back to basics

9 frustrations I’d like to see Apple fix in iOS 9

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Recently, 9-to-5 Mac reported that iOS 9 will likely be a stability release. If true, this is welcome news.

I’ve become very frustrated with that the pace Apple has been introducing new features has come at a stability cost. Snow Leopard is often lauded as a release where Apple focused on stability over new features, although this isn’t entirely true since under the hood changes like Grand Central Dispatch were introduced in Snow Leopard.

Still, I for one would be very happy if Apple took a step back on iOS 9 and fixed these nine issues that frustrate me on a daily basis.

The Top 10 … err, 9 List

1: Cover Flow in Music on the iPhone
I’m not sure why this still exists. Rotating my iPhone to landscape view causes the to switch to Cover Flow. This was less of a problem before I got my 6 Plus. The car mount I have only seems to safely hold my iPhone in landscape orientation. Therefore, when I try to change a playlist or artist in my car, I’ve got to deal with Cover Flow instead.

This wouldn’t be a bad thing, except Cover Flow never shows me the artist or album I’m actually listening to. Instead, it really seems insistent that I listen to a live AC/DC Album, or KISS’s Alive III. Both excellent albums; just not the albums I usually want to listen to.

What I’d love to see is Cover Flow adapt the iPad interface. At least that view is usable.

2: Mail handling attachments
I complained about this at length in my Hands on with Outlook piece, but it’s a feature I’d like to see support. Attachment handling is such a basic component of email that Apple needs to beef this up. I’ll cover this later, but Apple also needs to step up iCloud support for attachments as well.

3: Keyboard bugs
The keyboard on my Plus seems extremely wonky. Sometimes I get half a keyboard, or a keyboard that’s unresponsive. It seems like iOS 8 can’t tell if the plus has been rotated or not. I also accidentally hit the 3rd-party keyboard button a lot, but that’s likely a user issue.

iOS 8 keyboard

Speaking of the Plus, I’m not thrilled with the landscape keyboard on it. I don’t use the extra buttons for cut and paste and would prefer larger tap targets.

4: System-wide share sheets
While the new share sheets introduced in iOS 8 are great, I wish Apple would take it one step further and make the share sheets a system wide interface like it is with Android. I hate that I can’t save an article from Facebook to Pocket. I want to swap the read-it-later service for a specific article in the Twitter app and not feel like adjusting the settings. While some Twitter apps like Twitterific they are few and far between. A native share sheet baked into the OS would be preferable.

5: Rotation issues:
My 6 Plus also is a little overactive on rotation. Frequently when I take it out of my pocket, the rotation is still upside down and doesn’t easily come back to normal. I’m not sure if it’s an issue with the gyroscope or software, but it’s starting to drive me nuts.

6: Get rid of “puzzle game” method of App management
My biggest frustration with iOS is that getting an app in a specific part of the screen is like playing a tile game. Sometimes, I might just want an app sitting in the lower corner of my screen. This is another instance where I think Android handles a feature much better than iOS.

7: Better notifications
iOS handles notifications, especially on the pull-down menu, in a way that is hard to follow. Sometimes I will see I’ve gotten a notification, but miss what it says. And the way iOS groups notifications by app first, then by time, isn’t the way I’d prefer. I’d prefer to just see them in order they were received first.

8: Better support for cloud storage options
This is a mufti-faceted problem I have with iOS. The main problem is there isn’t a native way to simply download a file from the internet with iOS. You can use a program like Workflow to download some files, there needs to be a native way to just download a file in Safari and store it in a cloud service. Apple’s default answer will likely be to use iCloud. This goes back to my desire for a system-level share sheet, but I’d like to see Apple support within iOS Dropbox, Google Drive and One Drive. Also system level support would eliminate the curious choice for the Office apps only supporting Dropbox and OneDrive.


