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9 essential iOS 13 tips and tricks you need to know

The release of iOS 13 into the wild has been an unusual one from Apple. Not only did this robust software update bring a host of new features and benefits to the table for iPhone users, but it also happened to break the phones of many users who took the time to download and install.

Thankfully, with the release of iOS 13.1, these concerns have mostly been sidelined. The new patch fixes the operating system’s most glaring issues and gives users the chance to finally experience the operating system without the drawbacks. This makes it a must download for folks who’ve already installed iOS 13, as well as people eager to see what the buzz is all about.

It’s as good of a time as ever to update your iPhone and if you’re ready to make the switch, we’ve put together a complete guide on the best new features of iOS 13.1. Plus, we’ll show you how you can get Apple’s latest operating system on to your device so you can try it out for yourself.

1. New number, new look

One of the most frequently requested features for iOS has been the addition of a “dark mode.” This would be easier on the eyes for those of us that do most of our browsing at night. After several years of lagging behind, Apple finally unveiled its own dark mode for iOS 13. It’s clean, great to look at, and will give your vision less strain than usual when you use it.

To activate Dark Mode, simply open up the Settings app, select Display and brightness and at the top, you can tap on dark. Now you can enjoy your phone in a totally different way while keeping the same functionality you’ve come to know and love. If you’d like your device to switch automatically between dark and light modes, turn on Automatic in the same menu. There are other settings in this menu you should check out, including options such as Light until Sunset, if set to Automatic, and True Tone.

2. A new way to look at photos

The photos app has received a major overhaul that makes it easier and more fun to use. Now, instead of needing to scroll through your entire history of photos in order to find one you want to show off, iOS 13 integrates machine learning into the app to group your photos into collections.

It automatically ignores duplicate photos and screenshots, so all those meme pictures you save from Facebook won’t clutter up your albums. If you do need to grab any of those, though, they’re still available in the full camera roll. A welcome change, indeed.

3. Create a memoji that’s uniquely you

Apple has a hit on its hands with Memoji — and for good reason! The popular character creator has given iPhone users the freedom to give their interactions a personal touch, and now Apple has opened the floodgates with a plethora of new options, colors and accessories.

Now, if you want to give your character neon-colored hair or AirPods, it’s all part of the design process. Plus, you can even set your Memoji as a personal icon for your brand new iMessage profile. This acts as an additional contact card you can use with text messages and can help protect your identity.

4. Reminders gets a much-needed overhaul

Reminders has never received enough love from Apple in previous iterations of iOS, but now, the company has put it front and center as an example of its brand new social design philosophy. In the new Reminders, you now have access to helpful auto-suggestions when typing out your to-do’s, and can even tag your contacts in specific reminders that involve them.

When you do this, the next time you message them, you can even clue them into the reminder right within the iMessage app. You can also attach media to your reminders like images and video clips.

Siri is even in on the fun with deeper integration with Reminders, and can automatically and accurately set them by voice.

5. Expertly block unwanted phone calls

The robocall scourge is upon us, and Apple has gracefully decided to take the lead in fighting back. A new feature introduced in iOS 13 allows your phone to automatically “Silence unknown callers” and send them directly to voicemail. Finally, some reprieve from the noise we’ve been enduring for the last several years!

To activate the feature, open the Settings app and scroll down to Phone. Here, you’ll find the option to Silence Unknown Callers. After testing this feature here at for ourselves, we found that it works splendidly.

The only problem: it blocks all unknown callers — even if you’re expecting them. For this reason, we recommend turning the feature off if you’re expecting a call from someone not on your contacts like a handyman or pizza delivery person. Thankfully, it’s easy to toggle when you need it.

6. Type with a swipe

Another feature that’s been available on Android and not iPhone for years is a swipe-based keyboard. This means you can swivel your fingers over letters instead of needing to manually punch them out, with machine learning algorithms sorting your gestures into words.

So far, the keyboard works excellently and is enabled by default in iOS 13.1. All you need to do while typing is to move your finger from one letter to the next without lifting it. The software handles the rest.

