Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ten disappointments with iOS 5.1

While the focus of Wednesday's Apple event was primarily on "the new iPad" and the perpetual hobby that is the Apple TV, we would be remiss to forget iOS 5.1. Past point releases of the OS included notable improvements like Game Center in iOS 4.1, and the Nitro JavaScript engine, better Home Sharing, and Personal Hotspots in iOS 4.3. While Apple updated apps, and released the stunning iPhoto for iOS, how is iOS 5.1 itself likely to be compared to past releases? To some, it will be a little disappointing. 
With the help of Ars's Macintosh Achaia to refine the points for this article, here are ten annoyances that will remain with us as part of iOS—at least until the next iOS release rolls around.

System Requirements

Ever type an URL in Safari and see a short pause on the second or third letter as browsing history is searched? These senior Safari moments and other performance complaints on older hardware will not cease with iOS 5.1. Any additional snappiness or better battery life will be, at best, subjective.

File Management

There will be no iDisk replacement because buying Dropbox was both Plan A and Plan B, that is unless Plan A is the end of discrete file management in Apple’s vision of personal computing. That would also explain the current OS X Finder.


Syncing will still not really be syncing. Delete a contact or calendar event on an iOS device and it rightly disappears everywhere. Delete content like podcasts or movies and everything reappears when synced unless deleted from the computer running iTunes. We're still waiting for post-PC equality.


Mail needs work. There's still no junk mail filtering on iOS devices, and if filtering is too CPU intensive or battery draining, how hard would it be to allow marking junk mail for the server side of things? Signatures by mail account is another simple improvement, too. Collapsable folders and sub-folders would be another.

Notification Center

Notification Center also remains unfinished. Little annoyances, like "Clear" buttons so small they appear designed for Homo floresiensis, will remain tiny. All notifications will remain from all calendars, as well, even though Calendar itself allows hiding calendars from view. Don’t expect Notification Center on the iPad to actually use the larger display any time soon, either.


Messages still continues to treat the same person sending a text from different sources as different people, despite Contacts understanding that people have more than one phone number or e-mail address.

Photo Stream

While Photo Stream finally allows for the deletion of indiscriminate pictures, does it matter if Photo Stream can’t really be shared? You can pay $4.99 for iPhoto, and most will, but why isn't there a Photo Stream website for all to see whether or not that’s an iPhone in your pocket?

App Store

Imagine going to the grocery store and being forced to buy one item and leave before coming back for something else. Welcome to the App Store, which kicks you entirely out of the app after every purchase.


There will probably never be a visual indicator for the menu bar showing the iPhone is muted. You can just stare at the side of the iPhone instead of the display, or put hand in pocket and finger the switch to see if it vibrates.

Default Apps

You will continue to be unable to delete applications like Weather or Stocks on your iOS device. Yep. Still.

What else?

One could go on, and some will no doubt disagree on the validity of some choices, but there’s another point to be made. Apple will easily sell 100 million iOS devices this year, perhaps as many as 200 million. Those buying will very likely continue to report the highest level of satisfaction with Apple’s handhelds and tablets. It’s hard to find disappointment in that.

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