The Electronic Frontier Foundation today criticized the changed behavior of Apple’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth toggles in Control Center, saying iOS 11 has made it harder for users to control these settings and calling them “misleading“ and “bad for user security.”

From the EFF’s blog post:

When a phone is designed to behave in a way other than what the user interface suggests, it results in both security and privacy problems. A user has no visual or textual clues to understand the device’s behavior, which can result in a loss of trust in operating system designers to faithfully communicate what’s going on.

Since users rely on the operating system as the bedrock for most security and privacy decisions, no matter what app or connected device they may be using, this trust is fundamental.

In iOS 11, toggling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off in Control Center disconnects you from a Wi-Fi network and any Bluetooth accessories but keeps these radios running in the background.

“Turning off your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios when you’re not using them is good security practice (not to mention good for your battery usage),” the FCC stressed.

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Apple argues that Control Center does not fully disable the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios so that your iPhone or iPad can continue to provide system features such as AirDrop, AirPlay, Apple Pencil, Apple Watch, Location Services, Handoff and Instant Hotspot.

As we’ve explained, completely shutting down these radios is still possible by enabling Airplane Mode or toggling their respective switches off inside the Settings app.

The FCC begs to differ, saying it’s really important that the toggles do what they’re supposed to do, especially considering Bluetooth’s known vulnerabilities. The post links to a white paper detailing several Bluetooth zero day vulnerabilities and security flaws.

For what it’s worth, Motherboard recently ran a story that also painted this change as a security risk. The FCC goes on to say that Apple’s interface fails to communicate these states to users, but I respectfully disagree with this—iOS 11 does make it easy to discern the difference between the on, disconnected and off states.

When you tap either toggle in Control Center, the icon goes from blue to grey and the user is presented with a helper text “Disconnected from [Wi-Fi] network name” that appears briefly at the top.

But if you fully disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for all networks and devices by enabling Airplane Mode or toggling Settings → Bluetooth and Settings → Wi-Fi off, you’ll see a diagonal line through the icons in Control Center.

Control Center iconography for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on, disconnected and off states.

I find these visual indicators a good way of telling the difference between the three states although one could argue that Apple should’ve communicated the change better to avoid any user confusion.

What I’m having issues with is the way iOS 11 overrides the user’s choice at 5am local time each day, when the device restarts or the user drives or walks to a new location. It’s unclear why that is, but it doesn’t help that this behavior is not clearly explained to users.

Thoughts?

  • I like it. I can disconnect my BT headphones with one tap… but it doesn’t auto-connect when I tap it again.

  • This is true. I almost never use AirDrop, don’t have AirPods, and almost never have Location Services on. When I leave my house, I turn off WiFi to stop my phone from scanning networks and attempting to connect if a known one is nearby. I don’t want WiFi to be actually on, and I don’t want to go to Setting to turn it off (we have the damn Control Center for that).

    • Fanboy 

      Agreed. This is very annoying. I have to go into Settings now (which I don’t put on my home screen) just to turn these both off when not using it. CC toggles are pointless now. So stupid.

    • Jerry

      You know you can take it easy now. This isn’t the 3GS.

  • Ian

    It’s a changed behaviour from previous vesions of iOS with control centre and deserves a more up front explanation for those average users who don’t read tech blogs to find this stuff out. Perhaps the first time you pull up control centre in iOS 11 it could one of those “what’s new” splash screens several of Apples updated apps in iOS 11 had. On a practical note 3D Touching setting and choosing Wifi or Bluetooth then toggling is fairly efficient for fully turning these radios off.

  • Aman kapoor

    I prefer the new control center. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth hardly drain any battery (5-7%) in the entire day. It’s great for airdrop and apple watch connectivity. And improved location is a plus. And for all those complaining about battery issues. There are none. Ios 11 doesn’t connect captive Wi-Fi anymore and if you disable it from control center then Wi-Fi won’t scan for new networks. Same for bluetooth. It stops connecting to networks or devices. I for once knew this change was needed before they announced ios 11. I always ended up disconnecting from my Apple watch on iOS 10 and handoff is better too on iOS 11. I just wish they add the ability to toggle instant hotspot even when cellular is turned off. So my Mac can flip the hotspot switch. Talk to my Apple watch for unlocking. Transfer handoff data over Bluetooth but can’t flip the cellular switch. Lame.

