Requiem for a Back Button

iOS 6’s Back ButtonI’m working up to writing at greater length about iOS 7 because, well, blogging. In the meantime, I thought I’d make one specific point. The thing that bothers me most about the new operating system is the completely revised back button, which is now less of a button and more of a left-facing arrow that looks a bit like a compressed bracket, plus a text label. I’m not going to critique it extensively right now, except to say that my least favorite thing about it is that it’s not the old back button.

If you ask me, that back button, the one that has been with us since the iPhone debuted, was the best back button design of all time. Most back buttons, like the ones in desktop browsers, are just an arrow-shaped icon with a text label above or below that says only “Back.” If you want to know where they’ll take you, you usually have to click and hold on the button to reveal a list of the screens you previously viewed.

The pre-iOS 7 back button consolidated these things into a single button shape that tapers into an arrowhead on the left side, and it housed a text description of where the button would lead you. It basically did three jobs with a single element. First, it visually signaled the way back, so that even if you didn’t read the descriptor text, you would still recognize the button’s function instantly. Second, if you did read what it said, it gave you the title of the previous view, without forcing you to tap and hold or take some secondary action to reveal that information. And finally, unlike the new back button in iOS 7, it was explicit about what you could tap and where; the target area was clearly demarcated by the button shape, and managed to do so without crowding the title of the view to its right (by contrast iOS 7’s new back button text often seems to run right into the title of the screen).

You Can Go Back Again

Just as importantly, the old back button was a visually pleasing design. Its left side wasn’t just a standard, angular arrowhead — its angles were ever so slightly sloped, softening the shape just enough to suggest that going back would be smooth and instantaneous.

The effect was tremendously elegant, in a very subtle way, and it became a hallmark of iOS apps. No other operating system’s back buttons worked quite the same way, but even better most iOS developers who customized the look of this button would preserve its basic shape, size and function. They might have changed up the color, swapped in a new typeface, or even altered the dimensionality of the button so that it was flat or embossed, but they rarely strayed very far from the original. I always liked to look closely at third party developers’ renderings of this button, to see if they replicated those gentle curves on the arrowhead. In my mind, the very best designed iOS apps always captured that tiny but important detail.

I’ve been using the past tense here as if this back button has left us, passed on to that great big operating system in the sky, but of course it will be around at least until iOS 7 officially ships. I’m holding out a little bit of hope, though, that in the intervening months Apple re-evaluates both the old and new buttons, and realizes what a great thing it had in the former. Maybe they’ll give the old guy a last minute pardon, too, and bring him back from death row.

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47 Comments

  1. Maybe Apple will need to reinstate the “Back” button in much the same way that Microsoft is having to reinstate the “Start” button. There are some things that you just leave alone because you have nailed them. There is such a thing as perfecting an aspect of a user interface. I think that the iOS “Back” button is one of those things that was just great (and so much better than the Android system-wide “Back” button).

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful post. Absolutely agree with your perspective. It is a shame that Apple seem to be so cavalier with throwing away not only iconic aspects of their previous design, but highly functional and pleasant ones.

    I look forward to your full critique of the new iOS 7, but in my heart, I feel I already know its conclusion.

    dZ.

  3. This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many such examples where new iOS7 UI conventions are inferior to iOS 6. For example, buttons that are not delineated in any way and look like labels, fonts and graphics that are drawn in too thin of a stroke for proper visibility/legibility, poor choices of foreground/background colors in various UI elements, and inconsistent use of transparency and shadows across the board. I see a few glimmers of beauty in iOS 7, but overall, I am not a fan. I don’t think the public is going to buy into this in the current state.

  4. I feel the same as Craig–and on that point, what is the logic in removing the button borders, when by definition the buttons do have (transparent) borders at all times?

    or touch-down/depressed affordances? Even if they wanted the neutral or default visual to be a borderless label, a slight shading or knockout background could have helped clarify that all important touch interaction (ie “am I tapping the right place or not?”).

  5. The future of ANY OS is to realize that today is a modern day and computers are heavily used and not every function needs to be spelled out. To honest to me – the old back button was a failure because it had to tell you it’s purpose. “Back”, “Go”, “Enter”, “Submit” means you can not convey purpose based on design and rely on instructions.

