Cannot access data network! The iPhone’s stupid notifications need updating

I travel on the train often so my handsets regularly drop their network connections. It’s no biggie. This has been happening since 1986 and it’s factored in to the occasionally frustrating mobile experience.

What’s utterly perplexing, though, is the iPhone’s panicked “Cannot access data network” prompt whenever the network drops.

It doesn’t matter what I’m doing on the phone — even if I’m not actively using it — I seem to get this crazy message.

It’s crazy because it’s a super example of totally sh1t user experience. Apple are supposed to be the masters of this stuff.

But the moment your handset hits a “no service” pocket, you’re warned with a prompt that requires you to dismiss it before you can continue.

This is a good example of how dated iOS is, from a fundamental level. Back in 2006, when the team were programming it for a 2007 release, this might have sounded like a useful feature, especially if your first-gen hardware was a bit iffy on the connection quality.

I do have to point out that not even the horrific Nokia N97 displayed silly prompts like this. The handset just got on with it.

Getting on with it is, coincidentally, what many of iPhone’s fans like so much. The appreciate that they don’t have to switch on or manually activate a WiFi connection. Nor do they need to tell the phone which to prioritise. When you get home, your iPhone will pick up your WiFi seamlessly — a huge improvement on the manual systems that had gone before.

All the whizzy experiential joy goes out of the window when you’re forced to routinely interrupt your handset usage to acknowledge it’s panicky network issue. Why is this even built into the operating system any more?

Just deal with it, iPhone!

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

10 replies on “Cannot access data network! The iPhone’s stupid notifications need updating”

‘I do have to point out that not even the horrific Nokia N97 displayed silly prompts like this. The handset just got on with it.’

Err noo….what the horrific N97 would actually do is disable automatic checking of email if there was no data at the time it checked. So if you set the N97, or in fact any Symbian phone of the time to check your email every 30 mins etc and data was not available, it would disable email and you’d have to delve about 4 levels deep in settings to re-enable it. A right f’ing pain in the arse it was.

They need a new option: press and hold *any* notification/alert etc, opting not to be warned again, or for x hours/days/weeks.

Dear UX designers of the world, you can have that idea for a crate of Samuel Smith’s.

Mine is not too bad.. but my mates iPhone drops all the time when he’s on the move. Can’t blame the network as it’s in city centres and such like.. He’s on the phone and just goes dead, or goes to check mails and can’t get online at all..

The notification/alert system for iOS has always been broken. The context of the type of notification you were getting Ewan should be something displayed in thge notification bar, as its something to see and ignore (perhaps with a timer to only sit there for ‘x’ minutes unless manually dismissed). That Apple hasn’t gone to using the notification bar across all system notification with the exception of alert/prompt for purposed action contexts strickes me as the greater UX snaffu.

They could have just went smarter and copied WebOS with the entire notifications schema, but that would have been too tough for Jobs’ ego me thinks.

Biggest current gripe with the iPhone for sure.  And seems to be getting worse too.  They do seem to eventually improve these things though, so fingers crossed.

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