  • TwinSon

    Nah, this is poorly executed. You can’t assume everyone with a phone will understand the difference between Toggling off Wi-FI and Bluetooth in the Control Center and actually turning them off via Settings.

  • mahe

    I’m happy about the way it is now.
    I’m one of those users who never turn of WiFi and Bluetooth, so before iOS11 those toggles were useless for me.
    Now I can easy disconnect and also don’t need to enter the password again if I want to join the same WiFi again.

    But tbh, it took me a while until I recognized this change.
    If you don’t have many buttons in the part which you can customize, the toggles are lower than on the screenshots here and you could miss the small text displayed at the top.

  • M_Hawke

    I don’t have an Apl Pen or an Apl Watch. If I’m going to share something or receive something via Airdrop I know it and I would want to know it. If I want to view something via Apl TV, I also know when I’m going to do that. There are times I have to toggle Wifi and BT off. I really dislike the idea of now having to go through extra steps to do this. It should have been better implemented to accommodate all users. If they wanted to help out the Pen and Watch crowd, they could have done so without inconveniencing the rest of us who are already used to a specific behavior.

  • FLipChip

    fcking

  • FLipChip

    I don’t know why everyone is acting so surprised, after all, this is crApple we’re talking about here! Everyone knows that you’re supposed to “Think Different” when it comes to dealing with crApple! =)

    It’s exactly stupid sh*it like this why there will ALWAYS be a need for Jailbreaking! So that we can UNDO stupid sh*it that crApple does and make it logical again!

    I mean seriously this just goes to show how stupid some of these idiots over there at crApple are. How is it with all the fcking “innovative” people that work at crApple, not one person thought to make the toggles do more than just ON/OFF?

    How about if WiFi and Bluetooth are on, the little circles should be GREEN. Then if you press them once, they should turn BLUE which would mean they are in standby mode. Then if you press them once more they should turn GREY meaning they are OFF!!

    Wow took me a whole two fcking minutes to think that up! Problem fcking solved!!! Stupid ass crApple! I can’t stand when they do stupid sh*it like this. All the more reason to keep staying Jailbroken iOS 10.2!

    • ProllyWild

      Or they could just add an additional 3D Touch option to allow disconnect or disable.

  • ProllyWild

    Throw me in with the mostly satisfied crowd. Not that I’ve changed my rhythm around the new implementation, I find it convenient. I am a full apple ecosystem user so it does matter to me that I can disconnect from a Wi-Fi network or Bluetooth headphone device but still have it connected to my watch or pen or use airdrop. In my experience (and I understand this may not be the same for everyone), any time I’ve wanted to completely disable wifi or Bluetooth, usually it meant using airplane mode.

    I think this is just a change we have to get used to as our phones and tablets connect to more and more devices and services.

    • FLipChip

      “I think this is just a change we have to get used to”

      Typical fanboy/girl response! SMH

      • :D

        Way to take things out of context. Read the second part of the sentence why don’t you

      • ProllyWild

        I don’t know why it should be considered a fangirl response. There is context to the change. Even for android users who use smart watches or multiple Bluetooth devices at once. Isn’t it quicker to hit these toggle buttons to disconnect the current device rather than go all the way to the settings menu and find the Bluetooth settings, go to the device and force the system to disconnect or forget the device/network.

        For Wi-Fi networks, up until this point on iOS have we even had a proper way to disconnect from a Wi-Fi network without switching to a new one or straight out choosing the “forget network” option? (I can’t recall)

        If the idea is that our devices will continue to be connected to more and more wireless devices and services, then it makes sense that disconnecting and disabling should be seperate options.

