Outstanding iOS Flaws

1. Indication of Outstanding Notifications

Let me get this out of the way: the new notifications in iOS are great. The improvement over the previous system is tenfold. But there remain a couple of flaws.

First and foremost, is what happens when a user misses a banner notification or acts on (or unlocks) a lock screen notification. The answer is, nothing. If the phone is sitting on my desk at the home screen and a notification is missed it could be a while before it’s realized.

The problem is that while the notification is stored in the handy pulldown menu, there is no indication that there are still notifications that have not been acted on. It seems like some sort of indication (e.g., changing the color of the clock, the background of the status bar, adding another icon to the right corner, some little subtle glowing of text) would be simple and sufficient. Instead a user is left wondering if something was missed.

2. Deleting Notifications

The second flaw with Notification Center lies with deleting notifications from the pulldown menu. There seem to be three ways to delete things from the pulldown menu.

  1. Act on this notification directly from Notification Center.
  2. Launch the application from the home screen and act on the content related to the notification.
  3. Click the little grey button in the top right of the applications notification area and delete all notifications.

From what I can tell, the first two options only clear the specific notification for the individual action that triggered it. The third option clears all notifications for the given application. And herein lies the problem.

First and foremost, it seems odd that all notifications have to be cleared, or none of them can. An argument could be made that once a notification has been seen it has served it’s purpose, but if that were the logic than why would Apple keep notifications there even after a banner has been shown? It seems like the logical thing would have been to also include a swipe gesture to delete individual notifications. This would have allowed things to selectively be deleted and possibly also make them easier to delete since the little grey ‘X’ is sometimes a challenge.

3. Cannot Hide Newsstand Application

One of Apple’s additions to iOS 5 is the Newsstand Application. This application is basically iBooks, but for newspapers and magazines. I am sure there are some people who will use this, but I am not one of them. I don’t plan to buy newspapers or magazines on my iOS devices, and because of Apple’s decision not to allow users to delete Apple default applications there is nothing to do but hide this in a folder. But there is a problem with Newsstand. Apparently, it is a folder. And because you can’t put a folder in a folder there is nothing you can do about it, officially.

Some wily individual came up with a workaround that involves some fast fingers and some luck1. This effectively breaks Newsstand so you can only do this if you don’t plan to use it at all.

4. No Quick Toggle For Bluetooth or Wifi

Much like copy and paste was for some people, I continue to bang my head against the wall regarding the inability to quickly toggle WiFi or Bluetooth on/off. WiFi requires a user to launch Settings.app and then click the WiFi item and then turn it on or off. Not horribly far to go, but not perfect.

Bluetooth is another story. A user has to launch Settings.app, then scroll down to General, then click Bluetooth and then toggle it on or off. This is so cumbersome that I rarely turn Bluetooth off (since I use it at least twice a day) and therefore impact my battery life. My solution for this is to add options in the multitasking bar as your scroll to the left, much like iPod controls, screen orientation and volume. It seems so simple to add buttons for WiFi and Bluetooth to this section.

  1. I have successfully done it several times and once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad []