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Home News iOS 14 adds new customizations, but Apple should’ve fixed old flaws first

iOS 14 adds new customizations, but Apple should’ve fixed old flaws first

My mother once came to me with the Galaxy S7 Edge I’d given her as a gift, and told me her “buttons stopped working.” I tapped on her phone’s screen and, to my surprise, found her buttons had indeed stopped working. Entirely. Nothing budged, nothing launched.

Here’s the clue that solved the puzzle: She had two clocks in the menu bar, stacked on top of each other. One clock was updating. The other was stuck on 3:46.

She had snapped a screenshot of her home screen, used the screenshot as her desktop background, created extra home screen pages, and then deleted the pages that had her real app icons. The result? A blank home page with a background that looked very busy.

Many people don’t actually benefit from the ability to customize their phone.

Nobody does this on purpose. I wouldn’t have thought to come up with this even as a practical joke. I had so many questions, but as I soon realized, there’s an easy answer to all of them. It’s too easy to mess up your home screen on an Android phone.

If you are an Android expert, and you can sculpt and finesse your interface into the perfect design, I’m genuinely happy for you. I love a great Android phone and all its options. However, the majority of people don’t benefit from this ability to customize.

My mother’s phone is an extreme example, but for most users, it is far easier to screw up a home screen irreparably than it is to customize it usefully. This is a huge reason why the iPhone is so successful. Not only has it always been simple, but it’s also actually difficult — nearly impossible, in fact — to screw up.

Apple takes a bite out of customization

With iOS 14, Apple is adding more customization, and thus more complexity, to the interface of every iPhone since the 6S. There’s a lot to like in the new features, but also a bit to fear if you’re not interested in earning a postgraduate degree in home screen organization.

In the positive column, Apple is finally letting the iPhone have widgets on the home screen. Widgets are the flag-bearer for the new software, and with good reason. Apple has done a nice job implementing widgets in a way that won’t necessarily confound its users.

It’s difficult to make a mess of your screen with the iOS 14 widgets. Instead of cluttering, widgets neatly stack in a way that seems familiar. You select and move widgets just like apps, and the widget selection interface is nicely organized, not overwhelming. You can’t accidentally create widgets, or accidentally resize them. You can always delete them, just like an app. Apple maintains control — there are now just larger home screen items to be controlled.

No joke, iOS has invisible home screens

Other features are not so inviting. On iOS 14, you can hide an entire home screen page from view. Maybe you have a page filled with background apps like Google Drive and Dropbox. You don’t want to delete the apps, but you don’t need to look at them. A new checkbox on iOS 14 lets you determine which home screen pages are visible.

I shudder at the thought of explaining invisible home screen pages to a friend. How often will they hide or reveal a home screen page? Will they remember that hiding a home screen is an option when they need to reveal it? Will I? How do I move apps from a hidden home screen to my visible pages? The new customization options beg the question, and the answer is not intuitive.

This also feels 100% redundant with the new App Library feature, which specifically works as a place to hold all of your apps so they don’t have to be strewn across several home pages. As Android has done for its entire existence, you can have an app that’s installed but not constantly in view on the home screen. You can even have your iPhone to put apps straight in the App Library when you install them. Being able to also keep unnecessary duplicative app shortcuts on a home screen, and hide that home screen, is baffling.

But the inclusion of the App Library just shows that Apple faces an interface dilemma: people already have trouble keeping their phone organized, even with minimal customization options. The home screen and app layout have become so unfriendly that swiping down on the home screen and searching for an app is usually faster than remembering where you buried it. Search on iOS is fantastic, but it’s not a cure-all for interface problems.

Home screen folders are still a mess

While Apple is adding widgets, an app drawer, invisible home screen pages, and other exotic customizations, perhaps it could finally fix some basic problems as well. For example, app folders are a terrible experience. They have been for 10 generations of iOS.

You need to long-press to start the apps shaking, then time your tap and hold and drag perfectly to hit the folder target. Starting a folder from scratch by moving one app on top of another is even more difficult. It’s easier to bullseye a womp rat from a T-16 Skyhopper. The long-press timing is nearly impossible to explain. Apps careen out of the way, or jump to another page and stay there, all because you just wanted to make a folder. And once you get past nine apps in a folder, now you have pages inside of a folder? Goodness.

Folders are a feature that has been part of every graphical user interface since the original Apple Macintosh. Apple practically invented the concept. On the iPhone, it’s an utter failure. At least with the App Library, it’s experimenting with new folder designs, automatically grouping and highlighting apps based on category and usage. Maybe it’s onto something there.

We need an ‘undo’ button for customization

At the very least, we need an “undo” button for customization options. If Microsoft Word can undo every letter and formatting move I’ve made in the last eight hours, certainly my iPhone can put that widget back where it was before, or move those apps back if I didn’t mean to put them there when I was just trying to make a folder. You can already perform a complete clean-slate reset of the home screen layout in the settings, but we need something more delicate than this nuclear option.

