to quickly flag, schedule a notification, create a location-based alert or attach an image to the reminder.


Apple has made strides in its health-tracking capabilities with both the Apple Watch and the iPhone. VO2 max calculations were released about a year ago, and now menstrual tracking comes to iOS.

Menstrual cycle tracking comes to the Apple Watch and iPhone. Image: Apple

If menstrual cycle tracking isn’t a concern for you, your hearing very well might be. The Apple Watch will feature a new Noise app that actively monitors your surroundings to issue a warning if your hearing might be at risk.

If you’re not a Watch owner, the iPhone actively monitors compatible devices like the EarPods, AirPods and some Beats earphones to provide an overview of your listening volumes.

Progress is better monitored on iOS 13 with the new Health app, making it easier to motivate healthy decisions. Image: Apple

For everyone else, the Activity app now better represents progress by indicating your progress over your historical average.


Apple’s keen to stress that it means business when it comes to privacy. One of iOS 13’s greatest features is Sign In With Apple. Unfortunately, this isn’t available on most apps yet pending the official release of iOS 13, but this feature got me excited about privacy.

If you’re paranoid clever, you would have made it a habit to uncheck all the little fields website and apps insist on pre-selecting when you register for a new account. But most of us don’t skip a beat when offered the convenience to sign in with our Google or Facebook accounts even when sites collect emails, friends lists, birth and location data hoping we won’t notice.

Sign In With Apple allows users to better control what data is shared with companies during the sign-up process. Image: Apple

I get frustrated by people who put themselves up to the exploitation of others, but what angers me more are those who exploit others. Apple’s sign up feature effectively feeds these sites, services and applications a unique Apple email that forwards e-mails to your actual email.

This keeps your private information, be it contact, location or socials exactly what it should be – private.

Everything else

Some of my favourite updates are the small ones that have skipped the attention of many others.

I’ve never been a keen user of iOS’s Find My X applications, but unifying Find My Friends and Find My iPhone minimises clutter and kind of better represents what it actually does.

Craig Federighi announces the new Find My unified app on iOS 13. Image: Apple

Ever since, I’ve shared locations with the closest of peers for peace of mind and for a much more efficient experience. You’ve always been able, for example, to set notifications when friends leave or arrive at a location, but the new interface makes everything much more intuitive.

I’ve also had to ping my AirPods and my Watch a couple of times, and Find My is a lovely centre to look for things. I’m excited to see if Apple announces the widely-rumoured Tiles that act as location beacons so I can track more belongings.

Speaking of efficiency, the new Share Sheet initially gained my ire, but quickly became a feature that helped more than hindered as it suggested contacts and apps to share on based on the content I had selected.

The new Share Sheet intelligently suggests contacts and sharing platforms based on the content of the media selected. Image: Apple

Another feature that made me jump to update to iOS 13 even in its early stages is audio sharing. We’ve not yet experienced Apple’s demonstrated tap-and-go method yet, but the ability to pair two sets of AirPods (1st, 2nd generation or PowerBeats Pro) to a single device proved a very handy feature when sharing a movie with a friend on a miserable flight.

We can’t yet tap our iOS 13-enabled iPhones to share audio, but that’s likely coming soon. Image: Apple

Apple is fond of making the smallest tweaks amidst some of the most attention-grabbing. Siri’s voice change is something I had barely noticed, but I’ve found my increasing vocal interactions especially on AirPods more intuitive and natural.

Far from an attention-grabbing feature, the iOS 13 Siri voice improvement evidently required plenty of development on Apple’s end. Image: Apple

This isn’t a laundry list of iOS 13 updates by far, and even if it were, Apple has been demonstrably fond of dropping last-minute features alongside the latest iPhone launch. What these new iOS features are, we’ve got to hang on for a few more days.

Ian Ling
Ian is the resident Tech Monkey and Head of Content at VR Zone. His training in Economics and Political Science is at the basis of his love for journalism and storytelling. A photographer by passion, and an audiophile by obsession, Ian is captivated by all forms of tech that makes enthusiasts tick.

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