July 16 update below. This post was first published on July 15, 2020.
This looks like being the last update to iOS 13 (though you can’t rule out the possibility of a bug-squish being needed, I suppose).
This update began as iOS 13.5.5 but had its numbering updated during beta versions because the software development kit was updated, which means a new number is called for. Here it is, hatched into its fully-fledged form. Here’s what’s in it and how to get it.
How to get it
I know, I know, you’ve done it a hundred times already, it feels like. But in case you’ve forgotten, here’s what you do. Now that the new iOS 13.6 and iPadOS 13.5 versions of operating software are available to download on compatible iPhones and iPads, you just need to go to the Settings app. Choose General, then Software Update. Click on Download and Install, and it’ll be done before you know it.
July 16 update. After the update arrived, Apple revealed lots more details of what changes are coming for Apple News and Apple News+. I’ve touched on them in the main body of the post, but to add more flesh to the bones, here are the full details of what’s just arrived with iOS 13.6, for U.S. users at least.
New features are coming for both the free Apple News and paid-for Apple News+ levels, with audio featuring prominently. There’ll be a daily audio news briefing hosted by Apple News editors, and curated local news collections beginning in five U.S. cities. More news outlets will be featured in Apple News, including The Charlotte Observer, the Miami Herald, and The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina).
Local news also sees the introduction of a new curated local news experience. Right now, it’s in the Bay Area, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, with stuff from local publishers. It’s done by curation from local Apple News editors as well as personalization for each user, which is intriguing.
Then there’s Apple News Today, a daily audio news briefing. Shumita Basu and Duarte Geraldino are Apple News editors. In the briefing they will talk on interesting stories in the news. This part of the update is free, s part of Apple News, not News+, five mornings a week but only to users of the News app in the U.S. and on Apple Podcasts.
Also only Stateside right now is the Audio tab in the News app. Audio stories and Apple News Today are found there and offer personalized recommendations. These are available on iPhone, iPod touch, and CarPlay.
Support for the News app in CarPlay is also new, so users can listen as they drive.
Finally, audio news stories: Apple News will produce about 20 audio stories a week, voiced by actors and selected from features and long-form writing from Esquire, Essence, Fast Company, GQ, New York magazine, Sports Illustrated, TIME, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Wired, and more, and newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal. If you’re outside the States, you won’t see (or hear) any of this just yet Audio stories are currenly only available to Apple News+ subscribers in the US.
Here’s everything else in the update
Remarkably, for an update so late in the cycle, there is actual newness here, not just bug-squishing.
First of all, Digital Car Keys. That’s the feature that we’ve been calling CarKey for months now. It was formally announced last month by Apple at WWDC, and the company studiously avoided calling it by that name. If you’ve missed it, it’s mighty cool. With selected cars, such as an upcoming BMW 5 Series, you can unlock the vehicle by touching your iPhone or Apple Watch on the car. You can use the same mechanism to start the engine, too. Oh, and you can share the digital car keys with others via iMessage, and easily cancel the key, too.
You can even start your car for up to five hours after the iPhone runs out of battery, which is pretty cool. Get in, start the car and then recharge your iPhone battery as you drive!
Although it was announced for iOS 14, Apple said it would make it work for iOS 13, too, which is why it’s being introduced now.
Second, HealthKit has been modified so new symptoms such as fever tracking, headaches, chills and sore throat can be included.
Third, there’s a refinement to the way you update your iOS software. Until now, there was a single toggle to choose between automatic updates being turned on or off, now there’s a more sophisticated choice. There are two toggle switches. One for automatically downloading the updates and another one to install the updates overnight, if you wish.
The News app gains an update, too. A new tab called Audio has appeared and News+ subscribers can listen to stories read aloud. This will be very cool. About 20 stories a week will be available to News+ subscribers. Oh, and a curated local news experience will appear, in the San Francisco Bay area, New York City, Houston and Los Angeles from the start. Much will be in the News app, but more in News+.
