Here's How Apple Could Improve the Control Center in iOS 17

Maybe tidy it up, and make it less confusing

  • According to rumors, the Control Center will get a big redesign in iOS 17.
  • Currently, the layout, and its settings, are a confusing mess. 
  • Apple could add support for shortcuts and add app icons. 
Someone using the Control Panel on their iPhone while sitting at a table with coffee and a notebook nearby.

Negativespace / Mockup Photos

In iOS 17, the Control Center may be getting a redesign—and it's about time. 

The iPhone's Control Center is pretty great. With a swipe from the top of the screen, you have access to a bunch of handy shortcuts for features that are otherwise hidden deeper. You can toggle Bluetooth on and off, control your music playback, check in on and control some home automation features, and even launch select apps. Insider reports say Apple is planning a major redesign of the Control Center for iOS 17, which will arrive this fall after a summer of beta testing. So how could Apple improve it?

"One of the biggest issues I have with the Control Center is its lack of customization options. Sure, it's great to have easy access to common settings like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Airplane mode, but I would love to add or remove toggles based on my personal preferences. This would allow me to tailor the Control Center to my specific needs, making it even more useful," Victoria Mendoza, The CEO of MediaPeanut, told Lifewire via email. 

Control Center Inconsistencies

First, let's see what Control Center is good for and where it falls down. The main problems with Control Center on the iPhone and iPad, according to a brief survey (aka asking people I know who use Apple devices), are that it doesn't do enough and that it's a pain to customize the stuff that is there. 

Control Center isn't just one thing. It consists of several sections, each unrelated except for the fact that you might want to access them quickly. The top half gives you controls for music playback; radio connections (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular, plus an Airplane Mode toggle); volume and screen brightness, plus a few more that we may never use (screen mirroring, we're talking about you). This section is not customizable. 

I would love to add or remove toggles based on my personal preferences. This would allow me to tailor the Control Center to my specific needs, making it even more useful.

The bottom half is where you can pick and choose what to add. If you have never customized Control Center before, open the Settings app, find Control Center in the list, and tap to see your options. There's quite a lot there, and it looks pretty straightforward, but here we get to the first inconsistency. 

In that list, the icons all look to be of the same kind. But while some of them toggle functions directly (Low Power Mode, Flashlight, etc.), some are just shortcuts to launch apps, while others do both. The Timer icon, for example, will launch the Timer app when tapped. But if you long-press it, you can set the timer's length directly, which is an excellent feature. And the Camera can be launched into stills, video, portrait, and other modes with a long press. 

The thing is, you never know which is which. The only way to discover what a control will do is to tap it, then long-press it, and see what happens. This gets absurd after a while, with a kind of long-press "Inception."

For example, long-press anything in the wireless control square (mentioned above), and it shows you a panel with shortcuts to various extra settings. The crazy part is that you can also long-press those to go even deeper. The Bluetooth icon reveals a list of connected and non-connected Bluetooth devices, for example, and Wi-Fi does the same for Wi-Fi networks.

Let People 'Control' the Control Center

The first improvement would be to make the Control Center easier to control. Right now, you have to dive into the Settings app to change anything, with no shortcut from the Control Center itself. So a shortcut to the Settings is job one. Also, one of my respondents said that she expected to be able to long-press an icon and have it enter the same jiggle mode as the home screen, where you can rearrange and delete icons. That also seems obvious.

Screenshots of the Control Center in iOS and what happens when you long-press an icon.

And what about being able to add a shortcut to any app? Control Center can be opened when the iPhone is locked, depending on your settings, so it could be handy as a quick app launcher. Or what about expanding what's already there?

For example, you can't currently add a control for a particular HomeKit switch or light. 

"I want to be able to customize what shows up for home controls. Most of the time, the suggestions are fine, but there were more than a few times when I had to expand it and dig around the full list for the one I wanted," Apple user szw-mapple fan said in a MacRumors forum thread participated in by Lifewire. 

Finally, Control Center seems like the exact right place to put user-made Shortcuts. Shortcuts are, by their nature, meant to be quickly triggered and then forgotten. You should be able to add their icons so you can do this without even unlocking your phone. 

Was this page helpful?