Apple’s recent release of the iPhone 6 introduced itself with a beastly 4.7-inch screen, outshined only by its bigger cousin, the iPhone 6 Plus, which boasts a 5.5-inch glass. Can we say #smablet? The larger viewing window creates a lot of opportunity for better media viewing and larger workspace and who doesn’t like a few extra pixels? However, as smartphones grow in size (and our hands don’t), app developers are presented with some new interface design challenges. We polled some of our Incredible Designers to get the low-down on how Apple’s new iPhone growth hormone will affect the App world.
Bottom Menu Controls Desktop
Desktop computers and the traditional Windows interface have trained us all to expect our navigation buttons at the top of the screen. Most apps on the market today have top nav controls but when you’re holding the device in your hand, those little taps are just too far away for the thumb. In an attempt to ease the strain on your opposable digit, companies like Google are placing the navigation buttons nearly a third of the way down the screen (well within reach of most thumbs) or even on the very bottom. Loren Brichter, the mind behind Twitter’s pull-to-refresh gesture, suggests this isn’t enough and hopes to see more flexible interface designs that allow the user to over-scroll and drag on the screen to get buttons and controls within reach.
Lose the Button Pecking and Swipe
Still other app interface designers are moving away from all that button-tapping altogether, instead opting for swipes and gestures to better utilize the increased functionality of touch technology. Apple was planning ahead back when they released the iOS7 that introduced the swipe-to-go-back gesture currently proving to be very helpful on this bigger screens. We expect a world with more pulls, swipes, and pinches in the world of touch devices as screens get bigger and applications get more advanced.
Look Out for the Split-Screens
A final innovation of iOS8 that gets our techies excited is the possibility for dual-pane data presentation with a split-screen option on the iPhone. More and more apps are discovering the increased functionality capabilities and information presentation options available with more screen real estate and the ability to split the screen into two side-by-side or top-bottom windows.
Are buttons a relic of the keyboard days? Will the iPhone 7 or 8 be available in cinemascope? What about the epidemic of sore thumbs threatening the Western world? Perhaps a more flexible, responsive interface is necessary to cover all the screen terrain with a solitary digit. Only time will tell.
For our money, we recommend the truly tech savvy get to work on a steady regiment of thumb calisthenics and flexibility training. Apple techies will soon reign as champions in the Thumb War Championship.