How to turn off app suggestions on iPhone

For when Apple's "proactivity" goes awry

One of the exciting possibilities of new technology is smart devices that are actually clever enough to learn your behavior and provide you with what you need before you even ask for it. In particular, predictive behavior technology has been given a lot of attention in iOS 9. But we have a reader who isn't a big fan of this procative tech, especially when its predictions miss the mark. Luckily, it's a feature that's easy to turn off - here's how.

Question

Every time I put headphones into my iPhone 6 (running iOS 9), it automatically opens Podcasts and a small Podcasts app icon appears on my lock screen...which is great if I'm actually planning to listen to a podcast, but I'm usually not. What is this, and how do I turn it off?

Answer

What you are seeing is part of Apple's iOS 9 feature called Proactivity. With this feature, your iPhone will automatically remember apps that you commonly use at specific times of the day, when you plug in your headphones, and even who's calling based on phone numbers in your emails. All of this smartness is baked right into iOS 9.

Sometimes, however, it can predict your behavior incorrectly, which can be inconvenient. Fortunately, you do have the ability to disable certain aspects of Proactivity - in particular, the automatic app suggestion feature you mentioned can be turned off. To disable this feature:

1. Open the Settings app on your iOS device.

2. Navigate to General > Handoff & Suggested Apps.

3. Disable the option for "Installed Apps."

Suggested Apps

Switch off the Installed Apps option and you'll stop seeing those icons appear on your lock screen.

Note that turning off installed apps suggestions will also disable Handoff app suggestions on the lock screen when using a companion app on another device.

Got an Apple tech question? Email ask@maclife.com.