Apple iOS 13.3.1 is finally here. I say “finally” because iOS 13.3 arrived in early December with several significant bugs and many (including myself) expected a much faster response. So has the wait been worth it? The signs are very promising. Here’s what you need to know.
Tip: bookmark this page because I keep it up to date if new problems are found. I will deliver my final verdict in a week (if Apple hasn’t issued further iOS releases before then). 02/01 Updates Below
Apple iOS 13
Who Is It For?
iOS 13.3.1 is for all iOS 13-compatible devices. This means the iPhone 6S and newer and the 7th generation iPod touch 7th. Typically iOS update notifications are automatic but, if you have yet to be notified, you can trigger it manually by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update. Beta testers, if you are running a later version of iOS when you read this (see the ‘The Road Ahead’ section below), remember to unroll your iPhones or iOS 13.3.1 won’t show up.
iPad owners, Apple has moved you to a new dedicated platform: iPadOS.
The Deal Breakers
After the utter mess that was iOS 13, the big news based on the first 24 hours of release is Apple (at the ninth attempt) may finally have got it right. Of course, it isn’t perfect. There are still some small graphical glitches which need fixing and some isolated connectivity issues with AirPods and the Apple Watch.
But the big news is reports about long-running issues like call drop-outs and battery drain are noticeable by their absence. The O2 glitch is fixed and, where there are reports about carrier problems they are mostly praising iOS 13.3.1 for fixing them. The same is true for other bugs as well.
Given iOS 13’s torrid history with stability, I’m cautious about calling iOS 13.3.1 a slam dunk so early but the signs were there with iOS 13.3 and the signs are looking even better now.
Gordon’s Top Apple Daily Deals:
- AirPods Pro – typically $249.99 – Amazon: $234.98 / Sam’s Club: $234.98 (the only deals in town)
- AirPods with Wireless Charging Case – typically $199.99 – Staples: $164 beats next best: Amazon: $169 by $5
- Apple iPad (10.2-Inch, Wi-Fi, 128GB) – Silver (Latest Model) – typically $429 – Amazon: $329.99 / Best Buy: $329.99
- Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS + Cellular, 44mm) – Space Black Stainless Steel Case with Black Sport Band – typically $749 – Best Buy: $660.99
So What Do You Get?
Apple officially lists the contents of iOS 13.3 as follows:
- Fixes an issue in Communication Limits that could allow a contact to be added without entering the Screen Time passcode
- Adds a setting to control the use of location services by the U1 Ultra Wideband chip
- Addresses an issue that could cause a momentary delay before editing a Deep Fusion photo taken on iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro
- Resolves an issue with Mail that could cause remote images to load even when the “Load Remote Images” setting is disabled
- Fixes an issue that could cause multiple undo dialogs to appear in Mail
- Addresses an issue where FaceTime could use the rear facing ultra-wide camera instead of the wide camera
- Resolves an issue where push notifications could fail to be delivered over Wi-Fi
- Addresses a CarPlay issue that could cause distorted sound when making phone calls in certain vehicles
- Introduces support for Indian English Siri voices for HomePod
If you have followed my iOS Upgrade guides for long, you will know many of these read like a wish list from frustrated iPhone owners. The Screen Time bypass was the headline flaw in iOS 13.3 while the unauthorized location checking by the iPhone 11 range’s U1 chip undermined Apple’s reputation for privacy. CarPlay connectivity issues have also been commonplace.
01/30 Update 1: Apple has announced the launch of redesigned Apple Maps which is today rolling out to all users in the United States. It introduces far greater map detail, high-resolution 3D ‘Street View’-style photography, shareable lists for your favorite places, one-tap Navigation to frequent places, real-time trans schedules including Flight status, shared ETAs, indoor maps and increased privacy with all data held on device. In short: it’s a ground-up rebuild that could finally see Apple Maps become a serious Google Maps rival.
01/30 Update 2: hidden inside iOS 13.3.1 is Apple’s next major wireless earbuds release: Powerbeats 4. For some users, they will be a better buy than AirPods. You can read about them here.
Apple Map’s new ‘Look Around’ version of Google Street View.
As for security fixes, Apple’s official security page has no listing for iOS 13.3.1 at the time of publication. ‘Minor point’ updates do usually focus on bug and security patches, so it would be surprising if nothing is listed. I will update this article if that changes.
02/01 Update – Apple iOS 13.3.1 security information is now available here. Inside are wide-ranging fixes for Audio, FaceTime, Mail, Messages, Phone, Safari log-in and Screenshot exploits. There are also no less than seven patches for Kernel vulnerabilities. This all combines to make iOS 13.3.1 a more important update that you might realise and it explains Apple’s lengthy development time.
Apple iOS 13.3.1 Verdict: (Easily) The Best iOS 13 Release So Far
At the 10th time of asking (technically nine because iOS 13.2.1 was HomePod-only), iPhone owners appear to have a stable version of iOS 13 to upgrade to. As always, I’d suggest those who have patiently waited on iOS 12 to hold-off a week in case any show-stopping flaws emerge but this is (by far) the best an iOS 13 update has looked 24 hours after release.
As always, I will keep this upgrade guide up to date with developments and deliver a final verdict in a week. But iPhone owners already on iOS 13 should jump right in. Meanwhile iPhone owners still on iOS 12 should brace themselves because this could be it!
The Road Ahead
At the time of publishing, Apple has yet to release a new iOS beta and, if iOS 13.3.1 pans out to be as solid as is initially appears, there will be no rush to release iOS 13.3.2. This would allow Apple to focus on a feature-focused iOS 13.4, which would be good news for everyone.
In the meantime, bookmark this page and I’ll update it with any new bugs (or benefits) I find.
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