On a recent episode of Bring Your Own Device, I was adamant that the recent control centre indicator was a weird bug and would soon go away. Yet here we are with iOS 11.2 now public, and it’s still there! The reason I was so sure is that Apple has never relied on indicating things more than once – the reason I was wrong is that Apple doesn’t seem to know what they are doing any more.
There appears to be a massive issue with consistency in Apple Software. Pick up any of this year’s new devices running iOS 11 and swipe up from the bottom of the screen. The three current devices all do entirely different things for this one gesture. A swipe up on the iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 (all currently sold be Apple) accesses the Control Centre and has done since implementation in iOS7 back in 2013. Perform the same gesture on the iPad and you will be treated with a floating doc of apps, or the multitasking screen, depending on the length of your swipe. Pick up the new iPhone X, however, and you will go to the home screen or invoke multitasking should you pause slightly at the end of your gesture. This isn’t an issue for most of us, but the inconsistency leads to some frustration when moving between devices.
Apple has slowly backed away from teaching users with its UI design. Gone is the “Swipe To Unlock” bar that Steve introduced with the first iPhone, replaced simply by “Swipe To Open” should you pause long enough on the lock screen, and it looks like you might need help. So ingrained is the swipe gesture that everyone seems to know what to do. Yet so many people couldn’t find the Control Centre, Apple needed to place a line as a little hint. The line doesn’t say anything, or indicate anything, yet there it is. A now constant reminder that a swipe up from the bottom may not do as you expect depending on what device you have in your hand. Say what you will about the inconsistency between Android devices, but the toggles and navigation buttons are always in the same place.
Granted, things might look a bit different, but most UI elements do the same thing (bar the back button) and users can move pretty easily from one device to another. Perhaps as the current device lifespans progress, all models will adapt the same gesture-based UI. However, if there is one thing Apple like, is changing things for no good reason. As a page-based Control Center became a weird one-page mess, there’s now no telling how you access it.