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Five iOS 13 features that will make Chinese users very happy

Apple has released the first public beta of iOS 13

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

Users are finally getting their hands on Apple’s iOS 13 update -- and it’s full of goodies for China.

Apple released the first public beta builds for its next iPhone operating system on Monday. The headline features include more privacy options, improvements to the photo app and a dark mode.

iOS 13 was trending on Weibo on Tuesday as Chinese users saw some of the features tailored towards them. Here’s five of them!

1) Better QR code scanning

The QR code is king in China. Most mobile payment apps in China use QR codes and for downloading apps and WeChat mini apps.

How the QR code conquered China

The iPhone already has a QR code scanner baked right into the Camera app. But that one isn’t quite as efficient as it could be; whenever it spotted a QR code, it’d trigger a notification at the top of your screen to tap.

Apple will release the full version of iOS 13 this autumn. Here’s a photo of iOS 13 showing almost none of the changes. (Picture: Apple)
Now it looks a lot smoother and slicker: When the camera sees a QR code, it presents a nice big alert that can take you straight to WeChat, the country’s most popular social app.

Check out iPhone XS on Amazon

2) New relationship labels in Contacts

Addressing family members in Chinese can sound incredibly complicated to the untrained ear, with special names for older and younger siblings, each of your grandparents (depending on their side of the family) as well as uncles and aunts.

Look, a picture of the contacts app is really boring, so enjoy this shot of iOS 13’s new-and-allegedly-improved Photos app instead. (Picture: Apple)

The Contacts app has been overhauled in iOS 13, with a whole bunch of new labels to help you sort through the list easily.

It might sound minor, but this feature reminds us a lot of WeChat: That app has been offering customizable contact tags for years.

3) Adjustable Chinese handwriting keyboard

Using fingers to trace out Chinese characters takes space (and time) -- which is why many Chinese users resort to third-party apps. Apple has decided to make things a bit easier by making the writeable area of the keyboard larger.


(I was gonna say "it's the little things," but this is literally not a little thing.)

4) Easier language switching

Speaking of the keyboard, there’s another small change here that actually makes a big difference: iOS 13 has separate, dedicated keys to trigger emoji and to switch languages.

No longer will you accidentally change your keyboard to Chinese when all you wanted was to insert this 😱 emoji.

See the dedicated emoji button? It’s there! Rejoice, etc. (Picture: Apple)

Apple has also finally discovered swipe keyboards, which apps like SwiftKey have been offering for almost a decade. And this new feature also supports Simplified Chinese.

5) Intersection navigation

Apple is planning a big overhaul for Maps. And considering what some people in China have to commute through every day, it’s a very welcome update. In fact, it’s the most popular iOS 13 update among Chinese users, according to a poll by media site iFanr. And looking at some interchanges in China, it’s obvious why.
This is not China, but you get the idea. (Picture: Apple)

Apple Maps is introducing an intersection view for China, helping drivers pick the correct lanes while driving -- again, something which might sound minor, but is hugely important when you’re on a packed 6-lane highway approaching a twisty intersection.

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.