¶ When You Should Upgrade to iOS 13 [UPDATED]

iOS 13 is scheduled to be released on Thursday, September 19th. But you should wait until September 30th 24th to update your iOS devices to iOS 13, if possible.

Why? Because Apple’s development cycle of iOS 13 has been, well, all over the map this summer. The betas over the summer have been particularly shaky, and it sounds like the public release of iOS 13.0 will have some hiccups in it. From John Gruber’s iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro review, regarding iOS 13:

I ran into a handful of bugs over the last week. One time Messages completely froze, and the phone started getting very warm. Force quitting Messages didn’t help — I had to power-cycle the phone to get Messages working again. Several times the keyboard in Messages went entirely white. I could actually still type, but I couldn’t see the keys I was pressing. With iOS 13.1 coming just 10 days after iPhone 11 units get into customer hands, I don’t see the point in belaboring this, but 13.1 needs to be a lot more stable than 13.0. 13.0 feels like a late stage beta.

The most notable sign that something was amiss for the initial launch of iOS 13 was right after iOS 13 beta 8, when Apple released iOS 13.1 beta 1. I noticed many of my developer friends scratching their heads over that one. Also, a number of features that had been pulled in the later iOS 13 betas had returned for the first beta of iOS 13.1.

On top of all that, when Apple announced iOS 13 would be available on September 19th, they simultaneously announced that iOS 13.1 and iPadOS would be available just 11 5 days later on September 30th 24th. iPadOS will never see a public release of 13.0, instead it will pass Go and collect a higher version number with 13.1.

Apple was put between a rock and a hard place. New iPhone hardware means that the new version of iOS needs to ship in tandem. And the full feature set of iOS 13 was running behind schedule. So they made a call — and I believe it is the correct call — to strip out the extremely buggy features, get 13.0 usable enough for the iPhone launch, and follow it up with a 13.1 release just over under a week later. I maybe would have held off on releasing 13.0 to existing devices and just have shipped it on the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, but I imagine watchOS 6 being tied to the iOS 13 made that unavoidable. People with existing iPhones will still buy new Apple Watches on launch day.

My Advice

I think the only reason you should endeavor to run iOS 13.0 is if you buy one of the new iPhones 11/11 Pro, or a new Apple Watch Series 5. For the former, iOS 13 will come pre-installed, and for the latter, it will have watchOS 6 and probably needs iOS 13 on the iPhone it will be paired to.

For everyone else with existing iPhones, just wait for iOS 13.1 on September 30th 24th. It is likely to be far less buggy, and will have more of the features initially promised for iOS 13. Finally, no matter when you upgrade your device, make sure you have a backup.

[UPDATE]: Apple has moved up the release date of iOS 13.1 and iPad OS from September 30th to September 24th. This article has been updated to reflect that.