      • FLipChip

        It’s the point that instead of saying “oh they could have done it like this instead” you just bow down and say “I think this is just a change we have to get used to”. This is crApple we’re talking about here! Isn’t their stuff supposed to be innovative and intuitive?? Oh wait never mind, lest we forget this is the same company that put out a smart phone that couldn’t even send PICTURE MESSAGES! iPhone & iPhone 3G!!

        How is it with all the so called “innovative” people that work at crApple, not one person thought to make the toggles do more than just ON/OFF?

        How about if WiFi and Bluetooth are on, the little circles should be GREEN. Then if you press them once, they should turn BLUE which would mean they are in standby mode. Then if you press them once more they should turn GREY meaning they are OFF!!

        Wow took me a whole two fcking minutes to think that up! Problem fcking solved!!! Stupid ass crApple and stupid ass fanboys/girls for not holding them to higher standards!

      • ProllyWild

        Can I be honest?

        Multiple touch switch toggles are impractical design. I think 3D Touch would be a better alternative so you could find the option you want rather than having to cycle through options with multiple touches.

        You’re implying more than I’m saying. I believe the disconnect/disable separation is a good idea. That doesn’t mean I’m against a better implementation of it. Me personally, I’d prefer 3D touching the Wi-Fi button to get disconnect or disable options.

      • FLipChip

        LMAO are you kidding me? It’s ONE MORE BUTTON PRESS!!!! So one more button press is an “impractical design” but a toggle with a ON/STANDBY isn’t? So then if I actually want my WiFi/Bluetooth turned off, I now have to go into Settings ?> WiFi > and turn it off. Yeah that’s definitely a lot more practical than what I suggested. SMH.

        What you’re suggesting with using 3D Touch is practically the SAME THING I suggested but instead of pressing the toggle switch once more, you would have to invoke 3D Touch instead. You’re also forgetting that not all devices have 3D Touch so crApple won’t be able to implement across all devices, whereas with my solution everyone is able to take advantage.

      • ProllyWild

        The impracticality of the design you suggested is that cycling toggles is in the end not enjoyable for users. If you accidentally press it 2x you have cycle back through just to get back to the option you wanted. Every time you press it you’re initiating an action that has to be performed by the device and that’s not instantaneous. If you make the mistake of accidentally pressing it twice and disable the Bluetooth radio when you meant to disconnect, you have to cycle back to the disable option, and wait for your bluetooth radio to come back on again. It would inevitably piss people off.

        You are right, not all devices currently have 3D Touch and that’s why I don’t mind the current inplementation. Though as seen with the iPad, you can do a long touch to bring out options that are available as 3D Touch for the iPhone. So you could long Touch the button and select the option you mean, rather than cycling.

        So there is a practical user friendly alternative. Satisfied?

      • FLipChip

        I mean this from the bottom of my heart when I say you should go apply for a job at crApple. They would definitely hire you on the spot!

        It’s impossible trying to have a conversation with SIMPLE PEOPLE. I’m done talking to you now. Enjoy your weekend.

      • ProllyWild

        You seem unusually upset over something that’s as simple as a software change. It’s not even a major change. We’re talking iOS 11.0.3 level here. You acted as though they completely removed the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios.

        For the sake of those users who are unsatisfied I hope they make a satisfactory change. I’m sure they’ll keep “simple people” in mind next time. Enjoy your weekend and iOS 11. 🙂

      • Swipe

        I disagree. I don’t see how his purposed solution is more complicated at all. If wifi or bluetooth is on, tap once to go into standby mode, tap again to completely turn it off. Makes perfect sense to me. I bet if Apple had done this themselves you would be saying what a great new feature that was lol.

        It’s strange sometimes how Apple fans will go to such lengths to defend silly things that just don’t make sense at all.

      • ProllyWild

        The cycle process makes turning off the radios an inevitable step.

        Wi-Fi is on. One click, Wi-Fi is in standby.

        Now if I want my Wi-Fi on again I need to click twice. In the middle of that process I end up turning the Wi-Fi radio off completely in the next click.

