At least part of what makes the iPhone 11 feel so fresh is iOS 13, which I'm in the process of evaluating right now. (Spoiler alert: It's very good.) For the sake of brevity, I won't run through every little detail Apple added and fixed in this new update, but there are a few worth calling out.
For one, iOS's dark mode is finally here, and it looks good enough that I've left it enabled on the iPhone 11 even though its LCD screen means I'm not preserving its battery at all. I know it's historically been sort of a joke, but Apple Maps has received some serious improvements, to the point where I've been using it almost exclusively for the past few weeks. That might not last forever, but at least its Street View equivalent runs more smoothly than Google's original does. Selecting and editing text (like this review) is easier now, thanks to a handful of new multitouch gestures, and the new, multi-faceted Reminders app has been sort of a lifesaver as I've been trying to coordinate photos shoots and video producers and everything else that went into this review.
What comes next?
New versions of iOS typically launch alongside Apple's latest iPhones, and that's true this year too. Curiously, the company also plans to release another update -- iOS 13.1 -- 10 days after the iPhone 11 line is released. I'm told that new build will feature a handful of bug fixes to address issues I've mostly experienced with the iPhone 11 Pros, like the camera and flashlight occasionally not launching when I tapped the appropriate icon. That update will also start to unlock the potential of the new U1 chip inside all of Apple's new iPhones. At first, iOS 13.1 will allow iPhone 11 and Pro owners to more easily AirDrop files to each other by pointing their phones at specific people, but the possibilities don't end there. The U1 will almost certainly figure into the location trackers Apple has been reportedly working on, and patents exist that describe how a clip like this could be used to start a car by pointing at it. It's hard to grasp the impact the U1 chips (and others like it) could have, so stay tuned for more as we get to test it.
Beyond the 13.1 release, the iPhone 11's newest photographic feature won't be ready until later in the fall. Deep Fusion promises to combine nine different exposures into a single, highly detailed photo, and on the surface, it sounds like Apple's attempt to unseat Google as the king of computational photography. I've been dying to test it against Google's Pixels, and I'll update this review once the feature goes live.