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Four Problems with iOS 7: Crashing, Messages, Siri, and Audio

Apple’s iOS 7 brought with it a new interface, numerous under-the-hood improvements, and updates to core apps. It’s a huge change from iOS 6, perhaps the most significant update to iOS ever. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to make such sweeping changes without causing some consternation.

We’ve written about how iOS 7 interface choices have caused problems for people with certain visual impairments (“Peering at iOS 7 for the Vision Impaired,” 19 September 2013), and how its use of depth and movement can induce motion sickness for others (“iOS 7 Animations Cause Nausea for Some,” 25 September 2013). Those troubles are side effects of intentional design decisions, but here I want to focus on other problems we’ve experienced with iOS 7 that are wholly unintentional — just plain bugs. These bugs are far from universal, but they have affected both us and other iOS 7 users, and are worth watching for in your use.

Crashes Under Low Battery -- On my iPhone 5 running iOS 7, I’ve experienced a number of full-device crashes, where the iPhone screen shows a white spinner on a black screen, then goes dark. Although I was once able to restart the iPhone, only to suffer another crash nearly instantly, the iPhone usually reports that it’s out of power, and won’t restart until I plug it in.

The common element in these crashes is low battery life, usually under 20 percent, although one crash occurred at almost 30 percent. When I give the iPhone power, it restarts immediately and shows the expected amount of battery life remaining. So it’s not that the battery is actually running out; instead, iOS 7’s power management code is freaking out once the battery level falls to around 20 percent. I do see a number of LowBatteryLog files in Settings > General > About > Diagnostics & Usage > Diagnostic & Usage Data, though their contents don’t reveal a smoking gun. Letting the battery run down completely and then recharging entirely to recalibrate it made no difference.

I’ve heard a few other reports of this problem from TidBITS staffers and people on Twitter, but I don’t believe it’s terribly widespread, perhaps because most people don’t let battery life drop so far regularly. The main concern is that, as we have come to rely on our iPhones for important tasks like GPS navigation in unfamiliar areas or just-in-time access to essential documents like boarding passes in Passbook, having your iPhone crash and refuse to restart toward the end of a long day could be troublesome. One of my crashes came while asking Siri for directions to an appointment at a location I’d never visited before. Luckily, it was in Ithaca, and I had a general idea of the area, so it wasn’t problematic, but if I had lost GPS capability or access to Passbook late at night while travelling, I would be very unhappy.

My advice? Until we see an update to iOS 7 that might fix this problem — iOS 7.0.3 is rumored to be coming soon — bring charging hardware or an external battery whenever you anticipate being in a situation where your iPhone battery could run low.

Messages in the Mist -- Another area where I’ve come to rely heavily on the iPhone is Apple’s iMessage system. Now that Tristan is in high school and needing pickups from cross-country practice and meets, we use Messages to communicate and coordinate. A few days ago, Tonya sent me a message and I replied, but didn’t receive a response. When she got home and we resumed the conversation, it became clear that she had no idea what I was talking about. And indeed, the messages I had sent were not on her iPhone.

The messages were clearly on my iPhone, though, so we chalked it up to cosmic rays. The next day, while I was out of the house, I needed to communicate with Tristan to find out whether or not to pick him up. My message to him didn’t get a quick response, and when I pinged Tonya to see if she knew more, I didn’t hear back from her either. That’s when I noticed, at the top of the Messages screen, the text “Sending 1 of 3.” That’s right, even though I had connectivity, the messages weren’t being sent. In fact, it was still trying to send Tonya the messages from the previous day, without having displayed an error message.

Force-quitting Messages from the multitasking screen made no difference, so I restarted my iPhone, after which the messages appeared with red exclamation points and the Not Delivered tag. Tapping the exclamation point let me resend the messages, just in time, and everything worked out well. Obviously, had this been an urgent situation, I could have called, but since iMessage has generally been reliable, I didn’t even notice the failure for a day, and could easily have missed the Sending message.

