*RELEASED!* Rethinking the App Switcher for the iPhone 5 (mockups)
Apple said it best themselves when pitching their elongated screen at the iPhone 5 event, but as much as they attempted to sell us on the idea that an extra 176 vertical pixels would offer substantial functional improvements, they did little to actually show us that. Apart from an extra row of apps(!), of course.
The goal is to offer extended functionality that takes advantage of the extended screen real-estate. While this concept isn't indignant upon the extra pixels, it is still one small, but substantial way that iOS can begin to shift and adapt towards the 16:9 future ahead of it.
Whether you're using iOS on a 9.7" or a 4" display, to the trained eye it is quite obvious that the UI did not originally contour to those screen sizes. They are deviations of a UX designed and built based on a 3.5" display. While this is especially apparent with the iPad's UI, it's also noticeable with the iPhone 5. It doesn't take a genius to realize that the iOS was not exactly re-imagined for the additional extra pixels, or the new aspect ratio.
This concept shows how one important element of the iOS can be re-thought to take advantage of the new size, in a subtle yet practical way, while retaining the original functionality and design philosophy of what made an idea good to begin with. I'm talking about:
The App Switcher
One of iOS's most repeatedly used functions in day to day activity is its multi-tasking capabilities, via the app switcher. It's accessed through a double click of the home button which slides the tray upward, giving you access to icons of your four last opened apps. It's functional enough to get the task done while remaining unostentatious enough to not be a visual nuisance. Due to it encompassing a relatively sliver portion of the screen when activated, your thumb never needs to navigate too far from the original enabling point (the home button) to switch an app.
This is where most previous concepts fail. In an attempt to offer more functionality and features, they lose the core simplicity of the switcher which made it particularly usable to begin with. Some concepts use the entire screen space to display a grid of app previews, others only double the switcher height to include an extra row of icons. While both offer additional functionality, they actually hinder the flow and ease of app-switching. Whether it's a full screen grid solution or displaying two rows in the switcher instead of one, both require more from your thumb than Apple's original solute while tending to be overly brash in appearance as well.
The app switcher now displays elongated card-like icons that serve as a visual representation of their respective app.
The playback controls page, accessible by swiping to the right, now shows more information about the media playing than before, while also sporting improved playback buttons (inspired by the new music app's player design).
The settings page (two swipes right), previously known as 'the useless volume slider' page, now features a useful brightness slider as well as settings toggles which, like the brightness slider, can be used as shortcuts to enable and disable system functions, previously only accessible through the settings app.
Credit to GAF user mescalineeyes for proposing the idea to me! Below are the mockups displayed side-by-side the current version of iOS, to give a sense of the functionality that would be gained;
Thanks, and enjoy!
First of all, thanks for all the overwhelmingly positive feedback (along with some criticisms, of course!), and thanks to the Verge for featuring my post (as well as the various other sites that have now written about it).
Due to the response, I thought I should make quick video demonstration to get a feel how an idea like this could look in motion;
Thanks again, everyone.
A little update everyone: It's in the news! I follow several of these sites in my news feed, and lemme tell you; it was weird seeing my own stuff pop up there. :p Anyhow, it sort of spread like wildfire so I thought I should aggregate the stories and share the links with you all. So here they are:
Softpedia - iOS 7 Craves for a New App Switcher Like This
Redmond Pie - New Concept Shows How Notifications Should Be Implemented In iOS 7
MacStories - iOS 6 Concepts: Multitasking and App Store
iDownloadBlog - Check out this concept for a more useful iOS app switcher
iPhoneinCanada - Check Out This iPhone 5 Optimized iOS App Switcher Concept
Simon Blog - New Concepts on iOS App Switcher
RazorianFly - Rethinking The iOS Task Switcher
iPhone Informer - Awesome New Concept for iPhone 5 App Switcher
As some of you may already know, this concept is currently in development to become a jailbreak tweak. Great progress is being made, and it's actually nearing completion! When the iPhone 5 get jailbroken, you can expect it to be released soon after. :) I elaborated in the comments below, but it will be compatible with the iPhone 4 and iPad as well. For updates/developments on this and other UI concepts, I'm Sentry_NC on twitter.
Hey everyone! I'm happy to say that this has finally been released in the form of a jailbreak tweak, and it's great! Here is Jeff Benjamin's walkthrough/review;
Here are some write-ups in the news:
iDownloadBlog - Auxo completely reinvigorates the iOS app switcher
Mac Rumors - Auxo Shows Off a Redesigned iOS App Switcher
TechnoBuffalo - Auxo JailBreak Tweak is How iOS App Switching Should Look