back to article iPhone 4S: Our *hit list

Apple's new phone, and OS, is out and positively reviewed by our colleagues at Reg Hardware, but we're also hearing about some less-popular features and omissions worthy of attention. It's only been on the market a few days, but the new tracking feature of iOS 5 has already broken up one marriage, and threatens friendships of …


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  1. The Bit Wrangler


    "Using multiple antennas is common practice these days"

    Expect a patent and much litigation from Apple to ensue...

    1. Hardcastle the ancient
      Big Brother

      Downvotes? Is an Apple PR person predating the forums again?

      1. James Hughes 1

        One would have hoped

        That a joke icon would have spared the OP from downvotes, but it appears that Apple Fans have had their sense of humour removed.

        1. Blank Reg

          Then maybe they shouldn't have stored it in the cache :)

  2. Robert E A Harvey
    Thumb Down


    The cache/cloud storage problem could be saved by using the SD memory card slot. Oh, hang on...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I havn't managed to fill my 32GB and tehre's a lot of stuff on it, and the 4s comes with 64GB

      1. bluesxman

        Well obviously your use case applies to all users everywhere.

        And no one will ever need more than 640KB of RAM, right?

      2. Eponymous Bastard


        Fine, but you can only access it via shitunes. FAIL!

        1. Ammaross Danan

          In addition...

          "Fine, but you can only access it via shitunes. FAIL!"

          Perhaps that's why it "doesn't got a lot of stuff on it"

    2. Hardcastle the ancient


      Are the apple consultants here trying to tell you it HAS got a card slot after all?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Siri sounds hilarious, well the female American one anyway,

    I can't wait till she gets a -tan and an api and some crazy Japanese doujin programmer puts a character to the voice.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      though here in the UK we have a shit male voice, making siri useless until there's a way for it to remove the rubbish voice. -.- I want GlaDOS or SHODAN

      1. Ian Bremner

        GlaDOSiri is already here

    2. Geoff Thompson


      followed that link - I want Siri on my HTC !!!

      1. Spanners Silver badge

        We have something already

        Actually Android gas it and so does Blackberry and everyone with older iPhones. It is called Vlingo.

        I think I first heard of it 18 months ago but I'm not sure.

  4. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Lack of functional persistent storage sounds like a pretty big fail to me.

    I expect that there may be some sort of work-around or fix to come to this, but again it highlights the user-unfriendliness of locking down a device to the extent that Apple does.

    Of course the counter-argument may be that this prevents an application from filling up all the space on your phone. This is a problem, if you can't swap out the storage, or if there is no way of giving applications limited permissions or quotas.

    1. dave 93

      Theres always the photo gallery for persistent storage

      Loads of apps save to the Photo Roll, and others access it directly.

      Maybe a Documents Folder would be handy though

      1. cloudgazer

        You have the wrong end of the stick. There is persistent storage available to any app, and it is backed up to the cloud. You aren't supposed to use it for data which can be re-downloaded, but only for content that cannot be, such as user created documents, photos, notes, etc.

        Marco Arment's problem is that his program's entire raison etre is to provide offline copies of downloadble content. It's an edge case that specifically needs a 3rd kind of storage, persistent but not backed up.

  5. JDX Gold badge

    Cache and HTML5 offline data

    Does that aspect have any issue to Kindle's switch to HTML5 app and offline storage? Or are they separate things?

    1. ThomH

      Quite possibly

      The Kindle's HTML5 app uses one of the new browser extensions that allows a local SQL database to be used for persistent offline storage. So it's using a local persistent store (that is probably backed up to iCloud but that's an orthogonal issue) but is doing so through an open API that Apple doesn't have a veto on usage of.

      When Apple says "you should use the local persistent store only for things that can't just be downloaded and cached when required", the obvious implication is that if you use it for things that can be downloaded again then Apple may use their discretion to reject your application.

      Obviously when it's an in-the-browser standard Apple can't really dictate the acceptable uses. So Amazon can use the persistent local storage to store whatever they want.

      Given that native magazine apps tend to be dressed-up PDF viewers so as to fit the tools publishers already have and that, in my experience, the artificial release schedule dictated by Apple's approval process tends to push clients towards piling on feature after feature and only months later asking "why haven't we shipped yet?", I fully expect Amazon's solution to become normal for all published content. Besides anything else, answering that a feature can be added and pushed into production completely orthogonally from all the other features being worked on rather than holding other features up or having to wait while the other features you just submitted are picked over is a massive win.

  6. HP Cynic

    Interesting and timely

    With the Android 4.0 / Nexus Prime reveals at 3am tomorrow I'm pretty much making my decision regarding "Which OS / Smartphone" later that day.

