The case against Control Center

With iOS 5, Apple introduced Notification Center, the pull-down shade that houses missed notifications and messages all in one place.

With iOS 7, Apple added Today, a section of Notification Center that users can fill with first- and third-party widgets, as well as Control Center, a quick way to get at commonly-used utilities with a flick up from the bottom of the display.

I don’t think this has aged very well, unfortunately, and it’s mostly Control Center’s fault. In addition to it being confusing to have a hidden panel at the top of the screen, having one at the bottom too is a lot to handle for some users. But there’s a bigger problem in my mind: Control Center just does way too many things.

I love the top row and screen brightness settings, but as I get closer to the bottom of the screen, the usefulness of Control Center lessens. With the exception of maybe the flashlight button, I’d be fine if the bottom row went away, Calculator and that creepy new Night Mode button included.

I think Apple could simplify all of this by looking to Android’s Notifications Drawer, where all of this stuff is in one pull-down tray from the top of the screen. Pull down a little to see notifications; pull down further to reveal a set of utilities:

(Android will even re-arrange those utilities based on what you use often. Tether a bunch, and a toggle for it will appear in the Drawer, but that’s probably a lot to ask for from iOS.)

Control Center could very easily become a set of widgets that users could use to populate Notification Center in any way they want. I’d probably keep the screen brightness and hardware toggles, but that’s about it. Others may want to just have shortcuts to Clock and Calculator. This would allow for greater customization and a cleaner user interface. Seems like a win to me.