Yet Another iPhone App Switcher Mockup

I know the forums have been saturated with potential mockups and ideas as to how iOS will progress, especially in terms of the App Switcher. Anyone who has seen my posts on The Verge in the past know that I love me some theoretical interface, and something that's bugged me for a while about iOS is the inconsistencies between gestures, swiping, the icon metaphor, and multi-tasking.

*NOTE* I'm aware of several similar topics, and recent app switcher ideas. I've been thinking on this issue for quite some time now and wanted to share my thoughts.

So I propose to fix those annoyances.



Starting in iOS 5 Apple introduced the Notification Center, and with it, ruined the idea that the linen texture resides underneath the OS and App that the user is using. That's fine, I find it a bit jarring, but I understand why they went with the texture. And while I wouldn't exactly hate if they went with a simple gradient, or translucent material I don't imagine that will change. But what I can NOT get over is how you invoke the Notification Center compared to the App Switcher (The two main linen areas of the OS besides folders.)

To open the Notification Center the user swipes from the very top (or beyond) of the screen downward. It's fluid, it's great, it works for Android, it works just as well in iOS.

But, what happens when you swipe from the very bottom of the screen upwards? Nothing. On the iPad you can use multiple fingers to swipe up and reveal the App Switcher. On the iPhone, no such feature, which seems like a huge oversight in terms of iOS cohesiveness.

Before I get ahead of myself, let me introduce my idea (which others have had, I'm positive) of a reconfigured App Switcher; Essentially Mission Control/Expose for the iOS.


Instead of four icons along the bottom representing recently used applications, I see it much more intuitive and eye pleasing to show four recently used application thumbnails. The layout is not at all foreign, even in iOS. The webpage switcher in Safari is basically a single thumbnail implementation of this idea. iOS already captures a screen capture of the state you last see with every application when you leave them. Instead of showing the icon of the app, that thumbnail would be shown with page markers to show how many open pages you have of applications (something the current app switcher lacks.)

Applications could be cleared the same way they currently are with the red minus badge. Or, alternatively, swiping them up could also work, but the latter seems very un-apple.

Now, I know what you're saying "Why would it make sense to slide this view onto the screen from the bottom of the phone?"

Allow me to answer that question:

It wouldn't.

That's not what I'm proposing here. I think double tapping the home button to reveal this app switcher would do just fine. Thumbnails zoom in, thumbnails zoom out. Just like expose and or Mission Control.

What could show up when you slide up from the very bottom of the screen is the control section that appears when you swipe right on the current App Switcher. I affectionately call this segment of iOS the "Action Center".

I feel like if you relieve the small section that appears when you double tap currently with this "Action Center" the OS feels much more consistant. Swipe down from the top to get the Notification Center, Swipe up from the bottom to get the Action Center.

In the Action Center you could also have additional panes such as toggling on and off WiFi, Data, Bluetooth, adjust volume/brightness. Much like the excellent recent mockup by Brentcas which can be seen here:

Rethinking the iPhone's App Switcher

I feel like if Apple were to take a similar approach to what I've shown above it would make the OS feel much more active, and lessen the desire from the user-base regarding widgets.

I know it's a lot to swallow, although it's a rather simple concept that really only adds on top of what is already in the OS. I just hope I articulated it in a way that makes sense to someone else.