    Virtually all my friends have iPhones (several the new 4S already) so iMessage was something nudging me in that direction. If messages can end up going nowhere I'm not so impressed.

    I also watched Siri acting like a slow and inept dud as 2 users with very different English accents attempted to perform simple tasks like sending an SMS.

    The camera is very impressive though not something I care too much about.

    The general OS speed was slick and impressive, even coming from a luddite background I could see a difference.

    Probably the 3 problems that annoy me most though:

    1. Still no Memory Card Slot.

    2. No Navigation. Top down map / route view is just not the same.

    3. Seemingly non-Tabbed browsing?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Memory card slot

      I doubt it'll show up on a Google branded phone. They already dropped it on the Nexus S for a reason.

    2. Synonymous Howard

      @Seemingly non-Tabbed browsing?

      Tabs are there, now shown under the address line in Safari. You can create up to 9 at once.

      1. HP Cynic

        Ah cheers :)

    3. GrahamS

      Some good news for you then:

      1) Yep, fair enough, but the 4s comes in 64GB. That's quite a lot of space!

      And you can always add some cloud storage on dropbox or - physical SD cards are so 2009. are currently offering 50GB cloud storage for free for life!

      2) There are a ton of iPhone apps that offer navigation: from professional SatNavs from TomTom, CoPilot, Navigon that offer live traffic reports, speed cameras, lane guidance etc to very usable free satnavs like skobbler or navfree.

      3) Safari has had tabs for ages (iOS 3 I think?) . It just doesn't waste valuable screen space by displaying a tab bar along the top of the browser. Instead press the two little squares in the bottom right to show all your tabs/pages, and flip between them. To open a link in a new tab/page just press and hold it.

      1. Eponymous Bastard

        And you reckon the cloud is secure like a card that you can "own"?

        I just don't get it; why you fanbois don't get it. I can get anything off and anything on to my Android 'phone without using iTunes and I can even remove the memory card from it and eat it and "pass" it if I want to. Has anyone tried eating and "passing" their iPhone? It would probably want to come out sideways. Maybe you could Blend it first . . . . . .

        "Pass". Don't know why I've come over all polite suddenly. WGMC.

      2. Ammaross Danan


        Great summary and answers Graham, but one thing overlooked:

        "And you can always add some cloud storage on dropbox or - physical SD cards are so 2009. are currently offering 50GB cloud storage for free for life!"

        Yes, start shoving /any/ of that 50GB across the 3G (oh, HPDSA+) of the iPhone with your "unlimited" (or not!) data plan. I'll take a high-speed microSD card any day of the week, since it will likely hold videos and music, or loads of snaps from that 8MP camera on the back....

        1. GrahamS

          Not sure why I got downvoted, just trying to explain why "HP Cynic"'s issues aren't big problems for many iPhone users. Hey ho.

          No denying that an SD card slot would be quite nice, but that's just not the Applely way.

          Fails their Keep It Simple (and Proprietary) approach I suspect.

          As it is I don't feel particularly restricted with the 32GB on my phone, plus cloud storage for documents and stuff I rarely need. And using the cloud does have the advantage I can get to my stuff from any PC (most of which don't have SD slots).

          The new 4s has 64GB onboard storage. Two 32GB microSD cards would set you back about £100, you'd have to swap them and constantly risk losing one.

        2. Tom 38

          I understand your concerns, but if you live somewhere with decent net connections, you really can store most of your music content in the cloud. All of my music comes via spotify*. I have about 20GB cached for offline play, the rest I stream directly from spotify. I also don't have to fire up itunes or connect to a pc to sync music, just flick a switch in the spotify app. I can do this just fine over 3G, and it takes a couple of minutes to synch an entire album,

          I get through about 10GB of 3G data a month, mostly spotify, which is all covered within my plan.

          The only content that I need to store on my phone is videos, which itunes collects automatically from an RSS feed and synchs to my devices.

          * Well, apart from the few artists who aren't on spotify.

    4. Rob Beard

      "Virtually all my friends have iPhones (several the new 4S already) so iMessage was something nudging me in that direction. If messages can end up going nowhere I'm not so impressed."

      See I don't get what the fuss is about iMessage, I've been using Fring since 2008 on my old Nokia e63 (Symbian S60) and now my Galaxy S. I've also got friends with iPhones and HTC phones to go on Fring and we can all chat to each other either using Fring or one of the many supported messenger services (mainly tends to be MSN/Windows Live Messenger or Yahoo).

      Maybe I'm just missing something here, but why re-invent the wheel time and time again with incompatible messenger services?

