iOS 11 Is Killing Me

OK, look. I'm not the first person to say this, and I certainly won't be the last. But iOS 11 is bad. The new operating system has turned my phone into a bug-infested carcass of its former self, and the frustration of trying to use it sometimes makes me want to die, too. All images: Adam Clark Estes / Gizmodo

Plenty of people have qualms with the design. A couple of months ago, my former co-worker Jesus Diaz wrote a spirited and well-argued piece in Fast Company under the unapologetic headline, "iOS 11 Sucks". His gripes are gripes I'd heard many times when Jesus was still at Gizmodo: The text alignment is off, the UI conventions are dumb, Apple doesn't pay attention to detail any more, and so on. He isn't wrong about any of these things.

My gripe is different. It's been two full months since Apple released iOS 11 to millions and millions of devices worldwide, and the software is still just buggy as hell. Some of the glitches are ugly or just unexpected from a company that has built a reputation for flawless software. Shame on me for always expecting perfection from an imperfect company, I guess. But there are some really bad bugs, so bad that I can't use the most basic features on my phone. They popped up when I upgraded on release day. They're still around after two months and multiple updates to iOS. Shame on Apple for ignoring this crap.

Now, let me show you my bugs. The worst one also happens to be the one I encounter most frequently. Sometimes, when I get a text, I'll go to reply in the Messages app but won't be able to see the latest message because the keyboard is covering it up. I also can't scroll up to see it, because the thread is anchored to the bottom of the page. The wackiest thing is that sometimes I get the little reply box, and sometimes I don't. The only way I'm able to text like normal is to tap the back arrow to take me to all my messages and then go back into the message through the front door.

I removed the text from my messages because it's none of your business.

This isn't supposed to happen. Normally, tapping the compose field to reply to a text pulls out the keyboard and pushes the latest message above where the keyboard is displayed. And normally, if you're looking at the keyboard, you're also looking at a reply field. Otherwise, where are your words going to go? That way you can read what you're replying to. Not so in iOS 11. This bug screws me up on a daily basis.

I'm not a developer, but I think that this bug is related to the lock screen. The keyboard bug seems to happen most frequently when I swipe a text message alert to compose a reply. I've also encountered some other lock screen bugs related to the Messages app. Some of these happened when I wasn't paying attention, so I wasn't able to figure out what was triggering it or how to fix it. One time, however, it felt like I was watching iOS meltdown right before my eyes.

This bug was possibly related to the keyboard bug above, as there are some similarities. When I tried to reply to a text without unlocking the phone - this 3D Touch trick is the only time I ever use 3D Touch - the phone showed that my friend was typing with that animation that makes me incredibly anxious. And then I got a message from her while she was still typing. And then I got two more of the typing animations that then moved around as I actually received additional messages from the same friend.

I left the dots in the thought but removed the text. You'll also notice that one of the thought bubbles is weirdly cropped on the bottom left.

This is just one app we're talking about so far. Sure, it's possible that I noticed these bugs because Messages is one of the apps I use most frequently. It's also possible that Messages is just particularly buggy in iOS 11. Apple has even been forced to admit that the app contained some glitches, when it pushed out an update that fixed the bug where you'd type "i" and get "a" plus a weird Unicode symbol.

But other native iOS 11 apps have bugs, too. Until a recent update, my iPhone screen would become unresponsive, which is a problem because touching the screen is almost the only way to use the device. The Phone app also has a cool bug, where I can only access my voicemail periodically. Sometimes when I make phone calls the person I'm talking to sounds like a monster. These could be carrier issues, but still, the glitches shatters the image that Apple builds flawless products. The company doesn't. One could argue that Apple products were never perfect, but I'd say they're less perfect now than ever before.

I'm not trying to make an exhaustive list of everything Apple's done wrong lately. I don't even want to detail every single bug or design flaw in iOS 11, because that would be both whiny and boring. Suffice it to say, the operating system is still glitchy two months after release, and bit by bit, Apple seems to be fixing the problem. Does the newly buggy iOS make me want to switch to Android? Not exactly. Does it make me feel wistful for the days when you could count on an overpriced Apple product to just work? Absolutely.

Then again, back when the iPhone 4 came out and it felt like Apple could do no wrong, smartphones were a lot simpler. The cameras were joyfully crappy. The screens were small. The number of apps we could download and things we could connect to was paltry compared to today. Augmented reality existed almost exclusively as a theoretical thing that the future might bring us. Fast forward seven years, and smartphones can power virtual reality headsets. So far, it looks like Apple has finally brought AR to the masses - for free.

