20 things Apple must fix in iOS

iPhones and iPads will soon be running iOS 7, the latest iteration of Apple's mobile operating system. But nagging flaws and problems bog down productivity and cause no end to annoyance levels. Here are 20 things Apple can do to fix the software in its next major version.
By Zack Whittaker, Contributor
1 of 21 CNET/ZDNet

Forget features, some things need fixing sooner rather than later

iOS 6 had 200 new features from its previous version. But with those new features came bugs and flaws that hadn't been tested out in the wild. Many have since complained that features didn't work as they had expected or that they were incomplete.

iOS 7 is expected to be announced in mid-June at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in California, where new features and services are expected to be unveiled. But for the features that already exist, Apple can do a lot more.

Here are 20 things Apple needs to fix in the next version of iOS.


2 of 21 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

iCloud: Great for document sharing, but awful for sync

(Image, screenshot: ZDNet)

With iCloud, you can work on a document on your Mac and instantly switch to your iPad or iPhone. You can also sync your contacts and calendars. Except many can't, or won't. The problem with sync is that you can never tell whether something will be overwritten or not, or which 'wins' — the server or the device. The upshots of iCloud are negated by its failure to work half the time. Contacts in particular go everywhere, duplicate, or simply fail to sync. 

3 of 21 ZDNet

App icons don't reflect what's going on

Feel sorry for those in the rainy climes of Seattle, London, Helsinki, or anywhere in Russia during the winter months. For iPhone owners, it's permanently sunny and a hearty 73°F. Except it's not. It's cold and windy, and it hasn't stopped raining in days. If Windows Phone devices can update their app tiles automatically, why can't iPhones and iPads simply reflect what the actual weather is without opening the app? So many examples, so little time. And by the way, it's not 10:15, as so the clock says — except maybe twice a day.

4 of 21 ZDNet

iTunes is clunky, confusing, and conflicts with Music

When was the last time you used iTunes, the version on your iPhone? Likely "rarely" or "never." Yes, you can download music and video on the go and this should be its sole purpose, so why not wrap it into the App Store, or wrap the App Store into iTunes? It seems redundant and rarely used. Music is where you listen to your, well, music. 

5 of 21 Apple/ZDNet

FaceTime is free, but unreliable and patchy at best

Ever seen someone jiggling about with a green flashing screen? Ever suffered a dropped call? Maybe not, because many are spending minutes at a time while FaceTime is "connecting" you to the recipient of the video call. Yes, FaceTime is free but it's frequently patchy at best. 

6 of 21 ZDNet

Spotlight's last resort: Wikipedia, or the Web

Does anyone use the search feature in iOS? Some do, granted, but it's hardly comparable to rival platforms. When Spotlight can find something, it'll find it. If Spotlight can't find something, you're stuck with either Wikipedia or "the Web," an Internet search. Why can't Spotlight utilize some of the non-voice features of Siri, which seems to know practically everything?

7 of 21 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

Siri: Still in beta, no wonder

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As for Siri, it's likely no surprise that it remains in "beta" as an unfinished product. It misses words, it's limited in scope, and the last time I checked, not everyone wanted to know the results of that sports game. Most people actually saw the game because they're an avid fan of that sport. Siri remains a gimmick. Until it can actually do something useful and without necessarily using speech — a contentious issue in business as it sends every shred of voice data to Apple — it will remain a nice 'toy' to play with, but nothing more.

8 of 21 ZDNet

The built-in apps are just terrible

Every smartphone has the typical apps: the weather, a note-taking app, maybe even stocks, and the ever-faithful calculator. Have you ever used the calculator on Android? You can change currency, length, distance, weight and so on. Most haven't even heard of a furlong, but Android has. (Yes, you do have a scientific calculator if you switch your iPhone to landscape mode, but if I haven't noticed in the six months I've owned an iPhone, well, go figure.)

9 of 21 ZDNet

Notifications are intrusive

Whenever you get a text message or an email, a little banner appears at the top of the display. It blocks out buttons and is difficult to work around. And even when you have your phone locked, some of the message is displayed, even when there is a passcode lock enabled. Anyone can pick up your iPhone or iPad and read something they shouldn't. Notifications need to be better.

10 of 21 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

Why is it so difficult to get to Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth settings?

(Image, screenshot: ZDNet)

To access basic features, like enabling Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, you have to exit your application and jump through a bunch of settings just to get to a simple switch, or connect to a network. Jailbroken devices already offer a simpler feature -- why can't Apple include something in the drag-down notification center instead?

11 of 21 ZDNet

Location awareness is great, so long as you remember to keep it turned on

Location-based services are very useful, particularly if you need to 'geofence' around a certain area so when you leave work, or home, or anywhere else, you can be reminded to "get milk" or "pick up the kids from school." But when location services are disabled to conserve battery, they no longer work. This major flaw in design could mean millions of users are forgetting to pick up milk on their way home. 

12 of 21 ZDNet

Maps need a major improvement

Everyone knows Apple Maps was a bust from its initial release. Even Apple. Which is why Tim Cook publicly apologized for the mishaps, the errors, and the occasional Australian getting lost in the outback. One major improvement could be adding subway lines and other transit features, which would be particularly useful for those living in inner cities and major metropolitan areas.

13 of 21 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

iMessage is unreliable at best

(Image, screenshot: ZDNet)

How many times has iMessage failed now? If you've run out of data or are in an area of poor coverage, iMessage will switch off and resort to good-old text messages. Even when it does revert back to the 30-year-old technology, there have been numerous occasions where Apple's service has simply ceased to function. iMessage works when it does, but when it doesn't, everyone seems to know about it.

14 of 21 ZDNet

Why can't you iTunes sync to two different computers?

We've all been there. A long journey ahead of us, so we put some TV shows, a movie or two, and our various favorite playlists. But as soon as you plug it into your other Mac or iTunes-enabled computer, bang, there goes our playlist because it's synced with that machine. You're stuck with playlists you haven't updated in months and your music collection is all over the place — but certainly not on your iPhone or iPad.

15 of 21 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

Does anyone actually understand Photo Stream?

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A "Camera Roll" and "Photo Stream." What's the difference? One sits on your phone and the other is uploaded to iCloud. But nobody seems to know when photos do or don't get uploaded to the cloud. It's haphazard, all over the place, and downright confusing — even for many advanced users.

16 of 21 ZDNet

Users should be able to choose their default apps

Google Chrome has been available for iPhones and iPads for a while, but getting your phone or tablet to open links in it by default from emails or text messages is impossible. Apple should allow users to set default apps so they're not forced to use Apple Maps and Safari, instead of Google Maps and Chrome.

17 of 21 Zack Whittaker/ZDNET

So many useless apps, do we need them?

(Image, screenshot: ZDNet)

When was the last time you used the Compass? When was the last time you actually went out of the city, let alone up a rocky creek in the mountains, where wolves roam around corners? Only a fraction of people need a compass, and many will have their own separate devices for the job. 

18 of 21 ZDNet

Do Not Disturb could be a lot better

Do Not Disturb is a great feature, but Apple could do a lot more with it. Perhaps location-based features would be a boost to the feature set? That is if Apple can sort location-based services out.

19 of 21 ZDNet

Notifications need to be managed better: A 'clear all' button?

The notification center allows you to look at a glance what is going on in your world. Birthdays, emails, text messages, calendar events, and social networking. But going through each section and clearing it bit by bit could be made easier with a simple "clear all" button. Once you've seen it, you've seen it.

20 of 21 CNET

Passbook is essentially useless without industry support

Designed to get you to your plane quicker and receive discounts at coffee stores, Passbook was meant to be the killer feature for developers to hook their apps into. You could ditch those paper coupons or plastic cards and use your iPhone to get the scoops and deals. But hardly anybody uses it. Granted, Starbucks remains the largest user of the service, but without wider developer support, its potential is going widely untapped.

21 of 21 ZDNet

Why can't we mark all emails as read?

Many of us get dozens, if not hundreds of emails per day. A lot of the time we use our computers or other devices to check our email, either at work or at the office. iPhones and iPads that connect POP or IMAP email requires users to go through each and every email, marking them one by one, and marking them as read. Can we not have an easier way to do this? 

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