  6. The perfect modern day computer back button is not needing one or having one that is not in the way and easily understandable. Not saying iOS7 does this but iOS before this was training wheels.

  7. Here, Here. I couldn’t agree more.

    My first impression was “OMG, they dumped iOS for Android!” I’m absolutely dumbfounded by the changes. It’s as if they looked at all the legitimate criticism of Windows 8 and said “yah, let’s do that!”

    Like others have said before me: is that text a button, editable text, content, a caption?!? Where does the button end and the background begin (so I’ll know where to tap)?

    My favorite anecdote is from the MacWorld editors first impressions. They each did exactly the same thing at the unlock screen (following the instructions on screen to “swipe to unlock” and only seeing the arrow at the bottom of the screen): They swiped up bringing up the notifications center.

    OK, so some people didn’t like the felt background of Game Center and the wooden bookshelf of Newsstand (actually, it was my favorite part of the OS), but don’t throw away everything else.

    After spending a great deal of time looking at it online, I’m very disappointed in iOS 7. If fact, the visual changes are a deal breaker for me. For the first time in years of using iOS, I WON’T be “upgrading.”

  8. This does not take into consideration the fact that Apple has added a back gesture to ios7 which, once discovered, is gonna be far more widely used than the back button.

    I am pretty sure that in a couple of releases, the back button wouldn’t even need to be a button anymore, but would simply be a text label indicating where the “go back” gesture will take you.

    I think the debuttonization of the button is probably deliberate because the back button is especially hard to reach in a longer screen like the iPhone 5, hence making the gesture far more useful.

  9. After trying iOS 7 a couple of days, I can say I am very happy with the path Apple chose. Even I, who likes a lot skeuomorphism, can say that iOS 7 is excellent. Why do you need a button if you can swipe? Why do you need a button in a screen? Everybody likes the futuristic UI in movies like Iron Man and Minority Report. Everybody says: I wish that would be real! Every critic and Apple expert was demanding a flat modern UI. Every Apple writer hated felt, linen and wood. Now that they are gone, they want them back.

    I recommend using the iOS, give it a couple of days, and you will notice every detail. iOS 6 now feels fat, slow and heavy.

  10. I’m with you. I’m not going to comment on the aesthetic, but from a usability standpoint iOS just lost a few key features that made it a great *computer* for beginners. Think about the children!

    The extensive use of thin stroked icons and small Helvetica Light fall under the same rubric. It’s a shame.

  11. Apple didn’t remove the back button. They added a gesture to go back making the back button obsolete.

  12. > The future of ANY OS is to realize that today is a
    > modern day and computers are heavily used
    > and not every function needs to be spelled out.

    There is 1 Intel-based computer for every 5 people in the world. There are more ARM-based systems, but when you exclude those that are used soley for calls/texts, you get back to about 1 for every 5 people again. So we are still in the very early stages. iOS 1—6 is still the one and only computer interface that has been successfully used with zero training by people of all ages and levels of experience. I would need to see some hard data to convince me of your point that things for some reason no longer need to be spelled out. I’m an expert computer user and have designed some pretty decent Web app interfaces and I can’t tell what is a button and what is an indicator in iOS 7. The way iOS 7 works seems right (Control Center, Exposж-like multitasking) but the way it looks seems wrong (buttons, indicators, sliders that don’t explain themselves.) I think it is important to remember that designers and other nerds like to create design languages and other kinds of codes, but most of humanity does not even like to read them. People don’t want to learn what a button looks like on this system, they want to press buttons intuitively and successfully at every turn.

    Apple has an awesome 10 minute video they just released showing a Nurse in rural Africa handing an iPad to patients to show them prenatal care, a Paralympic athlete using iPhone to adjust her prostethic legs for rowing or working out or wearing high heels, and a non-verbal child using iPad as his voice. None of these people are “computer users” although they are using computers and computation. None are excited to learn a design language so they can continue to provide care, row/walk, or speak after their next iOS update. And for each of them, there are many more who have not even begun to use iOS (or any computer) for these kinds of applications. The surface has only been scratched.

    http://youtu.be/PGtP6ZQ6Lt8

  13. @Hamranhansenhansen I will still have to disagree even with this argument. True design is making it obvious not spelling it out. Any icon of a man on a door tells us, “Boys piss here”. The words, around a open icon saying, ” All men pee in here”. Does not make it “easier” it makes it an excuse not to define a better solution. The future of Apple, to hold its reputation of being about simple computing, an innovator, and to demonstrate that aesthetics – no matter how matched with competing systems, is to make it logical by instinct. YOU might think it is not. YOU might assume the Nurse and patient in Africa will not either, but this is THEIR challenge that I am sure more than you and me they are fully aware of. My daughter used the first iPhone at 2 years old – the word BACK meant nothing to her as she could not read. Logic and intuition taught her. It had nothing to do with a big bubbly icon or bold text – it have everything to do with going back made sense.

