IOS 13 has nearly arrived. On Tuesday, Apple took the wraps off the golden master for its next major smartphone software update, giving developers the chance to test out the possibly-final version of the software before it rolls out to consumers.

The launch of the iOS 13 golden master, which came just after the company unveiled the iPhone 11, brings a slew of new features to the iOS platform. Dark mode has finally made its debut, offering a new selection of user interface colors that will shine on the high-end OLED iPhones. A new photos app curates favorites in a smarter interface, new mapping features detail the world, and a new reminders app helps users remember their most pressing tasks faster.

Other features look set to make a number of welcome quality-of-life changes. CarPlay, the in-car user interface designed to help people keep their eyes on the road, has a redesigned dashboard with new apps for the calendar and Apple Music. Performance is boosted across the board, with Face ID unlocking up to 30 percent faster and apps launching up to twice as fast. Improved privacy features protect user data, with new requests for Bluetooth access and a focus on offering a single sign-in for apps.

The release followed a major launch event, where Apple unveiled its new lineup of smartphones. The iPhone 11, the successor to the iPhone XR, sports a dual-camera setup and costs $699, $50 less than its predecessor. The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max add a third camera to the mix. All three come with support for the latest features like Wi-Fi 6 and the A13 Bionic processor. Apple also unveiled the Apple Watch Series 5, with support for an always-on screen, and a 10.2-inch entry-level iPad.

iOS 13: When Is the Release Date?

iOS 13 will be available through the usual channels on September 19, 2019. This is the date when users will be able to download the update through their iPhone by going to the Settings app, then visiting General, then Software Update and following the instructions. The update will be available for the iPhone 6S and later.

On Tuesday, Apple released the “golden master” for iOS 13. The release came after the iPhone 11 and Apple Watch Series 5 launch event, held at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California.

The iPhone 11 rear.

iOS 13: What Is the ‘Golden Master’?

This release, nine days prior to the mainstream launch, has been provided to developers to test out their apps on what is intended to be the final update the following week. 

That means it’s not a “beta” version, the pre-release bug-filled updates that Apple has provided to developers since June to prepare for the final launch. It also means that it might not necessarily be the same update that gets released in nine days’ time. While the “golden master” is almost always the same version that gets released, Apple has occasionally made some last-minute tweaks and released a different version. In 2014, Apple released two “golden master candidate” versions of OS X Yosemite for the Mac prior to launch.

iOS 13: How to Download Golden Master

Developers can get their hands on the golden master to test their apps by visiting Apple’s developer site.

  • Head to developer.apple.com/download.
  • Choose “View All” under “iOS 13” and choose the appropriate option.
  • Download the IPSW file for your device.
  • Plug in your iPhone to your computer.
  • On the device’s tab, hold down “Option” on Mac or “Shift” on Windows and click “Check for Update.”
  • Navigate to the IPSW file and confirm.

Apple’s website states that users need to be running macOS Catalina or the golden master of the Xcode 11 developer tools. However, some users are reporting that iTunes will prompt users to download and install a small update in lieu of these extras, so your mileage may vary.

While the release of the golden master is a big moment for Apple, it may not be long before the company moves on — at the same launch event, Apple announced that iOS 13.1 would hit devices on September 30, 10 days after the iPhone 11 hits shelves. The company has already started sending out beta versions for both developers and public beta testers.

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