In iOS 11, Apple overcomplicates Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

“Remember when Microsoft made radical user interface changes in Windows 8, only to have to make more tweaks and backtracking in response to criticism, causing unnecessary hassles for end users?” Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes for ZDNet. “Looks like Apple is having a similar problem with iOS.”

“With iOS 11, Apple made a change in how the Control Center worked. Buttons that had previously turned off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth now only prevented new connections, keeping the radios switched on so that features such as AirDrop, Personal Hotspot, and Handoff continue to work, and the Apple Watch and Apple Pencil continue to work,” Kingsley-Hughes writes. “What’s more, turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth using Control Center was only temporary, and would turn back on under the following conditions:”

Wi-Fi:
• Wi-Fi is switched back on in Control Center
• You connect to a Wi-Fi network using Settings > Wi-Fi
• You walk or drive to a new location
• It’s 5 AM local time
• The iOS device is restarted

Bluetooth:
• Bluetooth is switched back on in Control Center
• You connect to a Bluetooth accessory in Settings > Bluetooth
• It’s 5 AM local time
• The iOS device is restarted

“Permanently turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth involves going into the Settings app ( Settings > Wi-Fi and Settings > Bluetooth) and toggling the relevant buttons,” Kingsley-Hughes writes. “As you can imagine, this caused a lot of user confusion, especially since the only place where Apple had documented this change was on a support page that average users are never going to see. As is the norm with poorly thought out user interface changes, Apple’s plan to improve on this change is now to pepper iOS with popups and text cues. And these changes have appeared in the recently released beta 3 of iOS 11.2.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There is no harsher critique of Apple than “overcomplicates.” It’s the only thing that trumps “badly designed.”

As Kingsley-Hughes suggests, “A better option would be for Apple to have a three-way option on the buttons (on, off, soft off) or put an option into the Settings app to change the behavior of the Control Center buttons.

A wise man once asked, “What does designing toilets have to do with sound user interface design?”

We forgot who asked that, but it sure wasn’t Tim Cook.

Focus, Apple. Focus. It’s hard, but it’s also what we pay you to deliver: Focused, intuitive products that just work.

Scott Forstall: Miss me yet?

SEE ALSO:
EFF criticizes Apple’s ‘misleading’ Bluetooth and Wi-Fi toggles in iOS 11 for being a privacy and security risk – October 8, 2017
Toggling Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in iOS 11 control center disconnects, not disables – September 21, 2017

24 Comments

  1. I hate it when companies try to fix things when there is no problem- the old setup worked just fine.

    More than a few of us do not want to be tracked by beacons, alerted every time someone we know farts or when someone predicts the Zombie Apocalypse. My iPhone is a cell phone I use for streaming audio and navigation – not an umbilical cord without which I cannot function.

    I want the off button to be off – not kind of off.

    1. “I hate it when companies try to fix things when there is no problem- the old setup worked just fine.”

      Apple may be making money hand over fist, but that doesn’t mean they’re not screwing up, especially in the UI department. No more glaring an example is that Apple f’ed up the calculator in iOS 11.

      The CALCULATOR! One of the most basic UIs, that has existed in same basic form since at least the 1970s, and Apple tried to “fix things when there [was] no problem” or make it over-complicated by adding/increasing a totally useless, non-blocking, animated fade on the operator keys.

      The 1+1+1=12 bug has existed since the 11.0 betas, and it still persists as of the recent v11.1.1 update. It’s an utter embarrassment that it’s on millions of devices from a company with a market cap hovering in the $900B range.

      1. either real or perceived. People would turn off WiFi or Bluetooth and then wonder why things were not working.

        It is embarrassing to admit, but I once spent several minutes trying to figure out why I couldn’t connect to the AppleTV in a conference room, only to realize that it was because I had turned off WiFi. Since I seldom do that, it did not pop into my head as a possible cause right away.