I realize this an odd precedent. I’m asking Apple to both force apps to use a system-wide document picker, and for Apple to open this to third parties. That said, I didn’t expect Apple to allow for extensions and third-party keyboards so this isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

9: Better Bluetooth controls
I use an external keyboard a lot with my iPad. It’s usually in my Origami Workstation case. However, I’ll often just take my iPad into the other room and forget to turn off the keyboard. Naturally, I find this out when I go to use the keyboard and the virtual keyboard won’t load. What I’d like to be able to do is selectively turn off paired devices without unpairing them. Usually just turning off Bluetooth solves the problem, but sometimes I might be downstairs in the music room with my IK Mulitmedia BlueBoard hooked up.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’ve been very happy with iOS 8. I wasn’t expecting Apple to introduce as many changes as it did. While I’ve complained in the past about general stability issues, it seems to be getting better as of 8.1.3.

I do think Apple needs a release for iOS that slows down the user-facing features and instead focuses on under-the-hood improvements and shores up Apple’s foundations. It’s hard to believe we are only two years away from iOS 10. It seems like just last year we got to iOS 2.

64 Responses to “9 frustrations I’d like to see Apple fix in iOS 9”

  1. Mark Salmon

    #1 is a huge one for me. Plus bring back the ability to continue or go to the next song when the timer shuts the device off. I have taken to using my android when I want to fall asleep with music.

  2. What about the caps button on the native keyboard? The keys are white and the activate state for caps is white. Generally in GUI design activate states are dark. Apple is the opposite. Am I the only one that selects the caps button to be gray to activate only to find its typing a small cap?

  3. The keyboard can be very inconsistent especially if using split keyboard views on iPad. Also, the music app needs to be redone entirely and allow for the deletion of entire albums with a single tap. Notification center should also have a button to clear all notifications at once.

  4. Being able to toggle wifi on/off in the pull-up menu is pointless if you still have to access settings -> wifi to choose the network. Yes, I get the phone can remember networks, but if you travel and/or find yourself in public a lot, LIKE MOST PEOPLE, what’s the point of the shortcut. Apple needs to add a list of available networks in the pull-up menu.

  5. Mark, you mention “Share Sheets” complaining that it should be System Wide like in Android. As a long time Android user and big fan of Share Intents in Android, I can attest that the actual problem here is not iOS. Android and iOS implement “Share” very similarly. Neither platform requires implementation of this feature.

    You mentioned specifically you wanted to be able to “Share” to Pocket to save an article from Facebook. That is something I have been doing for ages on both Android and iOS and in both cases, I was frustrated that Facebook doesn’t implement the platform specific “Share” capabilities. Instead, on both Android and iOS, Facebook will offer its own basic “sharing” capabilities that essentially includes sharing within Facebook, Opening within the Default Web Browser and Copying the Link. My workflow for this would be:

    Share + Copy Link + Home Button + Pocket + Add from Clipboard

    Yes, it is lame to have to do that but unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t offer “sharing” through external Apps as they want to keep everything on their platform. Google+ operates much the same on both Android and iOS again not offering the platform specific “Share” mechanism.

    Both Google and Apple built in system wide capability into their SDKs to “share” content but it is up to App Makers to integrate this feature.

    It is what it is and I’m not happy that some of my most used Apps don’t implement the “Share” feature on either Android, iOS or both but at least there are usually ways around it. Annoying yes but probably not something Apple will “fix” for iOS 9.

  6. Dr Robert Schertzer

    You’ve pretty much nailed all my issues I’ve found with iOS 8. After 2 months with the iPhone 6 Plus I switched back to Android when the Nexus 6 came out. Instead of waiting for Apple to never catch up to Android, get all the features now on Android. That being said, Apple still makes phones that are beautiful…just feature poor and buggy. Wish I could have an iPhone 6 Plus running Android lollipop.

  7. The thing I’d most like fixed is the black screen the appears on boot-up right after the gray screen disappears and right before your normal background with entry of your passcode. It is there for several seconds and quite irritating. It was never there on previous versions.

  8. There are also two bugs that bug me a lot since the intro of iOS 8: when you turn on a bluetooth speaker while the phone is ringing, the call gets answered but the speaker used is the one of the phone!!! And the other one is that after a couple of uses after a reboot, the camera won’t be operable from the lock screen… it just turns black and the only way to use it is to switch the display off and login, launching the camera app… I have reported them on the iOS fora but never got any replies, hence I thought this might be a good place to create some awareness…

  9. Todd Beckwith

    The ability to turn off wi-fi for a set period of time. Many New York City subway stations now have wi-fi which supersedes available cellular connections, but you have to log in and usually watch a short advertisement. By the time you get connected the train is arriving.

