iOS needs a manual

CC0 Anna Demianenko from Unsplash
CC0 Anna Demianenko from Unsplash

I bought my first iPad in 2010 and have upgrade to each new iteration including the 10" iPad Pro. But after iOS 11, I sometimes feel helpless using my iPad. I think Apple needs to ship iOS with a manual. Some of my colleagues may disagree but I think the changes in iOS 11 are significant and in many ways are such a break with the previous versions of iOS, that Apple may have to consider shipping a manual with iOS devices, and may have to start doing more in-store training1 for new users.

I just tried to use Split View with one of my banking apps. Normally I would open 1Password and copy the complex password and paste into the app password field. However, this banking app won’t allow pasting of passwords and also has a “special security question” for authentication. The problem with special security questions like "Father's middle name" or "College you attended" type of questions is they are neither special nor secure. If you have a LinkedIn profile or have ever applied for a job that information or suffered a data breach2, most or all of that information is findable. For that reasons, I use made-up answers for the "special security questions". I keep track of them in 1Password. I needed 1Password open to see the app password and special security question to type into the banking app.

On iOS 9 and iOS 10 split view was enabled tapping the middle-right of the screen of the open app and swiping left to see the app-picker before selecting the second app. It wasn’t elegant — if your use a lot of apps the scrolling list was annoying — but it worked.

That no longer works on iOS 11 and there may be at least three different ways to do it. I just spent 15 minutes reading various articles — none of which were written by Apple — on how this works. The method for the iPhone differs from the method used on the iPad Pro and from the IPhone X. I was successful in using only one of the three methods for starting a split screen session. Dragging one app icon while tapping another is a gesture I have yet to use successfully.

Discovery of new iOS features is a problem and Apple's support page wasn't much help.

I think we’ve hit peak complexity. Apple added multitasking and split screen because they are marketing the iPad Pro as a productivity tool. I think a manual is required to learn about all the new features and gestures. It doesn't need to be a physical manual; an app, installed on the home screen, would suffice.

  1. Some Apple Stores are doing this already. 
  2. 143 million Americans had their names, addresses, social security numbers, mother's maiden name and other sensitive information leak out during the Equifax data breach. 


  1. Khürt,

    I don't own an iOS device, yet. I do help others with them and I'm glad that the iPad I have quick access to can't be upgraded to iOS 11. The owner would not be happy to learn it all over again with all the quirks and constant changes between iPads and iPhones.

    My Pixel 2 has split screen and there are two gestures that I'm aware of and come naturally. Drag app halfway to split, then use the capacitive button to switch apps in split or drag app again to get out of the split.

    1. Hi Susan,

      The point is .. you had to go find one because doing things was not intuitive. Having things be easy to do without a manual is the reason we give Apple money.

      "It just works."

      This is the phrase that Steve Jobs used at each Keynote presentation to describe products or services that Apple was introducing for the consumer. The phrase supposedly expressed what Apple was all about -- "selling technology that solved problems with a minimum of fuss and effort on the part of the owner."

      It's how I justified the higher cost of Apple product to myself and my family. We have an iMac, two MacBooks, four iPads, four iPhones, three Apple Airport wireless access points, and the newest 4K Apple TV. We're an Apple household. No Windows PCs.

      I am the current Vice President (and former President) of the Princeton Macintosh Users Group. You can tell I love Apple products.

      But I've had the iPad since the very first one shipped. I've never needed to go read a manual before. This is going in the wrong direction.

What do you want to say about this post?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.