iOS 13.2, from Deep Fusion to Siri grading — how to use all the new features

iOS 13.2 features hero image

Apple yesterday released the iOS 13.2 software update for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. With it came a new computational photography feature for the latest iPhone 11 devices, dubbed Deep Fusion, in addition to Announce Messages With Siri that was originally supposed to arrive as part of the initial iOS 13.0 update, plus a whole bunch of other important changes.

iOS 13: hands-on video walkthrough

iOS 13.2 is a substantial update with many under-the-hood fixes and important improvements. In order to help you get the most out of your iOS device, we’ve put together a little tutorial laying out everything new in iOS 13.2 and explaining how to use all the new features.

Harris’ video will give you the lowdown on what’s going on in iOS 13.2 in under four minutes.

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Continue reading for the full tutorial, included right ahead.

How to use all the new iOS 13.2 features

Here are the new features in iOS 13.2, and how to use them.

Deep Fusion boosts your iPhone photography game

Deep Fusion is a brand new computational photography feature for the latest iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max smartphones. Powered by the Neural Engine of the A13 Bionic chip, Deep Fusion does advanced image processing to optimize every part of the photo for texture, detail and noise. It first captures multiple images at various exposures.

iOS 13.2 features tutorial: Deep Fusion

The shots are fed to the chip’s Neural Engine which in turn runs a pixel-by-pixel analysis and fuses the highest quality parts of the images together. The results are photos with better lighting, finer detail and reduced noise, especially for mid to low-light scenes.

Deep Fusion is subtly implemented — there’s no switches or toggles to worry about. You just snap a photo and trust Deep Fusion to do its magic. For those wondering, the Night Mode feature which Apple introduced with the newest iPhones is what will handle primarily low-light photographs, with Deep Fusion sitting out of that specific scenario.

For a deeper explanation of what Deep Fusion is, how it works and how using this standout feature boosts your iPhone photography game, be sure to read our excellent explainer.

Announce Messages With Siri is delayed no more

Aside from implementing support for the new AirPods Pro noise-cancelling earbuds which start shipping Wednesday, iOS 13.2 brought out a cool Announce Messages with Siri feature. This was supposed to arrive with the initial iOS 13.0 update but got delayed until iOS 13.2’s release.

Announce Messages with Siri reads your incoming messages aloud to your earbuds without requiring you to first unlock the phone. Siri plays a tone, then announces the sender’s name and reads the message. If a message is too long, Siri announces the sender’s name and says only that they sent you a message. Important: Siri won’t announce messages if you’re using your device.

But it doesn’t stop there — your trusted digital assistant will avoid interrupting you and will listen after reading the message aloud so that you can reply hands-free. This lets you carry on your conversations without having to say “Hey Siri” every time.

You can have Siri announce your incoming messages with these headphones:

  • AirPods (2nd generation)
  • AirPods Pro
  • PowerBeats Pro
  • Beats Solo Pro

With your earbuds connected to your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch, venture into Settings → Notifications → Announce Messages With Siri, then tap Announce Messages With Siri to get started with this feature. Don’t see the toggles? That’s probably because your headphones are not paired with the phone or turned on or you have unsupported headphones.

iOS 13.2 features tutorial: Announce Messages with Siri
Provided you have supported headphones, Siri on iOS 13.2 can read out messages to you.

For a truly uninterrupted experience, toggle the option Reply Without Confirmation to have Siri send your replies immediately without first reading them back to you.

There are other options you can play with, too.

You can turn on announce messages capability on a per-app basis. For example, perhaps you’d you prefer to have it on for the stock Messages app, but disabled for any third-party apps that integrate with Siri, like Viber or WhatsApp (for now, it seems you can only enable the feature for Messages).

iOS 13.2 features tutorial: second-generation AirPods and Powerbeats Pro
This feature requires headphones or earphones powered by Apple’s headphone chip.

You can optionally limit the feature to certain contacts only. To customize that filter, tap Messages underneath the Announce Messages From heading and you’ll land on the options screen where you can limit the feature to specific contact groups.