      I am finding though there is a bit of phone envy between iPhone owning friends now, a friend of mine has just got an iPhone 4, and started slagging off the iPhone 4S, might be because he didn't wait (or maybe he just doesn't see the point in the additional features of an iPhone 4S?), and another iPhone 3GS owning friend who broke his iPhone and was adament about getting a 4S has just taken out a new contract and got himself a Samsung Galaxy S II (okay I'm a bit envious of him now)... I think that might have been down to the cost of an iPhone 4S on contract.

      Personally when my contract comes to an end I'll have a look at what is about, I like my Samsung phone but I'd consider maybe getting another brand of Android, or even maybe a Windows Phone (depending what they're like) or possibly an iPhone (although considering the price premium over an Android I might not).

      Maybe if you're not desperate to get a new phone also consider the Galaxy S III when it comes out (assuming it doesn't get blocked by Apple).


  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One article 90%, another a *hit lis

    This is a classic Divide and Conquer strategy, used since Roman times.

    Why do people still fall for this?

    A thought to the hardcore fans: Why do you think neither Apple nor Google have sued each other directly.. and Larry Page was at SJ's memorial?

  8. Ed 11


    Not sure the article is factually correct, or at least it isn't representative of my experience. If use the Message app to send an iMessage and it doesn't get delivered, e.g. I don't have a data connection or, presumably, the person I'm sending the message to doesn't have a data connection, then after a couple of minutes the message is automatically resent as an SMS.

    Looking at some of my conversation histories they are a mixture of blue speech bubbles (those messages delivered via iMessage) and green speech bubbles (those messages delivered via SMS or MMS).

    1. It'sa Mea... Mario
      Thumb Up

      Exactly my experience too. Author is just trolling

  9. Dibbles

    Perhaps it's too simplistic but... has to wonder how many of these shonky errors and omissions would have made it through to final producting if Jobs was still around. Whatever else he was - or wasn't - he wouldn't let half-baked products out the door, on the whole.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What do you mean by half baked. Read the article: "None of these issues is really a big deal"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You forget...

      MobileMe. iOS 4.0.

    3. Full Mental Jacket

      Antennae? MMS?

      Etc, etc..

    4. DAN*tastik

      Taking the piss?

      Wasn't he still alive when they released that mobile that needed a 25 quid ( or dollars, can't remember ) plastic thing to make calls?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Like the halfbaked iPhone 4 that wouldn't work if you held it the wrong way?

    6. bazza Silver badge


      That is all

    7. DJO Silver badge

      How fast do you think they can manufacture these things?

      The bulk of the stock will have been made and shipped and ready to deliver to carriers well before Steve shuffled off his mortal coil.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      All iPhones have been deliberately half baked, otherwise how would they get people to upgrade every year?

  10. Kevin7

    You would have thought that iCloud would provide space at least equivalent to that in the device, from 16 to 64GB. As it is, everyone gets 5GB by default, though you can buy more. The problem is, like BlackBerry users have found, is they';re possibly creating a single point of failure. It's probably a reasonable guess that iCloud will become ever more important to the device which could become a huge problem if iCloud fails.

    I can see Apple's point: administrating disk space (or worse still, a file system) on a mobile device is a very backwards step but iCloud sounds like it's going to fall between the middle. My own iPhone 4 has used nearly 1Gb on iCloud yet I have no idea what its storing. Also, getting at data stored by iCloud seems very difficult without an iOS device - this could be a real headache for things like email, contacts, calendars, etc.

    1. Ed 11

      Settings --> Storage & Backup --> Manage Storage

      Should give you some idea what its storing! Personally, it's just a 1.6GB backup for me. If you then click on the backup, you can see on an app by app basis how much space the backup takes up.

    2. Prag Fest


      If you go into 'settings->iCloud->storage&backup->manage storage' then pick your iPhone, it shows a pretty comprehensive break down of who and what is putting stuff in iCloud.

    3. Synonymous Howard

      @iCloud seems very difficult without an iOS device

      Umm .. try logging on to ..

      from a web browser. The main Apple apps are there .. Mail, Contacts, Calender, Find My iPhone [and ipad and mac] and iWork documents.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Agree with Dibbles - Bits of iOS 5 are really half baked...

    iMessage - unreliable, I just ended up switching it off...

    Reminders - don't sync anywhere.

    Newsstand - can't delete it, can't put it in a folder.

    Email app - still regularly crashes, as it has done since iOS 3.

    Siri - pretty much US only, but globally pointless.

    iCloud - just google to see all the problems people have had moving from Mobile Me to iCloud: broken syncing, lost contacts, lost calendars, no past events, multiple entries across multiple devices.

    iOS5 feels like a Beta release. Hopefully not a sign of how a Jobs-less Apple will function in the future.

