I like my iPhone 13 Pro a lot, but it helped me to realize why i love android. The number of issues I’ve had when switching to an iPhone has really made me realize, and there have been several issues with iOS over the years, some of which are downright absurd. While Apple prides itself on creating the phone that works, some elements of that experience are downright confusing. iOS 16 is just around the corner and it’s almost certain that it won’t fix all iPhone problems.
Here’s the thing though: the number of problems Apple has in iOS can technically all will be fixed in iOS 16. It’s just that they almost certainly won’t. Terrible notifications, slow animations, and an inflexible home screen frustrate me to no end, but there’s more to it. iOS as an operating system “just works”, but this mantra is flawed in several aspects. There are many things we hope to see in iOS 16but we are almost sure not to have many at all.
Problems with iOS
Notifications need a major overhaul
Notifications are probably the most universally understood problem of iOS, and there are several reasons for it. They feel like an afterthought when using an iPhone, and there’s a lot of work needed to make them noticeably better. iOS 15 introduced “summaries”, which greatly improved the situation, but they are by no means a solution.
When comparing iOS notifications to Android, it really doesn’t compare. On Android, from a notification, you can open the app, long press to change the priority of the notification, dismiss it by swiping back and forth, or expand it for additional contextual interactions. You can reply to messages, send predefined actions and much more. iOS has the basic functionality of opening the notification or being able to swipe it to the left, but try swiping it to the right and you’ll have a problem. Some apps allow you to hold a notification and get additional features, but these tend to extend to just opening the app in a particular way.
There are also other issues with notifications on iOS, including the ability to clear all your notifications. This box be done by tapping the ‘x’ button in notification center and tapping it again, but it doesn’t work still appears, nor does it clear your most recent notifications. Notifications work on iPhones, but there are a lot of issues and things that need tweaking, and it seems like a pretty universal experience. The iOS notifications system needs a major overhaul.
To be clear, rumors suggest that there is going to be an overhaul of the notification system with iOS 16. As a result, this may be one of the few issues that Apple is actually doing something about. Here’s hoping for the best.
Siri is ten years late
The craziest thing about Siri for me is how outdated it has become. I remember when it launched with the iPhone 4s how incredibly ahead of the competition it felt. You can talk to a virtual assistant and ask them anything from really helpful queries to silly questions like “Siri, what’s the meaning of life.” Now, every time I use Siri, I feel like I’m using the same software from ten years ago. It’s just faster.
Siri is Apple’s longtime voice assistant, and it’s also incredibly useless for any complicated task. The Google Assistant simply fare much better, and in large part thanks to the context that the Google Assistant actually understands. For example, I asked Siri what the weather was like in Dublin. I then asked when was it raining, and he told me it was raining in my hometown at present. In context, I asked Google the same thing, and it figured out that I was still asking about rain in Dublin. It’s the little things like this that show just how far behind Siri really is.
These are not the only problems however. If you ask Siri a question that would be compatible with Google, such as when the Bob’s Burgers movie comes out, you’ll be presented with a list of links to browse and select. I asked the same question to Google, and I was told “In the United States of America, the movie Bob’s Burgers was released last Friday”. It’s the little things, but a virtual assistant should to help. If I ask an assistant to find me a date, I don’t want to sift through a bunch of links to find the answer like some kind of animal. I could have googled it myself at the time.
So yes, currently Siri still sucks.
Home screen is too restrictive
The home screen is one of the least glaring issues I have with iOS, and that’s because it’s both really good and really boring. On the one hand, it’s simplistic and it works, and it’s a pretty good launcher all things considered. It’s smooth, the widgets are good (although it took a long time to release them), and it’s feature-rich. On the other hand, there are still quite a few problems. For starters, the fact that it’s not possible to have empty spaces anywhere on the home screen is incredibly annoying. It’s just not possible to take a more artistic approach to the home screen without resorting to workarounds.
Also, the widgets themselves are incredibly limited. As we noted in our wishlist, there is no interactive widgets. You cannot use the Music widget to pause/play/skip, for example. This makes them so limiting, especially since legacy widgets support controlling an app or getting information without launching the actual app. Rumors suggest some changes to widgets in iOS 16, but none say we’ll get proper interactivity.
There is no universal back gesture
Here’s a curious omission on iOS that you might not necessarily have realized: there’s no universal return gesture. While each app usually has a way to swipe left to right to go back, it’s up to the app to decide how it wants to incorporate the back gestures. Some apps only allow you to go back to the top, others require you to press a back button in the top left.
As a result, many apps tend to be slightly different, and hardly any apps allow you to swipe right to left to go back, which is much more convenient when you’re holding the phone in your right hand. On Android this is not the case, as a right or left swipe is handled by the system and sent as input to the app to say you want to go back.
Animations are too slow
iOS has extremely slow animations, to the point that I feel like they are slowing down my phone. Closing apps, opening apps, animations in apps… it all looks so slow. The Apple Bionic A15 can definitely handle it all, but it’s frustrating to use my iPhone when I want to quickly switch between apps. It’s a small complaint, but one that can annoy me sometimes. You can turn on “Reduce Motion” in the Accessibility settings, but I didn’t really find that to increase the the rapidity I could do things on my phone.
It’s still not really possible to download apps
It would be inappropriate to talk about issues with iOS without mentioning sideloading. It is possible to do through the likes of AltStore, but it is not an easy process. To use emulators and other unapproved apps on your smartphone, you’ll need to install and configure AltStore… you can’t just download an IPA file (the iPhone equivalent of an APK) and install it. I never realized how much I valued this freedom until I was faced with a long and boring process just to play Pokemon on my phone. I don’t think that will ever change, but I would love it so much if it did.
Typing should be easier
Since smartphones are smartphones, typing is one of the most important things we do on our phones. As a result, it should probably be the smoothest experience in the whole test, but on iPhones I can’t quite say that’s the case.
One of the most annoying parts of typing is when something is autocorrected by a letter, and to fix it, you can’t just tap in the center of the word to change it. You either have to backspace in the word or press to the end, then hold spacebar and drag. It’s such a weird way to do minor edits and it can take way too long.
Also, and this is more of a personal preference, but I hate being able to type a message and the last letter is automatically corrected between when I press enter and the message actually sent.
What to expect in iOS 16 and when
iOS 16 is set to arrive at this year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), and we’ve already heard plenty of rumors about what to expect thanks to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. Gurman claims that Apple will finally introduce support for lock screen widgets – via a new wallpaper format – and bring always-on display to the upcoming iPhone 14 Pro models. Additionally, he states that he thinks Apple will support social media-like features in the Messages app.
WWDC is only a week away, so we don’t have long to wait to find out what’s new and what’s not. Although iOS has a lot of issues, I think it’s still a good operating system, and the improvements and changes are good for the whole smartphone ecosystem.
We’re thrilled, aren’t we?