Apple debuts iOS 13 for iPhones and iPods, splits off iPadOS for iPads

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Apple’s annual operating system cadence has guaranteed a steady stream of June betas and September final releases for years of WWDCs, so it’s no surprise that the company is today announcing iOS 13, the latest major version of its core software for mobile devices. The new release promises dramatic performance improvements under the hood, increasing Face ID recognition times by 30%, reducing app sizes, and introducing Dark Mode.

But there is a surprise: starting today, iOS 13 will be for iPhones and iPod touches, while a separately tailored version for iPads will be known as iPadOS. If the new iPadOS name strikes you as unusual, bear in mind that iOS’s original name, iPhone OS, lasted through mid-2010, even as the original iPad was getting started. Apple switched it to “iOS” in June 2010 to acknowledge that the same software was running on iPhones, iPods, and iPads.

Having previously debuted on macOS Mojave last year, iOS 13’s new Dark Mode effectively inverts user interface elements across all apps, making backgrounds black and dark gray rather than white and light gray, while turning black text white. Dark Mode could save power on iPhones with OLED screens, and may also make all compatible iOS devices easier on the eyes in dimly-lit environments.

There are numerous small changes, such as Time-Synced Lyrics in Music, a new Quick Path keyboard supporting swipes as well as taps, and rich text composition in Mail.

The Reminders app, which previously occupied its full main screen with one of multiple (and possibly empty) to-do lists, will make better use of the screen by segmenting it into today’s tasks, scheduled tasks, flagged tasks, and all tasks, then letting users drill down into each screen to add more items. Smart lists and deeper links are being added to the app, as well.

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