Some Thoughts on iOS/iPadOS 17 and WatchOS 10

By now most people have read MacStories’ extensive review, so here are a few things that have come to mind over the past few days running the new releases on my devices (most of which are at the very bottom of the supported hardware range).

iOS 17 Annoyances

Only having one contact poster and one phone number associated with FaceTime seems… stupid. I have multiple SIM cards (and physical SIM cards at that, thankfully) in two phones, and I’d like to be able to use them properly, with a “business” poster and a “family” one. This feels like a mis-conceived feature rather than a limitation, and I would expect it to be fixed in later revisions.

Annoyingly, seems to have regressed. The automatic folder name suggestions when I tried to file an e-mail, which I have been struggling against for a couple of years and that were now finally able to divine where I wanted to move a message to, seem to have gone–so now to file e-mails I have to:

  • Tap on the folder icon
  • Around half the time, select the account I want to file them to
  • Pull down the folder list to get a search field
  • Type the name of the folder
  • Tap on it, even if it’s the only choice

That is five steps. When it guessed the folder I wanted to move files to (correctly), it was two.

I realize Apple probably expects people to just use the Archive button and search for e-mails, but that doesn’t scale up to the 20+ years of e-mail I have. Well, definitely not with iOS’s Mail search capabilities, which continue to be… effectively nil.

As to finding the right folder, there is no typeahead/fuzzy search, no history, nothing. And if you use hierarchies like Personal/2023 and Services/2023, this is a major pain.

Maybe it’s just “learning”, which means that come January 2024 I’ll start to fight it all over again after it’s figured out all the 2023 folders.

Other than that, I have noticed slightly better auto-correct (yay!) and the new AI-powered sentence autocompletion works well for me.

Plus even though my isn’t able to run Siri fully locally, dropping the “hey” trigger seems to help with responsiveness–but to be fair, Siri is still pretty useless as a personal assistant, or even as any sort of “help”, as triggering HomeKit scenes by name is still broken (“Watch TV”, which sets up the audio and inputs in my TV, is still interpreted as “what’s on TV” and pops up a search, etc.)

Thankfully, though, this is probably the first major iOS release that hasn’t broken most of my Shortcuts. This really feels like progress.

Other than these, the improvements to my daily user experience have been… slim.

iPadOS 17

First off, everything I said about Mail applies here in spades, and is even more painful because my expectations towards a device with an expansive screen and a keyboard also include some sort of keyboard commands to move messages (of which there are none).

Besides all the iPhone “parity” motions like the inclusion of the Health app (I guess getting a first-party calculator app is still an impossible dream for which Apple cannot scrounge enough engineers), the major improvement for me is that arranging windows in Stage Manager is now actually possible.

Well, within loads of limits, but it is so vastly improved that I can now actually use it to run multiple terminal windows on a 4K display without tearing the sparse remainders of my hair out.

I haven’t tested ultrawide , nor my , or my cameras and audio interfaces – if I can spare the time and patience, I’ll update this accordingly.

It still feels clunky and I wish there were better ways to move windows between sets (like , but at least now I can have a semblance of a tiled grid–although the limit of four windows feels ridiculous on an external 4K display.

Who knows, maybe they will actually look at in this space and keep improving it.

WatchOS 10

Putting aside the usual things like the lack of third-party watch faces (some apps like Windy can add custom layouts of existing watch faces, but it’s not the same thing), there were a few things I really didn’t like.

Maybe it’s Apple “moving my cheese” again or just a result of actual user feedback, but the three daily annoyances I have since upgrading were likely avoidable:

  • Changing the operation and contextual meaning of the crown and side button (it feels like change for the sake of change).
  • Changing the springboard/app launcher into a scrollable list (I relied on groupings of things and quick tapping to access often-used apps, and I had to spend a good while re-arranging them to both be on top of the list and still make logical sense).
  • Noticeably impacted battery life on my Series 5. I was starting to wake up to the watch telling me it had less than 10% charge, but now I get that warning before going to bed.

I had been considering buying a new watch this year, but the decline in battery life this week was painful. The planned obsolescence ghost is rearing its head, guys. Optimize this.

Other than that, the slide-from-bottom widget view feels like an even less useful version of the Siri watchface, except it’s now gimped to display only three widgets (why?).

Much better to just have a couple of modular watch faces configured the way you want and change to those as needed. I actually started doing this during , removing everything but timekeeping and weather from my complications and taken to Solar Dial instead of my usual Modular watch face to focus on how much daylight I have.

So, a mixed bag all around. Definitely moving forward and “improving”, just not necessarily the way I would like it to.

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