While the attention of the iPhone world might be fixated on Apple’s upcoming iOS 14 and all its new features, it’s still in beta. What’s out of beta? Apple’s latest iOS 13 update – iOS 13.6 – which dropped on July 15.
The new firmware may just be Apple’s latest iOS 13 update, and it’s a little more modest in terms of features than some of its predecessors. Still, while other iOS 13 point releases sported dozens of new features, this one’s offerings should be welcomed by any iPhone user. Also, iOS 14 is just around the corner, so 13.6 is really just an appetizer.
Interestingly, iOS 13.6 started in beta form as 13.5.5. It wasn’t until Apple released its second beta that it was replaced by iOS 13.6. It wasn’t the first time Apple had done something like this; the iPhone OEM did the same with iOS 13.5, which started out as 13.4.5 in beta development.
Apple never gave an official reason why it jumped numbers like that, however, it could be that it was saving some of these point releases for quick security and bug fixes that never came. Either that or it was the importance of features. When upgraded from 13.4.5 to 13.5, Apple introduced its COVID-19 Exposure Notification API. This time there is no new feature enough equally important, but perhaps Apple felt they were substantial enough to warrant a 13.6 designation.
1. Track your health symptoms
Arguably the most important new feature of iOS 13.6 is the “Symptoms” section of the Health app. Found under the “Browse” tab, the new option lets you track your symptoms when you’re not feeling well, just like you can with other health categories in the app.
You’ll find symptoms like cough, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, and sore throat, among 28 others to choose from. Each has a brief description, ensuring that you select the correct trait to track.
As you track your symptoms, Health adds your data points to the Symptoms home page. This way you have easy access to your symptom history, which you can review by simply tapping on the data point.
Apple has finally added CarKey support for iPhones with iOS 13.6. This feature, also introduced with the upcoming iOS 14, will allow you to lock, unlock and start your car remotely, with just your iPhone. You can share these keys with friends via iMessage, with driver-specific profiles to control which drivers have access to which features. You can even remove keys from lost iPhones via iCloud, and you can unlock and start a car five hours after your iPhone loses all battery.
Unfortunately, the only car to support this feature at the moment is the 2021 BMW 5 Series Makeoverbut support for more cars is on the way.
3. Customize your automatic software updates
Another big change comes Automatic updates. In the past, you could choose whether or not to allow your iPhone to automatically install new iOS updates overnight. Now the option is split in two, under “Customize Automatic Updates”.
- Download iOS updates: This will automatically download a new update over Wi-Fi. You will not receive any notification or alert when this happens. When disabled, you must check for and download updates manually.
- Install iOS updates: This will automatically install a downloaded update when connected to Wi-Fi and a power source. You will receive a notification before the installation begins, giving you the option to postpone it in case you need your iPhone then. When disabled, you can still receive notifications to remind you that there is an update to install at your leisure, but it will not install automatically.
4. Listen to articles in Apple News+
If you’re an Apple News+ subscriber, iOS 13.6 should be an exciting update. Apple has added in-article audio support for paying customers, which is a great way to digest your news on the go or when you can’t make time to read stories on your own.
As you can see in the GIFs below, audio items are sorted under a new “Audio” tab and work quite similarly to Apple’s. Podcast app. You can play, pause, resume, browse, rewind, skip to the next story online, adjust playback speed, and choose your audio output.
In the extended menu, you can view the original article that the audio came from. Apple neatly minimizes the audio player to the bottom of the screen so you can return to the full player with a single tap. You can read while listening and pause and rewind without needing to return to the extended player.
5. Apple News Today
You can check out Apple News Audio right away, thanks to Apple News Today. This new, free service comes straight from the editors of Apple News and features an audio briefing on the day’s top stories. You will also find this feature in the Podcasts app.
Apple News brings local news to the mix. If you live in San Francisco, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Houston, and New York, you can get news from your area right in the Today feed. If you subscribe to Apple News+, you’ll see even more local coverage, though Apple doesn’t specify from where.
8. Your Apple News swipe icons are different
Apple has simplified the swipe options in the News app. Now when you swipe left or right on a story preview, you’ll only see icons, with no text labels. Although the text clearly indicated what each option was, it is not vital. Apple’s images are pretty obvious already, so the company made the smart decision to rely solely on them.
You’ll also see that Apple has changed the color of the “Suggest More” icon from red to green, to better differentiate it from its red “Suggest Less” counterpart.
News also saw an update to its icon colors in the article. Previously, these colors were red, matching the app’s red theme. But now Apple has changed the icons to black.
This new update not only adds new features to your iPhone, it also fixes existing issues. According to the iOS 13.6 release notes, here’s how this update makes your iPhone more stable:
- Fixes 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 disabled on eSIM even if it remained active.
- Fixes an issue that caused some phone calls from Saskatchewan to appear to be from the United States.
- Fixes an issue that could cause audio to drop out when making phone calls over Wi-Fi Calling.
- Fixes an issue that prevented some iPhones 6S and iPhone SE devices to register for Wi-Fi calling.
- Addresses 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 while Assistive Touch was enabled.
- Provides a mechanism for administrators to specify domains to exclude from traffic carried by persistent VPN connections.
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