One of the most noteable differences between the iPhone X and previous iPhones is the lack of a physical home button. While I previously commented how nearly effortless the transition to a new gesture based user interface was for me, your mileage may vary, and that’s ok.
I had been reading about the expected changes leading up to the iPhone announcement in September, and have watched countless videos demonstrating them in action. As a result, its safe to say I have a fairly good grasp of how to get around the interface by now. However, new users–especially those coming from a different platform may encounter some initial friction. Hopefully, though, that won’t be the case after reading and digesting this post.
This is the grand-Daddy of gestures, and the main action we as iPhone users perform countless times a day. When we want to quit an app or when we want to go to our home page we previously accomplished this by pressing the home button. Makes sense–so now how to we recreate this action without a physical home button? Luckily, it’s very easy, and in my opinion, quite intuitive. Now we simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen. This new action replaces clicking on the home button for every action other than confirming Apple Pay payments–more on that later.
Now that we have the home button action remapped to a swipe up form the bottom of the screen, what has happened with Control Center? Previously a swipe up launched Control Center and all the widgets that reside there. With iOS 11 we had the added benefit of personalizing what widgets were viewable in Control Center, and as a result, I spent more time there than in previous versions of iOS, so access to this area is especially important to me. You can now launch Control Center with a swipe down from the upper right corner (or horn) next to the infamous notch. This location is not ideal for one-handed use, and it’s the one gesture that I have had the hardest time getting used to. To make things worse, the iPhone X does not have reachability on by default, leading some to think that it’s not available on the iPhone X–but it is!
How about that for a segway? It only seems natural to follow the flow of what newly assigned gesture has been introduced and as a result, what existing gesture has to be re-thought. Almost makes me feel like I’m on that episode of Sesame Street where Erie keeps having to move the contents of one item to make it available for another. I digress, and surely I’m dating myself–who here has even heard of Ernie & Bert?! My last iPhone was the 7 Plus, and reachability was a valuable tool when called upon. For those of you who are unaware of reachability, it was activated by double tapping on the home button. The resulting action slid the top of the screen down to the middle making it reachable with one-hand. I often forgot about the merits of reachability on my iPhone 7 Plus since I more often than not used two hands instead of one to interact with the screen. So how do you call upon reachability with the iPhone X, and why would you want to? Reachability is one way to make your access to the new location of Control Center much easier, but first you have to turn it on since it’s off by default. Open the Setting App on your iPhone X and select General–> Accessibility–> Reachability, and toggle the switch to on.
Once you toggle the feature on, you have to learn yet another new gesture to activate it, since there is no longer a home button to double tap. To summon reachability, swipe down on the Home Indicator (the line at the bottom of the screen where the home button used to reside). When swiped, the top of the screen will slide down to the middle of the page. Activating Control Center from this location is very easy now since you only need to swipe down from the upper right corner of the screen after it has slid down. Although it might sound confusing, it takes very little time to master and it’s probably the one gesture that I use the most other than swiping up from the bottom to go home.
Multitasking on the iPhone X is really smooth, and easy to activate. On previous versions of the iPhone you would need to double click the home button. We already know there is no home button now so the action has been morphed into an extension of the action used to go home, except now you pause briefly before letting go. To be honest, you barely have to pause at all, and you don’t need to slide your finger halfway up the screen like you may have seen in some demonstrations. After you let go, you will see a “card view” of all your open apps. At this point you can swipe left or right to pan through the collection and tap on the card of the open app you would like to view. It will now open in full screen and you’re on your way. To clear/remove an app that is in your multitasking view simply hold your finger anywhere on the card until a red circle with a dash in it appears in the upper left corner of the card. You can now dismiss the card in one of two ways–tap on the red circle, or swipe up anywhere on the card to send it away. In addition, Apple added a really useful feature where you can multitask between apps by swiping left or right along the Home indicator. Swiping left will take you back to the previous app, and a quick swipe to the right delivers you to the next app.
Notification Center has been left nearly unscathed in that almost nothing has changed to invoke the action. To gain access to your unread notifications, swipe down anywhere from the far right edge of the notch to the area on the top left side of the screen. Basically any area that does not include the Control Center activation. You can even swipe down from the notch itself.
Your widgets, yes there are widgets on the iPhone, are still found by swiping to the right from your Home Screen. I find myself using widgets more and more these days, and I am still surprised by how many people don’t even know they exist, or that they can customize the order in which they appear as well as which widgets show up in the menu.
That’s all the gestures for now. We will have a follow up post coming this week that will address the function of each hardware button as well as what combinations of buttons can accomplish, so stay tuned!