Opinion: When will iOS evolve beyond the static grid homescreen?

ios-1-8

Now that we’ve had our first look at at least an early take on iOS 8, what stands out most to me is how little the basic appearance of the iOS homescreen has changed over the years. On the left is iOS 1, on the right the recently-leaked iOS 8 homescreen.

Seven years apart, yet still essentially identical in form: a grid of static icons. Looked at in one way, that’s incredibly impressive: that a user-interface that worked in 2007 still works today. But it does make me wonder at what point the iOS homescreen will move beyond this format? 

Now, you can argue the question is unfair. Sure, Android may have its widgets and Windows Phone its live tiles, but one swipe down of your thumb in iOS opens up Notification Center, which is all live data.

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(You could also quite reasonably ask me what a complete flop of a platform like Windows Phone could possibly teach Apple – but in my view the failure of WP has nothing to do with the user-interface and everything to do with the fact that Microsoft took many years to notice that the world had gone mobile. By the time it finally woke up, it was too late.)

Perhaps there’s no particular reason for change. Apple has a long history of cautious evolution rather than radical change, and the massive success the company has enjoyed suggests that’s what its customers like.

From a usability perspective, too, it works well. Switch on your iPhone or iPad and all your most-used apps are right there in front of you. Whether you want to open an app or see your notifications, it’s one thumb press or flick away. It’s simple, quick and efficient – and if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

The evolution of iOS from 1 to 8 (based on a graphic by ios7stuff.com)

The evolution of iOS from 1 to 8 (based on a graphic by ios7stuff.com)

I’d argue there are two reasons to consider it. First, and I fully admit this is rather trivial, but when you’ve unlocked your phone multiple times a day for seven years and seen essentially the same thing, it gets a bit, well, boring. Isn’t that reason enough to consider something just a little bit more interesting? Isn’t that one of the reasons some people choose to jailbreak their phones?

Second, usability. Yes, iOS scores incredibly highly, which is one of the reasons so many people pay a premium for it, and I’m certainly not arrogant enough to suggest anything radical in the way of change. But let me ask a question.

Think about all the times in the day when you pick up your iPhone. Of those, how many times are to check something and how many times are to do something? I’d suggest we pick up our phones to check a message or appointment or the weather way more often than we do so to open an app.

So if checking live data is the primary usage, and using apps secondary, shouldn’t that be reflected in how the OS works? Shouldn’t displaying live data be the initial view, swiping that away to access our apps?

My initial thought was that the live data should therefore be the homescreen. But that still requires a swipe. So perhaps instead the live data should be on the lockscreen. Switch on the phone and instantly see your next appointment, traffic to the airport, the status of your flight, a preview of your last text message … all the things, in fact, that currently appear in the Notification Center.

That already happens in part, of course. We see the most recent notifications on the lockscreen:

lockscreen

But there’s not room for many notifications there, and not all updated data gets displayed there. So here’s my thought …

Put all the Notification Center data onto the lockscreen. Make it more visually interesting, and create a more efficient layout for that information, so we can see more of it at-a-glance rather than having to scroll. Especially with the expected larger display on the iPhone 6, there’s no reason we couldn’t fit a dozen pieces of data on there in a readable form. Then unlock your phone to get to your apps, just as now. A small change that would make a big difference to both usability and appearance.

There are privacy implications to this, of course. We might not want all our alerts and data updates available to anyone who picks up our phone. But that’s just a matter of making it configurable, choosing what data does and doesn’t get displayed on it, exactly as we do with the existing Notification Center.

Am I on the right track here? Perhaps you agree that it’s time for a change, but you don’t like my particular suggestion? Or maybe you think we should leave well enough alone and keep things as they are? Let us know by taking our poll, and sharing your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

  1. James Veitch - 9 years ago

    Amen

  2. You evolve a design when you can make it demonstrably better. That is faster and easier to access apps. You DO NOT evolve something simply to make it prettier, or different.

    One of the biggest problems Android faced was exactly the tendency to make one android not like another android with stuff like “TouchWiz” being necessary in order to have a certain level of usability.

    Screw that. The icon grid should change when they can come up with a better way to organise apps. What you find in all these other interfaces is a layer of useless abstraction between you and the icons. They STILL have icon grids too, they’re harder to get to.

    Also, if that’s what iOS 8 looks like when released, I’ll eat my hat. I really wish you guys would stop pushing that as if it remotely resembles a release of any kind.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      I couldn’t agree more on Android overlays – I have yet to see one that doesn’t make Android worse. What we’ve seen will change for sure, but it does appear to be fundamentally the same grid home screen.

      • rrobinson1216 - 9 years ago

        To address the first part – certain overlays for Android have actually been appealing to me. Sense 5, for example, when I had the HTC One- SO much information, presented in an absolutely great way. Twitter/FB/News,RSS, all at your fingertips, and your app drawer right below. So much great info in BlinkFeed that I didn’t NEED to open said apps to find my upcoming events, social notifications, etc. It still needs to evolve, but it’s good.

        The second part is the app drawer idea – opinions will be split on this, but I like it. Why? Because there IS a second step between me and all the crap I don’t need to see/use a lot of the day. I would always jailbreak and find ways to hide all the useless stuff even more than just in a folder…hide it two deep, make the icon invisible, etc. Then use InstaLauncher to find it if i need it quickly.

        You’re right though – why do I jailbreak? Because 7 years of rows is enough. Without a jailbreak, I can’t do widgets, to give me unique information in a beautiful way…I can’t even put icons where I want them – not necessarily out of the ‘grid’ system itself, but why, 7 years later, can I not organize my icons how I want, for example, only using the bottom two rows of the grid and letting my wallpaper shine?

        Let’s face it, iOS 8 probably WILL look like that…in the sense that it won’t change anything. The ‘fake’ icons for TextEdit, Preview, and all that other stuff will change..but I heavily doubt anything else will. It will still be static icons in a grid that you can’t change much.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had iOS device after iOS device, hell I worked for Apple, and iOS is great…at what it does. I just feel like it’s time for an bit of an evolution.

        And just give me a bigger screen, for crying out loud – keep around the 3.5″ and 4″ for people that want it…but I want something in between the current phone and the iPad Mini. Just think of the things you could put on that screen, whether it’s the lockscreen or the homescreen.

    • Agree. One thing I would love to see though is the ability to make calls from my Lock-screen. Because for me, at the end of the day, my iPhone is just that, a Mobile Phone and I would like to use it as such.

      • jrox16 - 9 years ago

        But that destroy a good deal of privacy? Why would you want anyone to have access to your contacts list and even place calls using your phone. Can you imagine if you lost your phone, the damage that could do?

      • Steve Ballen - 9 years ago

        Just ask Siri dude! No unlock required ;)

      • Nathan Pritchard - 9 years ago

        I still miss the ability of my Treo 680 to launch straight into specific apps by waking it up with a specific key.

        If the iOS8 lock screen had easy access to the dock drawer (presumably containing anyone’s four most frequently used apps, and even potentially folders) so a person could launch straight into one of those apps regardless of what state the phone was in when the screen shut off, that would be fantastic. Just have it prompt for a PIN if it is actually locked, no privacy concerns. If you are embarrassed about which apps you have in your dock and don’t want anyone to see them, turn that feature off. :)

      • zubeirg87 - 9 years ago

        Make control centre customisable and you will be able to make any of those apps you want quick access to available without unlocking the device.

      • Nathan Pritchard - 9 years ago

        Good point, Steve. Maybe they just assume everyone wants to speak to their phone and has internet access any time they want to open an app…

  3. Jan Zegers - 9 years ago

    I agree partially, but the homescreen should be the place to be, not the lockscreen. Thanks to Touch ID, logging in isn’t an issue anymore, it goes without notice when you hold your finger on the homebutton, so the lockscreen is what keeps your private info private. Well into the homescreen, it should indeed be much easier en quicker to find your info, instead of always having to open apps.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      I agree that Touch ID makes it pretty trivial which screen it goes on in the case of the 5s, and I’m guessing Touch ID will be rolled out across all iPhones and iPads this year.

    • Nathan Pritchard - 9 years ago

      Some of us can’t use Touch ID due to employer security policies. Barbaric, I know…

  4. scumbolt2014 - 9 years ago

    Why don’t you include folders too instead of just app icons on the home screen? I think the grid layout is great (at least for me). How would you have it? The gui on a desktop computer hasn’t changed that much since the first Mac so how does something that is evolving with each new version stale after 7 years? I would personally like more customizability in the Notification Center and Control Center. Let users customize the apps and functions there instead or in addition to the functions there now. Not saying there isn’t always a better way to do something but since I don’t personally have a better idea for iOS than Apple has all these years and it works for me, and works very well, who am I to call iOS stale.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      Yes, I’m happy with the grid to access my apps, just think live data should be what I see first.

      • jrox16 - 9 years ago

        Just pull down Today… you can set the phone to let you do that from the lock screen… I can’t imagine a faster way of seeing live data first than from the lock screen with a simple swipe down.

      • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

        Back to my issue with the limited amount of data that I can see there without scrolling. Without a redesign, that will always be limited. Take weather. A number for the temperature and a symbol for sun, rain, etc, needn’t take up more than about one third of one line.

      • rrobinson1216 - 9 years ago

        Launchpad took the idea of an app drawer and placed it on OSX. How I would have it would be both worlds put together. Let me put my icons on my homescreen if I want to, and put them where I want, then let me have a Launchpad of sorts for my phone – let me put all ‘the other stuff’ in there (and organize that in folders too if I want).

  5. Stefano Vago - 9 years ago

    Why evolving? It is functional and easy to use.

  6. Scott Hilt (@scotthilt) - 9 years ago

    That’s the ONLY feature I want from Android is the ability to arrange my icons anyway I want. It’s time for iOS to move past the static grid system. Ultimately I think we should be able to turn static grid on/off in settings.

    • rahhbriley - 9 years ago

      Agreed. Which is why Gridlock is generally the first JB tweak I install.

      Are you familiar with the iEmpty tool? It creates spacers to use in between apps, to in effect, do what you are wanting. Certain BG images work better than others for this. The standard dot 5C backgrounds work really well. Bc of how iempty works, motion backgrounds aren’t the prettiest for this. Check it out if you haven’t.

  7. mockery17 - 9 years ago

    Please stop this “grid layout is boring” nonsense. It’s like saying the Desktop is boring. The grid layout does what it does best: to show you apps in the simplest manner.

    • tN0 (@tN023) - 9 years ago

      Sure. If looking at app icons is what you want to do on your smart device.

      • That’s a weak argument. That’s like saying that all we want to do is look at app icons on our Windows or Mac PC’s, which have had the basic grid icon layout for finding stuff for the last couple decades. The app icon layout make it easy to find and open an app to, you know, use my smartphone.

      • jrox16 - 9 years ago

        Do you stare at your home screen on your smart device? In iOS, you can swipe down live widget like information in the Today notification pull down, from the lock screen, from the home screen, or any app anywhere. Why would one want to be looking at their device instead of using it?

  8. crichton007 - 9 years ago

    I’m kind of on the fence about this. The only two things that I would really like to see change on the iOS Home Screen is:

    1. The ability to put the app shortcuts wherever I’d like them rather than having them shift to fill in empty spots when something is moved or deleted.
    2. I’d really like to see the option to have active icons (as has been harped on for a long time where the weather icon dos not change at all). Heck, the clock app can change as well as the calendar icon but only those two rather than opening that up to all apps (including the weather icon).

    • jrox16 - 9 years ago

      I agree completely with being able to turn on/off the forced grid. That could/should be optional. As far as live weather on the icon, that’s not a good idea as it would simply waste battery and show you information that is not current. Weather widgets that constantly update, either need to ping the internet for new information very often to be useful, like every 15 minutes (if it starts raining outside, what good is an icon or widget that is 60 minutes old showing sunshine?), or they don’t ping often enough making them useless. The clock is fine because your phone already has to have an internal clock and that doesn’t require internet. Calendar updates once a day and again, that does not require the internet or much battery at all. Weather can be set in the Today notification center, and will update when you pull that thing down (unless you turn on background updates which again, wastes battery). But that is something that is based on real time usage and can be turned off. And it’s better than having the icon update because you can get at that information from anywhere if you want it on…from the lock screen, homescreen, or from within ANY app anytime. So how is having weather on the home screen icon better than that?