We should expect some bugs, I guess. More complex pieces of technology contain more points of failure, and I'm oversimplifying the issue. I'm not apologising for Apple's sloppiness. However, I am trying to understand exactly how my life with computers veered so dramatically from the days of Windows 95 when nothing worked right, to the golden age of the iPhone 4 when everything seemed perfect, to now when just a handful of iOS bugs make me feel like the world is falling apart.

Maybe the world is falling apart. Maybe the bugs are the first assaults in Siri's inevitable war against her makers. Maybe I'm the annoying thing, the whiny one who's upset that nothing seems perfect any more. Or maybe Apple is slipping, and we were wrong to trust it all along.

WATCH MORE: Tech News


Comments

    When will you fan boys learn... History repeats on itself! Don't ever update an old apple product with a new version of iOS.

    Apple are the new pears, full of pointless gimmicks and old tech.

      At least Apple users get upgrades.

        Phones made by Google (ie. Pixel) get timely upgrades too. If people don't care about that, they can try their luck with other manufacturers. That's their choice.

      This obsolescence of our previously great devices is worthy of a class action law suit. IMHO.

      Will you fankids never learn? Note 4 (my old workhorse), 5 or latest marvellous Note 8. The S-pen is free. Oh, the screen's far better than the X, which got Samsung's old OLED. Why play catchup with iPhone? Get ahead with a Note.

    "it sometimes makes me want to die" what truly stupid thing to say

    perspective

      The plaintive cry of the iPhone fankid. Just wish they would.

    I don’t know whether it is a bug or just Apples way, but on my iPhone X if the phone is locked it only rings once before being silenced. As it sits on my desk for much of the day and I am not always near it, this is bothersome. I am pretty sure they this is NOT a feature. Also, on my iPad iOS 11 deleted all of my PDFs out of iBooks and they are lost in cyberspace.

    11.1 killed Apple Pay for me :) I’m still talking with support and sending logs.
    Also music and podcast playback just seems to crash and burn several times a day.
    I can’t even say there’s any features in iOS 11 I enjoy.
    I feel they have been getting worse and worse since iOS 7.

    First world problem.

    I hate to tell the younger generation this, but all software has bugs. That’s the nature of the beast.

      Yes ij, however this is not open source, so the user needs Apple to fix this themselves. And it is fair to expect that the wealthiest company in the world would be able to do this in a timely manner.

        Who says they are not fixing it in a timely manner? Do you have inside information on how their bugs are prioritised?

      Yes but what's changed is that end users are now being used by Apple as beta testers.

        Nonsense.

        Anyone who thinks any software is bug free is naive.
        Some may be annoyed by a bug that means nothing to others.

        The universe does not revolve around the entitled generation.

          'Entitlement' it may be, but it's also a big part of Apple's brand identity. Siri, Maps, and now the fancy front camera array have all been released while 'in beta', with various glaring bugs. Not a great look for a company whose products are supposed to 'just work'.

          Maybe if they focused on fixing bugs over additional features or cosmetic redesigns?

          Bug free software is practically impossible, but that's no excuse for poor quality - especially on a phone costing as much as it does.

      Oh boy do you bend over backwards in an attempt to defend apple from anything.

        Grow up.

          Can you two stop fighting please? If you're good I'll write you both a nice story about the topic of your choosing.

            challenge accepted.

            @ijameson you up for it? Happy to put this all behind us for topic of our choosing

            To add to my above comment so its not put in auto moderation. More than happy to put all this behind us. While it felt good for a short while posting what i did, I did feel like a bit of an ahole afterwards. More than willing to start fresh,

      This is Apple. Apple don't get bugs, they have "undocumented features"

    Hmm, I don't seem to be suffering from any of these issues. I was on the 7, now on the X and everything seems to be working fine.

    The glitches you describe do sound a bit irritating, but saying iOS11 "turned my phone into a bug-infested carcass of its former self, and the frustration of trying to use it sometimes makes me want to die" is a bit extreme.....

    I think " iOS11 has some issues when I am text messaging" would have covered it :-)

      Agreed. I love ios11 on the iPhone X. The gestures are great, phone is incredible fast. No issues from my end at all.

      I don'have any of these issues either. Updated on the 6s and just upgraded the hardware to the X.

    Um... those keyboard bugs have been around for a loooooong time mate. Backing out of iMessage windows is kind of what you do when you want to reply... same with the ellipsis. I was sitting next to someone last year while they were typing me a message while their phone was on the table... true story.

    And it’s an OS. Wait three to six months before upgrading... gosh!

    when Jesus was still at Gizmodo: The text alignment is off, the UI conventions are dumb, Apple doesn't pay attention to detail any more, and so on. He isn't wrong about any of these things.

    Oh... I thought he was talking about the Gizmodo website. Love when I have to horizontally scroll your articles.