  14. I guess another way to talk about this is gestures. Where are the instructions on how gestures work? In a video, online, in a setting, in a preview? Yet millions – again using my daughter as reference – instantly figured them out. They were playful and felt right. She didn’t a manual, a text definition, she just needed to use the system. Can you imagine a bubble aqua button that says, “PITCH TO ZOOM” on every photo? True UI / UX to me is killing the directions. Again, “BACK” in a button is a poor excuse for real UX.

  15. One last rant (because this subject in “everyone is clueless” UX bugs me” – think of the HOME button on the iPhone. No instructions, no house icon, no english text that needs to say HOME / HOUSE / BEGINNING just a logical experience. Americans got it, adults got it, children got it, a lost man in the woods figured it out. How? By experiencing it – once, maybe twice. After seconds of using the system it was logical – it made sense – it made anyone using it feel privileged they figured it out. Default thinking says we need to spell it out – we need more buttons, we need to blatantly define what this function will do or all will be loss. But innovation admits it make take a few turns but before long it will become second nature. Nothing is destroyed or ruined it just takes a minute to FEEL it. Exploring is part of the wonder – the allure. This is the point. This is the future.

  16. I had an interesting conversation with my brother today — my Tea-Partying, Glenn Beck-loving brother —аand we came to a rare political accord — our law-makers like to introduce laws, but they don’t like to eliminate them. Accretion. Complexity. Confusion. Until the confounding thing collapses of its own weight.

    So how freeing it is when an institution (in this case, a corporation) decides to chuck out the past and start afresh, a lesson that those in the political arena would do well to learn. Too bad loss aversion is such an inherent part of our biology, even on a blog named “subtraction”.

    This is not to say that the new paradigm is all sunshine and roses, but if a perfect button of an imperfect model has to be killed to free us from the corners we’ve designed our way into, I’m all for it. And really, we don’t need buttons for hyperlinks, so why should navigation be any different, especially when the new design still give you the context?

    Maybe, instead of going too far, they haven’t gone far enough —аwhile Helvetica (Neue) may be beautiful, it’s not so great for a user interface. It would be nice if Jony commissioned some typographers to make a type family that did more to distinguish I from l and had less-closed open counters and even true italics. I find it rather ironic that Apple, the company that likes to control as much as possible, doesn’t have its own UI typeface, yet Windows/Windows Phone and Android do.

  17. Completely agree!

    As an app designer who fully embraces change, experimentation, and progress, please for the love of everything whole in the world bring the old back button back. Sprucen it up as the article discusses. Flatten it out to make it look a little more modern and essential. But please do not abandoned (as the article states) the best back button in mobile.

  18. Dear Whiners,

    Stop complaining and embrace change. The world is not going to end! If you really REALLY hate iOS 7, then stay at 6.1.x. Better yet, get another phone and take your money elsewhere. Seriously, if you want the same old thing, then vote with your money and give buy something that will please you. In doing so, the company will reevaluate their position. Sheesh!

    Cheese

  19. So let me get this straight.. We’re whiners because we don’t foolishly accept change (bad change imho) for the sake of change? What if your wife/gf came home one day looking like a skinhead because she wanted change? Would you whine about that if she would end up looking like an idiot? Humans are naturally resistant to change to some degree – this is why we’re still around. This is what stops you from eating that new shiny rainbow puke mushroom that cropped up in the woods.

    Apple SHAMELESSLY ripped of the Metro look and feel, ripped off Android functionality (they had to really) and other small stuff from Blackberry and WebOS. On top of this they added all this gay jolly rainbow color scheme with useless annoying transparency (to give context? Wtf does that even mean? I need to see shit around my keyboard and controls?) and that gimmick paralax effect. This is what ‘innovation’ means these days. It’s sad and i Will vote with my wallet – not sure where to go yet, but prob android .. Too bad for the shitty hw build, but stll better than rainbow puke.

