iPhone Bugs

The iPhone is probably the single greatest, coolest, most useful product I’ve ever owned.  But it’s not perfect, and here are the things that are bugging me most about it.

Maps application has no scale bar.  This is just retarded and inexcusable.  Why in the world would they not put a scale bar on the map?  If you want to know approximately how far apart 2 points are, too bad.  The only way to determine that is to create driving directions between the 2 points, but 90% of the times when I use the map, I’m not using the directions feature.

The iPod has no elapsed time/percentage indicator.  You simply have no way to know how far into a track you are, and no way to seek within a track, all of which is especially bad for podcasts, which are often an hour long. UPDATE: if you tap on the album art while a song/podcast is playing, an elapsed-time bar appears.  I’m glad to have found this, but it should definitely be done more like the controls in the Photos app: they should be displayed by default, and then fade away automatically, so you know they’re there if you need them.

iPhone fails to revert to EDGE when WiFi is not responding.  If you’re connected to a WiFi router, and that router’s internet uplink fails for some reason, the iPhone is no longer able to communicate on the internet.  It should then automatically revert to the EDGE connection at that point, but it doesn’t, because its connection to the WiFi router is still fine.  But of course that connection to the router is useless if the router itself can’t connect upstream to the internet.  For a few weeks I was having trouble with my cable internet connection -- something not uncommon with residential connections -- and the only way to get iPhone to communicate was to manually disable its WiFi to force it to use EDGE instead.

Some applications don’t rotate.  One of the great features of the iPhone is that if you turn it on its side, the whole screen automatically switches from portrait-mode to landscape-mode, and vice-versa.  But this doesn’t happen in all applications; it happens in Safari (the web browser), but not in the maps app nor the mail app, for example, despite the fact that it would be just as useful there.  And even in Safari, it won’t rotate while the on-screen keyboard is displayed.

Yahoo! weather sucks.  The iPhone’s built-in weather app is gorgeous and very useful, but when you want more details on the forecast, the link within the weather app goes to Yahoo weather, and that’s not customizable.  And the Yahoo weather web page is just sucky -- it shows basically no more information than the iPhone’s weather app itself: just an icon and the high/low temperatures.  For example, on one recent day Yahoo’s weather web page showed nothing but a giant black raining storm cloud -- the same thing the weather app showed -- whereas weather.com had much more detail: it said there was a 30% chance of scattered storms.

The keyboard’s auto-correct feature is annoying and counter-intuitive.  While typing a word, the iPhone is constantly trying to guess what word you mean -- even when you’re not misspelling anything -- and it displays its best guess on the screen in a small bubble just below the word you’re actually typing.  Fine so far.  But to accept the iPhone’s suggestion, you don’t tap the suggestion itself -- the word in the bubble -- instead you tap the spacebar.  Tapping the word in the bubble dismisses it, canceling the suggestion.  The word in the bubble does have a small "x" at the end of it, but come on; if that’s not counter-intuitive, then what is?  Tapping the word should accept it, not dismiss it.  One case where this really bugs me is when I’m trying to type "NJ": the iPhone suggests "hi" as the correction for this, and when I hit the spacebar -- because "J" is the last letter in the word -- iPhone then changes my "NJ" to "hi".  Completely retarded.

The phone silences incoming audio without warning when the battery gets low.  Specifically, when the battery gets down to 20% remaining and you’re on a phone call, the incoming audio suddenly goes silent, until you hit the "Dismiss" button that has popped up on the screen; but there was no audible indication that you needed to interrupt your phone call and look at the screen, so you assume that the call was just dropped.  When you’re on a phone call, you’re not using the screen, so why in the world would the low battery warning come up as a visual alert instead of an audible one?

Battery life indicator gets stuck at "full".  Occasionally, the battery indicator will get stuck at "full" and stay there for days until the phone dies, with no warning.  You have to power the iPhone off (hold down the home and sleep buttons) and then back on to cause the battery indicator to show its real status.

Inconsistent or missing Home/End functions.  In Safari, you can tap the top of the screen to auto-scroll to the top of the web page.  But tapping the bottom of the screen doesn’t auto-scroll to the bottom of the page.  And in the mail app, both the top and bottom auto-scroll functions are missing.

