iOS Requirements

I am a fan of iOS® 7, despite the many criticisms that have been leveled against its flattened, minimal interface. I am also a fan of the built-in apps: while I’ve read reviews of third-party apps that supposedly put the built-in apps to shame, most do not sync with iCloud®, many do not have OS X counterparts, and some notable third-party cloud-based apps have been hacked. I trust only iCloud with my data, eschewing third-party apps that employ their own cloud servers. Therefore, I make do with the built-in apps and iCloud on my iPhone® 5.

The built-in iOS apps, like those bundled with OS X, meet the most basic functionality for their intended use. Nevertheless, the experienced Mac user will find the bundled iOS apps lack important features of their OS X counterparts. While I do not miss skeuomorphism, I do miss features that make the bundled OS X apps so useful in daily life. If iOS is essentially a slimmed-down version of OS X with a Multi-Touch™ interface, more of the functionality in the OS X apps should appear in their iOS counterparts.

Furthermore, while I have found iOS to be eminently stable, I occasionally encounter minor bugs that, while easily circumvented, are nonetheless annoying.

This FAQ discusses the author’s iOS requirements in two areas: feature requests and bugs requiring rectification. The topics are in alphabetical order and cover the blocked calls list, Calendar, Dictation, Notes, Notification Center, Photos, Reminders, Safari®, Siri®, and Spotlight®. If you share these requirements, please submit feedback to Apple.

Blocked calls list

To approximate call blocking in iOS 6, I created an Ignore This Call contact with a special ring tone. Calls I no longer wished to answer were added to Ignore This Call.

When iOS 7 introduced call blocking (Settings > Phone > Blocked), I blocked this contact and its associated telephone numbers were added to the blocked calls list. The problem: adding new numbers to a contact you have blocked does not result in the new numbers being blocked.

My wife e-mailed to me some telephone numbers she had recently blocked on her iPhone 5c, but one cannot add a number to the blocked call list by typing or copying-and-pasting: the number to block must be assigned to a contact or be a call in the Recents list that one has received. I added these numbers to my Ignore This Call contact thinking — since the contact was blocked — new numbers added to it would also be blocked. Unfortunately, the new numbers did not appear in blocked calls list. To get around this, I had to:

  1. Unblock every number from the Ignore This Call contact in the blocked calls list.
  2. Block the updated Ignore This Call contact.
iOS needs a way of simply typing a number into the blocked calls list. Tapping Add New… in Blocked settings brings up a Contacts view — with no way to create a new contact — rather than letting you type a number to block.


I appreciate that iOS 7.1 made list view obvious by reinstating its button and restored list view to the monthly view. Nevertheless, iOS Calendar lacks useful OS X Calendar features, specifically custom settings for repeating events and multiple date picker controls. Furthermore, iOS should permit customization of regional formats, such as date formats.

In iOS Calendar, repeating events can only be scheduled at the fixed intervals of Never, Every Day, Every Week, Every 2 Weeks, Every Month, or Every Year. Furthermore, one cannot specify that an event should repeat for a specific number of times: only a specific date can be set on which repetition ceases. For example, if you are scheduling a weekly event for a new TV series where you know the start date and the number of episodes, but not the end date, you cannot specify that the event repeats for a specific number of weeks in iOS Calendar. Instead you must:

  1. Save the event you are editing.
  2. Navigate to the monthly or annual view of the calendar and count the number of weeks from the start date to find the end date.
  3. Remember the end date.
  4. Return to the event you were editing, tap Edit, and enter the end date via the date picker scroll wheels.

The iOS Calendar needs custom settings for repeating events — both their start and end dates — ala OS X Calendar.

iOS clearly handles custom schedules under the covers: Calendar events I’ve scheduled with custom repeat intervals on my Mac display such when viewed under iOS, but I cannot set up such events on my iPhone. Furthermore, custom repeat intervals defined on the Mac cannot be modified on the iPhone. These limitations need to be addressed.

