Since Apple launched iOS 13, we’ve seen four major updates for iPhone, each of which added some cool new features. Between iOS 13.1, 13.2, 13.3, 13.4, and all the minor updates in between, there’s never been a better time to be on iOS. And now, we’ve got even more positive changes with the iOS 13.5 update.
The first beta for iOS 13.5 hit developers on March 31 and public beta users on April 16, when it was still called iOS 13.4.5. When the third developer and second public beta updates were released, Apple changed them to iOS 13.5, for reasons we’ll explore soon. Aside from these betas predicting Apple’s second-generation iPhone SE 15 days before the phone’s official announcement, they highlighted some exciting new features for iPhone that you should know about.
1. Disable Automatic Zooming in Group FaceTime
It’s not uncommon these days to pack a lot of people into a Group FaceTime call. With a maximum party size of 32 people, things can get confusing fast. That’s why Apple automatically enlarges the tiles for people speaking, minimizing those who aren’t. That said, when you have dozens of people in a chat, the constant zooming in and out can become more distracting than it’s worth.
With iOS 13.5, Apple adds a switch to disable the auto-focusing feature altogether. Once you toggle off the speaking prominence switch, you’ll notice a much less “active” Group FaceTime experience. Of course, you’ll likely still want to focus on the people talking, and a double-tap on any tile you want to see better will do the trick.
2. Bypass Face ID Faster When Wearing a Mask
In the age of COVID-19, wearing a mask is pretty commonplace. While masks protect our communities from spreading the virus, they certainly make unlocking our iPhones using Face ID much harder. It’s a pain to watch the scan fail, then wait for iOS to decide to bring up the passcode screen, each and every time.
Apple addresses the issue with iOS 13.5. With the new update, a failed Face ID scan immediately activates the passcode screen with no delay whatsoever. While trying to scan an alternative appearance for Face ID while wearing a mask could work on occasion, it still has a pretty high failure rate compared to sunglasses, so faster access to the passcode screen is welcomed.
3. Disable Contact Tracing & Exposure Notifications
You may have heard about Apple and Google’s joint COVID-19 contact tracing and exposure notification program. The two companies have teamed up to create a system that will allow iOS and Android devices to silently and securely communicate with each other in passing. Down the road, if someone ends up testing positive for the novel coronavirus, their phone can ping all other phones it communicated with, letting everyone know their risk level.
The first API for the program was introduced with iOS 13.5 developer beta 3, which is likely why Apple upgraded its name from 13.4.5 to something that indicates a more significant update. While the API is for developers only to create apps that work with the program, the setting to enable or disable COVID-19 exposure notifications is user-facing.
4. Share Apple Music Songs to Facebook & Instagram Stories
Also new to 13.5 is the ability to share Apple Songs directly to your Facebook and Instagram stories. With a simple tap, you can have Apple Music open either Facebook or Instagram, which will then put together a story automatically with your song featured in the middle. It will also splash the color scheme of the song’s album in the background for a neat effect.
Apple Music is far from the first to offer such a feature — Spotify, Shazam, and Pandora all allow you to share songs to your Instagram story, with Pandora offering sharing to Snapchat stories as well. But with iOS 13.5, Apple Music gets to catch up a little bit.
5. Activity Awards Through 2022 Found in Code
OK, this discovery is less a new feature and more of a look into things to come. Steve Moser of MacRumors reported that iOS 13.5’s code features Activity awards through 2022. You earn these awards for completing various fitness tasks with your Apple Watch, so it’s good to know Apple has your back for the next year and a half, at least.
These features were all found during the first three betas for iOS 13.5. If Apple releases more updates before seeding 13.5 to the public, we might see more features and changes to come. We’ll keep this article updated with any new developments.
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