Apple is likely to unveil the next iteration of iOS soon. That means it’s “wish list” season, a time for iPhone owners to compile all the things they’d like to see on their devices. (And then whine about if they don’t arrive.)
For me, there’s one Android-esque bit I’ve wanted since iOS 8, but remains absent today: a customisable Control Center.
For the most part, the Control Center — the little settings menu you swipe up from the bottom of the display — is a good thing. It makes it very easy to access commonly used functions; three or four button presses become a swipe and a tap. This is something any OS that sells itself on “simplicity” should strive to do.
Apple made the whole thing better-looking and more functional with iOS 10, but also a bit more complicated. One panel became three: one to toggle quick settings like WiFi and Bluetooth, one for music and media playback controls, and one with controls for smart home devices that work with Apple’s HomeKit platform.
Apple also added 3D Touch tricks for a few quick settings. Holding down on the camera icon, for instance, lets you choose if you want to launch the camera app in selfie mode, video mode, or slow-motion video mode.
Those are useful enough (though they don’t apply to everything), but the decision to put media controls in a separate window slowed that process down, and the redesign gave some icons more space than they’re worth.
This ties into the Control Center’s big problem: its lack of user control.
As it stands now, the functions you can access are limited to the handful Apple chooses itself. Some of these are expendable. I’ll run through what’s there now to give you an idea:
- Aeroplane mode: There’s only one instance in which I use Aeroplane mode, and that’s on an actual aeroplane. Otherwise, low-power mode would be useful more often.
- WiFi: Essential.
- Bluetooth: Ditto. Apple going all-in on wireless headphones only reinforces that.
- Do Not Disturb: There are certain situations where it’s crucial for some. Personally, nobody is calling at 1AM, and vibrate is enough, so I typically pass.
- Orientation lock: If anything, this is an annoyance if you watch videos regularly. I’ve read enough articles in bed to know it’s a pain when the whole screen flips, but that’s about it.
Flashlight: Sure, why not.
Jeff Dunn/Business InsiderThe secondary music and media playback control window in the Control Center.
- Timer: A shortcut to the alarm clock would make more sense.
- Night Shift: It’s surprisingly effective — or at least it feels like it is — but it doesn’t need a spot.
- Calculator: It’s good when your receipt doesn’t have suggested tip amounts already, but there are plenty of times when people aren’t in a rush to crunch numbers.
- Camera: No complaints.
- Brightness slider: Auto-brightness can make it a little redundant, but that can be finicky, so it’s fine. The problem is that trying to swipe at it now inadvertently brings you to the media controls panel half the time.
- AirDrop: Not the best if you use a Windows laptop or Android tablet.
- AirPlay: I prefer Roku. Plenty others prefer Amazon or Android.
- Music playback controls: For sure. Nobody wants to go in and out of Spotify every three minutes. I don’t mind it having its own space, either; the iOS 10 overhaul made it much more robust and spaced out. I’d just like the option to make it the first window I see when music is playing.
- Home controls: Great if you have a Apple-friendly smart home, thankfully stays out of the way if you don’t.
The point here is that everyone has their preferences. I try to keep my LTE data off when I don’t need it, for instance. But I also have friends who use iMessage. When I’m out, I usually wind up going against my inclinations, because I don’t want to go through the hassle of unlocking the phone and repeatedly tapping through settings menus to get a text. This is annoying, and it happens too often. With Android, it doesn’t.
It’s a similar deal if you want to turn on VPN, location data, low-power mode, personal hotspot, and so on. Giving the option to swap these in, or at least to expand the number of toggles there now, or even just to rearrange the existing settings, would seem to be a simple fix.
Adding shortcuts to third-party apps would be even better, though that could open up issues in design (since Apple would need developers to make custom icons) and security (since you may be able to access personal data from the lock screen). Adding shortcuts to Apple’s own apps would at least be a halfway solution.
Is all of this a bit nitpicky? Sure. Would that make it any less useful? Nope. There are many other things it’d be good for Apple to address with the next iOS — multi-user support, a better Siri, the ability to make non-Apple apps your defaults, a dark mode (!) — but I’ll be happy so long as I don’t have to look at the timer icon again.