Bruce Tognazzini Proposes a Redesign of the iPhone Home Screen


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The noted interface and usability expert identifies and solves the creeping problem of iPhone users running out space for all of their apps. “I have purposely made this new design compatible with the old, both so users wouldn’t face a sharp new learning curve and so that it might better pass the ‘Steve Test’: This new iPhone Springboard, unless and until such time as a user chooses to invoke the new features, could continue to look exactly the same as the app looks now.” I’m not entirely sure it would really pass the “Steve Test” though as it’s a little inelegant. Still, it’s smart thinking.



  1. Whilst I agree that the options the iPhone presents regarding the management of apps of it’s homepages may be sub-optimal I think that with ideas such as this there is risk of adding too much complexity, even if much of it is hidden from the casual user. Of the ideas presented I think that yes we should be able to place our apps in any position on a given page and that as far as device capacity allows we should be able to install as many apps as we see fit.

    I do however think that the ideas such as containers and aliases and what not could cause much consternation as users rename and bury their apps ever deeper in arbitrary hierarchies. Now that we have spotlight on the device, is it even that much of an issue anynore?

  2. Some kind of categorisation or containment seems necessary but this design seems to be a very inelegant way of dealing with the problem of having more than 16 apps available without scrolling past several pages. Android’s drawer is already a better solution than this one.

    Also, any iPhone UI redesign should address task switching and notifications for when they enable multi-tasking (I think they have to at some point, the current push notifications in your face system is a very poor substitute).

  3. I agree with Matt. Tognazzini’s suggestions appear to be a step backward in terms of simplicity and usability.

    What I really need is a way of removing the “hardwired” apps like Stocks and Voice Memo that I will never ever use, and therefore occupy a graveyard page of their own.

  4. Thanks for the link Khoi. Its always fun to think about the evolution of the iPhone interface. But I wonder why Mr. Tognazzini would put the dots that indicate the pages and his page labels at the top. For one-handed users, their thumb would be partially covering the screen as well as the large temporary label in the center of the display. The same goes for the dot position for the vertical scrolling situation. I think it could get even worse for the more common index finger navigation method. I would keep the horizontal dots in their current position while still using his sliding page labels.

  5. Thanks Khoi! I agree 100% that Springboard is limiting. I don’t know if adding ‘scroller’ labels would help. I do have some ‘groups’ that I could label for a screen and make it understandable – but the majority of my apps are totally unrelated to each other. I do like the vertical scroll idea. This was a great article (as always)!

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