Unlucky number? iOS 13 really feels like the buggiest update ever

Probably every major iOS version release feels like the buggiest of all times, at least initially. Along with a raft of features, Apple messes up stuff that worked just fine before.

But after twelve years of seeing iOS updated, I really can’t shake the feeling the latest version, version 13, is living up to its ominous numerical significance. This just feels like the strangest set of bugs I’ve ever encountered in this software. 

Since I installed it, on several iOS devices, starting two months ago, here are a bunch of the weird things I’ve run into,

  • Intermittent problems with “continuity” not working, the feature that lets you start an activity on one machine and pick up where you left off on another; at the moment, continuity works fine between my iPad Pro (2015 version), my iPhone, and my iPad mini, and my MacBook, but is failing consistently on my 2018-edition iPad Pro;
  • Strange foreign language creeping into Voice Dictation: on the 2015-era iPad Pro, whenever I try to dictate phrases, in multiple applications, in English, the system will produce a bunch of nonsense in various languages, such as German or another tongue;
  • On the iPad mini, dictation regularly stops after I utter the first word;
  • When using the “Spoken Content” option, which lets one have text read back, in at least one instance, the voice suddenly switched to a silly French accent and read back English-language text in that accent;
  • The right-hand side of the Dock, the strip that runs along the bottom of the screen showing the applications, goes dead on each of three iPads, so that the three icons in this dock, the recently used apps, don’t respond to finger taps, and the iPad has to be restarted to get them to become responsive again;
  • Books and other documents in the Books app suddenly shift identities, so that something I was reading earlier, when I again tap its icon to open it on my iPad mini, opens up as a totally different, unrelated document, for which the only solution seems to be to completely delete the document from the Books library and re-install it.

Those are only the things I can remember off the top of my head. The whole thing feels rather like a mess and rather chaotic. If someone is keeping rigorous track of all these problems with every new release of iOS, I’d like to know about it.

I’m in the process of getting all these devices onto version 13.2.3, and hopefully, all will be well and good after that, but it’s been a brutal several weeks.

The pièce de résistance came yesterday. I found I could turn on Siri by singing the first line of the song “I Got You Babe” by Sonny & Cher. I opened up the “Ultimate Guitar” application on the iPad, which has guitar tablature for tons of songs. I started to sing the lyrics to I Got You Babe. (Why was I singing I Got You Babe? That’s a story for another time.)

Each time I sang the first couple of words of the first line, “They say we’re young and we don’t know / We won’t find out until we’re grown”, Siri started up. It seemed to be the words “They say” that did it, because those two words were replaced by “Hey Siri” in the transcription that Siri generated of my request. So “They say” was being mis-heard as “Hey Siri.”

Siri mostly replied, “I don’t understand” to my singing. Which would be funny if it was a comment on my singing, but I have a feeling it wasn’t. 

Here’s a video:

Interestingly, when I play that video on my MacBook, it succeeds in triggering Siri on the same iPad as before (the iPad is sitting right next to the laptop.)

I don’t know if it’s something special about my terrible singing voice, but try it yourself and see what happens.

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