What I Hate About Apple Products: The Little Things in iOS Edition.

Hello and welcome back to the bear and robot talk show. Oh wait, not that.

I love good products. Coincidentally, there are many Apple products that I love. It's pretty clear that Apple spends a lot of time working on making their products simple, yet usable... I am not biased.. Apple is not the only company that does this, but it is the only company I will be discussing in this post.. so deal with it.

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like the better a product is, the more glaring its small flaws are. I'm not talking about major design issues or bugs in software, I'm talking about those little details or inconsistencies that for some reason drive you crazy. Well.. at least they drive me crazy.
Let me give you some examples:

IOS Problems

1. Contacts.

My first point is a very minor one, and yet it confuses me to no end. The Phone App in IOS contains an exact duplicate of the contacts application. The contacts information can be found in two separate native apps. This begs the question: why are there two apps? The brain inside my head says "The phone app is for calling people, so it contains the contacts information so you can easily call someone. The contacts app should be used when you don't want to call somebody." Thats what my brain says, but the OCD rage inside me wants all this information in only one place. I have no ideas for how to fix this problem to satisfy me, but that does not hinder my ability to complain about it. #firstworldproblems

2. Notifications in iOS 5

A. Time consuming to customize: Let's say you want to quickly turn all third party app notifications off, or let's say you want to universally change the notification type for each application to the pop-up kind. From what I can find, there are no universal notification settings. Yeah, you have to individually configure the settings for each and every app installed on the device. Have fun.

B. Easy to miss texts: So the new notification lock screen is awesome.. just one tiny problem. I get a lot of SMS tweets. A LOT. In iOS 4 the lock screen would show you a badge telling you who texted or called you since you last locked the phone. So I used to see a badge with the following information:

Messages

Twitter (21)

Dad (2)

Now the new lock screen shows you a detailed list of all messages (with previews) recieved since you last locked your phone. Fantastic. Unfortunately, when you are quickly scrolling through 58 new twitter messages, it is very easy to miss that one important text from your dad inviting you to a home cooked dinner with smoked pork and homegrown potatoes. Dammit.

C. Banner Notifications screw everything up: I have this complicated love/hate relationship with banner notifications. I absolutely love them, but when I want to restart my level of Tiny Wings, I have to wait until the notification goes away. This issue is problamatic with a great many apps. The banner notification blocks access to key elements of the applications UI. This really frusterates me, especially because if I accidentally tap on the upper portion of the screen exactly when I recieve a message. This automatically takes me to the Messages app. Dammit.

D. Slide to Reply: The notification center in the lockscreen has this slide to reply feature. Basically you slide the app icon next to the notification just like you would slide to unlock the device. This then effectively unlocks the phone and launches the app in one fell swoop. Fancy. What really bothers me though is that whenever you recieve a text, the bottom of the lockscreen (that usually says "slide to unlock") changes to "Slide to reply." Basically when this happens there is no immediate way to simply unlock the phone without going into the messaging app. Definitely not fancy.

3. Inconsistencies within IOS Apps

A. Photos and Camera Applications: This is a complete design disaster. The Camera app and the Photos app have completely different organization ideas. Its like the contacts problem but worse.

Here is the Photos App. Note the location and layout of all buttons and controls.

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Now, here is the Camera app displaying the same information. Note the layout of its buttons and features.

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Face.palm. The buttons are in completely different places and there are entirely different ways to organize the content. The Camera app can display Photos, Videos, or all content, but the photos app cannot organize content at all (other than albums, which the Camera app can't do). Speaking of Albums, the Photos app also has a very bizarre labeling issue. The back button is labelled "Albums," but the tab at the bottom already says we are in "Albums." Where are we exactly? Although the camera app was used to take the photos, it doesn't seem to know where they were taken because there is no Places tab. It is also worth mentioning that I have no idea what that rectangle with the arrow coming out of it actually stands for. I call it right click, but whatever. I hate that icon. It is confusing and makes no sense. That icon also is in different places in each app for no apparent reason. Continuity issues abound.


B. Music and iTunes: Why is there zero integration between the Music app and the iTunes app? Why are they two apps at all? There should be a single music app called iTunes that contains both your music library and the iTunes music store (just like the terrible desktop software). Ta-daaa.

C. Video App. Why are videos I take with my iPhone not in the iPhone video app?

4. Weather Icon:

Why is it always 73 and sunny? It's like my iPhone is mocking me.

5. Messages

A. Twitter Integration: For those of us who have 200MB data plans and unlimited texting, it is more convenient to have Twitter sent to my phone via SMS. Why doesn't Apple actually integrate twitter features within the messaging app? I'm talking about loading images from url's, making it easier to reply to someone, etc. Enrich the experience like no third party can.. These are my demands.

B. URL Link Info Page: Why the hell does this screen exist? Just show me the content.

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C. SMS Vibration Alerts: So I spent the better part of an hour customizing morse code vibration alerts for all of my normal contacts. Sweet.

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And then I realized the custom vibrations are for phone calls only. Sonofabitch.

D. Calling from Messages: Why is calling someone from within the messaging app such an insane hassle? I have to scroll up to the top of the conversation? Really? I live in the messaging app, so this is super annoying for me.