The iOS date picker control should not be the exclusive control for specifying dates in iOS. This leads to another issue: to set an appointment months in the future, you must navigate to that date before you can add the appointment. It would be much easier to simply tap + to add an appointment from any calendar view and be able to change the default start and end dates with an OS X-style date picker and a numeric keypad. The following screen shots show the iOS date picker control and two examples of OS X date pickers:

iOS Date Picker iOS date picker
OS X date picker OS X date picker
OS X graphical date picker OS X graphical date picker

Finally, I prefer military date and time formats. While iOS permits 24-hour time, I cannot see or specify Calendar dates in YYYY-MM-DD (2014.05.15) or Day Month Year (15 May 2014) formats because one cannot customize the Region Format in Settings > General > International as one can in the Advanced settings of OS X Language & Region preferences. iOS should permit customization of regional formats, ala OS X.


I use Dictation heavily with the iOS Messages, Notes, and Safari apps; a draft of this FAQ was dictated in Notes on my iPhone. While Dictation is generally accurate, its interpretations can be mercurially Dadaist. Dictation needs a function for correcting interpretation errors akin to that in Siri.

Sometimes Dictation becomes unavailable in an app after it has worked in another app: one must close the app in which Dictation is malfunctioning, then reopen that app for Dictation to work. This appears to be a bug, one that occurs in Safari more than other apps. For example, after using Dictation many times in Safari and Messages, switching to one of these apps — usually Safari — results in the microphone icon in the keyboard appearing unavailable (greyed out), requiring that I quit and reopen Safari to restore Dictation.


I am an avid Notes user, both on iOS and OS X: at the time of this writing, I have roughly 260 notes. I have three requirements for iOS Notes:

First, there should be a preference for choosing the background color when creating a note: the white can be glaring. While OS X Notes uses a more subtle color scheme, it too lacks a preference for setting the background color.

Second, attachments appended to OS X Notes should appear in iOS Notes. At present, an image inserted in a note in OS X Notes appears as a paper clip in iOS Notes; tapping the paper clip does nothing.

Third, Notes should support adding rich text highlighting to text, similar to iOS Mail. While rich text — bold, italic, underline — is supported in OS X Notes and these highlights appear in such notes on iOS, one cannot add rich text highlights to notes in iOS.

One potential synchronization bug I have noticed is that sometimes a note appears twice in iOS Notes when it appears only once in OS X Notes. The two iOS notes are identical. Deleting one of the duplicates in iOS Notes does not seem to delete the one copy in OS X Notes, but I prophylactically copy all the text of the duplicate I plan to delete before deleting it in iOS Notes. iCloud synchronization of Notes should be flawless.

As an aside, OS X Notes should support the ability to export multiple notes simultaneously as rich text (.rtf or .rtfd) files. Currently, OS X Notes only supports exporting notes one-at-a-time in PDF format.

Notification Center

One should not have to enabled Location Services for weather information to appear in Notification Center. In iOS 6, including Weather in Notification Center displayed the weather information from the active location in the Weather app. A good solution would be to implement the iOS 6 approach if Location Services are disabled.

As detailed in the section below on Reminders, including Reminders in Notification center occasionally results in a bug where reminders marked completed are not removed from the list of today's reminders Notification Center. This may be an inter-app communication bug between Notification Center and Reminders.


The Photos app would benefit from a basic ability to find its files by file name and other metadata.

I manage my photos and home videos manually on my Mac: new images and videos are moved to a New Images folder via Image Capture, I assign appropriate names to each file, perform any required editing, move the finished files to specific folders for permanent storage, and finally sync a subset of those folders to my iPhone via iTunes®. This may seem tedious, but for someone who creates only a couple of hundred photos or videos annually, it’s simpler and offers more control than dealing with a the complexities of a photo management app like iPhoto®.

The iOS Photos app cries out for the ability to find photos and home videos by file name. iOS users should not have to purchase an app to search their photos and home videos by name. The Collections and Moments views are no substitute because I can often remember key words in the file name more readily than its date.

The absence of a search function is a common complaint with the Photos app. It appears that syncing photos and home videos from the Mac to iOS Photos removes or hides the file names. This may explain why photos files shared with Mail arrive with generic file names, e.g. photo.JPG .

Managing photos and home videos is one area where I considered third-party apps, but iOS sandboxing means transferring files between one’s Mac and a third-party iOS app requires convoluted procedures that can’t match the simplicity of syncing folders with iTunes.