        Apple is creating more features that require interaction between devices, such as the pencil and Apple Watch and iPhone and iPad. Apple is attempting to preserve privacy and security while making the experience more seamless. It is a pain to frequently have go to settings, or even the control panel, to turn things on and off. It makes sense to me that if you request a function that requires wireless interactivity of some type, then the device ought to assist you in enabling that wireless connection.

        That said, I agree with the general feeling that this implementation is flawed. Off should mean off. On should mean on. And some other setting option should be added to cover the intermediate case when the functions are off when they are not needed. Even with this addition, what if a feature is designed to be triggered by an external entity, such as a beacon or another iPhone? The world is too complex to solve everything in a simple way. But it is Apple’s job and culture to make the attempt to do so.

    2. “Remember when Microsoft made radical user interface changes in Windows 8, only to have to make more tweaks and backtracking in response to criticism, causing unnecessary hassles for end users?”

      “Looks like Apple is having a similar problem with iOS.”

      Apple is having similar problem because Apple hired ex-Microsoft engineers to work on iOS.

      And the proof of the Microsoftian solution:

      “As is the norm with poorly thought out user interface changes, Apple’s plan to improve on this change is now to pepper iOS with popups and text cues. And these changes have appeared in the recently released beta 3 of iOS 11.2.”

      What a mess. And it will only get messier.

      Huge mistake by Apple letting Scott Forstall go.

    3. Well said.

      I’m really wondering just what “problem” this new “feature” allegedly solves.

      (and to be blunt):

      Hey Apple … the UI standard of “NO MEANS NO” works for Women … right?

  2. Yes, I miss Scott a lot. iOS has taken some turns for the worst in their design ideas. The WiFi in the control center is an example of something I absolutely hate in iOS 11. That was an incredibly stupid design idea.

    1. I hate 3D force touch. It only works well if you have perfect motion control and are doing nothing else. On the go usage with iOS hasn’t improved with all the complicated kludges Apple keeps tacking on.

      Also, not to sound like a cynic here but as someone who develops apps for multiple platforms, the last several years of iOS has piled on what feels like rushed implementations if features invented elsewhere. That is not a compliment.

  3. An old man, a boy and a donkey were going to town. The boy rode on the donkey, and the old man walked.

    As they went along they passed some people who remarked, “What a shame, the old man is walking, the boy is riding.”

    The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.

    Later they passed some people who remarked, “What a shame, he makes that little boy walk.”

    So they decided they’d both walk.

    Soon they passed some more people who remarked, “They’re really stupid to walk when they have a decent donkey to ride.”

    So they both decided to ride the donkey.

    They passed some people who shamed them by saying, “How awful to put such a load on a poor donkey.”

    The boy and the man figured they were probably right, so they decide to carry the donkey. As they crossed the bridge, they lost their grip on the donkey; the donkey fell into the river and drowned.

    The moral of the story: If you try to please everyone, you might as well kiss your ass goodbye.

    1. So true. This is truly a situation where various needs are competing with each other and a compromise must be accepted. Apple was damned with their first iteration, and now are damned for the way they addressed the first round of complaints. Seriously, the issue never was that complicated, nor does it likely effect more than a very small minority that feels the need to manage the state of their various radios.

      1. I don’t remember anyone complaining about how the Wifi and Bluetooth toggles worked before the change. How it was before was simply ‘inconvenient’ for Apple’s needs to keep the radios on for their other products/services.

        1. “I don’t remember anyone complaining about how the Wifi and Bluetooth toggles worked before the change.”

          Yes, exactly. You nailed it. All other comments before yours are unnecessary fluff.

  4. Apple needs someone to do what Steve Jobs did and be the voice of reason and pessimism with regards to usability. To look at and use the thing and say WTF? How many people had problems (and still do) when they put the lock button opposite the volume buttons? You try to press lock and it just changes the volume because your hand naturally puts pressure opposite the lock button so you can apply the force to press the button. You have to do something somewhat unnatural to press just the lock button.

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