Beta 3 Update: iOS 11 Beta 3 now supports swipe-up-to-close instead of the tiny little “x” buttons.
Under iOS 10, you could switch between apps or remove an app from the “recent list” by following these simple steps:
- Double-click the Home button to see recently used apps.
- Swipe left or right to find the app that you want to use.
- Tap the app or swipe upwards to quit/remove it from the list.
- Each page was clear and easy to identify. The app name and icon appeared on top.
- The nearly full size rolodex presentation ensured that users with poor eyesight could easily identify each app.
- The swipe area to select or remove an app was large, supporting users with a wide range of dexterity skills and motor limitations.
It was a great system that worked well.
In iOS 11, Apple redesigned. It decided to combine this recently used apps list with the control center, so that you could put as much information on-screen at once as possible. This produced an interface with teeny tiny images, and lots of user confusion overload.
In other words, in the current beta and the presentation at WWDC, they espoused a system that is best used by nimble millenials who unlike most every fidget-spinner-ing millenial I have ever met, would not be overwhelmed by sensory overload when presented with far too much information on a single screen.
In my opinion, this new design doesn’t work for the young, the old, the millenial, the seasoned pro, the able, the dis, the hawkeyed, or the near blind. Apple basically disregarded every rule of human usability and thrown it all together into a jumbled disorganized mess:
Compare this screen, with its dock, its windows, and its nearly two dozen control affordances to the iOS 10 version. It’s a big jumbled insane mishmash of a UI design mess.
The controls in particular are unlabeled. Consider the timer, alarm, and stopwatch icons. They’re nearly identical and randomly scattered. And I can’t for the life of me remember what the dot is to the right of the camera.
As I constantly harp on about, a key factor in enhancing usability is to prioritize recognition over recall. As much as the Apple engineers have aimed to make all the buttons recognizable, they really aren’t.
You have to remember what a lot of these items do: the man in a circle, the magnifying glass, the three different clock faces, etc. You must further remember what happens when you tap and hold these as several of these items have secondary panels with embedded controls beneath them.
This 3-in-1 design breaks George A. Miller’s basic rule of working memory. Miller’s rule argues that you should not present the user with an overwhelming number of interactive items at once. The user cannot effectively remember and strategize interactions when shown more than seven or nine items at a single time. It’s as if Apple didn’t bother passing this screen through a usability evaluation process.
Working memory is not all that’s wrong with this design. In iOS 10, you just tapped or swiped up to manage apps. Those are both relatively large motor functions that require little fine control. That makes them an excellent match for a wide range of user ages and abilities. (Plus the pictures are all big and easy to recognize!)
Compare with iOS 11. To remove an app from the recents list, here’s what you have to do:
- Enter the control center. (In an improvement over iOS 10, this can be done with double tap, even if you’ve disabled swipe-up for the control center.)
- Swipe left and right to locate the app of interest.
- Tap and hold any app screen until the “X” buttons appear (and, maddeningly, the icons and app names disappear). This wait is short but frustrating.
- Tap exactly on the “X” to dismiss any app. This usually takes me upwards of three or four tries because the “X” is so small, my coordination is bad, and apparently I may need to re-align my touches with the OS.
In the end, the new control center a big giant mess trying to do too much in a massive design mishmash. I wish Apple would go back to its original design, although I wouldn’t mind some way to access the control center from the App Switcher.
Update: Oh you have to be kidding me:
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