Squishing has continued as well, of course, with a fix now included for the kernel exploit found in the last release of iOS 13.5.1. There are also fixes for issues such as an issue with third-party hardware keyboards, stability issues accessing Control Center, a problem where some phone calls from Saskatchewan looked like they were originating in the U.S. (how do these things happen?) and a problem when apps became unresponsive when syncing iCloud Drive data. For a full list, please check out the Apple changelog, at the very bottom of this post.
This is likely the last iOS update until iOS 14 in the Fall. Though if it’s not, I’ll make sure you’re the first to know!
The previous iOS 13 updates
Just two weeks before the latest update, Apple released iOS 13.5.1 on Monday, June 1, 2020. It had just one function: to fix the vulnerability that made jailbreaking a possibility. Jailbreaking is popular with people who want to add features not available to regular iPhones, such as widgets, different themes and more.
If there had been any doubt of the purpose of this update, it’s now confirmed that it prevents jailbreaking using the unc0ver method. Everyone assumed that this was a uni-purpose update aimed squarely at unc0ver, and a tweet from one of the team has since confirmed.
One of the lead jailbreakers confirmed that the kernel vulnerability which was used by unc0ver has been patched. The jailbreaker, @Pwn20wnd, tweeted that those wishing to jailbreak or stay jailbroken should not update from iOS 13.5 to iOS 13.5.1. Apple has now stopped signing iOS 13.5, so anyone who updated to 13.5.1 can’t any longer downgrade to 13.5 in order to perform a jailbreak.
Though there are many people who like the freedom jailbreaking permits, it also exposes a device to more attacks, so the vulnerability that makes the jailbreak possible can also be exploited by malicious hackers. Jailbreaking is not illegal, though it can invalidate your warranty. And it could also leave your iPhone open to attack.
Released on May 20, 2020, this was a big update with a lot in it. Most important of all, it had the framework for the Apple and Google COVID-19 exposure notification app, which potentially can save lives. It also updated FaceID so that you can use it with a face mask in place – it offers up the passcode screen much more quickly when Face ID recognizes you have a mask on. And there was an improvement to Group FaceTime.
This update hit the iPhone on April 7, 2020 and was brimming with fixes and bug squishes. Chief among these was a fix for a previously introduced issue with FaceTime calls where such calls didn’t work on earlier versions of iOS and macOS. The helpful new feature which lets you choose Bluetooth from the Quick Actions menu had been playing up and this was addressed, too. Oh, and an iPad-specific issue with the flashlight was also sorted.
Released on March 24, 2020, this was a huge update with lots of new features. For example, Mail has had its toolbar significantly improved, and if you’re replying to an encrypted email, your reply will be encrypted, too.
The sister to iOS 13.4, iPadOS 13.4, included trackpad support so that the latest iPad Pro can be used in a more laptop-like way than ever. A feature that came and then went away, iCloud Folder Sharing, came back again so you can share documents easily. New Memoji stickers arrived with nine new choices, including party face and hands pressed together. Universal purchase support arrived for the App Store, meaning you can buy an app so it works on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac and Apple TV all together, assuming the app supports this. As for Arcade games, recently played ones will appear in the Arcade tab so you can keep playing on each platform. Though there was no mention of CarKey, the super-cool element predicted previously which suggested you could unlock and drive your compatible car just by using your iPhone, there was extra information in the CarPlay Dashboard and support for other navigation apps in the CarPlay dashboard. The keyboard now supports predictive typing for Arabic in this version and there were plenty of bugs fixed, too
This landed on Wednesday, January 29. One of the main focuses was on the U1 chip. It’s on the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max and is a cool piece of kit. It allows you to AirDrop to a nearby iPhone 11 more easily. But it transpired that this chip continued to track user location even when location services were turned off. A toggle in Settings means you can turn off Bluetooth, Wi-fi and Ultra Wideband.