I believe this problem is somewhat common, from various discussions on the Apple Support Communities. The symptoms vary a bit, with some people getting Not Delivered messages even though the messages are being sent, but it’s clear that there are issues. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Apple has acknowledged the problem and promised a fix.

Until Apple addresses this problem, the workaround is to pay attention to the top of the Messages screen, and if it gets stuck on Sending, restart your iPhone. In general, it’s also good to acknowledge messages that contain important information, so the sender knows they were received — that took some training with Tristan.

Siri, Are You There? -- Less firm are the problems I’ve experienced with Siri in iOS 7. At times, Apple’s servers are clearly having trouble, since I’ll get a message back from Siri telling me to try again later. And other times, I’ll say something to Siri and just get no response back at all — or at least no response in the amount of time I’m willing to wait before I perform the action manually. All this started when I began using preview builds of iOS 7 — under iOS 6, I’d become quite fond of Siri.

My anecdotal experiences have been matched by some people posting on the Apple Support Communities, but still others have said that Siri is working better for them in iOS 7 than in iOS 6. As a result, I’m less comfortable saying this is an actual bug in iOS 7, but one way or another, Siri will be losing users.

Why? Just as with the previous two problems, it comes down to trust. When you can’t trust Siri to work some significant portion of the time, you stop trying. I’ve already noticed that in my usage — I don’t even think about using Siri in situations where I would have in the past.

Who’s Playing That Audio? -- Our final concern with iOS 7 revolves around audio, and reveals a couple of bugs and a design mistake. Matt Neuburg isolated this problem when he turned on his Bluetooth wireless headphone and started to hear audio. He didn’t want to listen to what was playing, so he opened Control Center and tapped the pause button, but to no effect. The name of the audio track appeared, but without an icon; it was impossible to tell what app was producing it. Further investigation with Mocha iSys revealed that the KCLU app was running, even though Matt had explicitly forced it to quit from the multitasking screen earlier, and stranger yet, the KCLU app didn’t appear to be active at all.

The first bug is that it seems possible for some action (an inadvertent press on a Bluetooth headphones button, perhaps related to the fact that Matt had force-quit the KCLU app earlier?) to relaunch an app that isn’t running. Connected to that is the second bug, that the relaunched app doesn’t appear on the multitasking screen. Third, the audio controls in Control Center don’t work reliably. And finally, unlike the audio controls in iOS 6, Control Center gives no visual indication of what app is producing the sound.

We actually understand the third bug involved, because it hits close to home. Our own TidBITS News app can play the audio versions of our articles, but under iOS 7, Control Center’s audio controls don’t work with it. It turns out that apps that play audio must be rewritten to support iOS 7, although it still seems like a bug for Control Center’s audio controls to fail with older apps.

While writing this piece, I also discovered the trick that Matt needed to identify the KCLU app. Although Control Center doesn’t show the name or icon for the app playing audio, if you double-tap the track name, the appropriate app opens. This does not work from Control Center on the Lock screen, though. And even if you can’t stop or identify the audio, another workaround is to play audio from another app, like Music, which takes over and enables Control Center to operate properly again.

Apart from that tip, the takeaway from Matt’s story is to look for updates to older apps that play audio. It’s impossible to say more about what might have caused the KCLU app to relaunch spontaneously, but should you see something similar, let us know in the comments.

In the meantime, hold tight and wait for iOS 7.0.3, and we’ll hope that Apple addresses these concerns.


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Comments about Four Problems with iOS 7: Crashing, Messages, Siri, and Audio
(Comments are closed.)

