See iOS 13’s best unannounced features [Video]

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iOS 13 on an iPhone X
Some of the best iOS 13 features are ones Apple never mentioned.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

After spending time playing with the iPadOS 13 developer beta and iOS 13 beta , it’s clear there are tons of nice changes coming to Apple’s mobile platforms this fall.

Cupertino highlighted the biggest ones at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference. However, there’s a bunch of smaller stuff they didn’t tell us about. While there are hundreds of “under the hood” changes, these are the best iOS 13 features Apple didn’t announce.

Best unannounced iOS 13 features

Mouse support on iPhone and iPad

People have been asking for mouse support on iOS — and specifically on iPad — for a while now. This year, we’re finally getting “pointing device” support in iOS and iPadOS by way of an Accessibility feature.

Pointing device support is tucked inside iOS’ AssistiveTouch settings, and it allows you to pair a host of USB and Bluetooth pointing devices for a more ergonomic experience.

At this point, the basics of mouse support remain pretty rudimentary. Moving the mouse moves the “cursor” around the screen. Clicking (by default) emulates a tap of your finger on the screen. Holding the mouse button down works as a long touch, allowing you to use drag and drop, or expand long-press menus. If you use a mouse with additional buttons, you can get pretty advanced with your pointing device, programming each button to trigger various actions or features.

If you’ve been begging for mouse support on iOS, this is the year your wish starts to come true. There’s arguably room for improvement, but this is definitely an excellent start for accessibility and comfort.

Low Data Mode

Low Data Mode is a new option in iOS 13 for both cellular and Wi-Fi connections. The option, when enabled, allows you to reduce the amount of data your iOS device consumes when connected to various networks.

If you’re on a limited data plan, you’ve undoubtedly found yourself trying to reduce data usage when not on Wi-Fi. The cellular Low Data Mode is located inside your cellular data options, and reduces the amount of data your phone consumes on cellular.

Instead of stopping there, Apple also added the feature to Wi-Fi connections. Most people probably won’t find a huge need for reducing their Wi-Fi data usage. However, this new iOS 13 feature can come in handy in certain situations. Most notably, people working via a mobile hotspot or metered Wi-Fi connection — like on an airplane, or in a hotel or airport — might benefit from enabling the setting on those networks.

Download large apps over cellular

Over the last few years, Apple slowly raised the size limit on downloading apps over cellular. In iOS 13, the company removed it entirely.

Now, a setting allows you to download any app over cellular based on a pair of options. One setting allows you to download apps of any size from the App Store. A second option, for apps over 200MB, will prompt with the option to either download later over Wi-Fi, or proceed with the download, acknowledging that cellular fees may incur based on your carrier and plan.

Optimized Battery Charging

If you’re anything like me, you charge your iPhone overnight. Unfortunately, experts say it’s harder on your battery to sit, plugged in, at 100% for several hours.

With Optimized Battery Charging in iOS 13, your device will look at typical usage patterns, as well as alarms and calendar events, to determine when is the best time to get your device to a full charge.

When enabled, plugging in your iOS device before going to bed will kick off the easy part of the charge — up to 80%. Once it reaches that point, it will maintain that level of charge for a length of time. Then, it will initiate the final portion of the charge just in time for you to start your daily routine.

This should stop your battery from wearing out or aging earlier than designed. That means your iPhone will — theoretically — enjoy a longer life span.

Silence Unknown Callers

Possibly one of the most satisfying unmentioned features of iOS 13 is specific to the iPhone. If you’ve been dealing with the landslide of robocalls over the past few years, Apple is taking a stab at solving that with its new Silence Unknown Calls setting.

The feature is pretty simple. If someone calls you, and their number isn’t saved in your contacts list, your phone never rings.

The caller can still leave a message, alleviating any concerns about missing an important call. This allows you to hear why they called (and return the call if necessary).

Search in Messages

If you’ve ever tried to search for an old iMessage, you know that it’s a total dumpster fire. In iOS 13, Apple finally improved Messages search, making it surprisingly usable.

Inside the main Messages window, you can now search for any word that appeared in a text or iMessage, and see a list of the top hits. From there, tapping See All will show you every result that contains the matching word or phrase.

For some search terms, the list definitely proves overwhelming. If you know what you’re looking for, though, this new iOS feature can save you a ton of time.

Improved Control Center

Whether you love or hate the placement of Control Center on iOS devices, it’s a super-useful feature. In iOS 13, subtle changes make Control Center even more functional than before.

A new dark appearance toggle lets you quickly switch the device from light to dark mode without digging for the setting. This adds speed and convenience when adjusting your device based on ambient light conditions, regardless of your dark mode schedule.

The connections menu now offers access to a list of available Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. This allows you to quickly switch Wi-Fi networks. It also makes it simple to connect or disconnect Bluetooth devices, without diving into the Settings app.

The Home toggle in Control Center also adds some refinements. It now offers a more useful, labeled set of feature controls for your devices. It’s also more persistent. That should prevent you from accidentally dismissing it when you’re attempting to switch on a light, adjust your thermostat or control a HomeKit scene.

New Volume pop-up

Clearly saving the best for last, iOS 13 finally updates the volume pop-up that has been around since the dawn of the iPhone.

The new Volume HUD is now much less distracting and a bit more useful. The volume pop-up is now tucked off to the side of the device, unlike every iOS version before. This keeps it out of the way of the main content on your device’s screen.

Even better, after tapping the volume button a single time to bring up the slider, you can drag your finger along it to turn the volume up or down as desired.

When toggling your iPhone silent switch, the volume pop-up is pushed to the edge of the display. Much like the Apple Pencil charging bubble on iPad Pro, it stays out of the way while letting you know the status changed.

Ultimately, most of these are relatively small changes, but they add tons of convenience to using your iPhone or iPad. Many of the changes also address features that iOS users have been begging to see for years.

Try out the new iOS 13 features

While these aren’t all of the minor changes, they are a few of our the best iOS 13 features not mentioned at WWDC. Apple is expected to release the final version of iOS 13 in September, but if you want a taste now, the public beta is a fairly solid option at this point.