        The system then has to disengage and re-engage the radio, which takes time. The potential missteps mean it’ll take longer if you accidentally click twice, and even if you’re using it correctly you are still inevitably forced to turn the radios off before you can connect to a network/device again.

        You turn the simple on-off 2 step process of iOS 10 into a 3 step process that requires people cycle through functions they may not care about.

        If you were going to give users access to ON, standby and OFF modes, then something similar to the current airplay method is the better alternative. Users bring up control center, 3D Touch or long Touch the Wi-Fi button invoking a pop up window like the airplay window. This would allow users to select to turn off the radio, disconnect the current connection or connect to a different available device or network.

        That’s the more practical method, but I’ll admit I don’t care much for the “menu in a menu, inside another menu” way that the current AirPlay uses.

        It’s funny how Apple critics will completely ignore how illogical some of their suggested alternatives are….

        At least I was honest enough to admit that my being fine with the current implementation does not mean everyone else should like it.

      • Swipe

        I’ll have to agree with this. That would have been a great solution in my opinion. I’d rather sacrifice having to tap the toggle once more to be able to have the ability to completely shut it off rather than now having to go into settings and shut it off. This solution just makes sense.

  • Diniesh

    Hate it. let the user decide. Why is apple deciding for us. Apple please fix this so that it totally turns off and not just disconnects! Thanks.

    • Swipe

      Exactly! Give us an option, don’t just assume you know what’s best for everyone.

  • :D

    I like it

  • Icebox766

    This is a terrible change. And apple can fix it by simply having a settings option allowing users to determine if disconnected or off is what happens when you use control center to turn off the radios. Have the default be the way it is now, that way Those who like it or don’t care need do nothing. Some of us don’t have prouduxts or use the services that require disconnected status. We should be able to have the control center work the way it did in IOS 10. One size doesn’t fit all here.

  • Vinnie Bones

    tell you this, I ain’t losing my jailbreak over no fancy Control Center

  • See, this is where the EFF falls, saying that a toggle is meant to turn something on or off is completely false. A toggle is a toggle, it goes from one state to another. No where does Apple claim that their toggles turn off or on a feature, but rather toggles the connected networks to either connected, or not connected.

    I do agree that Apple should make it VERY clear that the toggles do not turn off the antennas (no, the “disconnected from X” message isn’t good enough), there needs to be a permanent message in settings somewhere that states what the control center actually does

    • ProllyWild

      I can agree with that. It’s not exactly clear that the toggles have changed and certain alternative options could be implemented so both standby and disable are accessible from the control center. You can’t please everyone but I don’t think this is such a major issue.

      • I personally like it. I can disconnect from the network while still being able to use the synchronized clipboard. I only turn my antennas off when I’m in low power-mode.

      • ProllyWild

        Same here. Before I had to disable the radios completely to disconnect from the services. Now that not necessary anymore, so airplane mode or low power mode do the trick for turning the radios off.

  • Senthet

    So according to Apple is off not off anymore, instead is it almost off. I hope other companies don’t take after. Whats next on is not on….

  • Zack Morris

    I wish the old way was the default and this new way, you can enable in the settings. I personally like the older way.

  • Abhinav Chaudhary

    Jailbreak FTW, iPhone 7 Plus user on 10.1.1.

  • Rowan09

    While it is annoying, I would prefer to at least be able to fully turn them off by using force touch and situation solved.

    • Then the EFF will “slam” them again for making a single action too complicated lol. This entire thing is BS. There is no rule anywhere that a toggle needs to toggle something on to off or vice versa. A toggle can go from one state to another. In Apples case they are using this toggle to toggle the connected device. Simple lol

      • Rowan09

        I know I didn’t think it was this serious.

  • hkgsulphate

    just add an extra button god damn

  • Mr_Coldharbour

    “This was done by design” I’m sorry, what? WHY?

    THANK YOU EFF! I knew this would happen. Having your phone behave a different way than intended. When I want something off I want it OFF! Thank you EFF, I agree with every single word they said, and thanks to the FCC as well.

