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What to know before you install it

Apple's iOS13 offers free updates, photo editing tools and new looks


What to know before you install it

Jefferson Graham


Published 1:50 PM EDT Sep 19, 2019

With new iPhones coming to stores Friday, you know what that means. A new software upgrade, iOS13, will be out first, and it’s free. 

The upgrade, out Thursday (usually around 10 a.m. Pacific Time) offers iPhone owners back to the 6S and SE a way to update their devices with stronger security, and new features. (Of course, anyone buying the new Phone 11, 11 Pro or Pro Max will get the device with iOS 13 already installed.)

New features include: 

—Dark Mode: Apple describes it as a way to “make every element on the screen easier on your eyes,” with more of an emphasis on black backgrounds, instead of white ones. 

—Speed: As always, Apple promises faster operations, thanks to software enhancements. 

—Privacy: Apple has an alternative to signing into apps with Facebook or Google, promising less data monitoring the Apple way, and a way to keep your e-mail address anonymous. Only a handful of apps will be offering the Sign In with Apple service with iOS13 initially, but Apple has given app makers until April 2020 to be on board and offer, so expect everyone to eventually play along. 

—A new look to Maps: Apple has revamped its Maps app to offer more details and be more useful, Apple says. Now you’ll be able to see locations in 3D. 

—Revamped Photos app: Arguably the feature that will be most used by consumers is a new look to Photos, both with more enhanced and management tools that will show you photos in a different way, by years, months and days.  

—Robocaller killer: Apple looks to make a dent in the robocall epidemic by pushing any call that comes through with a number that’s not in your contacts direct to voicemail. That may work for mom, dad and your friends, but if you get a call from the Cleaner letting you know that your order is ready, or a restaurant calls you to change your reservation, it could be problematic. So you might want to get a head start and begin adding your business contacts to your phone directory. 

iPhone 11: Great camera, long battery, but not a must-buy

Deep dive: 13 hidden ways Apple’s new software can breathe life into your aging iPhone

Here’s how to get iOS 13: 

Open your iPhone, go to Settings, General and then click Software Update. When Apple has put iOS 13 available for download, it will show up as an option.

Reminder: Your phone needs to be plugged in (“charging”) and connected to Wi-Fi to complete the update, which historically takes about a half-hour to update. Remember that with nearly 1 billion iPhone users, many will try to download the software right when it becomes available, causing a bottleneck. 

So it’s often best to wait a few hours, or the following day or two, for your download, when there will be less competition. 

Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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