How To: New iPhone Features & Changes in iOS 13.6 That You Need to Know About

New iPhone Features & Changes in iOS 13.6 That You Need to Know About

While the iPhone world's attention might be fixed on Apple's upcoming iOS 14 announcement, it isn't the only update coming our way. In fact, before Apple releases iOS 14 in the fall, the company will push out iOS 13.6 in just days or weeks.

As Apple's likely final iOS 13 point update, iOS 13.6 is a modest upgrade compared to some of its predecessors. Still, while other iOS 13 point releases sported dozens of new features, this one's offerings should be welcomed by any iPhone user. Plus, iOS 14 is just around the corner, so 13.6 is really just an appetizer.

Interestingly, iOS 13.6 started in beta form as 13.5.5. It wasn't until Apple released its second beta that it was changed to iOS 13.6. That wasn't the first time Apple had pulled a trick like that; the iPhone OEM did the same thing with iOS 13.5, which started as 13.4.5 in beta development.

Apple never gave an official reason why it jumped numbers like that, though, it could be that it was saving some of those point-point releases for quick security and bug patches that never came. Either that, or it was the significance of the features. When it switched from 13.4.5 to 13.5, Apple introduced its COVID-19 exposure notification API. This time around, there isn't a new feature quite as significant, but perhaps Apple felt they were substantial enough to warrant a 13.6 designation.

1. Track Your Symptoms in Health

Arguably the most prominent new feature in iOS 13.6 is the Health app's "Symptoms" section. Found under the "Browse" tab, the new option allows you to track your symptoms when you're feeling unwell, just as you can with other health categories in the app.

You'll find symptoms like coughing, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath, and sore throat, among 28 others to choose from. Each one features a brief description, ensuring you're selecting the right trait to track.

As you track your symptoms, Health adds your data points to Symptoms' front page. That way, you have easy access to the history of your symptoms, which you can revisit with just a tap of the data point.

2. Customize Your Automatic Software Updates

Another big change comes to Automatic Updates. In the past, you could choose whether to allow your iPhone to install new iOS updates automatically overnight. Now, the option is split in two, under "Customize Automatic Updates."

  • Download iOS Updates: This will download a new update automatically over Wi-Fi. You will get zero notifications or alerts when it happens. With it toggled off, you need to check and download updates manually.
  • Install iOS Updates: This will install a downloaded update automatically when connected to Wi-Fi and a power source. You will receive a notification before it starts installing, giving you a chance to push it back in case you need your iPhone then. With it toggled off, you may still receive notifications to remind you that there's an update to install at your leisure, but it won't install automatically.

3. Listen to Articles in Apple News+

If you're an Apple News+ subscriber, iOS 13.6 should be an exciting update. Apple added audio support in articles for paying customers, which is an excellent way to digest your news on the go or when you can't take the time to read stories for yourself.

As you can see in the GIFs below, the audio articles are sorted under a new "Audio" tab and function quite similarly to Apple's Podcasts app. You can play, pause, resume, scrub, rewind, skip to the next article in line, adjust the playback speed, and choose your audio output.

Image by 9to5Mac/YouTube

Under the extended menu, you can pull up the original article the audio is sourced from. Apple minimizes the audio player neatly along the bottom of the display so that you can return to the full player with just a tap. You can read along while listening and pause and rewind without needing to return to the expanded player.

Image by 9to5Mac/YouTube

4. Your Apple News Swipe Icons Look Different

Apple has streamlined swipe options in the News app. Now, when you swipe left or right on a story's preview, you'll see only icons, with no text labels. While the text did make it overtly clear what each option was, it isn't vital. Apple's images are already obvious enough, so the company made the smart decision to rely on them alone.

You'll also see that Apple changed the "Suggest More" icon's color from red to green, to better differentiate from its red "Suggest Less" counterpart.

5. And Your Apple News Toolbar Icons Are Black

News also saw an update to its in-article icon colors. Before, these colors were red, matching the red theme of the app. But now, Apple switched the icons to black.

iOS 13.6 (left) vs. iOS 13.5.1 (right).

There may be even more features lurking within Apple's iOS 13.6 update that have yet to be found. We'll keep this article updated with all the new changes we find as we continue to dive in.

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Cover image, screenshots, and GIFs by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks, unless otherwise noted

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