Apple, Stop Parenting Me – Rant About iOS 14 Auto-Volume Reduction

Apple is a company that tends to believe it knows best what its customers want. Sometimes a company – not specific to Apple – does actually know better than the customer. Apple has been very active in the past years to push customer health and provide hardware, the Apple Watch, and software, the Health app, to facilitate this push in the form of products they can sell. I do not own an Apple Watch, but I genuinely view it as a good thing.

Now, with iOS 14, Apple has gone a bit too far with regards to health monitoring. It now enforces rules I, the customer and user of a device, cannot override. I am talking about the automatic volume reduction when iOS thinks I have been listening to loud audio for too long.

This is not okay!
This is not a situation where a company knows better.

It is actively limiting its product’s usefulness to me, the customer who paid a lot of money for it. I understand the motivation, but I cannot condone the action taken. Apple cannot even know why I turn up the volume to levels it deems inappropriate for a more extended period.

Here are a few examples, some of which already happened to me.

  1. Bluetooth-pairing the phone with my car’s audio system.

    I usually crank the phone’s volume to max to roughly match the other audio sources, like music on a USB stick (yes, I am a cave-man that has music on a stick).

  2. Listening to podcasts while going for a walk or run next to a busy road.

    Imagine my surprise when the voices speaking to me seemed to have disappeared because iOS lowered the volume to a point where the audio was drowned by traffic noise. I thought my phone had died – which has happened often enough thanks to an iOS bug that incorrectly reported battery percentage and dropped from 30% to turning off within 15-20 minutes.

  3. Listening with studio headphones that have a high input resistance (in ohm).

    I recently bought a new pair of headphones, and the quickest way to compare them with my old ones was to plug them into my phone. 80 Ω is not a lot, but enough to have to crank up the volume a bit higher to get a decent fun level. In the end, it is still much quieter compared to my PC soundcard that supports up to 600 Ω headphones.

No. 1 has not yet happened, but I assume it might once the world is rid of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I can/must travel to work a couple of times per month. On longer car rides, I usually listen to podcasts, and as mentioned, I turn up the volume on my phone in those cases. The other two issues have already managed to annoy me, and No. 3 prompted me to write this little rant – although that is the least likely of the three examples to occur regularly. Most of the time, it will be No. 2 when I am out walking or going for a run. The traffic noise is much worse than people talking to me. I am not even listening to music, which is also worse than people talking to me. I prefer Apple to turn down the car noise on the roads instead of my headphones. Until they can do that, stop messing with my volume, please.

(Is this a ploy to get me to buy horribly expensive AirPods Pro with
noise cancellation?)

I can agree that a notification is a good start to educate users. But please do not take any automatic action. At least make it configurable. I am an adult, and I should be able to decide for myself. On top of that, there are legitimate use-cases where a higher "theoretical" volume is required.

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