One of the most-changed parts of iOS in the latest update is Control Center. It has a new look, new toggles, and even a new location for (future) iPhone X users. All of that is very visible, but one thing that’s far more subtle are the tweaks to the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi toggles in Control Center.
In iOS 11, those toggles don’t actually turn the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios off. Instead, they disable most (but not all services) from using those radios. Your connection to your Apple Watch, for example, will stay even if you turn Bluetooth off. AirDrop, AirPlay, Location Services, and other Apple services will keep using Wi-Fi after you’ve turned the Wi-Fi toggle off.
The reason for the changes is obvious, at least if you’re an Apple developer. Most people don’t understand that your phone passively uses Wi-Fi for all kinds of low-energy (but important!) applications, and turning it off might harm those services while not actually saving you much battery life. Keeping those background services while disabling the ability to connect to Wi-Fi networks or Bluetooth accessories probably seems like an elegant fix to Apple developers.
But it’s a classic example of Apple Knowing Best. The company’s software has always had the reputation of offering a more convenient experience, at the expense of choice. That’s exactly what’s going on here.
Now, you can still properly turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi from the Settings app. But you’ll only discover that if you go hunting through the internet, or read Apple’s documentation. Few people will ever realize the difference between the Control Center and Settings toggles, and that’s exactly how Apple wants it.