After lots of reading, I finally decided to update my iPhone to iOS 13 two weeks ago. To be specific, it was version 13.1.2. I checked my iPad with iPadOS 13 for all obvious dealbreaker and could not find any. So here I am finally joining million others using iOS 13.
I took very cautious step for the iOS upgrade. I use iTunes in my Mac instead of doing OTA upgrade. I took extra step to create iPhone backup using iTunes while still using iOS 12, then I prevented iTunes from creating auto backup when performing upgrade. If you wish to disable iTunes backup while doing update, you can open Terminal app and enter this command: defaults write com.apple.iTunes AutomaticDeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true
To enable automatic backup again, use this command: defaults write com.apple.iTunes AutomaticDeviceBackupsDisabled -bool false
First impression was that my phone did not seem to change. It was the same look and feel. If I hadn’t read so many articles on iOS 13, I probably wouldn’t notice most of the new things. This was one of the reason I feel that iOS & iPadOS 13 were one of the most underwhelming major releases from Apple, and I had written more about my take on iPadOS 13 in this post.
Battery life was one of my concern before upgrading. Sure enough in the first 2 days after upgrading, my phone’s battery dropped faster, but it was to be expected. I installed enough major versions of iOS to realise that the first few days after new major version, the phone is usually busy with performing some background tasks from the new version. Starting from day 3, I noticed that battery life was getting back to iOS 12 days. Or so I thought.
On day 6, I opened my Battery menu inside Settings app and realise that my phone had been doing backround activities that drained battery literally the whole daytime hours. I checked further and found two culprits: my Fitbit Charge 2 and Tile trackers. Took me few days of troubleshooting before I somehow got it fixed. For the Fitbit, I turned off the All Day Sync feature for a few hours, restarted my phone, then turned the feature back on again, and somehow it is behaving more reasonable now. I am not entirely sure if it was because of the toggling of the feature, or was it because Fitbit app update. For Tile app, I solved it by turning off its Background App Refresh feature. The Tile app warned me that the tracker will not work, but I checked ringing my phone from Tile tracker with Background App Refresh off and it still worked just fine.
All my Bluetooth speakers and Bluetooth headphones worked fine. Sony’s Headphones app showed a notice in my iPad about specific feature of Sony WF-1000XM3 incompatible with iPadOS 13 until fix is arrived, but I did not see the notice in my iPhone with newly installed iOS 13. I assumed whatever was broken has been fixed. I tested my WF-1000XM3 and it works normally.
My conclusion is that iOS 13 is quite good with battery life. If some people had poor experience, it’s most probably coming from one or more of their applications or devices. Those apps and devices are not within Apple’s control. Their developers need to do their job and update the apps accordingly to ensure good compatibility with the new iOS.
Photo editing in Photos app can do a few new tricks now, which is nice, but not “greatly innovative”. The ability to choose WiFi connection (and Bluetooth) from Control Panel is nice. That new emoji that looks like ourselves is a gimmick, fun for a few messages but nothing more. Showing our photo/avatar in iMessage is another unnecessary gimmick. It doesn’t hurt to have it, but it doesn’t bring much of new value either.
Updating apps from the AppStore app now takes one extra step. It could be tapping our avatar icon inside the app, or doing long press on the app icon from home screen. Either way it’s an extra step for something many of us do regularly. So this is a really bad UX decision from Apple.
Merging Find My Friends and Find My iPhone apps resulted in my wife calling me because she couldn’t find those apps. Surely it’s not difficult for Apple to display the information about important app merging in the welcome screen that we always get after major version upgrade.
New Reminders app… well, the changes that I can observe so far are minor UI changes. I could not upgrade to the new Reminders format because it will break compatibility with my macOS and I don’t plan to upgrade my macOS this year, or until all my important 32-bit applications receive an update from their makers.
The Battery charging feature that promises to “smartly” learn our habits and prevent our phones from staying with 100% charge the whole night… so far, it doesn’t work. I charge my iPhone every night and wake up at almost the same time every work day and different schedule every weekend (very consistent pattern) and it doesn’t seem to “learn” my daily usage habits. Every night, my iPhone still charges to 100% and stayed at that level the whole night. What a disappointment. This was one of my primary push to finally decide to give iOS 13 a chance.
Dark mode is a gimmick. Tried it for a few hours, turned it back immediately and didn’t miss anything.
Redesigned CarPlay is a minor gimmick at best. Yes it’s nice to see the home screen in dark or bright, but that’s all about it. The new split screen that shows a map, song control and smart suggestion only works with Apple Maps. Really? Seriously? Who uses Apple Maps? Until this feature is available for third party apps like Waze or Google Maps or Sygic, I consider this as useless. Oh, but the ability to use my Phone without impacting the CarPlay display is indeed useful. Probably one of the most worthy feature of this whole upgrade.
In 2 weeks, I experienced my phone suddenly lost its Internet connectivity 2 times. It still appears as I am getting 4G, but opening browser or any apps that require active Internet connection would not work. Toggling Aeroplane Mode didn’t help. Toggling Cellular icon in Control Center didn’t work. I had to restart the phone before things went back to normal. Not sure what caused this, if a third party app caused this, I hope it’ll get updated soon.
Having to do choose “Rearrange Apps” on an icon is quite annoying. It is also quite misleading because we also need to choose the same option to delete an app. I could figure out, but I am almost certain that a lot of non-tech-savvy people would get confused the first time.
Overall, I consider that iOS 13 is an underwhelming major upgrade with a few useful features (albeit minor) and several new annoyances. I can still live with the annoyances, they are not deal-breakers, but I still hope they’d be gone. Someone in Apple needs to set the priorities right with the UX. It has gone downhill in the last few years and they need to change it, soon.