I don't think Apple can fix the iOS mess it's created

Apple has turned iOS from a sleek, streamlined, easy-to-use operating system into a ghastly horror show.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Apple knows iOS has deteriorated, but it plans to fix that

Word has it that Apple is putting on hold some of the features it had planned for iOS 12 in order to concentrate on trying to fix the problems that it's allowed to build up in the platform.

That sounds great and all, but I'm not convinced that Apple can fix the mess it has created.

Must read: iOS 11.3: Tips, tricks, and how to fix the biggest annoyances

Let's face it, iOS is a mess. I've covered just some of my grievances with the platform, and my colleague Jason Perlow did a great job of highlighting how the platform was getting in the way of him getting things done.

The platform is such a mess that Apple even showcased an iOS bug in an ad it created for the iPhone X. And just to make matters worse, Apple fixed the ad before fixing the actual problem with iOS.

As I see it, iOS is failing on four fronts:

  • Performance: I would go as far as to say that iOS performance is at its worst. The fact that there are frame drops and stuttering present on brand new hardware is a massive FAIL.
  • Stability: I'll be honest and say that iOS stability isn't the worst I've seen it, but for a premium product, that's not really a glowing recommendation.
  • Bugginess: The number of ways that Apple has dropped the ball on this front in the past few months is just unbelievable.
  • Usability: I remember when Apple cared about usability. iOS usability is now garbage.

What the next iPhone needs to keep up with premium Android smartphones

I've spoken about performance, stability, and bugginess before -- in depth -- but since I've not spoken about usability, let me give out one example (yes, I'll restrict myself to just one, because otherwise, well, we could be here for a very long time) of what I mean.

Take the iOS Control Center panel. Here you go:

iOS 11.3 Control Center

OK, here's the deal. Some of those buttons respond to a Force Touch gesture and open out into a bigger panel with added functionality, while others don't. But short of pawing at them randomly, there's no visual way to tell which buttons conceal hidden features and which don't.

From a usability and user interface point of view, that's just awful. And yet Apple has done nothing to try to make this easier to use since the updated Control Center was first released to the public with iOS 11. Apple has addressed some of the problems with Control Center -- such as the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth toggles that don't actually toggle the radios on and off -- but the solutions feel kludgy and suggest Apple doesn't really have a clear way forward.

Which brings me to a discouraging and thoroughly disappointing realization -- that Apple doesn't know how to fix iOS.

Yes, after going through countless iOS public beta builds, I've lost faith that Apple knows the way forward. iOS now feels like Windows did back in that transitory period between Windows 7 and Windows 10. You can see changes being made, but they feel arbitrary and rather haphazard.

The only difference is that the task of fixing Windows never seemed as great as the one facing Apple. While the Windows user interface went through a bad patch, Window never suffered from the horrendous performance, stability, and bugginess issues that iOS is having (and remember, Apple has total control over the iOS hardware ecosystem).

So what's wrong with Apple? I don't know, but the way that Apple is nowadays continually pushing back products and features -- such as how AirPlay 2 and Messages in iCloud got dropped from iOS 11.3 and are now in the beta for iOS 11.4 -- suggests that the company is struggling to keep up with the aggressive cycle of new products and updates.

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If Apple is serious about making iOS 12 better, then we'd better be seeing the fruits of that labor pretty soon. iOS 12 betas should start landing in June, and I'm going to be keeping a close eye on things.

And it's going to be a cold, critical eye.

I want to be seeing big improvements. And fast. But I'm not going to be holding my breath.

iOS 11.3: Tips, tricks, and how to fix the biggest annoyances

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