Here’s what we like about iOS 13 (and one thing we don’t)

The latest upgrade to the iOS operating system is here, after having been teased for months. iOS 13 adds a number of features users have been asking for, and while it’s not the most meaty upgrade Apple’s ever released, it does have a few nifty features worth mentioning for those on the fence.

Keep in mind this isn’t an exhaustive review of every new thing in iOS 13 — just a rundown of some of our favorite new things (and one thing that’s not quite so welcome).

Dark mode

Probably the most aesthetically appealing feature is Dark Mode. Whether you’re a charcoal purist or not (we’ve certainly got our Dark Mode haters here in the office at TNW), it’s nice to finally have the option. And if you like it very dark, then I have good news for you: for the most part, this Dark Mode isn’t just gray but pure black. We’re talking black backgrounds on most default apps, and it’s a delight if you’re like me and use your phone at night way more than you should.

Dark Mode can also be customized to switch on and off at particular times. If you’re familiar with Night Shift — which makes you iPhone screen warmer at sundown to help your brain wind down before bed — it works much the same way. You can also add a Dark Mode toggle to your Control Center, so you can turn it on and off at a moment’s notice.

I only have one quibble against the Dark/Light mode juxtaposition: prior to this, I could differentiate between a regular Safari tab and a private one by the fact that private was in dark mode by default. Now there’s no quick visual indicator. It’s a very minor complaint in the grand scheme, but still one I felt was worth mentioning.

Swiping

The new keyboard also supports swiping to type. As someone who uses tapping thumbs with the alacrity of a Mavis Beacon graduate, it took a little bit for me to get used to, but it works just great. It’s also a little strange to have to swipe the whole word before it appears on screen (I assume some AI black magic fuckery is at work to make the words appear so beautifully out of my haphazard key-tripping), but I don’t hate it by any means.

There are some hiccups: for example, if you swipe and the word is not quite what you wanted, pressing the delete key deletes the whole word. But, as with Dark Mode, it’s definitely nice to finally have the option. I’m sure if you prefer one-handed typing, this might change everything for you.

Photos rejiggered

Your photos are now sorted by years, months, and days in the Photos app. The photos are also laid out in a more appealing way, not being crammed together in same-sized tiles. It’s hard to describe how much better it is: suffice to say it looks more like an album and less like a filing system.

With a guest appearance by Monet and Pogo, my friend’s bearded dragon.

The editing and retouching software is now much more intuitive. Before this, it was just one step up from Microsoft Paint, but now the tools are actually useful and (for me at least) usable. You can adjust white balance, vibrancy, noise reduction, sharpness, and probably even more minute things I’m sure Napier knows more about than I do.

This new Photo library probably goes hand-in-hand with the camera updates Apple is rolling out with the new slate of iPhones. With better cameras come better pictures, and it’s good to see Apple has updated the software to match them in quality.

This octopus

There are three new Animoji: a mouse, a cow, and an octopus. The latter is my favorite. I mean look at it.

Look at this fucking octopus!!

Bugaboos

There’s one elephant in the room we should probably address, and that’s the bug reports that are rolling in aplenty from people who have updated. Users have reported crashing apps and camera problems. My biggest issue is that some of my Photos have been randomly reassigned dates and times when they definitely weren’t taken — I noticed this while browsing the library and spotting a photo taken in 2013 in my 2017 folder.

The bugs are apparently so numerous and harmful the Department of Defense is reportedly cautioning its employees against upgrading until iOS 13.1 comes out. Apple has bumped the release date of the latter to September 24, and it’ll hopefully address some of the issues.

The scarily good Impossible Burger finally lands in (a few) supermarkets

The Impossible Burger, a burger made from plants that comes eerily close to the real thing, is finally landing in stores. Until now, it’s been exclusive to select restaurants, but starting tomorrow, it will pop up in 27 Gelson’s Markets in California. It’ll show up on the east coast later this month, and the company plans to make it available in further regions throughout the country by early 2020.

