We spend so much time with our devices that it’s possible to start feeling like unpaid software testers. iOS powers Apple’s iPhone and iPad, and I feel like I’ve been “testing” it for about five years now.
Don’t get me wrong — I love my Apple devices as much as the next beard-growing hipster on a fixie, but some of these issues have been around for a long time now.
Today I’ll be sharing my personal iOS bugbears, I’d love to hear yours too so stick around and leave a comment at the end.
Stop Asking Me to Join Wi-Fi Networks
Did you know that your iPhone will automatically join open wireless networks unless you tell it not to? This can leave you wide open to man-in-the-middle attacks and packet sniffing, meaning an attacker could manipulate the web pages you see and potentially spy on the information you’re sending and receiving.
Fortunately by heading to Settings > Wi-Fi, you can check the box that says Ask To Join Networks, which prevents your phone from putting you at risk. You can go ahead and do it now if you haven’t already (your phone will still automatically join any networks you authorize).
The only problem with this rather excellent safeguard? My phone continually asks me if I want to join wireless networks. Like, all the time. It’s infuriating. The only times I want to search for wireless networks are when I actively need them, not when I’m walking around the city with a considerably faster 4G connection.
Apple uses wireless networks to better improve location accuracy, and that’s fine — but it’s about time our iPhones stopped bugging us to join them.
Let Me Change My Default Apps
You can extend this to any app you’re not overly fond of — Safari, Mail, and even Calendar — but for me, the one app that could really do with being replaced is Camera. Apple certainly sweetened the non-negotiable pill by adding separate exposure and focus controls with iOS 8, but that still doesn’t compare to the likes of Camera+ with all of its additional bells and whistles.
The biggest problem with Apple not allowing users to pick their default camera app is that you can’t quickly launch your app of choice from the lockscreen. Photography is fleeting in nature, so fast-access to your camera gives you a better chance at getting the shot you want.
Despite Apple wanting us all to use their own browser and email client, that doesn’t change the fact a huge number of users use alternative apps for these tasks. I’m a huge fan of smartphone photography, and judging by their recent “Shot on iPhone 6” advertising campaign, Apple is too — so let us change our default cameras already!
Realize Spotlight’s Usefulness
Spotlight is a killer OS X feature and has been the envy of Windows users for years. iOS also has a built in Spotlight search, accessible by swiping down on the home screen. You should already be using this to launch your apps, it’s considerably faster than trawling through folders and studying icons.
However, Spotlight’s implementation with iOS feels like a missed opportunity. Despite massive improvements in iOS 8, the search feature still isn’t anywhere near as intelligent as its Mac cousin. On my desktop, I can convert currencies and units of measurement, look up movie times, and even search for Evernote notes and other third-party content.
By opening up iOS Spotlight to app developers and adding useful tidbits like unit conversions on the fly, I would no longer need to launch a separate app and then search — I could just search. The advantages would extend to users of alternative email or calendar apps, word processors like the recently released Ulysses for iPad, and beyond.
Similarly, searching Messages for keywords is a jumbled mess, with no option of progressing to the next or previous search result. Try searching for a commonly used word, and you’ll see what I mean.
AirDrop is Apple’s proprietary wireless file transfer protocol that uses both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to transfer files between iOS 8 devices and Mac computers running Yosemite. Since its introduction in iOS 8, the technology has been flaky.
AirDrop is so bad that I’ve written a troubleshooting article full of things to try if you are having trouble with the feature. The worst thing about AirDrop’s shortcomings is the fact that it’s so inconsistent — just because you can send a file to your Mac from your iPhone this time doesn’t mean the two devices will be able to see each other next time.
Similarly, despite keeping a fairly thorough contacts list, the “Contacts Only” AirDrop function has literally never worked for me, even when that contact was myself (yes, Apple places a personal contact card in your phone book).
Bluetooth file transfer used to work fairly competently on the dumbphones of yore — AirDrop not so much.
More Devices = More iCloud Storage
iPhone owners — did you know Samsung Galaxy owners get 50GB of free Dropbox storage? The offer also applies to certain HTC devices, and is valid for two years. While it’s only a temporary solution, it puts Apple’s pitiful 5GB of free iCloud storage to shame.
If you have spent a lot of money on a MacBook Pro, iPad, and iPhone, it’s laughable that Apple expects you to micromanage available cloud storage in order to make everything fit. 5GB of storage is less than useless for backing up devices — but your phone will bug you incessantly about not having enough iCloud storage until you cough up for more space.
I’ve got a better idea: for every new iOS device purchased, Apple adds 5GB of storage to your iCloud pool. I’d still find it difficult to keep everything backed up with only 15GB of space, but at this stage, it seems like the least Cupertino could do considering how cheap and readily available cloud storage has become.
This is more relevant than ever since the arrival of the iCloud Photo Library, with iCloud becoming more deeply entrenched within our devices and the Apple ecosystem as a whole.
Over to you — what would you change about iOS, given the chance?