No real cache in Safari.  When using the back button, the previous page loads just as slowly as it did the first time.

iTunes fails to monitor media folder for new files.  Not an iPhone bug, but related: iTunes does not monitor your music/video folder for new files that you’ve copied in or files that you’ve deleted.  I guess the idea is that you shouldn’t be adding or deleting any files except through iTunes itself, but that’s just stupid.  There are plenty of cases where you’d want to add media from other sources, for example in my case my media is managed on my Linux system, and I only copy it to my Mac so that my iPhone can have it.  Anyway, in iTunes, you can click File > Add to Library and re-select your media folder to cause iTunes to re-scan it, which will make it pick up any new additions, but this is a pain (takes 15 minutes with my ~7000 file collection; iTunes has to re-do all the album art, etc) and it doesn’t automatically remove deleted files -- you still need to go through iTunes and do that manually.

UPDATE (20070823): Bookmarks management in Safari is very buggy.  Upon clicking the Edit button, some bookmarks are draggable, but others aren’t.  You can’t drop bookmarks into folders.  And if you try to rearrange too many bookmarks within a short period (say, 5 within 30 seconds), the display gets all messed up, some go missing, some get doubled, etc.

UPDATE (20070825): iPhone sometimes fails to sync with iPhoto.  Not sure if this is an iPhone bug or an iPhoto bug, but sometimes when you connect the iPhone to your Mac, iPhoto just won’t recognize it, no matter what you do (reboot, restart iPhoto, reboot the iPhone, etc).  This wouldn’t be a huge problem if there were a "Sync with iPhone" button in iPhoto, but there isn’t, so you simply have no way to get your photos from your iPhone to your computer.  The only workaround I’ve found is to take a new photo with the iPhone, then reconnect it to the computer; this seems to force iPhoto to recognize the iPhone (even though I already had a bunch of new photos on the iPhone that iPhoto didn’t yet have).

All of these are software issues, so this bug list is also my iPhone wishlist: here’s hoping that one of the next software updates will fix some or all of them.  And despite these issues, some of them very frustrating, I’d buy the iPhone again in a heartbeat.

Posted by Anthony on 2 replies


01. Aug 22, 2007 at 11:44am by Mike:

OK, so here’s a question.  I just recently finally broke down and bought an iPod (yeah, I know I’m waaaay behind the times), and although I love it overall, one of the few things that drives me nuts is how easily it scratches and collects finger prints.  How does that work with the iPhone since you pretty much have to be touching the screen all the time.  Is it a different surface or do you just have to deal with it like you do with the iPod?

02. Aug 22, 2007 at 03:30pm by Anthony:

Quoting Mike:

how easily it scratches and collects finger prints.  How does that work with the iPhone since you pretty much have to be touching the screen all the time.  Is it a different surface

The back of the iPhone is brushed metal, not polished metal as on the video iPod, so the back of it doesn’t get fingerprinty at all.  The front of the iPhone is some kind of special super-tough glass; it is a fingerprint and face-grease magnet, but I don’t think it’s quite as bad as the metal back of the video iPod.  And you don’t really notice the fingerprints when the screen is on because the screen is so bright.  To clean it, you just rub it across your shirt or pant-leg, and it’s good as new.

As far as scratching, some dude made a video of himself abusing the screen with a Microtech knife (which you’ll recall from the limo scene in 24 Season 1) and it comes out scratch-free.  In the Ars iPhone Review they put it into a zip-lock with keys and rocks and shook it around for 10 minutes, and it came out with just a single tiny scratch.  They had to skid it down the sidewalk face-down to do any considerable damage to the screen.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, mine doesn’t have any scratches so far.

Quoting Mike:

I just recently finally broke down and bought an iPod (yeah, I know I’m waaaay behind the times)

That reminds me: one of the things I wanted to mention before was that I’ve never owned an iPod either.  I didn’t even have any sort of MP3 player or other portable audio player until just last year, when I bought a 1 GB Creative Zen Nano, to use while jogging.  So while I do love gadgets and technology and all of that, I really almost never buy any of it; heck, up till last year I was also still running a Pentium III 850 MHz system from the year ~2000.  So the iPhone was a highly unusual purchase for me.

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