I'm having a different message problem. Both my son (also named Tristan, btw) and my wife's phone are sending messages, but as text messages not iMessages. Rebooting hasn't helped.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-10-02 14:55
You do have iMessage turned on in Settings > Messages? And what if you turn off Send as SMS?
Tripp Frohlichstein  2013-10-02 17:38
I have message problems too. Not sending pics and I too have the one of three sent.
Terry Miller  2013-10-02 18:05
Communicating with my son who is on an iPhone and I'm on my MBP. I frequently get exclamation point not delivered messages. Also, and more annoying is my threads start being miss sorted. It will display messages from the previous day as the one proceeding the latest. The order is all screwed up. Quitting iMessage and restarting will put them back in proper order. Is the NSA not reading them in order as Apple sends my messages through the NSA servers?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-10-03 06:07
We see the mis-sorting all the time in Messages on the Mac too. Fingers crossed it will be fixed in Mavericks.
barefootguru  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2013-10-02 20:38
Thanks for that Adam, thought the battery on my phone had gone flakey 8-) Mine happened at 40% charge when I suddenly demanded camera and GPS from it.

Note the spinner is iOS's standard way of shutting down when it thinks the battery is almost depleted--not a 'crash' in the true sense.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-10-03 06:07
True, it's more of an incorrect emergency shutdown than an actual crash, but the effect to the user is the same. :-)
Alan Shavit-Lonstein  2013-10-02 21:14
With iMessage, you can also hold on a message that has not been sent to ge the option to "send as text." Has worked for me when they are not working properly.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-10-03 06:06
That's a good suggestion, thanks!
Chris Kohuch  2013-10-03 06:08
I haven't had the issues mentioned here, however since installing iOS 7 and 7.0.2 on my iPhone 4s and iTunes 11.1 on my Mac, I run into periodic syncing issues. My phone will sync normally 9 times out of 10, then on the next sync will get stuck on either the 'Waiting For Items to Copy' or 'Waiting For Changes to Be Applied' step for anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours. It's gotten to the point where I avoid syncing my phone except at times when I know I won't be going out again as interrupting the synch often has undesirable side effects (songs that won't play, photo's that won't open, etc.).

I've spent quite a bit of time trying to isolate if the problem is being caused by problems with my iPhoto iPod database, or a corrupt song file, and have even done several complete restores but every time I think I've got it licked, it happens again. It's very hard to isolate the issue when it only happens infrequently.
Girish Kulkarni  2013-10-04 01:39
Glad to see I’m not alone! I am facing this issue too. iPhone 4S sync with iTunes on Mac often remains stuck on ‘Waiting for Items to Copy’. I am having another problem with sync: the first time I did it on iOS 7, iTunes actually reinstalled all the (hundreds of) old apps that I had long removed from my iPhone. I had to manually remove all of them one by one from the phone but the next time I synced, all the apps were back in their places. Extremely annoying. (By the way, this sync problem is in addition to the problems mentioned by Adam in the article. I am facing all them as well!)
Chris Kohuch  2013-10-05 18:19
Yes, iOS 7 definitely seems to have a few issues. I installed iTunes 11.1.1 today, but still no change. Interestingly if I wait long enough the Sync does always seem to finish, and usually ends by copying several seemingly random songs, podcasts, videos, etc, which already exist on my iPhone. Why it decides these need to be recopied, and what it does during all the intermediate time is anyones guess. Here's hoping future iOS or iTunes updates will eventually fix these and other problems.

On the bright side, iTunes 11.1.1 did fix my issue with old podcasts reappearing (as iCloud downloads) in my iTunes list view.
I am experiencing audio issues but none mentioned above. I have no audio for any of the sounds except for Siri and phone ring tone. No music or video audio can be heard. I plug in my headphones and everything works fine. I took phone to carrier today and nobody knew what to do. Any ideas?
Horacio  2013-10-04 20:06
I have the same issue today and it took about 5 reboots to work again but after 2 hours no sound again

