The next major iPhone update coming this fall will make Apple's apps much more useful, report says

  • Apple will announce updates to several of its iPhone apps including Heath, Reminders, iMessage, and Maps at its developers conference next month, according to Bloomberg.
  • The updates would come amid mounting concerns that Apple is making it difficult for third-party developers to compete with its services.
  • Apple typically releases its new iOS software in the fall alongside new iPhones.
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Apple is planning to announce a host of new iPhone features at its annual developers conference next month that introduce improvements to the company's core apps, according to Bloomberg.

The new software, likely to be called iOS 13, will reportedly sprinkle many minor updates across Apple's roster of apps including Apple Maps, Reminders, iMessage, and Health that could make them more compelling options compared with third-party alternatives.

Apple typically unveils new software for its iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac devices at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. While previous reports had suggested that this year's update would be more iPad-centric, Bloomberg's latest piece provides a deeper look at what we can expect to see on the iPhone later this year.

Apple will redesign its Health app with a new section called "hearing health," which will track the volume of music being played through headphones as well as noise from your surroundings, Bloomberg said. The app will also feature a new homepage that more clearly shows a user's activity from the day and improved menstrual-cycle tracking. Apple's iOS 13 update will also bring a new Sleep Mode that will mute notifications, turn on Do Not Disturb, and dim the lock screen, the report said.

Read more: Apple says products like the Apple Watch and AirPods are doing so well that its wearables business is as big as a Fortune 200 company

The company is also updating the iPhone's Screen Time functionality to include a new feature that makes it possible for parents to impose restrictions on whom their children can contact at certain times during the day, Bloomberg said. The refresh would come after a report from The New York Times recently found that Apple had removed numerous parental-controls apps from the App Store following the launch of its own Screen Time feature in iOS 12 last fall.

Apple's iMessage service will get an update that allows users to set a display name and photo much like WhatsApp, the report said, while Apple Maps will get a refresh that makes it easier to set frequently visited locations. As previous reports from 9to5Mac have indicated, Apple will also add a system-wide Dark Mode to iOS 13 and will combine Find My Friends and Find My iPhone into a single new app.

The iPhone's Reminders app will also get a new interface that divides tasks into four categories: tasks for today, all tasks, scheduled tasks, and flagged tasks, according to Bloomberg. Mail and Safari will get new updates too, and iOS 13 will bring general system-wide performance improvements to Apple devices as well, the report said.

The biggest new features coming to the iPad reportedly include the ability to use Apple's tablet as a second display for Mac computers and improved multitasking. This could include a new interface that lets users tab through different versions of the same app on the iPad.

Apple has long been criticized over the quality of its first-party apps, and if Bloomberg's report is any indication, it appears that the company is looking to reverse that perception. In some cases, third-party alternatives offer more features and customization than Apple's apps, as my colleague Dave Smith has detailed.

The update would also come as Apple navigates its relationship with developers amid concerns that its control over the App Store and the iPhone's software gives it an unfair advantage when competing against third-party apps. Spotify, for example, filed an antitrust complaint with the European Union in March over the 30% "tax" Apple charges on purchases made through Apple's payment system.

Apple typically release its software updates in the fall to coincide with its new iPhone product launches.

Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference is scheduled to kick off June 3 in San Jose, California.