Gray area: Apple changes the definition of ‘on’ and ‘off’ in iOS 11

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Date: Wednesday, October 4th, 2017, 03:29
Category: iOS, iPhone, Wi-Fi, wireless
Gray area: Are they on or are they off?

Gray area: Are they on or are they off?

During the iOS 11 beta I noticed a strange bug: I’d turn off Wi–Fi in Control Center and it would turn itself back on. After doing this multiple times, I filed a bug. Turns out that it wasn’t a bug, it was working as intended.

This is problem for me because I turn Wi–Fi off when I leave the office so that my iPhone won’t try to connect to the building’s Wi–Fi (or that of a passing Google bus). When your iPhone can’t connect reliably to Wi-Fi, it leaves the device in a state of limbo and data packets stop flowing.

When I leave the office I flip up Control Center and turn off Wi–Fi. When my iPhone would inevitably stop receiving data, I’d check Wi–Fi and notice that it had been turned back on. It’s Wi–Fi disobedience, essentially.

Rather than giving us a feature that many have requested (3D Touch the Wi–Fi icon and select from available networks) Apple nerfed the feature and made it worse.

Who asked for this “feature” anyway?

It’s so backward that Apple had to publish a help center article explaining how “on” and “off” now work. It notes that after your turn them “off” both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth “will continue to be available” so you can use “important features” like AirDrop, AirPlay.

That’s just dumb.

Most people know that turning radios off will disable certain features. The only logical conclusion from this design decision is that Apple thinks that, a) we’re too dumb to know that turning radios off will disable features, or b) it knows more about what we want than we do.

When Control Center was launched in 2013 (as part of iOS 7) I suggested that Apple should allow us to press and hold (later 3D Touch) the Wi–Fi icon to select another network, rather than just turn it on and off.

Long pressing to change Wi-Fi networks seems ideally suited for 3D Touch (the same goes for Bluetooth), but Apple inexplicably turned a deaf ear to users. Four years after the debut of Control Center Apple didn’t make a basic feature incrementally better, opting instead to make it worse.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Apple made iOS less secure in the process. There are times when you should turn off Bluetooth for security reasons, but Apple will silently turn it back on instead.

To completely shut off theWi-Fi and Bluetooth radios you must open the Settings app and flip the switches off manually.

It’s hard to make generalizations about Apple based on its sloppy, dangerous and user–hostile Wi-Fi and Bluetooth implementation, but damn, what were they thinking?

If you agree, send feedback to Apple. If you’re a developer, file a bug. If you think that it’s a smart move, please enlighten us in the comments.

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