  9. ovumcerebrum - 9 years ago

    I’m not sure I agree with you. I don’t look at the interface as tired. We get used to the way things are set up and like it that way. Consider the interior of a BMW… They will modernize, but never completely reconfigure the interior. What would it be like to have the gear shifter on the other side of the steering wheel… or, swap the excelerator with the brake pedal?
    I believe Apple’s philosophy is to keep the feel as it is -and updates the look. Which is to say “modernize”.. as they did with iOS 7. Just my 2 cents.

  10. Ryan Lee (@RyanPLee007) - 9 years ago

    If iOS 8 looks like they say, Apple needs to catch up! We need a live home screen. This is so old!

    • Why do you need a live homescreen? Do you prefer to look at your pretty homescreen, or use the apps on your phone?

    • jrox16 - 9 years ago

      Catch up to gimmicks, yeah…. Live tiles are pretty useless when you aren’t in the homescreen… having that same information in the notification pull down, which can be accessed ANYTIME ANYWHERE on iOS, is far superior and more useful. Gotta look past the trees to see the forest sometimes. :-)

  11. PMZanetti - 9 years ago

    There is no reason to revamp the Home screen, just for the sake of changing it.

    I’m sure there is more Apple could do with the Lockscreen (which is altogether different from the Home screen, so not sure why they are a combined poll), but as another commenter already said, with TouchID on the 5s, I barely ever see my Lockscreen anymore.

    Perhaps the way to go is having the option for Notification center to display instantly after you unlock with Touch ID, if new Notifications are present. I often find myself glimpsing new notifications, then immediately going to the HomeScreen when TouchID unlocks. Then pulling down Notification center to see what I missed. So there is SOMETHING missing there, for sure.

  12. FERNANDO! (@brutedawg) - 9 years ago

    It seems the aesthetic argument is centered around the idea of ‘change for change sake’ which is most often not the most beneficial approach. i am a bit envious of how customizable other operating systems are, but at what point does my phone/tablet just become an accessory and not a practical device? i think it would be tough for apple to decide to drop its regimented approach on how they expect us to use and view our idevice(s) to appease a new UX based on market trends or end-user expectations and requests. Not to say they aren’t listening and watching…

    In regards to the notification center as the first visual experience upon waking the phone, i think you’re correct with the privacy concerns. my phone is locked to prevent people from viewing/retrieving data from my phone first and foremost but sure that mentality is trumped by the fact that there are messages and meetings sprawled all over it when I wake the device. Given the option to have those notifications not show there is an option that exists, but I want to believe they’re still trying to figure/smooth out the whole Notification Center application. It’s a great feature but it seems like a prolonged placeholder to the real/better solution if it exists.

  13. Matt McCann - 9 years ago

    I think you have to ask yourself the question ‘what do I want to achieve’ and ‘what am I trying to do’ in order to understand any shortcomings of the current design. For me, everything works well and doesn’t try to hard. Simplicity is key, and I think Android misses the mark in this area.

    • Andrew Tischler - 9 years ago

      You say Android misses the mark in regards to simplicity? Having used both IOS and Android I prefer Android because I have the choice to decide how simple I want it to be. I can even make my phone look just like IOS (not sure why I would want to do that). I think each has their merits but I made the switch to Android ultimately because I wanted the ability to choose how my phone looks, and the screen size. If Apple could could do those things I would switch back in a heartbeat. The IPhone is a great device but it time for some changes.

  14. Great article, could not have said it better myself. A large functionality change is neither necessary or should they do it just because someone else does something different (and apple does not usually operate that way anyways).

  15. Lockscreen yes, homescreen probably not.

    Homescreen works rather nicely as it is and I wouldn’t want to start experimenting on it. Having said that, the Android experience is more practical: widgets and select apps on the “desktop” and then an app menu that appears on call with the full monty. Yet, if Apple copies that, it’ll get loads of criticism.

