Some Petty iOS Annoyances

January 21st, 2011

That the iPhone is a major success, with Apple barely able to keep up with the increasing demand, certainly demonstrates that the competition doesn’t offer a whole lot of credibility. Sure, there may be more Android OS smartphones sold in the U.S., but that number includes loads of models from several different companies, some at two-for-one fire sales. What’s more, that situation precedes the arrival of the iPhone on the Verizon Wireless network, with new talk that it may also be available from T-Mobile shortly. Well, that would also mean T-Mobile’s “4G” ads, which attack the iPhone, will have to be ended I suppose.

You also know that, even as we speak, Apple is in the end stages of developing the iPhone 4’s successor, but whether that will be a substantially redesigned iPhone 5, or something more subtle (regardless of the name), is anyone’s guess. I’m more interested for now in certain software (and perhaps hardware) issues that I’d like to see fixed some day.

Take the proximity sensor, which deactivates the display and touchscreen when the device is brought near your face during a call. Yes, I realize Apple had some issues with this function in the first release of iOS 4, which impacted the iPhone 4. But when I put the device in my pocket, more often than not, when I take it out again, something on the screen has been selected, and it’s about to perform some function, such as sending a message to an address that consist of gibberish.

Shouldn’t the proximity sensor figure out that the unit has been placed in some sort of enclosure that covers the display (other than your face), and thus touchscreen functionality must be switched off? But it never seems to work that way, not with this iPhone, not with the previous models.

As far as Mail for the iOS, it’s just too lightweight compared to the Mac OS X version.

I’d like, for example, to be able to select a separate signature for different accounts. That doesn’t seem to be a resource-hogging function. But you have just one choice that’s configured as a preference, and, yes, I did remove the “sent from my iPhone” label. Apple doesn’t need free advertising from me. But I also remove the custom bumper frames bearing a car dealer’s name when I take home a new auto. They don’t need the free advertising either.

It would also be nice if Mail could use the same rules I set with the desktop version. Usually those rules funnel certain messages, from a specific sender, or with a certain entry in the subject line, to a different folder. This shouldn’t be so big a deal either.

Apple ought to also demonstrate some concern for the bane of an email user’s existence, spam. Yes, I realize ISPs, and dedicated email services (even your basic $4 Web hosting package) offer some level of spam protection. Sometimes it’s pretty good; often it’s pathetic, as your Inbox remains flooded with that junk. But wouldn’t it be nice to offer the same level of junk mail filtering that Apple offers for Mac OS X users?

Now one of my colleagues suggested to me at one time that a spam filter would be a little too resource intensive for a smartphone, but I’d think that a pocket computer that can double as a gaming machine is more than capable of processing email spam.

While I’m at it, why restrict email checking to 15 minute intervals when you don’t have a “Push” feature available, such as with MobileMe? Yes, scanning for new email every five minutes means a slight expenditure of system resources and battery life, but I hardly think it’s terribly demanding.

On the positive side of the ledger, the new volume switches on the left side of the iPhone 4 are not as easily pressed by accident. With the older model, it was all too easy to accidentally change the level simply by removing it from your pocket or a case, shades of the Motorola RAZR.

The other irritant is the way Push Notification messages are handled. They come in a modal dialog, which stops you in your tracks unless dismissed. If there’s a second message, it replaces the first, with no real way to recall the one that’s been discharged. This is one problem that appears to be dealt with in a smarter way with the Android OS, where you can recall system prompts of one sort or another. Besides, the Push dialog seems damned ugly compared to the otherwise elegant iOS interface.

I’m sure there are lots of wish lists for iOS 5. Let me simply include this as part of my more serious concerns. Most are, in the scheme things, quite minor. They don’t seriously impact my enjoyment of the iPhone, but I’m also the sort of perfectionist who keeps demanding more.

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5 Responses to “Some Petty iOS Annoyances”

  1. James says:

    Why don’t you turn off your iPhone with the button at the top of the phone before putting it in your pocket. That is what it is for. It’s an easy habit to get into. Click, pocket, done. No more things being selected when you don’t want them.

    Also, the volume buttons on my iPhone 4 don’t do anything with the phone off. So turning off the iPhone before pocketing solves that problem too.

    • @James, Well, you wouldn’t be turning it off, since you won’t get phone calls. I could manually lock the phone, which is what I think you mean. But in the course of a busy day, you shouldn’t have to remember to perform that manual function every time the phone goes back in the pocket. After a given number of minutes, it’ll lock anyway, depending on what you set in the unit’s preferences, but that should happen soon as the unit is enclosed, automatically. That’s what this is about.


  2. Keyword says:

    Ditto what James said. In fact, I didn’t at first understand what you were talking about because it didn’t occur to me that anyone would pocket the phone without locking it first. It becomes part of the motion, something you don’t have to even think about.

  3. rand says:

    I’ll back what James mentioned, it’s a very simple thing to do, clicking the button to manually lock the phone (mainly to turn off the screen and save power). I’ve never understood why people don’t do it automatically actually.
    In fact a lot of the time, a finger or thumb is right over the button as you are putting it in a pocket. At least the way I do it.
    What you are wanting takes more computing resources (probably not many granted), but also increase the complexity of what the software has to take into account, or guess at, for any situation. Leading to lots of false positives. If i put my hand over the sensor while sketching on the phone, I sure don’t want it to shut the screen off for example.

  4. Karl says:

    Here’s 2. One petty and one not so much…

    1. when I type the word “for” half the time I miss and hit the letter “i” so I get “fir”. I told this to a guy at the Apple store and he said they’re wasn’t a way to have the global dictionary be adjusted. He just uses “4” instead (he’s 20 something and I’m 50 something 🙂 Why doesn’t Apple engineers know that when typing these 3 letters most likely 99% of the time people are trying to type “for” and not “fir”?

    2. When I’ in the middle of doing some typing it always happens..some scheduled Alert box pops up from my calender and interrupts. Can’t the programmers put it some type of intelligence that detects something is happening and the Alert should be postponed till there is say a 5 second gap in touch input? I won’t go into the problems with iOS notifications issues and how they are soooooo much behind Android. I know they’re working on it so I won’t.

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