Moving the iPhone App Switcher Forward
The Video (it's short)
Everyone likes a video. Here's a video of my concept (watch in HD!).
Don't get me wrong, I loved linen when I first saw it, but that was three years ago. The design world moves fast, and Apple has historically moved computer design forward, but I don't see that happening as much with iOS. They seem to be playing it safer. Their way of updating their design by small incremental changes every year might mean that linen will be with us for a while, but I'm here to propose something different. I'm frustrated by the tiny switcher on my iPhone 5 and this is my way of venting!
Apple likes glass, so much so that it's been a staple of Mac OS X since the beginning. Frosted glass can be seen in the Launchpad introduced in OS X Lion, and in the OS X status bar. When I first saw Launchpad it really impressed me. Even the way it slightly zooms in as it's appearing is a testament to Apple's attention to detail.
My concept proposes replacing the linen in the app switcher with frosted glass. Not only that, but expanding the switcher to take advantage of the new 4" screen size introduced with the iPhone 5.
OS X Launchpad
A Better Switcher
There's a couple thing different in this view of the switcher. First of all you have two rows instead of one. This will cut down seeking time in half and cut down the swipes needed to reach a recent app in half also. At the expense of a bit of screen real-estate that frankly is not being used anyways. Second of all the switcher nows goes over the screen instead of pushing the screen up. This is in-line with the notification center and it works well.
One More Row...
Two rows is good, but two rows would've worked fine before the 4" screens. Let's bump that up to three rows, and remove the need for the music slider. By dragging the two row switcher up it reveals a third row for settings toggles. The settings toggles all keep with Apple's rotation toggle style. The spacing between the app icons and the settings toggles acts as a divider, and swiping left on the settings space only reveals more settings toggles.
Now what was I saying about the music slider? The mute button acts both as a toggle and as a slider. When you start a touch drag from the mute button the volume HUD pops up, dragging up/down adjusts the volume. Same with the brightness toggle.
Linen Doesn't Fit
What would this concept look like with linen? See below (not cute). I don't think any further explanation is necessary.
The music panel reaps the benefits of the extra space too. Now it shows album art as well as the current artist and current album.
Moving forward I can see Apple prominently using frosted glass in iOS. It's a very eye pleasing style, and it integrates well with the existing interface. I expect the switcher will be bumped up to two or three rows in iOS 7.