    One hardware thing I would LOVE to see implemented (electrically it shouldn’t be too difficult, depending on the home button’s ring structure), is for the home ring to detect swipe left/right actions and use those to switch apps. It’ll be much quicker and smoother than the current double-tap-then-swipe-and-select action.

    On the other hand, the lockscreen experience is ripe for optimisation. Right now you have a “main” screen where you swipe-left to unlock and that’s it. The fact that this screen contains only app-icon and notification text is a bit anachronistic, methinks. It might be simple, but it’s also a bit dull and bad use of the screen’s real estate. They could either revamp that screen, or add another -customisable- screen on swipe-right with live tiles and other more fancy stuff.

    • Furthermore, I’ll have to disagree with:

      “First, and I fully admit this is rather trivial, but when you’ve unlocked your phone multiple times a day for seven years and seen essentially the same thing, it gets a bit, well, boring.”

      The cars have steering wheels for the last 100 years or so but they work amazingly well and we’re nowhere near replacing them with joysticks or anything else. Boring is not the word. There might be more efficient ways to organise the homescreen(s), but that’s another issue.

      • tN0 (@tN023) - 9 years ago

        The first automobiles didn’t had a steering wheel. There was a need for change in design because the usage changed. The same is true for smartphones IMO. People use them more frequently for more and different tasks. Therefore the design has to adopt to this.

  16. Kevin Rye (@RyeMAC3) - 9 years ago

    The UI works. Period. Change for the sake of change isn’t Apple’s style. It only happens when it’s a benefit to the user experience. (Or the device evolves to the point when the UI is no longer usable.) Changing the grid layout to something else just to make it fresh and new isn’t going to happen.

  17. Alborz Heydaryan - 9 years ago

    Hello. I’m a UI/UX designer, and I have a few words to share:

    Just because the home screen looks boring, doesn’t mean it requres a change. Boring is not a bad thing. boring means you know that part so well and it’s so intuitive that you do it without thinking. and that’s why you get the idea that you’re not doing much. what you can improve is the content. when the homescreen becomes boring, it only means that the OS is completely out of your way for you to do whatever you want with your device. that immersion that they talk about in their ads. that you forget you’re using an iPad. it’s because it’s so flawless and intuitive that you forget that you’re using it. the process of unlocking and opening the app happens so naturally that you forget you even did it. and the only thing you think about: the apps you’re using. so if your home screen looks boring to you, maybe it’s because you have boring apps installed on your home screen. remove the boring ones and replace them with fun ones. put some games maybe. I don’t know.. .whatever that tickles your mind!

    I hope this could help give you a different perspective.
    regards

  18. taoprophet420 - 9 years ago

    Why not add a bottom for notifications to the lock screen so you launch strait into. Notifications like you can with the camera?

    Ii would like to see circle or oval app icons it would better match most of the ui of iOS. Pass code is circles, the dial pad is circles, the new turn of options are circles or ovals.

    I would rather have an option from the lock screen to go to notifications and have 2 tabs one of notifications and one of live widgets like weather, calendar and other live data.

  19. Is there something in some soft of swipe right widget screen? with 4-6 live tile style apps for your most recent/most used apps. Last 2-4 emails, live SM- twitter/facebook, Recent/fave calls, calendar events? I might actually mock something like that up. Yep, makes sense…

    • jrox16 - 9 years ago

      You can have pretty much all that set up in Notification center, which pulls down from the top. How is that any different??

  20. When will iOS evolve beyond the static grid homescreen?…. NEVER!

  21. Mr. Grey (@mister_grey) - 9 years ago

    First, “boredom” is the worst excuse to change anything. That’s just change for the sake of change and unreasonable by definition. :-)

    I like the idea of putting notifications on the lock screen and have been suggesting it myself to anyone who would listen since the first iPhone. I don’t think it will ever happen though because of the notorious bug Apple has up it’s bum about “security” (I put it in quotes because a lot of the time it’s not really about security), and the fact that they have a long long history of not giving users any choice.

