Zenbar: The Fastest Smartphone App Switcher Concept on the Planet.


After I posted the 8Ball design concept for fast app switching in this forum last week, I learned that a) not everyone likes my balls and b) people on this forum are both smart and damn fussy.

To someone with, erm, let's say high self esteem :) there is nothing like a few insults and a bit of praise to throw down the metaphorical gauntlet. This culminated in one busy Sunday's work to redesign the interface, this time for aesthetics rather than proof of concept... and then rewrite the app the same day.

Zenbar is the result. OK, I admit, it makes 8Ball look like my four year old daughter created it with crayons. So, thanks. Every developer needs feedback to remove complacency and become better at what they do. This is a great place to get it.

Introducing Zenbar.

Spurred by the hideously unwieldy double home press that Apple uses to provide access to the multitasking bar, I came up with a single gesture to achieve a better user experience. The double tap was passable before the iPhone 5, but now, well, it shits me. Having said that, Apple's method is still considerably better than competing platforms, but that's generally a given (see analysis in 8Ball post).

Zenbar uses the same single gesture concept, however, this time I spent attention on polishing the UX rather than creating something just to showcase the gesture.

To explain the gesture. Firstly, let's look where your thumb is most likely to be. Your thumb naturally points upwards when holding your device. It is also likely to be around the top navigation bar area. To this end, the least range of movement will be in the top left or right of your screen, depending on whether you are right or left handed.

Therefore, the concept centres around the introduction of two new "pull zones" at either side of the current notification centre pull zone. The current notification centre pull zone is reduced, as it does not need to be full width, and is easily reachable from either side by logically condensing the pull zone. This allows for two new easily reachable pull zones to be freed up.


Therefore, switching apps is achieved by a single gesture. No tapping required.


OK. So this is all nice and quick. However, a number of commenters on the 8Ball post thought that there also needed to be a solution to accessing the full multitasking bar. So, I thought about this.

The Lock Zone

Once the distance of travel reaches around 75%, the Zenbar is then moved into what I term the lock zone. Releasing the finger will then clip the Zenbar to the base of the screen.


So there we have it.

It is probably best to watch the concept in action on the iPhone 5 in this 1 minute 15 second video. Best to switch to 720P if you have the bandwidth. Before viewing I must warn that I have grubby little kids and I forgot to clean the table. My wife will kill me. But that's my problem. :)

In closing. Thanks again to both the positive and negative comments on 8Ball. I look forward to more of both :)