    1. Keith Spencer
      IT Angle


      Interesting. iMessage has been fine for me. Worked as advertised and has sent SMS when iMessage on my device or recipient was unavailable.

      newstand. Yeah irritated that it can't be deleted or stuck in a folder. I've dumped it to the last page to get rid of it.

      Siri. I think this will get better and better once it gets used more. That's what the NC datacentre is for afterall

      iCloud. Was kinda expecting that. I've been with Apple for ages and experienced the pain of dotmac to MobileMe so I'm happy to wait before I move to iCloud thanks. Actually, in the end MobileMe worked really really well for me. iCloud seems much mroe inflexible and is a real problem if you have multiple AppleIDs writing to a single iTunes library. I'll wait til 2012 thanks.

      iOS5 feels fine. Like it. But it needs some proper new hardware. I'll wait for iPhone5 or maybe check out Nexus Prime

    2. Craig 12


      Siri does the one thing I always wanted the iphone to do. With headphone in, it can read me an incoming message, and I can say "reply OK". This isn't hilarious 90s Dragon dictation, this one simple thing actually works, and is a very useful convenience.

  12. Number6

    Bonus Point...

    ...for the gratuitous mention of Tarl Cabot. I wonder how many people even know who he is?

  13. Insane Reindeer


    If I understand it all correctly there is a problem with the photostream function as well. Namely once a picture has left you iPhone for the cloud/photostream no matter what you do with the original still on your phone the copy that is up on photostream cannot be removed unless you either nuke the entire lot and start again or take another 1000 pictures to push it off the end of the list. I don't understand why you can't just go into your photostream and just take out individual pictures you would rather not have on there. Or am I missing something?

    1. jubtastic1

      Re: am I missing something?

      Yes, Its v1.0

      I'm just glad it works, they'll get round to adding the "remove photo I really shouldn't have snapped" option later, just like they finally got round to adding the option to remove a single dodgy call from your call history.

      Don't hold your breath, I'd imagine it's way down Apple's To Do list.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Hahah, I think this one will end up breaking up more marriages than the location thing.

  14. Jonathan White

    "Reminders - don't sync anywhere."

    Mine sync to my iCloud calendar and to my desktop calendar app. Maybe you should, you know, look?


  15. Dropper

    Easy to fix

    Don't worry about the cache issue, just install an SD card and you could use that for storage.. oh wait.. nevermind. Still they're definitely worth the money, because while you may not be able to browse a website created after 1995, add 32GB RAM for $30 or see a movie on that tiny screen, at least you have an app that can say funny things. I suppose everyone is going to tell me it's a budget phone and you get what you pay for, after all there's no way you could find anything with those features in that price range..

  16. bazza Silver badge


    All your data are belong to us. Then us deleted data all, ahahahahahahah!

  17. Anonymous Coward

    multiple antennas

    No other phone has instantaneous switching antennas though?

    As for that cheating wife story - it's a fake as far as I'm concerned until it's proven, the latest hoax to be regurgitated by the media. Has any journotard tried to verify the alleged facts yet?

  18. Steve Evans


    We really don't need to comment here do we... You at El Reg can argue if it's a 90% gift of the gods, or a slight update with beta software released a bit too early (rather reminds me of a once great Finnish company).

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "You would have thought that iCloud would provide space at least equivalent to that in the device, from 16 to 64GB."

    Not an unreasonable request give how much you get scalped for the larger devices. Even if it doubled or trebled with the larger phones would be better.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The image is up-side down!

    As the title says.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: The image is up-side down!

      Of course it is - that's because we all use iPhones standing on our heads (or live in Australia)

  21. jubtastic1

    iCloud backup space

    It doesn't bother backing up anything that can be redownloaded, like the OS, apps, media from iTunes or that's been synced from your PC, IMAP mail, anything that's already backed up as part of iCloud, like contacts and calendars.

    Which is to say you only need a fraction of the device space for a complete backup, eg: 500 mb for my 16GB iPhone and 700MB for my 32GB iPad.

    To my mind, this is a clever approach that minimises bandwidth requirements and drastically cuts down the time taken for a backup but we're all entitled to our own opinions.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have they fixed...

    ... this flaw yet, you know, the one where all your login names and passwords stored in the key-chain are viewable in plain text? Even the ones for the "secure" IMAP over SSL?

  23. alan buxey

    90% score

    really? better phones have scored less in the past couple of months. Seems a tad favourable to the fruity company , style/design over function.

