8 things that (still) bug us in iOS 6

Now that we’ve been living with iOS 6 for a while, we’ve realized (to our chagrin) that it still comes with a few quirks that bugged us in previous versions and still aren’t fixed. Herewith 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.

Dropbox is one of the easiest ways to get files on your iPhone.

But, speaking of third-party apps, here’s how it’s done: Download a copy of Stratospherix’s $5 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 $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

You can share Photo Streams, but that sharing is one-way only.

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’ catalogs, 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.

The solution is simple: Avoid iTunes Match. If you’re willing to spend $25 a year for cloud access to your music, Amazon’s Cloud Player may be the better solution. For that same $25 a year, you can not only download individual tracks (matched, uploaded, and purchased), but more of them: The service’s track limit is 250,000 rather than iTunes Match’s 25,000.—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, stylize 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

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