There were plenty of fixes. The first fix related to Screen Time and Communication Limits. Previously, it was possible for someone to get round the Limits without entering a passcode. That’s been sorted as has an issue with Deep Fusion photos, a Face Time problem, distorted sound in some cars using CarPlay, push notifications not coming through on wi-fi and connectivity issues for users on the British O2 network. Problems in Mail were also fixed. Finally, Apple added Indian English Siri voices for HomePod.
Released on Tuesday, December 10, this big-number update had a bunch of changes. It updated the layout for some newspapers in Apple News+, improved Screen Time parental controls (though a further fix was needed in iOS 13.3.1) and improved the Stocks app. Beyond that, it was all fixes and bug squishes, including how video clips are created, support for security keys, repaired an issue in Gmail, sorted an issue in text entry using the long-press on the space bar to allow a moveable cursor and resolved an issue in Voice Memos.
And as proof that hardware is affected by software, some wireless chargers were charging more slowly than they should. This software update should have aimed to fix that.
This was the last update before the new iOS 13.3. It went live on Monday, November 18, 2019. A smallish and unexpected update, it aimed to fix problems, including the following. System searches inside Mail weren’t working quite right, nor in Files or Notes. This update sought to fix this. Similarly, where Messages had an issue with displaying photos and attachments, this update was there to sort it. Apps that weren’t downloading content in the background before were resolved in this update, hopefully. Oh, and Exchange accounts that weren’t getting new messages or other content were the focus of this update, too.
Released on Thursday, November 7, 2019, this update sought to fix the way apps running in the background kept quitting. It also tried to get rid of temporary loss of cell signal, and fixed how some encrypted email messages between Exchange accounts were unreadable.
Don’t worry if you missed this one. Unless you have a HomePod, you literally wouldn’t have seen it. It was there to fix issues caused by iOS 13.2 which made some HomePods turn into useless, oversized paperweights. What that update had meant to do was add new HomePod features. These arrived in all their glory with this corrective update, when iOS 13.2.1 went live on October 30, 2019, just 48 hours after iOS 13.2. Something of a record, surely?
With iOS 13.2.1 HomePods were granted the ability to recognize different family members’ voices, music could be added to HomeKit scenes, you could hand off music, podcasts and phone calls just by bringing your iPhone near to the HomePod. Oh, and if you like ambient sounds, these arrived in this update, with the facility to set a sleep timer to these restful noises.
A big update, this. released on Monday, October 28, 2019. Marquee features include Deep Fusion, a new camera feature that improves images taken in medium and low light. Siri Privacy settings were updated with this release – also an important step forward. Foundations were laid for the new Research app which could have a big impact on health data collection. Oh, and scores of new emoji were set free. AirPods Pro in-ear headphones are supported in this release. More features including Siri reading out your messages were also included.
This was another surprise release, out on October 15, 2019. It was aimed at fixing issues more than anything else. Some devices didn’t ring or vibrate when a call came in – kind of important for a phone, right? That was fixed in this update. As was an issue with Voice Memos not downloading or problems where meeting invites didn’t open in Mail. A U.K.-focused repair was made so that Health data would display properly after British Summer Time ended (which was yesterday, October 27, by the way).
Issues which saw the Apple Watch not pairing with an iPhone and notifications not coming through to the Watch were also fixed. Other fixes included apps not downloading after an iCloud Backup and better connectivity between Bluetooth hearing aids and Apple devices. Launch performance of apps in Game Center were addressed and one relating to Bluetooth connectivity in certain vehicles. Lots of fixes, then.
September 30, 2019 was the release date for this recent update, just one weekend later than 13.1.1. It’s another bug fixer to do with iCloud Backup, for instance which showed a progress bar even after being completed. A malfunctioning camera was fixed here, too, as was the flashlight failing to initiate. Like in 13.1.3, this update sought to address an issue with Bluetooth dropping on some vehicles. There was also a display issue for the iPhone and a fix for problems running shortcuts from Apple HomePod.