  24. J 3

    Glancing at that image, I at first had the impression that was some sort of an X-ray of someone's belly, seen sideways -- and there was a phone in there! Then the brain kicked in and I saw the details, lack of bones, etc...

  25. Wang N Staines

    copy? moi?

    ".. and one that Apple has appropriately embraced."

    Steve would turn in grave.

  26. majorursa

    Instapaper, you're next..

    Since @ Apple they knew the consequences of the new cache regime for companies like Instapaper, one might suspect they have no interest at all in aiding them to stay relevant. Since it is quite a succesfull app it probably means that Apple will make their own version of it or make it obsolete in another way, soon. This happened to numerous other 3rd party apps in the upgrade to iOS5.

    One wonders why there is always 'an app for that'. 2 more reasons to focus on Android instead:

    - normal, in-market competition for app exposure and utility (no big party that picks the cherries)

    - bigger installed base, by a factor 3 at least.

    I'd know where to

  27. x-oterix


    Excellent article (beautifull story telling abilities), keep up the good work

  28. Richard Gadsden

    Active Playlists won't stay sorted

    I've got a playlist of podcasts I haven't listened to. I can sort them by drag-and-drop in iTunes and they used to come up on iOS 4 in the order they were sorted in iTunes. They don't on iOS5 any more.


  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dev FAIL.

    >"the cache, which used to be a perfectly sensible place to put things one didn’t want synchronised"

    Wow, I always thought that a cache was a place where you stored the latest version of something only temporarily until a newer version was available out there on the web - or to spell it out, a place to store stuff that one wants synchronised.

    The idea that it's some kind of persistent storage is a humungous failure of comprehension.

  30. Wombling_Free

    security by stupidity

    "files that applications leave lying around in the cache" can expect to be deleted?

    No shit, Sherlock, this is the equivalent of a PC application storing it's main data files in \Users\AdolphusSpriggs\AppData\Local\Temp

    What do you call that practice; 'security by stupidity'? 'backup to volatile storage'? 'data in the fog'?

    How could deleting the cache be in any way a 'problem' caused by Apple?

    A problem caused by lazy developers relying on slapdash techniques - definitely!

    Not fanboi, just not surprised Apple never invites el Reg to gigs - if you keep peddling crap like that!

    1. chr0m4t1c

      It's a subtle technical problem, the cache in this case is application private rather than a global OS one.

      Apple's developer guidelines suggest you use this private cache to store things that are large, but that you don't want/need to be backed up when the phone is synchronised. This might, for example, be individual magazines in a magazine app - they can be downloaded again if necessary and all they do is slow down the backup for the user.

      This was all fine until iOS5 introduced a new housekeeping routine that will automatically - and quite thoroughly - clear these caches out if the free storage falls too low. First thing the user knows about this is when they launch the app and find there's nothing there.

      How big a problem that is at the time will depend on how urgent you access requirements are and the state of your online connectivity. If you have a small amount of data to get over WiFi, then it's probably not a big issue. If you have a large amount of data and little to no network access, it could be a huge problem for you.

      What's needed is either a way to flag this type of data as "not for garbage collection" or a second storage area that is neither backed up or subject to garbage collection.

      Bug or feature with unintended consequences? Pick your own semantics.

  31. Graeme Hayes

    Restrictions List

    I'd like to see more apps in the "Restrictions" list. Like that annoying Newsstand, Stocks - I not rich enough to have any, Weather - I just look out the window, Contacts - duplicated with the phone app and Game Center - I'm a miserable old git and I don't do games.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WhatsApp & iMessage: think of the children

    Has anyone figured out yet that Apple gets a slice of the intercept market with iMessage?

    When you SMS, the traffic is handled in-country and sometimes even in-provider unless you're abroad, in which case it travels over an unprotected international exchange.

    Using WhatsApp and iMessage means every single thing you do gets routed via the US. You know, that nation that has such a sterling track record on respect for privacy.. WhatsApp has the better cards here for the NSA as it works on all mobile platforms. Yummie location details to boot, which is probably why they haven't bothered to create any desktop version yet..

    Time to start asking ugly questions?

    1. chr0m4t1c


      You can just turn iMessage off in the settings if you find this a particular concern and it only works between iDevices anyway.

  33. welshman10

    Perfect Death?

    "nothing in this world is perfect, not since the death of Steve Jobs anyway"

    You mean it was perfect that he died?

    Or he died the perfect death?

  34. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Most of these issues will be fixed in the iPhone 5. The rest will be fixed on the iPhone 6. Now, iPhone 7 will really blow the Fanboi away as it will close the gap and only lag 3 months behind the equivalent HTC Android.

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