    Personally, I think the time has come to change both of these but Apple, blinded by their huge success is not likely to think so. Given that Apple is no longer a niche player and ships it’s products to so many people, I think the time has come to give users some choices about layout and security and app selection.

    The lock screen was originally resented as being there so that the phone “didn’t do stuff” while it was in your pocket. So why does the iPad have it too? And yes, it’s more secure to have the lock screen be completely disconnected from the rest of the OS and essentially blank, but what if I live at home, my house is in the middle of nowhere and all I have is an iPad? There is literally no possibility of anyone “seeing my stuff” but still I have to waste that first swipe to get rid of the non-essential, and basically just in the way most of the time … lock screen.

  22. lagax - 9 years ago

    Lets see what I do with my phone normally(in an ordered way: up -> most use):
    1. Check my Twitter
    2. Check my WhatsApp
    3. Hear music(using the Google Play Music app)
    4. Check my Facebook
    5. Check the TV program

    All of that happens outside of apple apps, there isn’t a lot I do with apple apps other than taking photos, videos, taking notes, setting a timer, calculating -> trivial things, w/O needs of notifications! I think the real problem is that the important things aren’t displayed in the NotificationCenter for most people(maybe the calender; thought about weather, but it displays current only and I prefer just looking outside for that..). All in all there is a need of an API for that, because apple’s own apps are to trivial for notifications mostly.

  23. Jason Piebes - 9 years ago

    I think this was entirely written from the perspective of a single consumer and without insight from the perspective of a business that has to create a product/service that works for millions of users.

    So the answer is a quick and easy “no”.

    I can’t think of anything more easy to reject than a change whose purpose is to simply entertain a consumer’s boredom.

  24. Steve Segaric - 9 years ago

    What I’d like between the lock screen and the home screen with the grid of icons is a Homepage screen. I’ve been looking for an app that would fulfill this want. I want current temp/weather info, Scores for my teams from last night, how many new emails/texts I have, maybe latest news headlines, some stock prices, etc. All be user configurable. If such an app exists please let me know. And I’ve looked at the news aggregator apps, they are too broad.Maybe I can try to customize a Yahoo home page. Cheers.

  25. 12 years between cheeta and mavericks, UI hasn’t changed that much either there. I think it will be years before we see a major overhaul UI-wise in iOS – probably iOS 10 or later.

  26. It’s an interesting concept putting the Notification Center in the lock screen, especially as it does not necessarily need to disrupt the grid view people got accustomed to.

    I have another take here: Facebook Home tried to put your friends on top of it all and as much as I acknowledge the failure in the execution, I think it’s a compelling thing. I imagine you could have some kind of grid with your contacts if you swipe right from the home screen where search used to be or any other easy accessible way. There you could have an alert icon next to your contacts for any interaction you have missed, be it a call, Factime, iMessage, Facebook Message or anything. And it takes you right to the spot.

    If you click on it it could also show you all the shared communication services you have with that contact and order it by the service used most with that particular contact.

    This would actually eliminate the need for a contacts app and possibly even a phone and Facetime app. Also the clutter of messaging apps could disappear from the home screen to a folder.

    It would feel more natural since you are reaching out to a person that you select first with the means to contact second.

  27. As someone coming from Android, I was a little worried about the lack of widgets, and the icons-only interface seemed a little primitive. But after only a few days of iOS6, I realized I didn’t miss the widgets. And soon, I felt like the whole concept of having some apps pinned to home screens while having a bin of all apps buried in another place seemed weird.

    And when iOS7 was approaching, I was momentarily excited at the idea of bigger change, but then I realized I actually didn’t miss many features from Android- the only “big” things I did miss were addressed with the control center.

    Now, would I be opposed to the option of widgets? Not really, But thinking back, I consistently added widgets to Android and constantly removed them once the novelty wore off. The only one I kept was the weather widget. I get that info in the notification center without even unlocking now.

