With Apple’s reimagining of the iPhone interface, notably the loss of the home button and TouchID, many are questioning how the iPhone X will handle features that have become second nature in iOS. Now we have some practical answers.
The new details on the user interface (reported by 9to5mac) come via Apple’s Xcode tool. The beta version of 9.1 was released today and supports three new operating systems, namely iOS 11.1, watchOS 4.1, and tvOS 11.1. It is iOS 11.1 that I want to focus on here, because it features the changes to the UI that are required by the new iPhone X.
Thanks to the lack of a physical home button, Apple has moved to using gestures to offer the functionality previously offered by the classic interface.
The ‘home indicator’ is a small horizontal line at the base of the screen. It’s a visual cue that something can happen in this part of the UI. On the lock screen it gently bounces up and down to indicate that something can happen here, That something is a slide up to unlock the iPhone (and the caption of ‘Swipe up to open’ should also help).
Short/fast swipe up acts as a short press on the home button (i.e. back to the home screen), while a longer slide up the screen acts like a double tap that opens the task manager. Siri can be found with a long press on the power button. If you’re looking for the control center and your notifications, you need to swipe from the top of the screen. These are all demoed in tutorial videos inside the iOS software package. Presumably these will be shown as part of the setup process to educate users.
It’s also worth noting the iPhone X is tending towards the iPad UI than the iPhone, with the dock picking up rounded corners that match both the classic squircle look of the icons and the curved corners at the edge of the display.
In terms of ‘the notch’ (which many believe Apple is using to create a distinctive silhouette, even if it disrupts the smooth potential of the UI) the control center icon can be seen on the right, offering another visual hint that a downward swipe on the right hand side of the status bar gives you access (while notifications can be found on the left hand side).
While these gestures are new to iOS they have been seen in a number of other smartphones, including the MeeGo-powered Nokia N9 from 2011, and the SailFish OS powered Jolla smartphones from 2013. It will be something new for the faithful to get to grips with, but as a constant switcher between devices I don’t see it posing too much of a problem for consumers.
What it does mean is that iOS developers have another interface to content with, as the iPhone X design sits alongside the regular iPhone design (that stretches from the iPhone SE to the iPhone 8 Plus) and the various sizes of iPad Pro tablets. Still, Android developers have been coping with those sorts of issues for years. It’s just another way that Apple is moving ever closer to Android in terms of hardware and software.