7 truly annoying iOS features, and how to make them stop
Nope, you're not the only one who's ever barked "stop it!" to your iPhone or iPad because it was being, well, a little too helpful. Luckily, you can tweak or turn off many of iOS's most nagging and intrusive features.
Maybe that last pop-up asking if you want to join some random Wi-Fi network was the final straw, or perhaps it was another unwelcome alert on a lazy Sunday. Maybe you’re feeling a little woozy from iOS’s zoomy new screen effects, or it could be that you wish the stubborn Newsstand app would make itself scarce. Whatever it is, let’s face it: Sometimes iOS can be, well, annoying.
The good news is that you can tweak or turn off many of iOS’s most nagging and intrusive features. All it takes is a little time spent in Settings.
Asking if you want to join a new Wi-Fi network
Assuming everything’s running smoothly, your iPhone or iPad will seamlessly switch between your “known” home and office Wi-Fi networks and its cellular data connection. But even when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi, iOS will keep an ear out for any other nearby Wi-Fi networks—and if it finds any, a pop-up will appear, asking if you want to join one of them.
That’s a handy feature for spendthrifts on the lookout for free Wi-Fi, but if you’re someone who’d never consider joining one of those iffy “Public Wi-Fi” hotspots (as you should be), those “Available Wi-Fi networks” pop-ups can get annoying real fast.
To turn them off for good, tap Settings > Wi-Fi, then turn off the “Ask to Join Networks” setting.
Asking if you really want to delete an email
Few things in life are as satisfying as deleting email from your inbox with a quick tap on the Trash icon. Getting in the way of all that efficiency, though, is that annoying little “Trash Message” confirmation that appears each and every time you tap the Trash button inside an open message (or Edit > Trash).
The culprit? iOS’s “Ask Before Deleting” setting—which, oddly enough, won’t actually stop you from trashing a message by simply swiping it from the Inbox view.
So, what’s the point of the “Ask Before Deleting” setting, given that the swipe-to-delete gesture is the easiest way to trash a message by accident? Good question.
You can disable the annoying “Trash Message” dialog by tapping Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and toggling the “Ask Before Deleting” setting.
Zooming in and out of apps with too-cool “motion effects”
iOS got a huge facelift with the arrival of iOS 7 in 2013, serving up an all-new interface with an assortment of flashy, eye-popping features.
Among them were ”parallax” effects, or clever visual trickery that gives the screen the illusion of depth. Tilt your iPhone this way or that, for example, and your apps will appear to be floating on the home screen. iOS 7 also introduced a dizzying (for some, at least) effect where apps and folders zoom in and out as you open and close them.
Neat—but kinda weird and woozy, too. If your eyes and stomach need a break, tap Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion, then flip the switch on.
Bugging you with notifications even when Do Not Disturb is switched on
You activated iOS’s Do Not Disturb mode—you know, the feature that disables the sound on some or all of your alerts—so you could read your new Kindle book in peace. And yet, alerts are still buzzing and your phone is still ringing. What gives?
Well, Do Not Disturb was originally designed to silence your alerts and alarms only when your iPhone or iPad was asleep. Once your iOS device was unlocked, all your alerts would start going off again, even if Do Not Disturb’s telltale half-moon icon was still sitting at the top of the screen.
Luckily, Apple saw the light and added a Do Not Disturb setting that’ll muzzle your notifications at all times, even when your handset is awake.
Just tap Settings > Do Not Disturb, scroll down to the Silence heading, then toggle the setting from “Only while iPhone is locked” to “Always.”
Bonus tip: To make sure important calls get through when you have Do Not Disturb switched on, tap Settings > Do Not Disturb > Allow Calls From, then pick “Everyone,” “No One,” or “Favorites.” You can also enable the “Repeated Calls” setting to allow calls from someone who is (perhaps frantically) calling your number over and over.
Buttons that don’t look like buttons
When Apple debuted the sleek, ultra-modern design of the revamped iOS 7, one of the most helpful features of the old iPhone/iPad interface went out with the bathwater: Specifically, buttons that actually look like buttons.
In their place: Navigation arrows and one-word “buttons” that are easy to miss—or at least, they are to those of us who still expect touchscreen buttons to look like… well, buttons.
Those old, curved iOS buttons aren’t coming back anytime soon, but at least there’s a way to give iOS’s “un-buttons” a bit more graphical heft. Just tap General > Accessibility, then flick on the Button Shapes switch.
Now, those too-subtle arrows and labels will boast either a light-gray outline or underlining—clunky and ugly, yes, but at least they’ll look tappable.
The stubborn Newsstand app on your home screen
There’s something about the iOS Newsstand app that’s aggressively, well, just there, whether you like it or not.
Newsstand is the home for any of your digital magazine or newspaper subscriptions purchased through iTunes, but it won’t house any non-iTunes publications, nor can you drag your iTunes subscriptions out of the Newsstand folder. Also, once you open a magazine or newspaper app in Newsstand, you can’t jump back to your home screen without making a stop at the Newsstand interface first. And no, you can’t delete Newsstand off your iPhone or iPad, no matter how hard you try.
All in all, supremely annoying (and no wonder that Newsstand will get a major overhaul and a name change once iOS 9 arrives). In the meantime, though, you can at least hide Newsstand in a way that wasn’t even possible until iOS 7 came around: Just tuck it into a folder, perhaps along with other iOS apps you never use. (Notes, anyone?)
The new Apple Music “Connect” button
If you finally gave in and updated your iPhone or iPad to iOS 8.4, you probably noticed the all-new Apple Music app on your home screen—and, sitting at the bottom of Apple Music’s revamped interface, you may also have seen the Connect tab.
What’s Connect? It’s Apple’s way of letting you “connect” with your favorite artists. Think of it as a music-focused Twitter stream stocked with updates and photos of musicians… well, doing their thing.
If you’ve always wanted to feel a little closer to your favorite bands and crooners, Apple Music Connect may be the thing you’ve been waiting for. If not, you may find yourself wondering how to zap the prominent “Connect” button off the Apple Music interface, since none of the usual methods (like tapping an “Edit” button or tapping and holding the Connect button itself) will work.
Here’s what you do:
Tap Settings > General > Restrictions, then either “Enable Restrictions” (if you don’t have iOS’s Restrictions feature turned on yet) or enter your Restrictions passcode (which you’ll need to create the first time you turn Restrictions on).
Scroll down a bit until you find the “Apple Music Connect” setting, then turn that setting off.
Head back to the Apple Music app and behold the Playlists button, which just replaced the now-missing Connect button.
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Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices.