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It's going to be a big year for iOS and that's not just wishful thinking, that's based entirely on what we know is coming. Here's what the evidence says Apple is bringing to our iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches.
Nothing is certain until Tim Cook steps out on stage at WWDC 2019 and says "Good morning." Yet if this year there are very many hopes for what Apple will reveal at San Jose's McEnery Convention Center on June 3, there is also a lot that is as close to certain as can be.
Here's what Apple will definitely announce for iOS, plus what strong evidence says they may also cover. Read our separate coverage of what you can expect for macOS 10.15 — and the likelihood of new hardware being revealed.
The new iOS 13
Apple is believed to be chiefly focusing on the speed of iOS 13, and in significantly building on several of the company's recurring themes such as health.
Sources have said that the Health app will have a redesigned home page that displays your daily activity more prominently. There's also expected to be a new "hearing health" section which, in part, will provide details about how loud the environment or the music we're playing is.
There's to be a more comprehensive and detailed menstrual cycle section in Health, too.
Reminders is also getting a new look with a grid showing different types of tasks. Then Apple Books is believed to add a rewards system for encouraging people to read more, and the Maps app will improve how it handles favorite locations.
A key update to the Messages app will see it adopting a WhatsApp-like system where you can both choose a new profile picture for it and decide who does, or does not, get to see that image.
Apple is to further develop Screen Time with more parental controls and it's possible that iOS 13 will also see an update to Bedtime. That should see your phone doing more or offering more options for dimming the screen and switching on Do Not Disturb on a schedule that helps you sleep. It may also incorporate a sleep-tracking feature to refine these choices, though that's at least as likely to be a 2020 feature as 2019.
It's likely now that Apple will introduce its own version of the functionality offered by Luna Display. That's a hardware and software system that lets you use an iPad as a second monitor for a Mac.
There has been one questionable report that claims iOS 13 will not be supported on the iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 5s or older models, nor on older iPads. However, it's unsubstantiated and highly counting against its accuracy is the fact that the iPhone SE, for instance, is still a currently manufactured model in India.
Then there has also been a more positive rumor that Apple is changing how you can get better photo management. The claim is that you'll be able to take images from an SD card or similar and load them directly into third-party apps. Currently to get an image into Lightroom, you have to first load it into Apple's Photos app.
Also likely to be mixing hardware and software is an update to Apple's Find My Friends and Find My iPhone apps. Perhaps at least because Find My iPhone now actually locates iPads, Macs, Apple Watches and AirPods too, it's being reworked. Reportedly known as "GreenTouch" within Apple, these will be combined into one app but also possibly add physical devices, similar to iBeacons or the Tile dongle.
While it's never said so publicly, Apple does seem to concentrate every other year on iOS improvements that particularly benefit the iPad and 2019 is one of those. Many such improvements also appear on the iPhone, but they're aimed at iPad users and in this case they're expected to include better multitasking options including multiple windows in an app.
There is also expected to be a Dark Mode for iOS, similar to the one Apple introduced on the Mac with macOS Mojave, and recent reported leaks have shown possible iPhone images from this feature.
And you can add new emoji faces to the list of updates that are certain to come. You can do that because emoji are not random, they are not done at Apple's whim, they are actually determined by a standards body. Apple might do them nicer than anyone else, but there is an official set and it's been added to for 2019.
We obviously know for certain that watchOS 6 is going to be unveiled at WWDC 2019, but there's very strong evidence for a lot its forthcoming features, too.
Perhaps the most significant is that now Apple Watch apps are to get their own App Store.
It appears that Apple itself is taking advantage of this app store, too, with new health applications, an audiobooks one, and reportedly a calculator.
In theory, giving the Watch its own App Store could mean that the device is being opened up more to third-party developers, but we'll have to see. Right now you can make an Apple Watch app so long as you also make an iPhone companion to it. This is how there is already an excellent Apple Watch calculator in the form of PCalc, for instance.
If Apple does allow Watch-only apps, that would simplify development a little. However, if Apple goes further, if it truly allows third-party developers to do more, this could even be the year we see other companies providing Apple Watch faces.
That's starting to head into wishful thinking, though, and for once this year, we have more than enough detail of what is actually going to covered at WWDC to spend time speculating. One thing is certain, and that's this will be an exciting WWDC — and health company Cardiogram plans to assess exactly how exciting by measuring heart rates during the keynote.
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