  • Favorites: Siri will only announce messages sent by your Phone favorites.
  • Recents: Only announce messages received from people listed in Phone → Recents.
  • Contacts: The feature will be enabled for everyone in Contacts.
  • Everyone: Always announce messages no matter who is sending them.

To quickly turn the feature on or off, simply customize your iPhone’s or iPad’s Control Center to include the new Announce Messages with the Siri platter.

Managing your privacy with Siri

iOS 13.2 brings Apple’s promised toggles for opting in and out of the controversial Siri grading program. The company says the grading process involves its own employees listening to audio recordings of your Siri interactions (or computer-generated transcriptions of your requests) and grading responses. This doesn’t just help Siri’s machine learning improve over time, but also Dictation and language-processing features, such as Voice Control.

You are opted out by default.

If you’d like to help Apple improve Siri and the Dictation feature, iOS 13.2 now lets you elect to let the company store and review audio of any Siri and Dictation interactions on your iPhone or any connected device, such as Apple Watch or HomePod.

Managing Siri grading

To opt in or out of Siri grading, tap Settings → Privacy → Analytics and Improvements and turn on or off the switch labeled with the text Improve Siri & Dictation. You will be asked to set this preference when setting up your iPhone or upgrading the operating system on your device.

iOS 13.2 features tutorial: Improve Siri and Dictation
iOS 13.2 lets you choose whether you’d like to participate in the Siri grading program or not.

Here’s the fine print:

By enabling Improve Siri & Dictation, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its subsidiaries’ and agents’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing and use of this information, including your audio interactions and Siri data, to provide and improve Siri, Dictation and other language processing features like Voice Control. At all times information received by Apple from your use of Siri and Dictation will be trend in accordion dance with Apple’s Privacy Policy.

This settings is controlled for each device individually.

iOS 13.2 features tutorial: Siri grading
You can now opt out of the controversial Siri grading initiative.

Apple indicates that if your Siri or Dictation interactions are selected for review by the system, the request — along with the response the assistant provided — is analyzed to determine accuracy and generally improve Siri.

Depending on the context of your request, Apple employees may review Siri data directly relevant to the request in order to grade the effectiveness of Siri’s response. Only Apple employees, subject to strict confidentiality, are able to access audio interactions with Siri and Dictation.

Your request history may include:

  • Computer-generation transcriptions of your requests.
  • Audio recordings for users who have opted in to improve Siri and Dictation.
  • Related request data, including device specifications, performance statistics and the approximate device location at the time the request was made.

Apple wants you to have peace of mind knowing that no Siri recordings are associated with your Apple ID. Instead, they’re tied to a device-generated identifier for six months.

Deleting recordings from Apple’s servers

In addition to opting out of Siri grading, a separate switch lets you delete any audio interactions from Apple’s servers that are retained for six months or less.

To delete these recordings, go to a new Siri & Dictation History section in Settings → Siri & Search, then tap the option Delete Siri & Dictation History. After confirming the operation, you’ll see a message informing you that Apple has received your request.

“Your Siri and Dictation history will be deleted,” cautions the prompt.

iOS 13.2 features tutorial: deleting Siri and Dictation history
iOS 13.2 lets you delete Siri audio snippets stored on Apple’s servers.

Any Siri and Dictation data associated with the random identifier is also deleted when you disable Siri altogether: in Settings → General → Keyboard, disable Enable Dictation and then go to Settings → Siri and turn off Listen for Hey Siri and Press Side Button for Siri.

What you need to know

As mentioned, Siri interactions are associated with your device on Apple’s servers.

After six months have passed, Apple removes that association from your device. It’s important to know that any Siri or Dictation data that’s no longer associated with your device won’t be automatically deleted when you use the option to manually delete voice recordings from Apple’s servers.

According to Apple, audio recordings and transcriptions may be retained for up to two years on the servers. Only its own employees are permitted to listen to the audio files selected for review. Apple has stopped using outside contractors for the Siri grading program.

“The small subset of feature requests that have been reviewed may be kept beyond two years, without the random identifier, for ongoing improvement of Siri,” cautions the firm.