  28. JLWord - 9 years ago

    Tile envy anyone?
    “You could also quite reasonably ask me what a complete flop of a platform like Windows Phone could possibly teach Apple – but in my view the failure of WP has nothing to do with the user-interface and everything to do with the fact that Microsoft took many years to notice that the world had gone mobile. By the time it finally woke up, it was too late.”
    This statement from my limited and finite perspective seems more based on emotion and bias(considering how I perceive the tone) than on actual fact.
    But maybe I am interpreting what you mean by “complete flop of a platform” incorrectly.
    I personally would not view the factual data that shows Windows Phone as the fastest growing OS, an OS with increasing and considerable market share in many markets such as EU, Latin America etc., some markets even surpassing iOS in market share, a growing app ecosystem 240,000 apps and more developer support, officially taken the 3rd place in the OS race. Businesses such as Delta and many others equipping thier staff with Windows Phone devices. Year over Year increase in sales in Windows Phone devices.Blackberry which is persistently decreasing toward an absence on the market would in my opinion qualify for what what you define as a “complete flop of a platform”. But a platform that literally and factually is showing consistent growth in sales and adoption(consistent year over year growth), a growing(not diminishing) app ecosystem with increasing(not less) support from big name developers bringing popular apps to the platform, a platform to which a number of additional OEM partners have committed to the platform(MWC announcement) all show a platform in very simple terms as growing.
    Does Windows Phone with just under 4% market share have a huge piece of the global pie. No.
    Does it’s 240,000 app ecosystem threaten iOS and Android which are about 900,000 to 1,000,000. No. Though it’s worth considering the other fact that hundreds of thousands of apps are NEVER, downloaded from the app store. (Do a search on “400,000 apps never downloaded from app store”. That’s a big percentage of the touted Apple app ecosystem that users NEVER see. Just some facts).
    Does Windows Phone get premium attention from developers. No.
    Does Windows Phone get a lot of third party accessory/hardware support. No.
    If it is for these reasons or the like you define Windows Phone as a complete flop, I understand your perception as the platform not having breakaway success and widespread adoption. However those realities exist alongside the previously stated realities that the platform is indeed growing, gaining developer and OEM support and actually has very high ratings. Look up PC Mags recent User Rating Poll, Windows Phones overall score actually beat Android.
    So in a nutshell, “complete flop” of the platform in my opinion would be a platform that has NO year over year growth, NO increases in marketshare, NO increases in sales, an immobile app ecosystem(NO GROWTH), NO support by big name developers (Instagram, Vine, Facebook, Waze, Twitter,etc Windows Phone base 80% of top apps an INCREASE from previous years-2013 saw several big name apps added to the platform), and NO support by additional OEM’s in contrast to the ADDITIONAL partnerships of a number of OEMs.
    So though Windows Phone is not on par with iOS and Android with market share, third party and app support Windows Phone is established firmly as the 3rd player(of course this is a result of Microsofts efforts as well as Blackberrys failures) and according to empirical data such as IDC and Comscore, numbers in the WP Store, and more partnerships the platform is not a complete failure but a platform succeeding in year over year growth, market share growth and developer growth in an uphill battle in a highly competitive maker in which it made a late entry. A struggling David against Apple, Google and Samsung Goliaths, yes. A complete failure, growth data, clearly shows, no.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      It’s easy to be the fastest-growing platform from a base of basically zero. We’ll see where WP ends up. Personally, I hope it gains enough traction to survive at least, as choice and competition are always good.

      • JLWord - 9 years ago

        As do I. It warrants noting “fastest growing” is not disputed. Growing being a fundamental quality of the Windows Phone OS reality in the market undercuts the notion that it is a complete flop. That fact regarding consistent and persistent growth, again coupled with the above aforementioned factors may indeed ensure our common hope that Windows Phone does indeed survive. Given it’s foward thinking, information – people centric dynamic UI and integration with the ubiquitous Microsoft’s services in enterprise and consumer products, if it indeed digs in and gets traction as you hope, it may do more than survive. It may thrive.

  29. greenbelt2csp - 9 years ago

    Take a look at anyone who uses a windows desktop machine (who isn’t a techie) and you’ll see why icons in a grid still rule. People have been griding their application icons since Windows 95. I did a webex with a client the other day and this guy is pretty smart and he STILL had a complete grid of icons as his Windows 7 desktop. He has a PhD in engineering!!

