Apple iOS 13.3 has arrived (as predicted). This is Apple’s eighth rapid-fire update since iOS 13 arrived as a bug-ridden mess in September and it delivers notable new features and fixes. That said, it’s far from perfect. Here’s what you need to know.
Update 12/14: CNBC has discovered a flaw which allows children to easily bypass the new iOS 13.3 Screen Time controls. Simply syncing contacts with any service other iCloud allows unknown numbers to be saved and called, texted or FaceTimed without restriction. Apple has promised a fix so expect iOS 13.3.1 to launch within the next 1-2 weeks. As this isn’t a critical flaw, it doesn’t change my upgrade recommendation listed below.
Update 12/18: Apple has released the first public beta for iOS 13.3.1. A Screen Time fix is understood to be its top priority.
Apple iOS 13 – there is light at the end of the tunnel
Who Is It For?
iOS 13.3 is for all iOS 13-compatible devices. This means the iPhone 6S and newer and the current iPod touch 7th generation. Upgrade notifications should be automatic but you can check manually by going to Settings > General > Software Update. Beta testers, if you are running a later version of iOS when you read this (more in ‘The Road Ahead’ section below), remember to unroll your iPhones or iOS 13.3 won’t show up.
iPad owners, Apple has moved you to a new dedicated platform: iPadOS.
The Deal Breakers
Unlike recent ‘minor point’ releases, iOS 13.3 delivers features as well as fixes though several big issues still remain.
Despite promising a fix in this release, users are still running into mobile data problems, some of which are seeing the problem introduced by iOS 13.3:
“Since yesterday morning, my iPhone 7 Plus’ internet connection is broken. I can still receive notifications but when i open the app it says that I do not have an internet connection. This is happening on all apps on either mobile data or Wi-Fi. Running iOS 13.3.” – source
“@AppleSupport installed iOS 13.3 this morning, no longer have mobile data service (only WiFi). Any ideas? (iPhone XS Max, dual SIMs installed)” – source
Tip: if you run into problems, some (though not all) users have found a reset helps:
“@AppleSupport Having installed the iOS 13.3 update this morning I lost mobile data. Doing “reset network settings” (Settings > General > Reset) seems to have resolved this.” – source
The severe battery drain in iOS 13 refuses to go away for many with some resignation being expressed by upgraders:
“Just updated my iphone 7 to ios 13.3. Battery life still the same as before. Guess this is how we’re gonna live our life now” – source
My fellow Forbes contributor Mark Sparrow sums up this situation: “No battery improvement after updating to 13.3. Looks like Apple has thrown a huge number of its customers under the proverbial bus. This is a problem that won’t get fixed.”
Gordon’s Top Apple Daily Deals:
So What Do You Get?
Apple officially lists the contents of iOS 13.3 as follows:
- New parental controls provide more communication limits over who their children can call, FaceTime, or Message
- Contact list for children lets parents manage the contacts that appear on their children’s devices
- New layout for Apple News+ stories from The Wall Street Journal and other leading newspapers
- Easily like or dislike stories with a tap
- Stories from Apple News are now available in Canada in English and French
- Continue reading with links to related stories or more stories from the same publication
- “Breaking” and “Developing” labels for Top Stories
The parental controls are what stand out here and they should prove genuinely useful for many families looking to put limits on their children’s screen time. Many of these features were promised for iOS 13 itself but delayed, so it’s good Apple has seen them through.
Other noteworthy additions include:
- Creation of a new video clip when trimming a video in Photos
- Support for NFC, USB, and Lightning FIDO2-compliant security keys in Safari
iOS 13.3 also brings overdue Mail, Gmail and Exchange fixes and patches for issues with Markup, Screenshots, Voice Memos and a long awaited fix for slow wireless charging.
As for security, Apple’s official iOS 13.3 security page lists important fixes for vulnerabilities found in FaceTime, Photos and WebKit (the engine behind Safari). But the bad news is I can confirm iOS 13.3 does not include a fix for the Ultra wideband location sharing issues affecting the iPhone 11 range. For that, the wait goes on.
Apple iOS 13.3 Verdict: The Best iOS 13 Release So Far
After eight releases, Apple appears to be at last getting a grip on the problems of iOS 13. While long term issues remain, iOS 13.3 is easily Apple’s strongest release so far with solid new features and important bug and security fixes. I’d advise everyone running iOS 13 to upgrade.
As for those still on iOS 12, it’s a little more complicated. iOS 13.3 does still contain some significant issues, but it’s the best jumping on point yet so if you have an itchy upgrade finger, go for it. For those who are happy to stay put, let Apple polish iOS 13 a little more with another release or two. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.
The Road Ahead
At the time of publishing, Apple has yet to release a new iOS beta but I’d expect iOS 13.3.1 to arrive sooner rather than later as Apple continues to squash bugs. Will it arrive before the end of 2019? Barring the discovery of a major flaw, I doubt it.
In the meantime, bookmark this page and I’ll update it within a week with any new bugs (or benefits) I find.
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