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Five annoying things about iOS 5

There's a lot to like about Apple's new iDevice operating system, but it's definitely not perfect. These five quirks can be downright maddening.

If you don't want to back up virtually every app installed on your iDevice, you'll have to disable each one--manually.
If you don't want to back up virtually every app installed on your iDevice, you'll have to disable each one--manually.
Screenshot by Rick Broida

My iOS 5 upgrade went pretty smoothly, though it took the better part of two hours and left me scratching my head about a lot of things. (One of them is iCloud, but thankfully Apple now has a brief guide to iCloud setup and operation.)

Indeed, while I'm overjoyed with Reminders and loving Safari's new Reading List, I'm really perturbed by some of the new operating system's quirks and limitations. Here's my list of the five most annoying things about iOS 5.

1. Photos can't be deleted from Photo Stream

On the surface, Photo Stream is cool. Any snapshots I take on, say, my iPhone automatically get pushed to, say, my iPad. But guess what? You can't pick and choose which photos make it into your Stream--once the feature is enabled, it's all or nothing. (All new photos, that is; it doesn't pick up existing ones.)

Even worse, you can't remove a photo once it's been added. Even if I delete the pic from my iPhone Camera Roll, it remains in Photo Stream! The only way out, so to speak, is if it gets pushed out by newer snapshots (Apple stores your most recent 1,000 photos) or 30 days go by (that's how long each photo remains live). Alternately, you can turn off Photo Stream, which deletes all the photos. This is kind of a deal-breaker for me; I won't be using Photo Stream until Apple remedies this.

2. Wi-Fi Sync requires power

I've been waiting for Wi-Fi syncing ever since I experienced the feature on my Microsoft Zune. Apple's implementation works well enough--but only if your iDevice is connected to a power source. That means I either have to find my AC adapter (and tether myself to it), or connect my iPhone/iPad to the sync cable I use with my PC--which entirely defeats the purpose of wireless syncing!

Update: My bad. You do not need a power source to sync over Wi-Fi. Rather, automatic syncing happens when there's a power connection. I misread the description in the iOS 5 settings. What's more, Wi-Fi syncing wasn't working for me until I enabled it in iTunes.

Actually, it's nice that Wi-Fi syncing works in the background, meaning you can continue using your iDevice while it does its thing, but the power requirement is just plain annoying.

2. You can't put the Newsstand app inside a folder

What's that about, Apple? I may use Newsstand a bit on my iPad, but on my iPhone, I want to stick it inside my "Junk" folder, along with the smattering of other built-in apps I rarely use. Can't!

3. iCloud app management is a huge pain

iCloud comes with 5GB of free backup storage for your photos, documents, accounts, settings, and app data. Right from the get-go, my iPhone 4 had more data than would fit, so I ventured into the storage settings (Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Manage Storage > This Phone) and discovered something kooky: iCloud wants to back up data for nearly every app on my phone. Like, Cooking Mama and Flixster and Songify.

Um, thanks, but no, I don't need to waste 9.5MB of iCloud storage on my kids' Cooking Mama scores. Or 57MB on whatever USA Today wants to back up. Or 230MB on my Audible books, which I can easily download again if I need to.

The problem is, you have to manually deselect all the apps you don't want to backup--an agonizingly slow process, because you have to confirm the "deletion" of each one. There must be a better way.

4. Marking e-mail "unread" now takes two taps

As someone who uses his inbox as a kind of to-do list, I like being able to mark an e-mail as unread by tapping "Mark as unread." In iOS 5, that option has been replaced by "Mark," which opens a box with two choices: "Flag" and "Mark as Unread." That's one extra step, one extra tap, for what used to be a simple operation.

Make no mistake, I like the new Flag option. But without some way to filter e-mail so that only flagged messages are shown, or to group all flagged messages at the top, it's not too useful.

5. Notification Center has no off switch

I usually read an e-book before bed, so my iPhone tends to spend the night on my nightstand. With iOS 4, I could set all notifications to off so I wouldn't be disturbed, but iOS 5 has no such option; you can only disable notifications for individual apps. Apple needs to let me turn off notifications during designated times.

In the end, I think that with iOS 5, Apple has sacrificed some of its vaunted simplicity. There are some great features here, no question, but I suspect a lot of users will find themselves yearning for instruction manuals that don't exist.

Is there anything about iOS 5 that's bugging you? Any changes or additions that you find confusing or unwanted? Share your gripes in the comments!