By Dan Moren
February 12, 2015 9:21 AM PT
Wish List: More Control Center
Note: This story has not been updated for several years.
One feature that came up repeatedly in comments about last week’s Wish List item was Control Center. First introduced in iOS 7, Control Center was a welcome improvement to dealing with a number of common functions: enabling and disabling Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Do Not Disturb; adjusting volume and brightness; and quick launching of apps. But we’re never happy with what we have–hey, that’s the whole premise of this column!–and readers weren’t shy about letting me know via Twitter and email how Control Center could still be improved.
Wi-Fi Networks: This was the suggestion that spawned this week’s column, given the topic of my previous Wish List. Being able to turn Wi-Fi on and off without having to take a trip to the Settings app is great. But what would be better, several readers suggested concurrently, would be the ability to select a specific Wi-Fi network right from Control Center. Tapping and holding on the icon could present a choice of the strongest networks detected, and let you switch on the fly.
As someone who often finds that he’s ended up on the wrong network, or that a given network isn’t working up to par, I give this feature a big old emoji thumbs up (ðŸ‘). Admittedly, it makes Control Center’s UI a bit more convoluted, but as the AirPlay and AirDrop items already provide pop-up menus, it’s hardly unprecedented.1
Bluetooth Devices: Perhaps no technology frustrates me as much as Bluetooth. Egads, the pairing, the unpairing, the connecting, the disconnecting.2 Ugh. Having access to paired Bluetooth devices via a similar press-and-hold feature would be a great improvement, since it otherwise requires a lengthy trip into the Settings app.
Custom Quick Launch: Okay, you may want to watch the skies for flying pigs if this one ever materializes, but the ability to choose which apps or features make their way into the quick launch section at the bottom of Control Center would be great. In the same way that we can customize our iOS device’s Dock, it would be fantastic if we could, say, swap PCalc in for Calculator. Granted, there are security concerns here, since Control Center is available from the lock screen. If, for example, you put your mail app into Quick Launch you need to make sure that people aren’t going to be able to pick up your phone and access your account without having to provide some form of authentication.
A few third-party apps have tried to add Today widgets with this sort of launcher feature, but Apple has put the kibosh on those–and as of yet there’s been no reversal on those decisions, as in other cases of widget rejection.3 I get that the company likes to control the experience and ensure security, but this is another place where customization could make a big deal in the lives of power users without necessarily impacting your average iOS device owner.
Other: There are undoubtedly a few other places that Control Center could be improved. Overall, a modular system, Ã la the customizability of some of the Apple Watch faces would be a very welcome improvement, and way to bring a little more control to Control Center.
- Two different styles of pop-up menus, to boot. On the iPhone, AirPlay’s pop-up is a sheet that takes up the entire screen while AirDrop uses a multiple-button style of pop-up menu. ↩
- It boggles my mind that iOS does not let me disconnect from a Bluetooth device. If I want to use my Bluetooth speaker with another device, I have to either “Forget” it, or turn off Bluetooth altogether. My Mac, on the other hand, simply lets me disconnect from that device–via the Bluetooth menu bar item no less!–without then having to re-pair it later. What gives, iOS? ↩
- Do you suffer from widget rejection? Consult your physician today! ↩
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]
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