Feature Request: Tidy up iOS status bar, declutter icons and hide carrier name

For an operating system as simple as iOS, it’s surprising how much can appear in the almost always visible 20px status bar when using an iPhone or iPad. Since the release of the Apple Watch, I’ve been a bit peeved that the Bluetooth symbol is still visible there because I’m still paired to the watch.

Is it really necessary to show me something that is still there? This brings me to a feature request that is by no means a critical new addition to the system, but a small refinement to polish the iOS experience. I think the status bar is too cluttered with redundant information and would like to see Apple make it more tidy and less busy…

Many icons and symbols may appear in the status bar. There’s cellular signal strength, WiFi/Personal Hotspot indicator, Bluetooth glyph, crescent moon Do Not Disturb, network activity loading spinner, clock icon signaling that an alarm is set, the location services indicator and several others.

There’s also the carrier’s name on the left, centered time display, and right-aligned battery indicator. It doesn’t take too much to make the status bar cluttered. Screenshots and mockups are taken on a iPhone 4.7 inch, which is what most customers buy. This “problem” may be less noticeable on a iPhone 7Plus medium-sized device for daily use.

status-bar-crowded

iOS already includes limited customization options here, namely you can choose whether the battery indicator includes a percentage or not. This means you can save space by displaying only the battery gauge, not the text as well. I would like to see this type of toggle available for more system tray items.

I think a lot of people want to be able to hide the carrier name, myself included. I know which carrier I’m using and which I’m paying for, I don’t need to be shown. I constantly see the name “LIFE” with its distracting choice of capitalization. At least my carrier has a short name, it’s worse if your cellular service provider has a longer name that takes up a much larger region of the status bar. If it’s too long, it will even scroll the marquee on the lock screen.

Along the same lines, it has bothered me since iOS 7 that the signal strength indicator has changed from a compact bar graph to a very large collection of five distinct circles. I didn’t include it in the mockup, but would appreciate a revamped (less obtrusive) look here.

One of my main complaints is the Bluetooth indicator. If you wear an Apple Watch every day like me, it’s so redundant to see the logo in the status bar all the time. I prefer the way watchOS handles Bluetooth connection reporting; If an Apple Watch successfully communicates with a paired iPhone, the watch face shows no indicator. You only see a status item, a red phone glyph, in cases where the Bluetooth connection is down and there is an error.

I wish I could remove it from the iOS status bar, or at least not show it if the only connection is an Apple Watch. On the Mac, I have complete flexibility. I can option-drag the Bluetooth widget out of the menu bar if I find it unnecessary, as you can with almost any Mac status item. The same kind of functionality could be exposed in an iOS Settings pane. An alternative design would hide the Bluetooth icon when the Apple Watch is paired, showing a red error icon when an Apple Watch is not connected.

Showing the location services icon has some merit because it’s only visible when an app or service is using my location, so I don’t really have a problem with this one as it provides relevant information. I’d say the wake-up indicator isn’t necessary, though. I control the setting of alarms, I know if one is set. This is different from location services which are activated by external factors (app quirks).

I would like to have a “Show alarm clock in status bar” preference that I could turn off. Arguing that the alarm clock has a special priority is a slippery slope in my opinion, because there are a lot of other things that are important events but don’t belong in the status bar (timers, calendar, reminders, scheduled emails, etc.). The Crescent Moon Do Not Disturb is another icon I would consider removing. whether Do Not Disturb is enabled or not can be checked at any time using Control Center. The same is true for the orientation lock.

By the way, Apple has already done some of this spring cleaning. iOS used to put a play icon in the status bar whenever music was playing, this was removed with iOS 7 supposedly because it’s a redundant icon as the user is well aware of music playback.

As I said in the introduction, this feature request isn’t for something as critical to the platform as iOS needs to get. Part of it is a difference of opinion on the design, there are subjective decisions at play. Adding toggles to the settings is also not free. That being said, I wish I could make my iPhone status bar less cluttered – and I don’t think I’m the only one.


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