Apple iOS 13.6 Release: Should You Upgrade? – Forbes

07/18 Update below. This post was originally published on July 16

Apple iOS 13.6 is here and it’s a big deal, bringing exciting new features and a lot of important fixes. But does it break more than it fixes and should you upgrade? The signs look good. 

Tip: bookmark this page because I will keep it up to date if/when new problems are found. I will deliver my final verdict in a week. 

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Who Is It For?

iOS 13.6 is available for every iOS 13-compatible device. This means the iPhone 6S and newer and the 7th generation iPod touch. You should be prompted to upgrade automatically but, if not, you can trigger the update manually by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update. Beta testers, if you are running iOS 14 (more about this in ‘The Road Ahead’ section at the end), you must unenroll your iPhone otherwise iOS 13.6 will not show up. iPad owners, Apple has moved you to iPadOS. This is not an iPadOS-focused guide, but I will touch upon pertinent issues in these guides. 

07/18 Update: some misleading reports are currently circulating that iOS 13.6 brings FaceTime to the UAE. Such a development would be huge news for the region, with the UAE blocking major services like FaceTime and WhatsApp though here have been signs of progress recently after Skype for Business and Google Hangouts bans were lifted in June. Unfortunately, however, the reports are incorrect. FaceTime will work if you have an Apple US ID and change your iPhone’s regions to the US, but this is a hack. The official block has not been lifted and this workaround is not connected to anything in iOS 13.6. Given the UAE’s recent changes, perhaps a waiver will be take place sooner rather than later, but this is not it.

The Deal Breakers

Jailbreakers, you will need to avoid iOS 13.6. Unc0ver, the impressive jailbreaking tool which has broken most recent iOS 13 releases, has yet to announce a jailbreak for this update. That said, I suspect you won’t have to wait long. 

For everyone else, 24 hours after release things look very promising. While there are isolated cases of minor graphical glitches and reliability issues with Face ID, overall, complaints are thin on the ground – even on Reddit. Furthermore, while it is not listed among the fixes (more in the next section), complaints have stopped about the serious battery drain problem caused by Apple Music, so a fix appears to have snuck in under the radar. 

So What Do You Get?

Apple’s official iOS 13.6 release notes provide the following description and key features: 

“iOS 13.6 adds support for digital car keys, introduces audio stories in ‌Apple News‌+, and contains a new symptoms category in the Health app. This release also includes bug fixes and improvements.”

Digital car keys

  • Unlock, lock, and start your compatible car with your ‌iPhone‌
  • Securely remove digital keys from a lost device via iCloud
  • Share digital keys easily with iMessage
  • Driver-specific profiles so you can configure shared keys for full-access or restricted driving
  • Power reserve lets you unlock and start your car for up to five hours after ‌iPhone‌ runs out of battery

‌Apple News‌

  • Audio stories are professionally narrated versions of some of the best reads from ‌Apple News‌+, selected and produced by the ‌Apple News‌ editors as part of your ‌Apple News‌+ subscription
  • Apple News‌ Today is a new, free audio briefing on the day’s top stories from the ‌Apple News‌ editors, also available in the Podcasts app
  • A new Audio tab makes it easy to find ‌Apple News‌ Today and Apple

News+ audio stories

  • CarPlay allows you to listen to ‌Apple News‌ Today and ‌Apple News‌+ audio stories while on the road
  • Local news in your Today feed provides extensive coverage of San Francisco, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Houston, and New York City
  • More stories available from local news providers with a subscription to ‌Apple News‌+
  • Your daily newsletter from ‌Apple News‌ can now be personalized with stories that reflect your interests

Health

  • New category for symptoms in the Health app, including symptoms logged from Cycle Tracking and ECG
  • Ability to log new symptoms, like fever, chills, sore throat or coughing, and share them with third-party apps

The big news here is CarKey, Apple’s potentially game-changing new feature which allows your iPhone to work as a digital key for compatible third party cars. BMW is the first manufacturer to offer compatible models, but expect support to expand quickly along with third party accessories to bring the feature to older cars. 

According to Apple’s official security page, iOS 13.6 also brings no less than 26 security fixes and patches a number of bugs, including iCloud sync issues, data roaming problems on eSim, audio break up with WiFi calling and compatibility issues with third party physical keyboards. 

Apple iOS 13.6 Verdict: Jailbreakers Ignore, Everyone Else Upgrade

Historically, iOS releases become more stable towards the end of each generation and, following iOS 13’s myriad of launch problems, I’m happy to say this finally seems to be the case with iOS 13.6. As always, cautious upgraders should allow more time for bugs to reveal themselves, but those keen to jump on the latest update should feel confident in doing so. 

I’ll continue to monitor reports as the number of iOS 13.6 upgraders grow and deliver my final verdict in a week. 

The Road Ahead 

Apple has released the first public beta of iOS 14 and it is Apple’s most ambitious generational upgrade in years. iOS 14 finally brings major changes to the home screen with support for widgets, an app drawer (aka ‘App Library’), compact Call and Siri notifications, picture-in-picture video, an overhaul of Messages, new cycling routes in Maps, advanced language translation and much more. 

Granted, the vast majority of these additions are catch-up features to Android but that is no bad thing. Apple has been smart to eliminate these (long running) differences while it can also lean on its class leading updates and longevity of device support. If Apple can smooth out the bugs in beta, iOS 14 could be a breakout release. 

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