8 things that (still) bug us in iOS 6

Macworld Staff
25 September, 2012
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Now that we’ve been living with iOS 6 for a while, we’ve realised (to our chagrin) that it still comes with a few quirks that bugged us in previous versions and still aren’t fixed. Here with eight of the surviving features and flaws that bother Macworld editors the most.

Can’t easily pull files from a Mac

You’re on the couch with iPad in lap and recall the ebook file you downloaded to your Mac earlier in the day. Awesome as it sounds to walk downstairs, fire up iTunes, select your iPad, click on the Apps tab, locate the iBooks app, drag the ebook file to the app’s storage area, and sync your device, wouldn’t it be better still to simply tap on your Mac’s icon on the Home screen to mount it, navigate to the ebook file, and download it directly to the iBooks app?

Without a third-party app, this kind of transfer is impossible. Though iOS devices can now wirelessly sync, you have to feed them from within iTunes.

But, speaking of third-party apps, here’s how it’s done: Download a copy of Stratospherix’s $5.49 FileBrowser app. FileBrowser allows you to rummage through any Mac, PC, or server on your local network for which you have a login ID. Find the file you want, tap the blue icon next to it, and tap the Open In button. The file will download to your device and open in the app you selected.

Alternatively, when downloading such a file to your Mac, drop it in your Dropbox folder. Tucked away there you can then access it from any Dropbox-compatible app on your iOS device.—Christopher Breen

No screen capture

Using AirServer in conjunction with AirPlay is one way to capture video of what’s happening on your iPhone’s screen.

For years now, there have been apps for jailbroken iOS devices that allow you to capture videos of what’s happening on the screen. But iOS 6 still doesn’t allow you to do that. It’s not a feature that everyone needs, but its absence drives many of us at Macworld nuts.

There is an old-fashioned—and extremely clumsy—workaround: Point a camera at your device and shoot the video that way. Alternatively, you can use the US$15 AirServer application, which allows you to mirror an iOS device’s display to your Mac. Once on your Mac you can then use a screen-capture utility (QuickTime X, for example) to capture the mirrored image. And you can use an Elgato Game Capture HD (though some of us still prefer the image-quality of the AirServer solution). But it’d be really, really nice if iOS 6 had this capability built-in.—Christopher Breen

Siri can’t change Settings

I use Siri every day. I use it to set reminders, send iMessages, perform searches, create meetings, and launch apps with the voice recognition assistant. But one thing I can’t do—and wish I could—is use Siri to toggle settings. You can ask, of course. But Siri will politely refuse.

The worst part is, it’s clear that Siri (or, more accurately, the developers behind it) know what you’re trying to do: Say “Turn on Do Not Disturb,” and you get a link to iOS 6’s new setting for muting notifications. I’d love to use Siri to toggle that setting, or Bluetooth, or Airplane Mode. (Speaking of that last one: I’d love to be able to use Siri—for settings, at least—even when I’m not connected to the internet. After all, iOS had built-in speech recognition before it had Siri; surely that could be used for things like turning Airplane Mode off.)

Siri makes quick works of all sorts of common tasks. But the fact that it can’t help with something I do several times a day continues to frustrate.—Lex Friedman

Inaccessible settings

While the Settings app is easy enough to use, there are a number of settings that I access frequently—turning wireless networking on and off, for example—that still require too many taps.

The Android operating system has a nice solution to this problem: It lets me place widgets on the home screen that provide quick access to such settings. For example, my Nexus 7 comes with a pre-installed widget that I can tap to toggle WiFi, Bluetooth, location, and syncing, and to cycle through screen-brightness modes. I wish iOS had something similar.—Dan Frakes

Hitting that little X to clear notifications

Notification Center, which debuted in iOS 5, is great for keeping track of alerts and reminders. But removing messages from Notification Center is a pain: You can’t delete individual messages, you can’t easily clear all messages, and removing all the notification from a single app—say, Mail—requires you to tap a teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy X button (which I inevitably miss at least two or three times before I’m finally successful).

This is another area in which I’d like to see Apple ape Android: On my Nexus 7, which uses a similar swipe-down notification display, I can swipe any notification to remove it, or I can clear all messages with a single tap.—Dan Frakes

Limited shared Photo Streams

It’s great that you can inflict your images on the world (or a small portion of it) through iOS 6’s Shared Photo Stream feature. But sharing is a lot better when it works in both directions. Currently, while you can share your photos with others via iCloud, Shared Photo Stream doesn’t allow you to create an album that multiple individuals can share.

The solution to this one is simple: Don’t use Shared Photo Stream for this job. Instead, do what we’ve been doing for years and use a dedicated photo sharing service such as Flickr or Shutterfly. (Or, if you’re a social butterfly, Facebook.) Create a shared album on one of these services and share and share alike.—Christopher Breen

Can’t download single iTunes Match tracks

With iOS 6, the Music app has lost the ability to download individual iTunes Match tracks. You can download the entire contents of playlists, albums, and artists’ catalogues, but single tracks? Nope. This is particularly bothersome if you’re downloading tracks over a cellular network, because it means downloading more data than you want.—Christopher Breen

Inserting photos or formatting text in Mail is too complex

Changing the quote level in an email, or inserting a photograph, requires too many taps.

Want to insert a photo into a message, stylise text, or increase the quote level in Mail? iOS 6 lets you—slowly.

Say you want to try that last trick: Tap once on the message body. Then tap again on the right arrow of the contextual menu that appears. Then tap the right arrow again to get past the first set of options. Now tap Quote Level. Finally, tap to choose whether to Increase or Decrease Quote Level. Five taps later, do you remember why you were tweaking the quote level in the first place?

The problem here seems to be Apple’s apparent desire to keep that normally hidden menu slim and trim. But I could imagine another way: A big circle of options expanding when I tap and release in an empty portion of the text, exposing immediate access to options such as increasing the quote level, making the text bold, or inserting a photo. The way it is now makes me use those features less frequently.—Lex Friedman


5 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. L H says:

    screen capture

    hold down the home key & the sleep/wake key at the same time

  2. Alex says:

    That doesn’t work for video.

  3. R Heacock says:

    Surprised by Friedman’s criticisms about deficiencies in IOS6 Mail. In landscape mode, his desired command structure is exactly as he hoped for. I suppose using landscape is too onerous. Also, in iPad iOS6 Mail, Freidman’s wishes are there as expected. I think more research would have helped.

  4. anthony higgins says:

    For our household, for iphone 4 and 4S, we cannot locate the Network and APN settings any more after upgrading to iOS6. We work overseas a lot, so need to change the APN settings. But they are gone.

  5. SJM says:

    Since all the screen caps are from an iPhone, I think we can presume he is referring to an iPhone with these issues. Maybe a clarification might have been useful, but have some charity before you start slinging criticism :)

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