  20. The back button was great. Most of iOS still is. But it needs to change. Perception of the OS has changed and so the OS must change to be perceived as new. The back button may be inferior, but as a whole the system will be better in iOS 7. Buttons and whatnots will be refined.

  21. Before iOS 7, apple had this way of hinting at a feature in the most ways possible, in the smallest space possible, to ensure you wasn’t miss it, but at the same time, it isn’t cluttered.

    Take for example slide to unlock. It had:
    - text saying ‘slide to unlock’
    - an animation on the text to draw attention to show which way to slide it
    - a button embedded in the far left of what is clearly a black slider
    - an arrow inside the button in the direction it wants to be slid

    I don’t know anyone who’s ever gotten it wrong. This is the same with the old back button.

    By missing these hints at functionality, they’re now going to have people doing the wrong things and messing up first time, rather than getting it right immediately.

  22. @cpawl:

    With all do respect, I still think you don’t get our argument. Your example of the home button illustrates it perfectly. How do people know to click it? Because it is slightly recessed, curved, and it seems to invite pressing. In other words, it looks like a button, and people intuitively understand it.

    Prior to iOS 7, buttons thought the system had similar affordances, inviting people to explore them. The “back” button not only had such affordances, it included additional information that gave you a sense of navigation awareness. It’s shape was pleasing, inviting, and clear, and made its function obvious. It is not the fact that it has text or that it says “back,” but as a whole, it worked towards giving you a hint of how to use it.

    In iOS 7, a label saying “back” gives me no such affordance, and it is not immediately clear that it is even a button. Where do I tap? Do I even tap, or should I slide? Is it a label under the interaction field, or is it the interaction field itself? How should I remember it, for its position, or because it’s blue? Should I tap every blue label to see if it interacts? Or is it anything that appears in that corner?

    The thing that you and others seem to forget is that, like it or not, humans live in the REAL world. We interact with REAL physical objects, and are bound by the laws of physics and biology–we are wired that way. When we build machines, like toasters and coffee makers, we don’t endow them with mysterious interaction surfaces that must be discovered–we embed buttons and levers and dials. These things stand out from the normal surface of the machine and make it obvious that they are affordances to functionality.

    Why should computers force people to throw all this away and learn a new way of doing things? Saying that “well, it’s a computer, not the physical world, so it is different” is a fallacy. It is not different. The computer exists in the same physical plane of reality, and it must interact with humans through the exact same five senses.

    Computers have a peculiar feature, their affordances need not be limited by physics. However, humans ARE; and it is counter-intuitive and possibly counter-productive to break that paradigm.

    There’s one more thing that was thrown out that is important to a lot of people, and that is decorations and embellishments to enhance experience. When Apple says that they “concentrate on your content,” it seem they are saying that the OS revolves around text and pictures, and offers no additional pleasantries. But this is also a fallacy, because it is not the “OS” that is kept in the background; as per their own guidelines, it is all interactive surfaces of all applications that should follow these new conventions. I will boldly state that interaction surfaces–those that afford functionality that the user wants to execute–ARE the content.

    By removing decorations, they have degraded the experience. The user now must interact with a homogenous, bland, inconspicuous interface, devoid of personality and beauty.

  23. All of the positive things the author has to say about the old back button are true. But the design needed to be reconsidered to improve efficiency/usability for experienced users. The old back button was a perfect design to teach a newbie how to go back. But these are devices are personal. I own my own iPhone. My wife and daughter have their own. I will use this thing day in, day out, many times a day. After day one, I no longer need an arrow-shaped button for me to know what it does. Putting a simple left arrow and some text in the usual location that the back button goes, is good enough. Removing the button borders also allows for more letters of descriptive text to be placed there.

    More importantly, with the introduction of the iPhone 5, the back button location was now a problem. It was difficult to hold the phone in one hand and get your thumb up there without the phone slipping. The move to a swipe gesture to go back is just what the doctor ordered. So, to answer one of the questions some here have asked: yes, the old back button can now be considered more of a label. Initially, this will probably still act as a button as well, but they may eventually drop that functionality altogether, and expect that you always use the swipe gesture to go back.