This update launched on September 27, 2019. The big element was a fix for the flaw which led some third-party keyboards access the iPhone even when permission hadn’t been granted.
It also offered a solution to problems with battery drain, rather in contrast to the battery life gain which iOS 13 is all about.
Restoring from a backup was a problem in this update as well as the latest one. Siri recognition is better and syncing in Reminders shouldn’t be slow any longer.
This came out on September 24, 2019 and sought to fix issues and squish bugs such as problems opening the camera properly, improperly behaving wallpapers, text entry issues and so on. There was also a fix to a battery management problem. New features included activating the U1 chip in the latest iPhones which gives the handsets a form of spatial awareness, improving AirDrop immediately and with other benefits set to follow. The Shortcuts app also saw extra support and more features. The facility to send your ETA to others from Maps was added.
Released on September 19, 2019, this was a very big release with an awful lot in it. For full details, read the indepth analysis here.
Dark mode to make the iPhone’s interface less glaring in a low-light environment, for instance. App developers can integrate Dark Mode into their apps so that the iPhone has a consistent look. Sign in with Apple lets you sign up to apps with your Apple ID and Apple will keep the site or app at arm’s length. You can sign in using Face ID or Touch ID as appropriate. Maps has been updated with a new street-level look and in-depth mapping on selected cities.
Photos and Camera apps have been seriously altered with a new look to the Photos tab and significant editing upgrades. Siri sounds more natural and will offer personalized recommendations. Reminders has been completely overhauled, and Notes has a new gallery view. Find My combines Find My iPhone and Find My Friends. It will help to locate offline devices, too.
QuickPath is the new way to enter text by swiping. It’s very cool.
Text editing has been improved, though the elegant magnifying glass which used to appear when you touched a word, making it visible even though the word itself was hidden under your thumb, say, has gone. I hope it’s coming back soon.
Among the miscellaneous treats are a pro-active system that tells you which apps have been accessing your location, for example. A message says how often it has done so in a set period of time and you can leave things as they are or adjust. It’s a very simple but highly reassuring detail.
Here’s the full changelog as supplied by Apple.
iOS 13.6 adds support for digital car keys and contains a new symptoms category in the Health app. This release also includes bug fixes and improvements.
Digital car keys
· Unlock, lock and start your compatible car with your iPhone
· Securely remove digital keys from a lost device via iCloud
· Share digital keys easily with iMessage
· Driver-specific profiles so you can configure shared keys for full access or restricted driving
· Power Reserve lets you unlock and start your car for up to five hours after iPhone runs out of battery
· New category for symptoms in the Health app, including symptoms logged from Cycle Tracking and ECG
· Ability to log new symptoms, like fever, chills, sore throat or coughing, and share them with third-party apps
This update also includes bug fixes and other improvements.
· Adds a new setting to choose if updates automatically download to your device when on Wi-Fi
· Addresses an issue that could cause apps to become unresponsive when syncing data from iCloud Drive
· Fixes an issue that could cause data roaming to appear to be disabled on eSIM even though it remains active
· Fixes an issue that causes some phone calls from Saskatchewan to appear as originating from the United States
· Addresses an issue that could interrupt audio when making phone calls over Wi-Fi Calling
· Fixes an issue that prevented some iPhone 6S and iPhone SE devices from registering for Wi-Fi Calling
· Resolves an issue that could cause the software keyboard to appear unexpectedly when connected to certain third-party hardware keyboards
· Fixes an issue that could cause Japanese hardware keyboards to be incorrectly mapped as a US keyboard
· Addresses stability issues when accessing Control Center when AssistiveTouch is enabled
· Provides a mechanism for administrators to specify domains to exclude from traffic carried by always-on VPN connections
Some features may not be available in all regions or on all Apple devices. For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website: support.apple.com/kb/HT201222