6. Audio

A. Volume: I am going to be honest with you: I have no idea how the volume works on my iPhone. It appears there are 2 separate volume levels: One is lablelled ringer, and the other is unlabelled. These volume levels are completely independent of each other, and yet the volume buttons control both levels, but not at the same time. You also cannot change which level the volume buttons are controlling. The OS just switches between them depending on the situation and planet alignment. In fact, I honestly have no idea how to tell what the unlabelled volume of my device is when I am in vibrate mode other than going to the volume slider withinn the app switcher menu.

This is what appears when I press the volume down button once. Phone on vibrate. No audio playing.

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If it's on vibrate why does it say ringer?

And here I am pressing the volume down button one time again with phone on vibrate. This time audio is playing. Note the lack of the "ringer" text, and the fact that this volume is at a completely different level than the other.

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Simplicity is a double edged sword.


7. Access to settings

A. Accessibility of Settings: In OSX, you can search for a specific setting in system preferences using Spotlight. Awesome and fancy. Why can't I search for a specific setting in OSX? Instead, I have to hunt for it in the less than well organized Settings app.

B. GODDAMN BRIGHTNESS!!!!111111111 WHY IS THE BRIGHTNESS SO HARD TO CHANGE ON MY IPHONE. Seriously. What the hell Apple? The iPad has a brightness changer built into the app switcher, but that is left out of the iPhone version of iOS for no apparent reason. As an iPhone 4S user, I envy all you people with sbsettings loaded on your jailbroken iPhone 4's.


8. Camera

A. No Refined Control. Why don't I have full control of the camera? From what I can tell, the 4S camera sensor has the capability to output actual RAW images. Why is Apple so scared of opening up access to the camera on their devices? Just disable all the advanced features by default. Hell, I'll even pay for an Aperture app that has an advanced photo library and camera controls.. hold on.. that was actually a good idea. Apple please steal.

B. Slow Sometimes: Why do HDR photos take so much time to process between shots? Why can't that be processed in the background? Why hello there Apple programmers, 512MB of RAM, and dual core A5.

9. The App Store:

I hate the App store. There. I said it. It is laggy and nearly impossible to find anything I am looking for unless I know the exact name of it (and sometimes even that doesn't work). It is almost as unintuitive as iTunes. YES I am provocative.

10.The Number Bubble:

The notification number bubble: I just want the number to go away without opening the app. I don't care that I Am T-Pain has a notification for me. I just want to be able to clear out the number without actually reading it. (a virtual mark as read, if you will)

11. Phone App:

I know it's simple and classy, but why are the Answer and End buttons in the exact same location? Occasionally my finger bounces and I double-tap the screen when answering, so I hang up on the person.

Hardware Problems:

1. iPod Touch:

A. Camera. Why is this so terrible? I seriously dont understand. Apple totally blew their chance to kill the low end point and shoot market by refusing to put that 5MP camera in the iPod Touch 4th gen. Sure good sensors costmore, but the hypothetical device with the better camera would have sold more units than the non hypothetical device if the hypothetical device had been advertised properly.. Just sayin.

B. Glossy. Dear Apple: Why do you design a device that scratches at the thought of touching it? Good lord.

2. iPad 2

A. Build. The iPad 2 is not really built as well as the iPad 1 in terms of sturdiness. Trust me on this one. I have replaced the screen of an iPad 2, and one of my iPad 2's glass front was starting to peel off the back of the device. Yay.

B. Ugly. The back of the iPad 2 is incredibly ugly (in my opinion).

C. Thin. Am I the only one that thinks it's scary thin?

D. Sucky Camera.... self explanatory.

3. iPhone 4/4s (excluding fragility and antenna issues)

A. Scratch resistant my ass:. Yes the back and front of the phone are 'scratch resistant.' Unfortunately the camera lens is most definitely not as scratch resistant. Speaking from personal experience here.

B.Tpyngi: Ever since I got the 4, I have sucked terribly at typing on iOS. I think it has to do with the design of the iPhone 4/4S. Something with how the device rests in my hand makes acccuracy very difficult. I did not have this issue with any iPod Touch or the 3GS.

C. Incompatibilities: Why won't the iPad camera connectors work with the iPhone or iPod touch?

D. Everything is better frosted: This is more of an idea than a complaint, but I would pay any amount of money for Apple to make a white iPhone 4S with frosted glass on the back. Seriously Apple: name your price.

4. General Complaints:

A. Screen Temperature ADD: Why does Apple change the color temperature of the screen on each generation of device? Every single generation is different. Why?

B. Plug: Over the years, Apple has had 11 different types of display connectors in their computers, and only 1 iPhone/iPod plug (excluding Firewire 400 on the 1st and 2nd Gen iPod). Why oh why do we still have a gaping hole at the bottom of our mobile products? Apple should not expect me to clean the steel shavings out of my pockets before cramming my phone in. I don't care if it breaks compatibility, I want a mag-safe data connector.

In conclusion:

The iPhone and iOS are both great, but I am a critic at heart, so put any product in front of me, and I will critique it to death. Sure most people wont care about these issues, but I care. There are entire teams at Apple that get paid to care, so why shouldn't I hold their products up to the highest levels of scrutiny? I have a feeling that a lot of people hate critics like me. I have run into a good number of people who tell me to just enjoy things for what they are. Of course they are completely full of it, because they are criticizing me for being overly critical... funny how that works.


So there. How do you like THEM Ap--- damn. I was in trouble like two words into that.


There you have it. I just listed the small things I hate about iOS. Now it's your turn. What drives you completely bonkers for no reason? Keep it iOS related.. I want to post another one about OSX later on.