My iOS upgrade came with some downgrades

I own an iPhone of the 4S variety, so I went out and upgraded to the latest version of iOS as soon as the update was unleashed upon the Apple world. My general impression is that the latest version isn’t Earth-shattering. There’s a few tweaks that I can appreciate, like the expanded abilities of Siri and the minor refinements in the Music app and Safari. There are some things that I could really care less about, like the redesigned App Store. But why would I bother writing about those when there’s two parts of the upgrade that piss me off?

Originally, I was thrilled to hear that the new Maps app would have turn-by-turn voice directions. Sure, I had the Mapquest app to make up for the lack of said function in the Google-based iOS5 version of the app, but there were some drawbacks to that setup. Mainly, I’ve come to rely on Siri while driving (having the computer assistant just read me text messages is far safer than staring at my phone on the freeway), and Mapquest did not fall under the umbrella of Siri-enabled apps. This meant that changing destinations on the fly meant burying my face in my phone. Not a safe prospect at all.

So, the new Maps app gave me functionality that I had been wanting from the previous version, but as Apple giveth, Apple taketh away. What they took away was the in-app mass transit directions, something that I made heavy use of, and instead they direct you to a list of 3rd-party apps that could give mass transit directions. It’s an unfortunate decision by Apple since their driving reason for moving away from Google was to stop relying on a 3rd party for such a core function of a smartphone as directions and maps. Now, instead of relying on Mapquest for the missing function, I now rely on the Google Maps mobile site for the new missing function. At least I’m not driving when searching for a bus schedule.

It’s also old news, now that I searched for news related to iOS6 Maps and mass transit. Actually, the woefully inadequate new Maps app has been well documented and much discussed. Oh, well, I should have known to look.

It’s right there! The transit button! But… It’s a lie!

The surprise failure was the new “No Not Disturb” function. This was exciting, a seemingly common feature on many phones, the ability to change to a mode where only certain calls and/or alerts are allowed through, was finally coming to my iPhone. It was actually something I had used on all of my old non-smart phones in the past, when I was a substitute teacher. I would shut off all sounds except for my ringer so that any text messages in the middle of the night wouldn’t disturb my sleep, but I also wouldn’t miss those early-morning phone calls for work. Had I had this iPhone under those circumstances, I would have to go into my sound settings every night and toggle off each individual alert sound except for the ringer, then toggle them back on one by one the next morning. Nowadays I just turn the phone to silent and hope that I don’t get any late-night emergency phone calls.

But wait! Here’s the new “Do Not Disturb” mode! Not only can I silence all alerts, I can select the few phone numbers (family members, that is) that would ever call me in the middle of the night in need and allow those calls to come through. The first night after the update, I eagerly toggled the DnD setting to “on”, turned on my alarm clock app, and settled in for the night. Much to my chagrin, I was awakened half an hour before my alarm went off by an e-mail notification. The feature had completely failed to work, and after a closer look I found that it was designed to not work the way I would actually use it. For some reason, the “Do Not Disturb” function only works when the screen is locked.

What is that? A “Do Not Disturb” feature that only works when you’re not using your phone is like putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your hotel room only when you’re leaving. When I am on any other computing device, setting up a “Do Not Disturb” message on an equivalent application, like an instant messenger, it means that I can operate the computer without distractions from others online. “Do Not Disturb” means that, yes, I may very well be using my device right this very instant, but I want to be left alone. What good is a DnD feature on a computing device if it only works while you’re not using the device? Moreover, why would Apple tout such a useful function and then render it completely useless for the instances where one may need to use their iPhone without being disturbed?

Unless Apple makes a change, I must unfortunately resolve to not bother with this function. It’s a bit frustrating that they would include a feature that I feel has been missing on the iPhone, only to lock me away from the feature when I would use it most.

Surprise! Yes, you can be disturbed!

So, bravo, to Apple. They’ve done all right working to keep their products updated.And I understand their perceived need to have more control over (and thus capture more revenue and data from) such an important smart phone feature as maps and wayfinding. Like before, I’ll put up with a 3rd-party app to make up for the native map’s deficiency for the time being. As for the “Do Not Disturb” feature that only works when you’re not using your phone anyway, well, here’s me throwing up my hands in confusion. I can’t see the justification there. I just look forward to when Apple can get it together and fix these two problems they’ve created on the iPhone.

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