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Craig Federighi unveiling iOS 13 at WWDC 2019. Photo: Apple

By the end of its developer conference keynotes, Apple often has users drooling for all the ways their existing iPhones will be better with the next version of the operating system. This year, though, the changes seemed more modest than in years past.

Why it matters: IPhone sales have already been struggling as users keep their devices longer and most people who can afford a high-end smartphone have one.

Yes, but: The more Apple uses software upgrades to improve all iPhones, the less incentive existing owners have to invest in new phones.

  • So in some ways, the ho-hum operating-system upgrade could help Apple sell more iPhones this fall, provided there are hardware improvements.

Details: There are changes to be sure (full list here), including...

  • Significantly improved photo and video editing, Dark Mode and improved Apple Maps.
  • New augmented reality capabilities, Memoji stickers, and the type of tracing keyboard long found on Android devices.

My thought bubble: There just didn't seem to be a killer feature — the kind of thing that made me want to download the beta onto my everyday phone as soon it was available despite warnings not to.

Flashback: Standout features seen in Apple's past annual iOS releases...

  • iOS 12 (2018): Memoji, Screen Time.
  • iOS 11 (2017): AR, peer-to-peer Apple Pay.
  • iOS 10 (2016): Apple Music, Home app.
  • iOS 9 (2015): Apple News, iPad multitasking.
  • iOS 8 (2014): Health app, predictive text, family sharing.
  • iOS 7 (2013): AirDrop, Control Center, redesigned user interface.
  • iOS 6 (2012): Shared photo streams, Siri on iPad.
  • iOS 5 (2011): iMessage, Siri.
  • iOS 4: (2010): Multitasking, app folders, iBooks.
  • iOS 3: (2009): Copy and paste, voice memo, Find my iPhone.
  • iOS 2: (2008): App Store, Exchange ActiveSync for work email.

Go deeper

58 seconds ago - Health

Federal judge blocks Biden vaccine mandate for health workers

President Biden delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant at the White House on Nov. 29. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers at federally funded facilities nationwide.

The big picture: The order comes one day after a federal judge in Missouri halted the mandate, which has a Jan. 4 deadline, in 10 states.

CNN suspends Chris Cuomo indefinitely

Chris Cuomo in 2019. Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for THR

CNN announced Tuesday evening that it has suspended anchor Chris Cuomo indefinitely following new revelations about his involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Driving the news: New documents released Monday showed that Cuomo used his contacts to garner information about the women accusing his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of sexual harassment, as well as of emerging media coverage relating to the scandal.

2 hours ago - Health

FDA panel backs Merck's antiviral COVID pill

The Merck Cherokee Plant in Riverside, Pa. Photo: Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

An FDA advisory panel on Tuesday voted 13-10 to endorse an antiviral pill developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to treat adults at high risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19, despite concerns over its effectiveness and safety.

Why it matters: Oral antiviral drugs designed to prevent or treat COVID-19 could be key pandemic-fighting tools, if proven effective, especially as new variants emerge. If authorized, the Merck drug, known as molnupiravir, would be the first treatment of its kind to be made available in the United States.