Deleting apps faster on the Home screen

iOS 13.2 introduces new quick actions when pressing Home screen icons with 3D Touch or Haptic Touch. Aside from the obligatory Share App option, you can now delete the selected app right form the shortcuts menu without waiting for the jiggle mode, which is very handy.

iOS 13.2 features tutorial: deleting a Home screen app without entering icon jiggle mode
Deleting an app without invoking icon jiggle mode.

Moreover, Apple has renamed the Rearrange Home Screen option as “Edit Home Screen”. Functionally, nothing has changed because the renamed option still invokes icon jiggle mode faster than long-tapping an icon and continuing to hold after the shortcuts menu pops up.

Brace yourself for 70+ new emoji

With iOS 13.2 come a bunch of new emoji.

You get 70+ new or updated emoji like yawn face, waffle, orangutan, prosthetic arm, bionic leg and ear, plus new animals, food, activities, accessibility emoji and gender neutral emoji.

iOS 13.2 features tutorial: the new skin selector for couple emoji
iOS 13.2 brings a handy skin selector for couple emoji.

A new skin tones selection feature for couple emoji is of particular note. To use it, simply long-tap an emoji representing a couple, which will reveal a floating menu where you can choose the skin color of each individual in that emoji.

Video resolution and FPS toggles in the Camera app

This seemingly mundane addition is going to make a lot of people happy, at least those with iPhone 11 models.

No longer do you need to go to Settings → Camera just to change video resolution and frame rate because there are now dedicated switches for that, right in the Camera app. Just tap new labels in the upper-right corner of the Camera app when video mode is selected to cycle through the available resolution and frame rate options.

iOS 13.2 features tutorial: video resolution and frame rate in the Camera app
Sadly, the new resolution and frame rate toggles are static labels on non-iPhone 11 devices.

The toggles work on the latest iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max models for both front and rear cameras, as well as for regular and Slo-Mo mode. And while older devices do display the chosen video resolution and frame rate in the Camera app, tapping either label will do nothing.

Hiding Safari website previews has been relocated

iOS 13.0 introduced updated contextual menus across the system.

In Safari, for example, long-tapping a link pulls up such a menu along with a preview of the underlying link. In iOS 13.0, you can optionally replace the website preview with the link’s URL by choosing Hide Link Previews from the menu.

iOS 13.2 features tutorial: Safari link previews
Hiding and showing Safari link previews in iOS 13.2.

In iOS 13.2, the options for hiding/showing previews are found at the top of the preview window and renamed as “Hide preview” and “Tap to show preview” (it’s a regression rather than a change for the better, if you ask me).

Your Home Screen and Dock settings get a dedicated section

iOS 13’s Settings app on iPad has gained a new root-level menu option: Home Screen & Dock.

Nested between Display & Brightness and Accessibility, this section brings together the following settings in one place that used to be scattered elsewhere:

  • App icons: Choose between having up to 30 smaller icons on each Home screen (More) or the usual 20 icons (Bigger). This feature was previously found in Settings → Display & Brightness section.
  • Keep Today View on Home Screen: Ensures that your widgets are always displayed on the Home screen rather than revealed with a left swipe. This toggle also used to live in the Display & Brightness section of the Settings app.
  • Multitasking: Tapping this subsection takes you to a new screen with your usual multitasking options that used to live in Settings → General → Multitasking & Dock:
    • Allow Multiple Apps: Determines if you can drag apps from the Dock on your Home screen to create Split View and Slide Over.
    • Picture-in-Picture: Watch video while working in another app
    • Gestures: Turn multitasking gestures on or off.
  • Show Suggested and Recent Apps in Dock: Show or hide Siri-suggested apps and recently launched apps at the right side of the vertical limiter in the Dock. This option was previously found in Settings → General → Multitasking & Dock.

Because this new Settings section deals with iPad-specific options, it’s available on iPadOS 13.2 only and not on iPhone and iPod touch.

New AirPlay settings are available

Before iOS 13.2, Handoff was its own section in Settings → General.