    Not to mention the fact that not everyone uses AirDrop, or AirPods, or has an Apple Watch. Why subject the rest of us to this forced and uncommunicated change is user hostile and I hope an upcoming update rectifies this. The strange thing is my test iPhone 6 does not behave this way, when I turn off wifi and bluetooth from CC, it turns off completely like it used to. I mean, why did they change it? Then this just defeats the purpose of CC and shortcuts not mention being a security risk and a drain on battery life.

    Apple, get your head out of your behind, seriously. Who even signed off on this?

  • Mr_Coldharbour

    This new stupid implementation makes CC useless. The whole point of it was to be a shortcut and not have to go inside 2-3 layers of settings panes to toggle something off. This is like going back to pre-iOS 7 days. This completely defeats the purpose of CC. Not to mention being a battery drain and a security risk. Let the user decide, not you deciding for us.

  • jacjustjac

    I honestly appreciate that it reenables the WiFi and Bluetooth at 5am, AND also when you change locations. No more forgetting to turn WiFi back on when I get home after I turn it off every afternoon when my phone tries to connect to NYC subway wifi. And no, sometimes I use it, so I don’t want to have to “forget” it every time I want to disconnect from it but keep my WiFi on for later.

  • Geo

    Yes, it’s very annoying, if I toggle it OFF. I want it OFF. NOT running in the background awaiting for whatever reason to run again. Specially when I’m looking for something on the net and wifi is slower than my cell phone service, then before you know it I’m turning OFF THE DARN THING AGAIN. ITS FKN ANNOYING.

  • Blip dude

    “Apple argues that Control Center does not fully disable the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios so that your iPhone or iPad can continue to provide system features such as AirDrop, AirPlay, Apple Pencil, Apple Watch, Location Services, Handoff and Instant Hotspot.”

    Of **** off Apple, if I want Wi-Fi or Bluetooth off, I want them off, end of story. I could care less about Tethering, Airdrop and your proprietary AirPlay crap.

    But to be fair, I blame the user base more than Apple themselves. The whole “I just want it to work” crap mentality (hint – it doesn’t just work), is what has resulted in this IMO. Really hope a future update fixes this problem.

  • Josiah

    People turn wifi and bluetooth off so their battery isn’t impacted by being connected to their watch, air drop, location services, air play, all of that. If they are going to set it up to turn completely off via the settings app, then why not implement a way to turn it all the way off in Control Center? Or just have it the way its always flipping been and have it turn off when you use the toggle.

  • Josiah

    I think they should implement a 3D touch option. After all, they have the entire OS now almost dependent on 3D touch, why would it be so hard as to throw in an extra feature? You know that people will love it because it is using the new hardware to another level. As far as it turning back on at 5am…seems a bit odd to me, I prefer my android phone’s implementation with 7, I have it set to turn off when I leave a wifi network, then it low level scans for networks it can automatically connect to and asks me if I want to connect if it finds one. It’s not to keep other features alive or anything like that. It’s only to keep myself from forgetting to use wifi instead of data all the time. And I’m informed every time so my phone doesn’t take action on it’s own. There’s a solution for everything, the key is making it sound reasonable. Apple wants iOS to be as independent as possible. The point of the software is to do more than you have to. If the phone can do things on it’s own, Apple will find a way to make it happen with the OS. Things like machine learning and all that. My phone’s software and processor work together to figure out what apps I use most often and change how the OS responds to what I do so those apps open faster and get priority. I’m sure under the hood, iOS 11 does some of that. Siri learns from you and suggests things as you type based on what you browse. Apple’s goal ultimately is to create an OS that does almost everything for you, which is why the phone takes so much into it’s own hands, such as turning wifi and bluetooth back on on it’s own, and why it keeps the radios on in the background so it can still do things on it’s own. While that is all fine and dandy, I like being able to control what my phone does, I don’t want it to do all this stuff on it’s own. I want to turn things on and off, and if it wants to take it’s own action it asks me first. I want to know what my phone is doing all the time.

  • Antzboogie

    Apple messed up on this one. Come on you cant force things on people and not even explain in more detail that you’re messing up something that already works.