Why is Apple's iOS bluetooth so buggy? And why don't they fix it?

Discussion in 'iOS 11' started by LostInTheTrees, Feb 18, 2018.

  1. LostInTheTrees macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    #1
    I have had iPhones since the original I now have an iPhone X and really like it. I went to bluetooth headsets very early and I have had perhaps a half dozen different models. My previous headset was a Powerbeats3 with the Apple chip in it. My current set is a pair of Airpods I bought about 3 months ago. I am also on my second car that connects through BT. The first was an MDX and I now have the brand new Volvo XC60. I also use a Jawbone mini-Jambox.

    Throughout all my use of BT headsets on iPhones, there have been constant problems. I thought for a while it was the app I am usually listening to, but when I switch apps, the same bugs still are present.

    Most of the problems occur when switching clients. I'll call the iPhone the server here and the Airpods, mini-Jambox, cars, and Powerbeats clients. I routinely walk around listening to my podcast app (RSS Radio) on the Airpods. When I start the car, the car audio connects and takes over as the BT client. Audio switches from Airpods to car, plays for maybe a second or 2 then stops. I hit the play button in the car, audio starts sometimes, sometimes not, I hit it again, then it sometimes starts, usually no later than the third time, audio in the car starts up and works. The exact same thing happened in the older car, the MDX. Now it happens in the Volvo.

    Pretty much the exact same thing happens in reverse. I shut off the car and double tap the Airpods. I get 1 second of audio then it stops. After the second or third time, audio starts up and works correctly.

    If I wait perhaps 5-10 seconds after the car turns off, then double tap, it comes on and works. It appears that the iPhone has a period after switching clients when it will pause immediately after play is hit, no matter what you do.

    Even when there is no switching and Airpods are the client, I will often double tap to play after a prolonged time of standby and nothing will happen. There are at least three different cases here. Sometimes nothing happens even though the Airpods show as connected. Sometimes the Airpods show as connected and the app will show that is has switched to Play, but no audio plays. It will even switch back and forth each time I double tap, play/Pause/Play/Pause, but no audio plays. When I go to the iPhone and hit the play button in the app, the audio always plays through the Airpods. This is very consist. Hitting Play in the app always works, but the double tap to play often plays no audio. The third scenario is that I double tap repeatedly and nothing happens, then I find out that the airpods are disconnected.

    These "long" periods of disconnection followed by problems are on the order of 10s of minutes. It often happens while at lunch. I get out of my car, with the usual connection switch problems, those are consitenly reproducible, and I go into an In-N-Out for lunch. I pause the play of the podcasts. While eating I read on my iPad. Since you asked, no, the Airpods do not reconnect with the iPad. When I am finished, 20-40 minutes later I double tap to Play the podcasts again. This is when this version fo problems typically happens. I finally get the Airpods playing again, get in my car and the car connection issues happen again. It's incredibly irritating.

    Yet another issue happens when I play golf. I play with an airpod in my ear, but I often leave the iPhone in the cart. At a green I may be 30 or 40 yards from the cart so the Airpods disconnect, then reconnect when I get closer again. After a few holes, the iPhone basically refuses to reconnect to the Airpods. It seems to decide that the Airpods are broken so it stops reconnecting to avoid what IT thinks are problems, yet I DO NOT.

    The Airpods are the best and most convenient BT headset I have owned, but these problems are incredible annoying. I can't imagine why they have not been fixed. Surely the BT and Airpod engineers at Apple are heavy users of the product like I am. The problems are easy to notice and replicate. They have persisted over multiple cars, multiple iPhones and multiple headsets. Why on earth don't the engineers find and fix these problems?
    --- Post Merged, Feb 18, 2018 ---
    One more issue I forgot. The iPhone will often forget what app I was listening to and revert to the Apple Music app. Why does it get confused? Why can't I designate the default "play" app?
     
  2. simonsi macrumors 601

    simonsi

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2014
    Location:
    Auckland
    #2
    Pretty sure your various clients aren't aware of each other, let alone aware of your desired rules about correct device switching ("play AirPods until car connects then switch to car" and vice versa). I just think you are seeing a miss-mash of BT protocol confusion TBH. What happens if you manually disconnect the AirPods and then manually connect to the car for instance?

    Yep I'd expect the iPhone is just seeing the AirPods disconnect, reconnect etc etc and eventually getting confused or deciding to protect themselves, how are they to know its ok and you are deliberately walking out of range as you are on a golf course???
     
  3. az431 macrumors 65816

    az431

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2008
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #3
    Not sure why you assume that it must be iOS, and not something specific with your phone or the devices. I’ve never had any of these issues.
     
  4. tomegun macrumors 6502

    tomegun

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    #4
    I see some of the issues above and issues with my Apple watches unlocking when I unlock my phone.
     
  5. LostInTheTrees thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    #5
    I thought I explained this, but the issue has persisted over
    1) multiple iPhones, a 7+ and an X
    2) multiple apps
    3) multiple cars
    4) multiple BT headsets
    5) multiple iOS versions

    It is hard to see how this would be true if it were unique to my HW. I did think it might be my podcast app, but then I tried another app, NPR One, same behavior. Now it could be the same error in both apps, but ...
    --- Post Merged, Feb 19, 2018 ---
    As to latter issue, backing off on a connecting device that repeatedly disconnects is a reasonable algorithm to add to the BT behavior. My point here is that it works poorly in practice and should probably be removed.

    There is no need for client devices to know about each other. The algorithm being followed is pretty clear. A client stays connected to the most recent device. If it gets disconnected, it reconnects to the next most recent device. The car is different, both of them snatch the "server" whenever the car is started. That actually works well. When I enter the car I am usually on the airpods. For the car to take the phone and begin playing is the desired behavior. When the car shuts off, the airpods reclaim the phone. This actually DOES work. The problem is that the audio starts and immediately stops in both cases during a transition period of 5-20 seconds.
     
  6. simonsi macrumors 601

    simonsi

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2014
    Location:
    Auckland
    #6
    Unless this is documented behaviour as to how BT devices should work when in such a pool of devices then its a big assumption that that is intended behaviour - especially when you have different device types in reality and possibly appearance to the phone (ie some car units appear as headsets, some as handsfree).

    Lots of variables.
     
  7. LostInTheTrees thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2011
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    #7
    Cars use multiple profiles, Handsfree, Headset and probably A2DP and AVRCP too + others. Apple undoubtedly has proprietary profiles as well for the Airpods and iPhone. None of that matters. Implementing a profile just gives you a selection of tools, it never guarantees correct operation from the point of view of the user. No good software developer would be satisfied with the behavior I have described. This is what confuses me. I have worked in networking software since the 70s and if I were an Apple engineer in this area there is no way I would tolerate this. It would embarrass me until I had fixed it. It is definitely fixable.

    I might blame the car, but there are two cars manufactured 8 years apart that have the same behavior. The one constant that I can see is iOS.
     

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6 February 18, 2018