Apple on Tuesday —as expected— officially launched iOS 13.1 to the public. This is the first major update to the iOS 13 platform, which, as mentioned at the start, only released to the public on September 19. This update isn’t bringing with it a ton of new features, as it primarily focuses on correcting a range of reported bugs since the launch of iOS 13 last week.
But here are the big new features Apple introduced last week with iOS 13, as we look ahead to iOS 13.1:
iOS 13 was a huge update for the mobile operating system, bringing with it a ton of new features like system-wide dark mode, a new swipe keyboard, and the ability to pair wireless Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers to your devices. However, some of the elements that Apple talked about earlier this year at its Worldwide Developers Conference weren’t included in that initial update, which means it’s iOS 13.1’s job to fill in the holes.
(Here’s a laundry list of the new features present in iOS 13 and iPadOS.)
iOS 13.1 will add Audio Sharing to supported devices. With this feature, users will be able to connect two pairs of AirPods to a single device and listen to the same media at the same time. This means you won’t have to split up a single pair of AirPods to share a listening experience.
What’s more, it’s also been confirmed that the Audio Sharing feature will expand to additional Beats-branded headphones equipped with the W1 and H1 chips with the launch of iOS 13.1.
In addition to that, iOS 13.1 unlocks access to Apple’s new, customized U1 chip within the new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max. This chip takes advantage of new Ultra Wideband technology, which adds “GPS at the scale of your living room”, to put it lightly. Here’s how Apple describes it:
The new Apple‑designed U1 chip uses Ultra Wideband technology for spatial awareness — allowing iPhone 11 to precisely locate other U1‑equipped Apple devices. Think GPS at the scale of your living room. So if you want to share a file with someone using AirDrop, just point your iPhone at theirs and they’ll be first on the list.
This new feature is tied to AirDrop for now, but will probably expand beyond that once Apple finally announces the oft-rumored Apple Tags tracking device. Right now, there is a new AirDrop interface in iOS 13.1, making it easier to just simply point a U1-equipped iPhone at another U1-equipped device and easily share content with them.
There are new HomeKit icons with iOS 13.1 as well, and speaking of AirPods there is a new dedicated icon for AirPods while adjusting volume.
Here are some subtle changes Apple made with iOS 13.1:
Apple Maps continues to improve, and iOS 13.1 leans into that trend by welcoming in the Share ETA feature. When you use Maps to navigate, you’re already given an estimated time of arrival, or ETA. With iOS 13, users will be able to send that information to family, friends, or coworkers, letting them know when they should expect you. And if your ETA changes because of a delay, it will automatically be updated so everyone stays informed.
In addition to that, Siri Shortcuts Automations are making their iOS debut with iOS 13.1. These will allow iOS users to quickly set up automatic Siri Shortcuts, all primed by a specific trigger. These Shortcuts can also work in the background. This can include multiple actions as well, as MacStories has outlined in an in-depth look at the new Siri Automations. Users will be able to have Siri handle a variety of tasks when they finish a workout, or a certain time of day rolls around, or when they reach a specific location.
MacStories also goes into an in-depth look at Conversational Shortcuts as well. This type of Siri interaction will see Siri getting a bit more active in the conversation when asked to do something, rather than just opening up an app like Shortcuts and leaving it up to the user to handle it all:
All of this is changing in iOS 13.1: if Siri hits a parameter that requires an interaction to be resolved, it’ll ask for your input before continuing with the execution of the shortcut. At a high level, this typically involves speaking a response or choosing from a list of options; both Shortcuts’ native actions and third-party actions will support conversational mode, which has been designed to allow for interactions on any Siri-capable device that can run shortcuts, including HomePod and Apple Watch.
Those are the big elements coming to iOS 13.1, which is now available as a free update. Are you excited about any of these big new features in iOS 13.1?