anybody knows how to fix it
Had the same audio problem after loading ios7 on ipad. Opened control center and audio button was completely to the left, or off position
After iOS 7 install I have no audio at all except for when my phone rings and Siri. Nothing else works for, music or notification sounds or click to close. Took phone into Verizon today and they were all stumped. All sounds work when headphones are plugged in?? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!!!
kawaiimyk  2013-10-24 18:56
same problem here.. im hoping that apple would fix this problem ASAP..
MelodieC  2013-11-19 19:09
Having the same issues here. Finding it very frustrating. I hope this gets fixed soon.
I have bee having the iMessage and Siri problems. I never had these problems before iOS 7. Turning the phone off and back on works for iMessage but Siri is unreliable.
My control center won't work with the audio. I push pause or play and I have to reopen the app to stop or play music. Ios 6 worked with this but not after updating, what should I do?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-10-05 08:30
As I noted in the article, it should work with Apple's apps, but older non-Apple audio apps will need to be updated. If it's not working with the Music app, for instance, there something else going on.
C Arrowsmith   2013-10-08 19:53
My controls don't work with any apps, Apple's or third party apps. I can't skip, pause, or rewind at all even if it's the iPhone's music app running. Rather defeats the purpose of those controls in the lock screen!
Miriam von Born-Storm  2013-10-05 18:09
Since installing ios7 on my 3G IPhone I can't find Siri. Haven't read anything anywhere about solving this problem. Anyone else have it?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-10-14 06:56
Siri isn't compatible with the iPhone 3G or 3GS, or even the iPhone 4 (not enough processing power) - it first appeared with the iPhone 4S. So I'm not sure quite what you're thinking of that might have been present and then disappeared.
Dolores Atkin  2013-10-07 08:22
Since installing iOS 7 on my iPad 3, I am having problems with sound. Sometimes I have no sound, sometimes it's raspy sounding. sometimes it's very quiet even on maximum setting. I also have an iHome Bluetooth box for stereo sound which worked great when watching Netflix movies. My husband kept telling me to turn down the sound when he was downstairs. It was just like I was in a theatre, the sound was that good. Now, it is also very quiet. I can barely hear the movie on either iPad sound, or iBT16 (iHome) sound. What can I do?
Courtney  2013-10-06 14:00
My audio does not work at all. No ringer, alerts, keyboard sounds.. My music will say it's playing but you can't hear it and all of my apps that produce any kind of sound at all do not work either. I have my ringtone set to vibrate also so that I won't miss a call but that's all I've got. I've tried everything. So fed up over it... Really hoping this will be fixed ASAP bc I rely on this phone as my alarm (which doesn't work now obviously), reminders, all my phone calls and email. While it's such an inconvenience, they don't mind continuing to take $150 a month for mine and my husbands bill.
Kendall  2013-10-06 15:20
I think Apple has older Bluetooth/audio bugs. Your audio issues sound familiar to me, but I have a 3GS using iOS 6.x. When I make calls via my car (over BlueTooth), music's playing when I end the call. (I suspect it starts when I initiate the call over Bluetooth, but that iOS is smart enough to mute music while I'm on a call. I'm not sure how to test this.) The mystery for me isn't "who's playing the music" (I have no music apps, thus it's just the phone's built-in player)...but rather, "why does the iPhone play music at all." I'm not hitting any buttons by accident (no button to hit; the car initiates the call via Bluetooth). Mysterious!
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-10-07 09:17
Do you have the latest version of iOS 6? There was a problem in some of the initial versions where playing audio like Siri or an alarm would cause previously paused audio to restart. That was fixed eventually, but it's also possible you're still seeing a remnant of it.
Kendall  2013-10-08 00:22
Yes, I have the latest version of iOS 6. I used to think that maybe my car was at fault, but after reading this, it sound similar enough that I'm thinking it's iOS's fault. (But I guess there's no way I can tell.)
Gaston  2013-10-07 12:57
iPhone 5s IOS 7.0.2
Oticon streamer mutes all sounds except phone ringtone when paired with bluetooth.
Forget Streamer, sounds come back.
Re-pair and connect streamer, no sound except phone ringtone.
Gaston  2013-10-08 08:41
I found out if I go to Control Panel, open Air Play, and select iPhone, the Streamer works for phone calls, and all the alert sounds work on the phone.

I assume that I would have to switch back to Streamer to play music or game sounds.