I rely on Reminders: I have seven daily reminders, several weekly reminders, and a number of annual reminders, all in their own Reminders lists. Like iOS Calendar, iOS Reminders lacks custom scheduling options. It also lacks the ability to remove completed reminders in bulk, the interface can be twitchy, and it occasionally exhibits an inter-app communications issue in Notification Center.

In iOS 7, Reminders was redesigned to look like Passbook® and lost helpful features. Gone is the horizontal calendar at the bottom for scrubbing through future reminders by date and for setting a reminder on a specific date. Now one taps the Clock icon — only available when viewing all Reminders lists — to see a card listing all scheduled reminders, including today's reminders. Furthermore, one cannot set a Reminder far in the future without extensively scrolling the date picker, another reason to bring OS X date pickers to iOS.

As with Calendar, you cannot schedule repeating reminders at other than the fixed intervals available in Calendar. For example, our cat receives a specific medication every three days; I had to set up a repeating Calendar event on my Mac for this event because both the iOS Reminders and Calendar apps lack custom scheduling options. To be fair, OS X Reminders also lacks this capability.

The bottom line is that iOS and OS X Reminders need the ability to set custom repeat intervals as one can in OS X Calendar.

iOS Reminders also needs a setting for deleting completed reminders after a specified time, e.g. a week, a month, etc. You cannot remove completed reminders in bulk: they must be deleted individually. Furthermore, completed reminders never expire, resulting in a long delay after taping Show Completed in a Reminders list, especially when viewing all scheduled reminders. If you have several daily reminders, the number of completed reminders grows quickly over a period of weeks or months, increasing the response time after tapping Show Completed. When I’m working with a one-off list in Reminders, such as a shopping list, I delete completed items instead marking them complete to avoid adding to the completed-items detritus.

The most efficient way to delete all completed reminders is to use the OS X Reminders app:

  1. Open Reminders, which is in the Applications folder.
  2. Select the Completed list in the sidebar. If the sidebar is hidden, press the Command-Option-S keyboard shortcut or choose View > Show Sidebar to display the sidebar.
  3. Select one reminder in the Completed list.
  4. Press the Command-A keyboard shortcut to select all completed reminders.
  5. Press the Delete key. All completed reminders are removed from the list.
  6. Quit (Command-Q) Reminders.

If you delete a large number of completed reminders on your Mac, there may be a delay before their removal is fully synchronized with your iPhone via iCloud.

The Reminders interface can be twitchy: opening Reminders usually results in focus jumping to the bottom list, whereas my most important Reminders lists are at the top. The interface sometimes suffers from what can be best described as "stuttering": a lack of smoothness when scrolling the list of Reminders lists that appears to worsen with additional lists.

If you add Reminders to Notification Center, you may notice the following anomaly. One marks a reminder completed by tapping its circular checkbox: a solid circle appears within the circular checkbox noting completion, then the reminder is removed from the list of today's reminders in Notification Center and becomes a completed item in the Reminders app. Sometimes this does not work: the reminder indicates it has been marked complete, but remains in the list. If you close, then reopen Notification Center, the reminder remains in the list in an incomplete state, i.e. the solid circle is missing from the circular checkbox. Again marking the reminder completed results in its removal from the list. This is probably a bug, perhaps an inter-app communication issue between Notification Center and Reminders.


Safari on iOS should support Safari Extensions, ala OS X.


While Siri can enable or disable some iPhone functions by voice command, such as Bluetooth, Siri cannot turn the Flashlight on or off. Siri should be able to control the Flashlight by voice command.


Spotlight on iOS needs to be able to search for the following items:

  • Safari bookmarks: One has to open Safari to search for a bookmark. On OS X, matching Safari bookmarks are included in search results if Webpages is selected in the Search Results tab of Spotlight preferences.
  • Photos and videos in the Photos app: As noted above in the discussion of the Photos app, all of my photos and home videos have proper file names assigned on my Mac. Syncing these items with iOS Photos removes or hides the file names, hence they cannot be searched with Spotlight. The Spotlight Videos search option in iOS only applies to videos purchased from the iTunes store.
Did you find this FAQ helpful? You will find a wealth of additional advice for preventing or resolving Mac OS X problems in Dr. Smoke's book, Troubleshooting Mac® OS X.
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