  24. @Jan

    You’re not very convincing when you use prejudice and bigotry to make your argument.

    If your wife comes home looking like a ‘skinhead,’ you respect her decision to look the way she wants to because she’s a human being and can look however she pleases, it’s not really your business what she does with her hair. No, not even when you’re married to her, she still has the right to do what she wants. Further if you’re only dating her, she legitimately doesn’t owe you jack, she can just dump you and find someone who won’t assume that he has the right to complain about her appearances. Keep that whining to yourself.

    I’m also wondering where the heck ‘gay’ came from just because the interface is colorful. It’s a pretty random word to suddenly throw out, especially when you’re suggesting bright and rainbow colors are something negative. I just don’t get what you mean by it–do you mean it’s “rainbow puke” and that’s ‘gay,’ in which case you need to enlarge your vocabulary beyond that of a bratty, idiotic 5-year-old, or do you mean it’s gay and jolly and therefore happy, in which case I don’t see what’s wrong with an interface that apparently fills you with such joy.

    Think whatever you want to about a company, a phone, or of an interface, but don’t pull in people and make them derogatory for the sake of driving home a point. That’s not an argument for or against anything, that’s just being rude and hateful for no reason. You don’t even really make an argument–you spent longer insulting others than truly coming up with reasons not to like iOS 7. Focus on what you don’t like about the changes to the phone; not on people and their lives as examples of what, to you (with only your mere opinion to back it up), is something bad or stupid.

  25. The biggest change in ios7 is that Apple is now designing for an audience which already knows how to use touchscreens. When the original iPhone came out, no one had used touchscreens significantly. This isn’t very true anymore (and even if someone hasn’t used them, they are aware of other people who have).

    As a consequence, I expect discoverability and the hand holding of iOS to reduce significantly in the future with a far greater focus on speed and efficiency instead.

  26. @Taylor – i’m not a native speaker, so yes my vocabulary is pretty narrow. The term rainbow puke i borrowed from a designer (but i wish i came up with).
    The example i used with the wife/gf was intentionally exagerated to prove a point. (Ofcourse she can do whatever she/he wants to do with her body, but as a partner you don’t have to like it). You don’t have to like something that is forced on you just because it’s trendy. You see we live in an age where most people are so brainwashed with P.C. that they are affraid to speak their mind and we end up Tollerating instead of Respecting (please do think about that nd how it relates to your surroundings). I can tollerate almost anything but i can’t respect whatever the days government, entertainment idustry, religion etc.. tries to force me to.

  27. @DZ your kind is becoming extinct. Someone here said it correctly… The new iOS is designed for those who already know the touch screen that’s a bold move to get people to evolve. Similar to the old back button the affordance is – explore once – got it. There is no need to dumb down the experience any longer.

    I have a TV remote. It has a looped arrow button that takes me to the last channel I watched. When I first got the remote I asked myself what the hell was this arrows purpose. I used it once – got it – and moved on. It did not need to be big and blue and beveled and say, “CLICK TO SEE PREVIOUS CHANNEL” instead it needed to be explored and learned.

  28. I can’t believe everyone defending the new back “button” design. Everyone saying it’s all about taking off the training wheels don’t seem to realize they never took it off and instead just took a hammer to them!

    If Apple wanted to abandon the button altogether and just use the gesture they shouldn’t of left behind a crippled version of the button. If they want to keep both, it would still need visual flourishes to suggest its a button. A super thin border shaped like the old button button that would disappear when transitioning is all it needs.

  29. So much angst over a button.

    I’ve been a Nokia N9 user for two years. It has no home button, no back buttons. It’s gesture based. It takes a couple of days to transition but very soon a buttonless UI is second nature and easier to use when you’re not having to stab precisely at small targets. Most navigation can be done with your thumb in the middle of the screen. It’s so ingrained now that I find using an iPad a frustratingly slow experience.

    Apple seem to have gone half way down the path to getting rid of the back button. I do hope they get rid of the home button also rather than sticking with that legacy.

    And if they’re looking to copy some other OSs, please steal the multitasking panel from the N9. The iOS7/WebOS version sucks by comparison.