Impossible Foods has made a big mark on bringing plant-based meat alternatives to a wider audience, with a burger that’s convincing enough to trick some hardcore meat-eaters. The key ingredient to its formula is something called heme, which is a crucial part of why meat tastes like meat (it exists in plants too, but more so in animals). The heme in the Impossible Burger is made through genetically engineered yeast, but the final compound is identical to the one in meat.

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The Impossible burger has become so popular that even Burger King now carries the it at its locations nationwide, making it perhaps the only plant-based meat substitute readily available at a nationwide food chain.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of the first version of the burger, version 2.0 introduced earlier this year was revelatory. For all practical purposes, it tastes like a burger. Sure, people who are really picky about their meat will be able to spot the differences. I can tell it’s not the real thing when I’m paying attention, but the point is that it’s close enough and the differences are more ‘different’ than ‘worse’. I reckon the difference between the regular Whopper and Impossible Whopper is smaller than the difference between different types of hamburger beef.

Note that I’ve said ‘plant-based’ and not ‘vegan’ so far. It’s the term Impossible Foods uses, and in the colloquial sense, it’s vegan. There’s no dairy, eggs, or other animal-sourced product in the burger. However, Impossible Foods tested the heme ingredient on nearly 200 rats which died in the process, in a study that was not required to get its food on the market.

Impossible Foods’ CEO provided an explanation here, suggesting that the study was made in order to secure FDA approval and wider distribution. The company “designed the study rigorously so that it would never have to be done again.”

Basically, it made a choice for the greater good. I suspect most vegans can understand that, but it’s something to be aware of depending on your take on food ethics. Still, the major benefit is not so much convincing people to go vegan as letting meat-lovers to at least consider reducing their meat consumption. People don’t eat meat because they like the idea of animals dying (hopefully). They eat it because it tastes good. Give them an alternative that tastes just as good, and we make things better. Animal ethics aside, scientists have told us time and time again that eating less meat is one of the best choices we can make to help the environment.

It’s a good time to be a vegan and vegetarian in the states. There are more choices than ever before, and signs suggest options are only increasing.

Read next: Here’s what we like about iOS 13 (and one thing we don’t)

Roku’s new Ultra streaming box is faster and adds custom app shortcuts

Roku is refreshing its lineup of streamers today, introducing a few updates to the Roku Express and Ultra that won’t make you replace your existing device, but should be handy for new buyers.

The new Roku express is even smaller.

The Roku Express is now 10 percent smaller, making it easier to hide behind a TV, while providing the same performance as before. Meanwhile, the Roku Ultra has a new quad-core processor and more RAM in order to load channels (Roku‘s name for apps) up to 30 percent faster.

Perhaps more notably, its the first Roku to feature custom shortcut buttons to supplement the default apps permanently printed onto the remote.

Note the 1 and 2 buttons on the remote, used for custom shortcuts.

Roku is also announced that version 9.2 of its OS is rolling out. It includes a new feature called Roku Zones, which is kind of like Netflix categories, except listing shows from multiple streaming apps instead of just one. You’ll also be able to search by movie quotes and control multiple Roku devices through your voice assistant of choice.

In all, this is the new Roku line-up:

  • Roku Express ($29.99): HD Streaming
  • Roku Express+ ($39.99): Walmart only, same as above but with a Roku voice remote.
  • Roku Premiere ($39.99): Small 4K HDR box
  • Roku Streaming Stick+ ($59.99): 4k HDR stick with voice remote.
  • Roku Streaming Stick+ HE ($59.99): A best buy exclusive featuring the enhanced Roku remote with a headphone jack and headphones included.
  • Roku Ultra ($99.99): The fastest Roku. Has a voice remote with custom shortcuts, USB and Micro SD storage, Ethernet, and JBL headphones included.
  • Roku Ultra LT ($79.99): Similar to above, except with the old processor, no custom shortcut buttons, and no remote finder.

The Express and Ultra are available to pre-order today. The Express models will launch this month, while the others will arrive in October.

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Published September 19, 2019 — 21:01 UTC