Back in June, Apple unveiled iOS13, iPadOS and WatchOS6 at their annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), showcasing a host of new and exciting features that would be coming to the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.
These game-changing software updates aren’t available to the public just yet, but we were lucky enough to get an early hands on preview ahead of their release in September. After seeing them working in real life, here’s what we’re most excited about:
iOS13: Let There Be Dark (Mode)
One of the most highly anticipated features of iOS13 is Dark Mode, and now that we’ve seen it for ourselves we totally understand the hype.
At the risk of sounding like an angsty teenager in the 2000’s, the all black aesthetic simply looks better, and is a lot easier on the eyes as compared to the default white that we’ve been living with for years.
Dark Mode isn’t just about aesthetics, though — the black backgrounds actually take a smaller toll on battery life (for OLED screens, at least), and as a bonus you can now use your phone in a cinema without being slapped in the face by a burst of light.
There’s an option for Dark Mode to turn on automatically at a certain time, but we have a feeling that we’ll be keeping it on the entire day.
Several apps like Notes and Reminders have also received facelifts, but the Photos app might have the most radical redesign of them all. The gallery is now split into three new views — days, months and years — each with a unique way of presenting your photos.
The days view, for example, intelligently removes duplicate photos to prevent clutter (we’re all guilty of mashing that shutter button for a single photo, aren’t we?), while the months view identifies similar looking locations and compiles them and into a single event.
Speaking of photos, one new feature that wasn’t touched on too much at WWDC is photo editing. Apple have added a host of VSCO-esque options to fine-tune your photos, allowing you to adjust parameters like the sharpness and white balance straight from the photos app.
And as if that wasn’t game-changing enough, all these editing tools are available for video as well. Anyone who’s familiar with video editing knows tedious colour correction can be, and while this isn’t going to replace Premiere Pro it’ll certainly suffice for a quick-fix.
We’ve barely scratched the surface of what iOS13 has to offer (a new QuickPath keyboard and Sign In With Apple come to mind), but all you need to know is that it makes a very strong case for sticking with the iPhone.
iPadOS: Tablet, Computer…Or Both?
It’s no secret that Apple is grooming the iPad to become a laptop replacement, and after seeing what iPadOS can do we can say that they’re getting real close.
One of the biggest improvements is web browsing — it might seem simple for iPads to use the desktop version of Safari instead of the mobile one, but a lot has actually been done behind the scenes to make sites like Gmail, WordPress and Google Docs work intuitively with touch gestures.
Based on what we’ve seen, surfing the net with iPadOS is a huge improvement over the current iteration. It’s hard to explain in words but navigation is smoother than ever, and a new, dedicated download manager allows you to…well, download files in the background.
Multitasking is another integral part of the desktop experience, and thankfully the iPad delivers in that respect as well. Slide Over allows you to “hide” and easily access multiple apps at the side, and you can swipe through them as you would with an iPhone X/XS too.
On top of that, you can also open two apps side by side, or multiple windows of a single app at the same time. Two notes side by side? Safari and a note? An image with your preferred sketching app? Yeah, the possibilities are pretty much endless.
iPadOS has also improved Files app to look more Macbook-ish, which — coupled with thumb drive and SD card support — makes file management easier as well. Lightning connector thumb drives aren’t exactly a ubiquitous product at the moment, though, and it might get annoying when you want to transfer files to and from other computers.
We’re not going to lie — learning how to use the iPad as a computer will no doubt take some time to get used to. The good news is that the tools are certainly there for it to be a legitimate consideration, and we’re definitely considering it.
Oh, and did we mention that iPad OS has Dark Mode too?
WatchOS 6: Watch-ing Out For Your Ears
The Apple Watch has always been a health-centric device, so it’s no surprise that WatchOS 6 has added several more features to track your well-being.
The most prominent addition here is the Noise app, which uses the Apple Watch’s microphone to monitor the sound level around you. It’ll automatically alert you when you’re in a sonically harmful environment, and also provides a handy guide of what different levels of sound can do to your hearing.
Because the Noise app is always on, you can set it as a complication to check the sound levels of your environment in real-time. Battery life was the first concern that came to our minds when we heard this, but Apple assured us that it’s been optimised to use as little juice as possible.
Apart from health-related updates, iPhone apps like Voice Memos have also been added. Having a recorder on your wrist is deceivingly useful, and anyone from students to journalists to musicians will be able to find a use for it. You can even play recordings from the Apple Watch itself, which is cool.
Lastly, web browsing is now possible on the Apple Watch, and asking Siri a question will bring up the option to get more information form the Internet. You should still use your phone for long reads, but this is a good feature to have when you want to know the answer to a random question that pops into your head.
We don’t know about you, but September can’t come soon enough.
Header Image Credit: Apple