  30. I as a developer see no problem with this evolution. You don’t need borders to know it’s a button. Apple is using color to designate that it is a button. This is exactly the same thing that happened when web developers transitioned from blue underlined text that denoted weblinks. Where are those underlines now? Oh, the humanity!

    I think what is happening is that there are way too many designers and developers kvetching about the interface changes while the vast majority of users will have no problem figuring out what to do.

  31. The iPhone OS back button was great.

    The iPhone OS back button is dead.

    Long live the iOS (7) back button.

    Perhaps they’ve gone too far. In a lot of areas it certainly seems they have. Someone mentioned the lock screen with just the text, “Swipe to unlock.” With only the Control Center arrow beneath it, I, too, assumed you were being invited to swipe upward. Someone else listed all the affordances the existing lock screen provides to clue you into its function.

    Just about two weeks ago I watched my 17-month old figure out Swipe to Unlock. Obviously, he can’t read. But he can recognize motion (the animated light that passes from left to right). He can perceive what appear to be object boundaries (the button with the right arrow on it, set in a seemingly recessed groove). And he can touch objects and see how they react. For whatever reason, he places his little thumb on the button and began to swipe to the right. He saw response. He kept swiping. He unlocked my iPhone. (I don’t use a code.)

    I hit the lock button on top, but didn’t take the phone away from him. He’s been triggering Siri for months, so he knows that pressing the Home button will activate the screen. This time he presses it, then proceeds to swipe to unlock again. He’s figured it out.

    The problem with iOS 7 as it stands right now is that it is overly textual. Not just text as in familiar words in written language—”Swipe to unlock”—but also as glyphs with specific meanings. This is great for people who already know how to use touchscreen devices, but a measure of approachability for the novice is clearly being sacrificed. Whether that ends up being the right tradeoff in the long run remains to be seen.

    The very young, like my son, will learn interfaces, no matter what. The older but less technical have probably been sensitized enough through media, proxy experience (friends, kids, partners, grandkids, etc). It may end up being a necessary evolution, as a base fluency has been absorbed into our popular culture.

    The iPhone OS back button is dead.
    Long live the iOS 7 back buttonЁarea.

  32. The problem that I saw with the new buttons in ios7 is inconsistens. They removed borders for the navigation buttons but leave the skinny borders on filter and price button (on iTunes). My guess it’s because of some testing they did, and it’s appears that there is now way to make it clear for users without it.а

    Not big deal I will continue to make my future apps consistent… They can do whatever they want, so do I :)

  33. Using iOS7 for a few days now here’s how I know it’s good: There’s absolutely no way of going back.
    Even the home screen – I was a bit taken aback that there’s no swipe control for swipe to unlock anymore. Just the text. I was thinking, that’s odd, I have to swipe on the text? They sacrificed the explicit swipe control for cleaner visuals? But.. no, of course not. One can now swipe to unlock on the entire screen. That’s why the control is gone. So, this is a lot better and faster than before.

  34. The problem with the back button is that it is the hardest to reach button, especially on the 4″ iPhone 5.

    What did they did in iOS 7 is great. The back button is still there, there is still a visual indication of going back and the back button label hasn’t changed either.

    The point is that you don’t have to extend your thumb and tap it anymore. You swipe from the left, anywhere on the screen.

    So, you keep all the visual goodness of the old back button, without the pain of trying to hit it. It is great.

    Also, not that I’m a fan of big phones, but it does open up a path to bigger phone-displays. If the iPhone gets any larger than 4″, a back button in the top-left wouldn’t be targetable anymore.

  35. The reason for thin fonts is, I think, that in order to design “deeper” display technology they need to exaggerate the parallax. They’ve already demoed parallax shift on the home screen, with the icons shifting against the wallpaper when the device is tilted. This shifting will be more apparent against thin fonts. So I think we are seeing just enough of the design that will allow app developers to start implementing depth of field API’s.

  36. “it was explicit about what you could tap and where; the target area was clearly demarcated by the button shape”

    It was actually *misleadingly* demarcated, which was one of the most clever things about it. You can swipe left on the title bar, and never touch the back button itself, and it would still go back.

    I’ve not used iOS 7 yet, but it sounds like what they did here is pretty much the same as the lock screen: instead of giving a tiny target to hit, just open it up to let people hit anywhere in the area. Lots of us had started doing that anyway, by accident.