  10. QwertyJuan

    How about 3rd party keyboards that WORK EVERYWHERE?!?!

    Swiftkey on iOS is a JOKE. Half the time I go to use it and it won’t show up at all?! I end up disabling Swiftkey in order for the keyboard to start working again.

    I “could” blame SwiftKey, BUT it works FLAWLESSLY on Android… so I’m blaming Apple. PLEASE allow 3rd party keyboards to work EVERYWHERE and properly!! Please?!?!?!

    • Shawn Davis

      You could partially blame Apple but it is the way security works on the OS. Certain fields require a system input and working on the lockscreen is impossible with the way the lock down system works by encrypting the phone and not allowing third party code to be executed.

  11. I really love TouchID on the new phones, but I hate the way when I just want to quickly glance at my latest notifications after I hear my phone buzz, if I inadvertently tap the button with one of my TouchID fingers, the Lock screen display instantly disappears, and I have to pull down the notifications window to scan through them. Have to remember to use a ‘non ID’ finger when I want to quick scan notifications that have come through. Would be nice if they included an option in iOS9 to unlock but stay on the notifications screen until it was swiped away.

  12. Aarav Sinha

    I have found one android call recorder application, This application facilitates you with an option of auto upload which allows you to mechanically upload files on server, including Google drive, Dropbox, Gmail inbox, Evernote and sound loud. For this, you need to enable 3 options from the default setting menu which allows you to store files automatically. This option makes expedient for users to access files afterwards. Also, this application has the ability to record files in different formats like WAV, 3GPP, AMR, MP4 & MP3.
    You can check its reviews by visiting this link-

  13. What about that thing where when you switch back to an app after being away from it for awhile, it’ll flash a snapshot of a much earlier state on the screen.

    I had this happen with my bank account page in front of a co-worker. I switched back to Safari to pull up some info and bam, there was my register I’d been looking at the day before, not the list I had ready and had pulled up on screen several minutes earlier. Fortunately it was a list of transactions and not any hard numbers or that would’ve been even more socially awkward. It’s just sloppy and seems super easy to fix.

  14. I agree with all of these. I too have the keyboard and orientation bugs. Comes out of my pocket locked in landscape mode. And universal share sheet with access to all cloud providers (and attachments in would be great stuff.

  15. Your comments are valid, thanks for writing them up.

    Just a note, if you go to Settings > Notifications > Sort By Time, this will sort your notifications by Time instead of by App. Is this not what you are looking for? I had the same issue that I wanted to see the notification I just got and this took care of that.

  16. just|me

    1. Bring back the iTunes Look on the main music app for iPad.
    2. Fix the splitkeyboard, since iOS 7came out, the split keyboard is a totally mess!
    3. Fix the safari performance, is too poor on iPad 2.

  17. Derek Jones

    I haven’t upgraded any of 5 iPads from iOS 7.1.2. I use those iPads almost exclusively for music production and rely on Audiobus (for which there are over 500 compatible applications: synths, FX apps, drum apps, excellent DAWs, sequencers etc.). In preparing for iOS 8, Apple mandated a change in the way that Audiobus worked. Previously it ran efficiently because it could route audio without relying on Apple’s own InterApp Audio (added after Audiobus was first conceived). The change to using IAA means that applications have to use larger buffer sizes or there will be audio crackling. Using larger audio buffers means a loss of interactivity – introduces latency – which is unacceptable for a musician.

    The knock-on effect was that apps that used the Audiobus toolkit also had to update *even* on iOS 7 as Audiobus became iOS 8 ready. The end result was a loss of efficiency such that audio application chains that used to run efficiently on, say, an iPad mini original or an iPad 2 no longer did after those updates.

    The problem does *not* rest with Audiobus – it can be demonstrated to occur with IAA chains alone, but it significantly negatively affected a large number of musicians who use iPads for music production – either standalone or as part of a studio setup.

    The situation has been – of course – partly mitigated by the updates in speed in newer iPads – but not entirely even then. However, updating even one iPad – and especially multiple – isn’t an option just to fix a problem that Apple introduced with the move to iOS 8.

