By Jaime Rivera | May 23, 2012 8:00 AM
iOS is not perfect. Those who blindly defend it are either new to the smartphone market or simply want to troll their way around reality. After we’ve talked about the things that frustrate some of us about Windows Phone and Android, it’s time to talk about Cupertino’s favorite baby.
I come from a time when Multi-tasking wasn’t considered a feature, since it didn’t even make sense to release an OS that didn’t offer a way to work around apps. I’m not sure how Apple was able to sell so many iPhones and iPads when they couldn’t do this, but I stayed away from them until they figured that out. I became an iOS user out of mere market disadvantage. Latin America is still BlackBerry territory, having iPhones in second place. Android barely reached a store with the Galaxy S II three months ago, and the Lumia 800 became the first Windows Phone to ever sell here last week. Still, I was reluctant, and decided to push my old HTC Touch Pro2 as far as I could before diving into my first iPhone 3GS two years ago, and only because iOS 4 made an iPhone more of a smartphone.
Two years later, I’ve switched to the iPhone 4 and now the iPhone 4S. I carry two smartphones with me everywhere, and I own so many of the apps that I need in the iOS platform, that one of them is always an iPhone. There are lots of things to love about an iPhone, but to me, these have more to do with the hardware than with the software. Surely no competing operating system is perfect. It’s also frustrating for me to see that certain companies like Microsoft decide to take steps behind in the functionality that Windows Mobile had with their release of Windows Phone 7, just to compete with iOS. Let’s go through a few of the reasons that frustrate me the most about iOS:
Apple seriously needs a “Do not disturb” command. There are times when I want to be notified and times when I’m reading a book on the iPad and I don’t. One thing I learned from my old and crazy Airline days is that notifications distract you more than help you. If something is urgent, people will call you and not send you an email. In all of the computers I’ve owned, I disable notifications while I work so that I can focus. Sadly the only way to do this on iOS is killing the banners one by one, or silencing the phone completely.
Speaking of Banners, I call them the poorest rip-off they could ever do to Android. I honestly love how notifications work on my Galaxy Nexus. If I’m watching a video, they don’t interrupt, but that’s wishful thinking on iOS as they block a good chunk of the screen and I can’t easily swipe them off.
Notification Center is good, but it’s far from great. If I took the time to swipe down to view my current ones, why don’t the badges on each app clear up? If I launch the app, why do I have to wait for it to load so that I can see what changed? That leads me to my next frustration.
Multi-tasking needs to change
Back in 2002 when having cellular data on your device wasn’t for the masses, processors were small and so were batteries. I remember how my first Compaq iPAQ h3630 did multi-tasking with its tiny StrongARM 206 MHz processor and 32MB shared RAM without pain. Yes, that’s an “M” and not a “G”. Windows Mobile 5′s move to persistent storage made this more complicated, but it still worked. Today my iPhone 4S rocks a 1GHz Dual-Core processor with 512MB of RAM, and even though those specs dwarf what we had years ago, Multi-tasking isn’t real. I hate the fact that only stock applications update themselves in the background. Push notifications should also trigger third-party apps to update themselves just the same.
The biggest reason why I consider the paradigm to be flawed, is because Apps don’t close themselves over time. If Apple is really concerned about your battery life, they should either provide you with a “Kill All” button, or have the OS close any app you haven’t used in 24 hours. Going back to close all my apps after a couple of days when I notice my battery isn’t behaving the same is simply annoying.
Siri doesn’t really know what I mean, as Scott Forstall touts in the iPhone 4S intro video. I sometimes get the impression that all that Apple did was feed the software with more variable questions. For example, try setting an appointment with a contact that you don’t have a phone number for. If Siri was really smart, it would schedule it anyways using the email of the contact, but sadly it won’t. It’ll keep responding that it doesn’t have a number for the contact.
So far, I find it useful for setting tasks, personal appointments or my alarm next morning, but for everything else, it’s “Siri”ously still in Beta.
Windows Phone 7 has proven that you don’t need a Ferrari’s engine to power a good OS. Live tiles update themselves without your intervention. Five generations of iPhones later, we still see a grid of icons and none of these is animated. Not even Apple’s clock icon is animated. I don’t really care if Apple pulls out a launcher with widgets, or if they animate the icons, but please do something!
I do understand the point behind the simplicity of the UI. Children and senior citizens have an easier time adapting to the OS with less buttons, screens and complications. I just wish that Apple would come up with specific user configurations. New users get the grid, power users get a more immersive UI.
Where is my free and OS native turn-by-turn navigation?
My next statement should make Apple executives feel ashamed. Whenever I travel, my companion is Android. Ever since Froyo was released, Android offers better navigation than even most GPS devices in the market. Apple pioneered the whole idea of having maps on your phone, but everybody has eaten them in their own game.
The bottom line
The only thing that doesn’t frustrate me about iOS is that if Apple is reading this and decides to fix some of the things in their next OS upgrade, I won’t need to buy a new phone, or wait for my carrier to have mercy on me to enjoy it. Apple has done a good job in pushing their OS forward with changes and enhancements. I just hate the way they do it sometimes. They are either years ahead in certain basic things like email, or years behind in things like Maps. Surely they always manage to address these shortcomings with solutions that leap ahead of competitors, but I’d rather they simply deal with things as quick as they can.