I'll try it later. One thing at a time!
Some of my photos show black in Photos on my 4S. They download fine and are OK on my laptop. At first I thought it might be ones taken with HDR, but I don't think that's it.
Suzanne R Brown  2013-10-07 16:50
Tristan's in HS? Yikes! I remember when you announced his birth! I'm getting VERY old...
Pete Crosta  2013-10-07 19:04
Regarding audio: Has audio output been capped? I have missed more telephone calls w/7 than I did in all my years w/iPhones. I have the same ringtone as in the past, yet it doesn't seem as loud on full volume.
Gustavo Domínguez  2013-10-07 19:55
You missed mentioning a major problem, at least for me; the one thing that kept me coming back to the iPhone whenever I put away my iPhones and try a new OS was Spotlight--the easy, universal search.

Now with version 7, there's no longer links for web or Wikipedia search in Spotlight. I have to either ask Siri or have Safari on docked for quick access.

And, Siri is not really an option since I'm looking for a thing that I don't know myself so the most likely thing to happen is that I have to correct Siri and waste that time typing it; there's also situations where you cannot talk/make noise. You can raise the phone to your ear but you'd still be making noise.

I now found myself carrying my second line with me, a Nexus 4, and skip my iPhone/iPads—whereas that phone stayed mostly plugged in in case at home when iOS 6 was out.
Ettin Edward C.  2013-10-07 20:06
I very much miss the "list" version of the calendar. It only occurs when you use the search function but it is no longer an option. Any chance that next version of iOS 7 will add the list function option?
Alexis Koetter  2013-10-08 09:00
I am having an issue that I haven't heard anyone else having. My update deletes messages I haven't deleted, but when I go to delete a conversation, my message app will not work, it won't let me send messages or even see messages I didn't delete, its a completely blank inbox.
so far I identified 3 major (for me) problems with iOS 7.0.2:
1. audio player is not controllable through Bluetooth (pause/play/next/prev controls are not functional)
2. iMessage: I am not able to delete selected message in conversation, it deletes entire thread instead...
2. phone controls struck (like can't reach keypad, etc.), need to reboot to recover
Clive   2013-10-23 19:37
For message delete hold one message you want to delete. Select "More..." in the pop-up. Circles will appear to the left of all messages with the one you held ticked. Select as many as you want to delete and then select the trash can at the lower right.
Can anybody here comment on how well iOS 7 works on an iPhone 4? Is it much slower? Does it lag a lot? I have an iPhone 4 (not 4S!) that's still running iOS 5 and I'm curious to try out iOS 7. But since I can't go back I'm hesitating.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-10-13 09:26
Ars Technica did a good article on this topic. I'd upgrade only if I really wanted a new feature.
Don't do it till they fix lot of stuff ! I didn't listen to my son in law and got 7 and now do any problems! Very slow, batteries, most of all won't ring when I get messages! Sucks sorry
Marjan  2013-10-16 17:56
hlw! I'm frm Bangladesh. i'm using iphone4 but its turn off for twice yet and i can't switch on. what should i do? why its occur? pls help me
I keep dropping calls since upgrade and fix. This is not a carry issue and no I do not want to factory fix. Also I will be on the phone and it will all of a sudden switch to FaceTime.
Doug Lerner  2013-10-20 18:17
I am having the same Siri problems.
Is it an iOS 7 problem? Has Apple changed Siri since releasing iOS 7?

With all their money, why can't they add enough servers to handle the load?

I'm on high-speed wifi almost all the time, and the pauses, delays and non-responsiveness has gotten seriously annoying. I used to miss Siri when I went from my iPhone 5 to my iPad 2, and was thinking of upgrading to the next iPad because of Siri (for one thing). But as of late I would classify Siri as more annoying than useful.
Anonymous  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2013-10-30 18:12
All of my messages are now green (text) instead do blue
(iMessage ). This is obviously more expensive for me.
priyankur malik  2013-11-12 01:20
I am having problem with my iPhone 4 iOS7.03 while using on Bose Sounddock II. Ever since I have upgraded to iOS 7.03, there is no sound when I dock it in Bose Soundock system. However, the system charges my phone. I could not find a solution to this problem. The sound dock work with AUX cable with my other devices. This problem is not present when I dock another phone with iOS6 version.