The iPhone interface should become more simple, not more complicated. Users who are in search of customization will find those options easily; the phone shouldn’t be so easy to customize that others do it accidentally. As smartphones evolve, we desperately need that undo button for any and all home screen actions, and we need it immediately with the next major iOS update. If Apple can’t deliver a simple option to fix mistakes, then it needs to pause this entire customization concept.


Simplisafe Video Doorbell Pro review

DIY security is a hot topic item in the tech space these days. One of the companies that have been at the forefront of that movement has been Simplisafe. The company prides itself on the complete system you can set up in minutes and has recently added the Video Doorbell Pro to its lineup.Simplisafe was kind enough to send me the new Video Doorbell Pro for the last few weeks and I’m going to share my experience with this full review.DesignThe Simplisafe Doorbell Pro doesn’t set the world ablaze with a radical design. But that’s OK, and honestly, there’s only so much you can do here. You get an elongated rectangular device with rounded edges that immediately reminds you of well… a doorbell.At the top, you have a camera capable of 1080p HD recording with a 162-degree field of view. The lens has pan and zoom to help capture this wider viewing angle. Just below that is a motion sensor with IR night vision as well.The small pinhole towards the middle is a two-way microphone. This allows you to have a conversation with anyone that comes to the door even when not at home. This has already come in handy for me to “sign” for a package that arrived while I wasn’t in the house.The bottom of the Simplisafe Doorbell Pro is, well… the doorbell. This a large chrome button surrounded by an LED ring. This ring illuminates when pressed and the press of the button rings your existing bell while immediately initiating an app notification.Setup and the appThe setup of the Simplisafe Video Doorbell Pro is pretty painless. You have start with safety. Find your appropriate breaker to cut power to your existing doorbell. You will then remove the mounting screws of your current system.After destruction has taken place we can now move forward with our new fancy gadget Doorbell Pro. I’d suggest using the back bracket with the new power terminal to make sure your existing screw holes match the alignment. Mine was slightly different and I had to make an alternative pilot drill hole for the top screw.Then, you need to run the two wires from your old bell through the keyhole-shaped opening. These will need to go up, and behind, the terminal screws to then be secured with a Philips head screwdriver. Now use the included mounting screws to secure to your exterior wall at the top and bottom of the Simplisafte Doorbell bracket.One more note, if you have a doorbell currently installed in a corner or uneven surface like siding, don’t worry. Simplisafe thought about these scenarios and includes a wedge in the box to mount at an angle to give you a more stable view. I personally didn’t have to use this accessory but it’s nice to see it in the box.Once the Simplisafe Vido Doorbell Pro is secured, you then take the outside casing and slide it over the base, and press down to snap into place. Now, you should restore power and test the unit.If successful, you should give your Doorbell around 90 seconds to properly power up. Then you can test to make sure your doorbell chime works when pressing the large, silver button on the Simplisafe. If you chime works as intended you can secured the base and front plate as the final hardware step with the include super-tiny hex screw in the packaging into the very bottom of the Doorbell Pro.Completing the setup and connecting to your Simplisafe system is all handled through the app. Here you’ll go through the normal steps of a connected device: add a camera, enter your WiFi credentials, and give it a name or location.But my favorite part of this is Simplisafe uses the Doorbell Pro’s camera to scan a QR code on your phone to link it to your app. This is a nice feature to both verify the account information and whether the Doorbell’s video system works. 1 of 9 The app experience is pretty comparable to most video apps after setup. You get a dedicated tab at the bottom of the Simplisafe app along with the last history preview at the bottom of your Overview main page.Notifications are also fairly normal. When the Simplisafe Video Doorbell Pro detects movement, it starts recording and sends an instant notification to your devices via the app. You then are dropped directly into the live video feed by tapping the notification.I did have a complaint and one hiccup while using the app. First, I think any Android app revolving around video should offer a thumbnail view in the notification. It’s a quick, glanceable way to see just how important the need is at the door. Is it my normal Amazon package that can wait or is my mom standing in the rain waiting for me to let her inside?And that leads to my main issue. Simplisafe either has a connection issue in tunneling the app to the live stream, or the WiFi radio is very inconsistent. About every 8th time I try to open a notification or manually check the live video I get the below message.I’ll close this section of the review on the positive that you don’t have to be a Simplisafe subscriber to use the Video Doorbell Pro. The device and app can both be used without an existing Simplisafe security system or monitoring plan.ConclusionDespite a couple of hiccups, I’m impressed with the video quality, app notifications, and ease of setup with the Simplisafe Video Doorbell Pro. The quality is as good if not better than other security cameras I currently have installed.If you are already a Simplisafe customer, then this is the doorbell camera for you. I can’t imagine adding another app and ecosystem with better results. And you can opt into if something triggers your alarm to allow the monitoring system to confirm a physical threat via the video feed.Even if you’re not a Simplisafe user, I think the Video Doorbell Plus warrants a look. At $170 it’s competitively priced with similar options. Add that to a quick installation process, and good looking device and Simplisafe has a winner with the Video Doorbell Plus.

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