  37. Oscar said: “Everybody likes the futuristic UI in movies like Iron Man and Minority Report. Everybody says: I wish that would be real!”

    No. Everybody likes watching them, but we see that clearly it would be impossible to use, since there’s no feedback or clues (or documentation). Fun to watch does not mean fun to do.

    We also liked watching Tony have to build a robot in a cave in Afghanistan just to get home, but that does not mean we all want to be dumped in that situation.

  38. Forget the back button. I don’t want to tap buttons any more. I want to use more gestures and swipes.

    I prefer Flipbook for most of my content consumption for exactly this reason.

    Khoi, I know you don’t like the changes in iOS 7, but you seem to not realize that users have changed.

  39. Is it that “users have changed”, or simply that the people who want swiping have become more vocal?

    Or maybe that a certain segment doesn’t know what they want, or has no preference, and will go along with whatever they’re given?

    How many users have to prefer the old way in order to claim that users *haven’t* changed?

  40. I’m amazed that you being a designer can’t understand why they don’t use the button anymore. Now to go back, the user isn’t forced to press the button, he only needs to swipe from the left. The bracket is more an indication that there is something on the left of the screen, than just a button. People can press it, but they’ll learn in time that they don’t even need to.

  41. Changing the button was an absolute necessity because since the screen increased in size, it had become much more difficult to hit the back button without changing the grip on the phone. It was broken on the iPhone 5. They now have repaired it. I have no knowledge on interface design, but that all you designers don’t see this baffles me!

  42. @Observant you know I had no idea about the title bar swipe! In my opinion this is where iOS7 wins over 6 – things are actually clearer after you’ve taken a moment to think about them. There’s more structure and logic embedded deep in the system as a whole rather than just the chrome…

  43. This touches upon a problem that I believe permeates the entire OS: No one thought about why they were doing things.

    The signal-strength indicator is another, if not more infuriating example. Here we have the typical signal bars – which at this point are recognizable internationally. The signal bars express not only quantity, through being 4-6 bars representing 0 – 100%, but also quality. One short bar? well one is not a lot, and short is not tall — so that must mean the signal is weak. 5 bars and the last one is really tall? ok, lots of things and we’ve reached the high point of the scale; things are good.

    So what do we get with iOS7? Circles. Circles that tell you nothing about what they’re about – they don’t indicate a progression of scale, only quantity. They don’t define anything, and aren’t defined by anything. They’re goddamned useless – and for the final kick in the teeth, they take up more screen real-estate FOR NO REASON.

    It’s baffling. I’m not one to make snap judgements — but there’s a LOT of thought missing from iOS, and I have a feeling that it may stem from the fact that everyone at Apple is likely terrified of Jony Ive – who is now designing in a bubble.

  44. I’ve never been a fan of the on screen back button with the changing label. The concept of going back where you came from is pretty simple. I would eliminate the descriptor because you just came from there. The arrow is enough.

    If iOS were to change the back button if you went from one app to another, I could see the utility of naming the app you just came from. That’s something that Android really needs since you can go from one app to another directly and really need the in-app and universal back button to get where you came from easily.

    I don’t think the gesture was a nod to screen size. The phone is a different shape, why are you trying to hold it the same way? The gesture was a nod to the demand for higher screen real estate in conjunction with more full screen apps without just making the screen bigger and continuing to waste screen space.

    I think the next move would be full swipes across the home button.

  45. The new IOS7 design has a terrible backbutton. The notes app looks cheap – and it is not easy to see yellow fonts on white background! Jezzz. Please fix this Apple!

  46. The Note App already looks cheaper in IOS6, the new fonts compared to the old fonts is hideous and cheesy. After Steve Jobs passed away, I really do think Apple lost a great visionary leader and strategist, their changes failed from Maps app to advertising concepts, it’s not clever and hipster anymore. In stead going to Apple Store only blame and flattered slogans.

    The new itunes interface was a dissapointment to me when I upgraded my iMac IOS, amateurish and ugly. The new Imac getting rid of the DVD drive to save space, resulting in me had to buy a separate one (made by Apple also), and my desk more cluttered and invaded more space.

    Guess time will tell who will win users’ hearts , it takes time to do great things, and not like Apple hadn’t failed before in the IT industry.