If you don’t see it, or wish to turn the feature off, simply open your Settings app and select General. Then, select Keyboard and scroll down until you see Slide to Type. Here, you can enable or disable the feature to your liking.

7. Set your excess tabs to expire for a faster phone

iOS 13 is optimized for speed, and in addition to several behind the scenes tweaks, a major breakthrough is an addition of “tab expiration.” Over the course of normal internet use, most iPhone owners tend to build up a large amount of Safari tabs that usually just get left open.

This doesn’t hurt the phone, mind you, but it does contribute majorly to memory drain and RAM usage. This can result in unusual app crashes and performance slowdown since Safari is constantly trying to keep all the web pages and content running.

In iOS 13, however, you can set tabs to expire automatically so they don’t keep on bogging down your system. To access this feature, open the Settings app and scroll down to Safari. Then, scroll down to the section that says Tabs and select it. Here, tap Close tabs and select the amount of time you’d like them to last for.

It’s set to manual by default, but we recommend having your tabs expire after a day unless absolutely necessary. You should notice a marked increase in your speed after enabling the feature.

8. Sign in securely with your Apple ID

One of the biggest benefits of iOS 13.1 comes in the world of privacy and security. Apple has empowered developers to use a new, privacy-enhancing feature it’s calling Sign in with Apple.

To use it, all you’ll need to do is tap a Sign in with Apple button on participating apps and websites, but when you do, Apple automatically encrypts the data you provide and lets you in using your Apple ID password. This means you won’t need to remember 100 different passwords for all your favorite apps anymore, as well as less risk of hacking due to Apple’s own secure facilities.

In order to enable Sign in with Apple, however, your phone must have two-factor authentication activated for maximum security. To set this up, open the Settings app, tap your name, and tap Password and Security.

Here, you’ll see an option to Turn on Two Factor Authentication. Follow the steps that appear and you’ll be signing in with your Apple ID before you know it. Right now, only a handful of apps and websites support the new feature — but you can expect it to grow in a major way in the coming years.

9. Experience Apple Arcade for free with iOS 13

One of the most notable features Apple added to iOS 13 is an entirely new subscription service called Apple Arcade. In years before, if you wanted to try out a handful of different games, you would have to pay for each one individually. Now, Apple’s new service gives you access to an entire library of interesting games for the dirt-cheap price of $4.99 a month.

But here’s what’s great: If you install iOS 13.1 on your device, you actually get one month free to try out the whole service with no obligation. If you decide you don’t like it, you can easily cancel and go on with your life.

If you decide to stick with it, however, expect your library of games to open up even more. Best of all, your subscription can be shared with anyone in your Family Sharing list, so it’s easy to get the whole family in on the fun.

How to install iOS 13.1 on your device

Updating to iOS 13.1 is easy and doesn’t even require a computer anymore to do. All you’ll need is your charging cable and adapter, your phone, and a stable Wi-Fi connection.

To get started, open the Settings app on your device and scroll down to General. Next, tap Software Update and you’ll be taken to the landing page for iOS 13. Here, you can select Download and Install, which will begin the process of loading your new operating system.

While you’re on this landing page, make sure to check Automatic Updates, which will install critical security patches and bug fixes overnight while you sleep. This will help your iPhone stay a step ahead of hackers, the zero-day glitches they aim to exploit. This can also help counteract missteps from Apple itself, and give you immediate access to any stability patches as soon as they’re available.

When it comes to your iPad, however, updating to iOS 13.1 won’t actually work. In fact, you’re going to need a completely different download altogether.

Apple is now updating all iPads on iOS 12 and iPad Minis versions 4 and up to a brand new operating system called iPad OS, which is designed from the ground up to take advantage of the iPad’s unique properties. We’ll be going into iPad OS in further detail in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled for more related Apple content from

Bonus: Subscribe to Kim’s Apple Newsletter for even more tips, tricks and how-to’s

Are you an Apple lover? Get the latest on new software, security alerts and all the tips you need to get the most out of your iPhone, iPad or Mac. Click or tap here to sign up for Kim’s free Apple Updates Newsletter.

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