    But reading this article, I can see why Jesus left: he wanted to work with people who understand tech.

      "Love when I have to horizontally scroll your articles."
      Yep the good-old CMS doesn't know how to handle really long links, or other special entities bugs that you'll often see crop up are pretty spectacular. Especially when 50% of the screen is already taken up by whitespace.

    I've recently starting using an iPhone for work after years of Android ownership.
    I thought I'd come into it with an open mind to be fair and after 6 months, I'm am less than impressed. For the price difference, I expected a far more polished experience.

      Gone are the days of a polished experience in iPhones. Those days went when Steve died and now Apple is more about making money than making a good product.

        RIP Steve, he was definitely doing something right, because it's all gone to crap now.

    I've upgraded to an X, and there's a bunch of really surprising bugs, even coming from my old phone which also had iOS 11.

    The battery indicator will randomly disappear when I'm connecting to something via bluetooth, Apple Music often forgets that I'm logged in, and a whole bunch of conversations have been assigned to the wrong contacts in Messages. This is on top of the reply box going missing in the Messages app (mostly when using the emoji keyboard) and Face ID working poorer than advertised.

    It's just a surprisingly poor update all around.

    Well I"m running a brand new 6Plus and I've found ios to be slow, buggy and frustrating
    In fact, I wish I had never upgraded to go slow IOS11
    With the huge profits Apple makes, this is a disappointment ... I've been an apple user since iPhone 4 but I'm sure Apple is going two steps backwards and one step forward .. Such a shame

    It's all our fault because we want bigger, better, faster every time no matter what the cost. Just ask the junkies who lined up to shell out loads of hard earned cash. And if we don't get what we think we have paid for we get cranky. It's a me world.

      I don't. I just want something that works. I still have a 6+ and it still works mostly just fine aside from the specific bugs of whatever latest iOS. I have no need to upgrade and I find it daunting at the thought of spending so much money when its mostly unnecessary to do so.

      I don't, which is why I made a conscious choice to buy an iPhone SE.

      Software maketh the phone, and I wish reviewers focused on the software as much as the hardware.

    Came here for the comments alone, thanks everyone :)

    I've had iPhones since the 3G in 2008. I have definitely noticed a decline in the quality of the workflow in the various native apps since around iOS 9. The Music and Podcast apps, in particular, are less and less usable to the point that, in combination with the user hostile changes to iTunes, I'm starting to think Apple is deliberately trying to push users toward 3rd party versions. But then I have to wonder why they would do it like this - why not just stop including them in the OS?

    I can only think that the people making them are clueless about how people work with software, and that makes me nervous for the future.

    My 7+ has been problematic since the upgrade, making random alert noises for no alerts etc
    Nice to have the phone back to normal.

    if i switch off bluetooth (via control dock) then i want it to stay turned off & not reactivate itself every day...

    I think we expect too much from Apple. Well, I do. My iPhone 6 was slow after iOS 11 update, to the point it was annoying to wait for StorCards to open and show FlyBuys and then open Apple Pay. The phone is 3 years old, for god sake. Decided to give Samsung another chance and got Note 8. It is a beast. It has it's own problems, but I like how competition pushes technology forward.
    I think Apple will fix a lot of problems next year and hopefully do something about interface boredom.

      Note8 is the only phone that works under water/rain/shower.
      You cannot even unlock the iPhX as the water/drops act like finger touch (no slide up)

    "Then again, back when the iPhone 4 came out and it felt like Apple could do no wrong"

    How ironic. You reference exactly, the one point in iPhone history when this exact same problem happened. iPhone 4 was released and anyone with an iPhone 3 that upgraded to the new iOS designed for iPhone 4 was left with a steaming pile of garbage. How quickly we forget.

    The keyboard issue, where the reply covers the messages, fixes for me when I tilt the phone & then tilt it back. Sorry if this was covered earlier.
    Not a fix of course but until that time, this works for me.

    iPhone 6s updated to iOS11 on first release;
    - Couldn't hear conversations when answering phone calls; had to hang up and call them back every time! (this has since been fixed in an update)
    - Bluetooth lost all my paired devices and had to re-connect them.
    - Music info no longer displays on my car system
    - Battery life is now half what it was a month ago.
    - Phone freezes randomly every day or two
    - several other bugs that I've been putting up with since iOS11 and don't come to mind

    Apple didn't solve any existing problems - battery life, durability, connectivity, useful features.
    It only introduced more problems with no real benefits, or removed existing features & introduced untested/expensive new ones. :/

      iOS 11, at best, seems to be a poorly tested cosmetic facelift.

    "I don't even want to detail every single bug or design flaw in iOS 11, because that would be both whiny and boring". I'm afraid the horse has bolted. This article appears to be both whiny and boring.

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