In iOS 13.2, you get a new Settings → General → AirPlay & Handoff section with combined preferences for both features. Tap it and you’ll find two previously unavailable AirPlay toggles:

  • Automatically AirPlay to TVs: You have these choices to control how your iPhone or iPad behaves when playing content from apps you regularly use with AirPlay:
    • Never: Never send content to nearby AirPlay-enabled TVs.
    • Ask: Ask every time before automatically connecting to nearby TVs.
    • Automatic: Let the device discover and auto-connect to nearby AirPlay TVs.
  • Transfer to HomePod: Turn on this switch to transfer what’s currently playing on your iPhone to a HomePod by bringing the phone close to the speaker top. Keep in mind that this feature also requires an updated HomePod software.

AirPlay is built into select television models from major manufactures like Samsung, LG, Sony, Visio and others. The full list of supported AirPlay TVs can be found on Apple’s website.

AirPlay is Apple’s device-to-device media streaming technology.

Close app windows on iPad more easily

iOS 13.0 made us more productive with support for app windows. A single iPad app like Notes or Safari can now open multiple windows that can be viewed side-by-side in Split View mode.

When you first drag a multi-window app on top of another app to create a Split View environment, iOS 13.0 presents you with thumbnails of the app’s open windows. This has changed a bit in iOS 13.2 in that those thumbnails can now be swiped away when initiating multitasking in order to elegantly close app windows that you no longer need.

TV app makes adding content to Up Next easier

The TV app has picked up 3D and Haptic Touch shortcut menus. Just long-tap or 3D Touch an item to reveal a show’s thumbnail and options such as removing it from your Up Next list.

iOS 13.2 features tutorial: contextual menu and a new Add button in the TV app
The TV app gains a new Add button and contextual menus.

Bonus: you now have a faster way to add a particular show or movie to your Up Next list — tap a show to get to its page, then hit a new Add button located near the top-right corner.

Music app introduces listening history

You can now view your listening history in the Music app in iOS 13.2, and we’re surprised it took Apple that long to implement this super-handy feature. Simply swipe down the Up Next panel to get to a new History section with your recently played tracks. You’ll feel subtle haptic feedback when swiping to let you know there’s more content above the Up Next list.

To clear the list, tap Clear.

iOS 13.2 features tutorial: listening history in the Music app
The Music app finally gains listening history on iOS 13.2.

I like it a lot that iOS’s 3D Touch and Haptic Touch menus in the Music app are no longer full width, which was confusing as hell. Now they’re a bit narrower, similar to the contextual menus in the TV app, which looks way more aesthetically pleasing (more importantly, the new look informs the user that they can scroll options in the contextual menu.

HomeKit now supports secure video and compatible routers

iOS 13.0 has brought together multiple sensors into single tiles.

With iOS 13.2, the Home app can show your HomeKit accessories and sensors as separate tiles. To do so, simply long-tap a multi-device tile and choose the option Show as Separate Tiles. This is useful if you’d like to access the features of a particular accessory separately.

The Home app now supports HomeKit Secure Vide and HomeKit-compatible routers.

The former lets compatible security cameras privately capture and store video safely encrypted in iCloud (it even features people, animal and vehicle detection). And thanks to support for HomeKit-enabled routers, the Home app on iOS 13.2 puts you in full control of what your smart accessories communicate with over the internet or in your home.

Research app gets privacy settings

In iOS 13.2, there’s a new Research panel in Settings → Privacy.

iOS 13.2 features tutorial: Research app privacy settings
Apple’s app for medical research studies gets its own privacy settings.

From there, you can control whether particular app studies which are accessible through Apple’s Research app are permitted to collect sensor and usage data from your device.

Your favorite new feature of iOS 13.2?

Having read about everything new that the latest iOS 13.2 software update brings to the table, which new feature has impressed you the most, and why? While we’re at it, are you going to opt in to Siri grading or not? I have nothing to hide, I guess, so I’m going to allow Apple to store and analyze my voice interactions because I want to help them make Siri better.

What are your thoughts so far on iOS 13.2?

Be sure to let us know by sharing your thoughts in the commenting section down below.