    So, what I and other iPad Musicians are looking for from Apple in iOS 9 is a return to the same efficiency of audio routing that we enjoyed under iOS 7.1.2 *Then* I might upgrade from iOS 7.1.2 – but not before.

    • Derek Jones

      I forgot to add – many of us have noted this on Apple’s feedback pages – and in addition I wrote a lengthy personal letter to Tim Cook about the issue as well (although I have not received a reply).

  18. That app first thing drives me insane. I can’t imagine ever wanting things presented that way rather than just chronologically. They’re actually doing more work to make the interface shittier.

  19. The rotation issue is one that my partner (iPhone 4s) and I (iPhone 5s) have as well. I agree with your recommendation to Apple that notifications be in sequence rather than by app. I’d also like to see cut and paste that works consistently (will admit this is improving but still not quite right). I have calendar app problems (sometimes an event is not actually saved, and the only solution seems to be to reset my iPhone). Safari on my iPad Mini (1st gen) is buggy — it seems to require a page reload very frequently. All in all, I’d say the feature set in iOS 8 is greater than iOS7 and the concepts are good too, they’re just not fully realized. I would like iOS9 (or even better, iOS 8.1.x) to be as stable as iOS7 and avoid too many additional features. Just my two cents.

  20. I agree with the selective bluetooth stuff – for example – I NEVER want maps to use my car’s audio. For whatever reason there’s a lag or it never plays the sound at all. I’ll blame audi for now, but my only recourse at the moment is to turn off bluetooth when I get in the car.

  21. Ian Waring

    The more fundamental problem is the handset giving up a perfectly adequate cell connection in a vain attempt to hook up to a poor or “please login” wifi connection – so all TCP traffic stops dead. If I emerge from the underground station into Paddington station in London, I have to switch off WiFi before an app will tell me which platform my train is going from.

    Lesson is – don’t stall connections to a new data source unless it’s live and connecting to the same destination as current apps.

    In all other ways, love my 6+.

  22. No mention of the very s-l-o-w access to sites / pages in Safari? The slowdown began with the iOS 7 update.
    With the keyboard, it would be nice to have backspace / navigation capability without having to delete.
    Being asked to sign in every couple of emails is overkill.

  23. Jeff Philips

    These almost all seem like really petty grievances. For the Cover Flow issue you’re having, why not decide what you want to listen to before you put it in the car mount? Seems dangerous that you’re fidgeting with it while driving, regardless of how it’s displayed. I haven’t noticed any keyboard bugs on my iPhone 6, nor do I agree with your issue with app management — if you want an app separated, why not put it on a different page or put it in its own folder, or in the dock? Apps floating around in random places seems like a terribly cluttered option to be asking for. If you want to disconnect a Bluetooth device, why not just swipe up and disconnect it there? Doesn’t seem troublesome at all. I do agree with some issues with the orientation/rotation being slow, and I do agree that more cloud storage options would be a nice feature, but that’s about all I can get on board with.

    • kevicosuave

      “For the Cover Flow issue you’re having, why not decide what you want to listen to before you put it in the car mount?”

      Because sometimes we’re stopped at a light and want to change playlists. Sometimes someone else in the car wants to change playlists. Sometimes we’re not even in a car (I often mount my iPhone on the wall of my boat or wall next to my work chair). The bigger point here is that Cover Flow is completely useless for some of us and should be removed (or at least optional).

      “If you want to disconnect a Bluetooth device, why not just swipe up and disconnect it there?”

      The author answered this, “Usually just turning off Bluetooth solves the problem, but sometimes I might be downstairs in the music room with my IK Mulitmedia BlueBoard hooked up.”

      The issue is that there’s no way to selectively disconnect Bluetooth devices without unpairing them (which can be a pain sometime to re-pair).

      I have a Pebble watch, a OBD sensor, and car stereo (split into two separate Bluetooth devices, one for telephony and one for music). So my iPhone is connected to 5 devices when I’m in my car. I shouldn’t have to completely turn off Bluetooth just to let my girlfriend connect and play music. I should be able to just disconnect music.

      Both of these are really easy and straightforward fixes with no downsides, it’s pretty silly to defend the way they are now as being the way they should be.