    7 years as a GUI element is hardly stale compared to the Start button on Windows, Right-click “properties”, A window in general, or even a recycle/trash bin. These have been around for 20 years! The dock in OS X is still there. I wouldn’t hold your breath on most of these changing. Look what happened when Microsoft tried to take the start button away from windows 8 (again a nearly 20 year old GUI element).

    • jrox16 - 9 years ago

      Excellent points! Too many people want to treat their smartphone as a toy rather than a productivity device / pocket computer. Many aspects have survived the test of time because they work and many ideas to replace them which sounded like “innovation” initially, turned out to be gimmick.

    • Drew (@gettysburg11s) - 9 years ago

      Well said! 20 years is nothing compared to 7. If Apple wants to keep using the same basic interface, there is nothing wrong with that. However, there should be an evolution that reflects current user habits. Microsoft got this part wrong, with Windows 8. Lets hope Apple fairs better.

  30. patstar5 - 9 years ago

    “(You could also quite reasonably ask me what a complete flop of a platform like Windows Phone could possibly teach Apple – but in my view the failure of WP has nothing to do with the user-interface” Windows phone is not a failure! It is struggling to bring in apps and market share but as we know from apple, market share isn’t everything. Android takes up almost 80% and isn’t making a lot of money. Apple is 15% and makes most profits. Microsoft needs to emulate this with windows phone. The 8.1 update will help fix and improve things. Wp8 had 104% year over year growth, it is still growing and is making its way to be the 3rd os (unless ubuntu surges or blackberry somehow makes a comeback). http://www.phonearena.com/news/Report-Windows-Phone-has-104-year-over-year-growth-in-fourth-quarter_id52092

  31. elev8d - 9 years ago

    What I want to see is multi-touch like they have on the iPad on the iphone, like four finger swipes bringing up the multi-task menu and quick app switching.

  32. Lee (@leemahi) - 9 years ago

    The goal is to make it faster to access your favorite apps. I think you should be able to change the size of the tiles. Second, I wold like a dedicated siri like function that would be activated on the claw move, and it would only open apps by your voice.

  33. jrox16 - 9 years ago

    This is a good question post and I have thought about this at length over the past few years as I have gone from Android to iPhone to Android and back to iPhone. I won’t comment on ways iOS could/should evolve next, just on the subject of how it looks and is currently structured and why it’s good. Here are my 2 cents on the matter:

    1) The static icon grid is the fastest and most effective way to get to your apps, which is the primary function of your “smart” phone, and therefore should not change. There are countless examples of Android phones with nearly empty home screens save for one large clock widget, that look nice, but actually make you less productive and make getting at things take longer (open app drawer, etc).

    2) Having quick asses to “glanceable” information is very nice and very useful, and iOS does have a very good answer for that. In fact, I argue it is better than either competitor platform in that you can pull down your “Today” notification from the lock screen. In fact, you can access everything in Notification center from the lock screen, but that seems to be too much access to private information, so I have it set to only show me Today. And there, I have everything I need that is glanceably important: Weather, Travel time home, Calendar widget, Tomorrow’s summary, even if it’s someone’s birthday (need to set their birthday on their contact). I have stocks turned off, but you can have that as well. And, you can turn any of those on/off, so it’s very useful. One might argue that’s not enough, but I’d say, those are the critical items you’d need to get that quickly to that you can’t even be bothered to unlock your phone. In fact, ever since iOS 7 came out with the Today section which shows travel time home or to work, I’ve completely stopped using and lost interest in Google Now, which I used on my iPhone before. Just don’t need it. Sports scores are available easily via Siri. I believe Apple intends us to use Siri more, which would replace many things people are asking for.

    3) The way iOS works, with the fact that you can pull down notification center from anywhere, from within ANY app, is superior for gaining access to glanceable information. Here’s why: WP’s live tiles are nice, but you can only glance them from the home screen. I can do that with a simple swipe down for Notification center (not to mention all the granular control per app for Not. Center) AS WELL AS from within ANY app. It’s a system wide feature. You can’t see live tiles from within an app, so iOS has WP beat hands down in terms of effectiveness and efficiency of glanceable info thanks to how Notification center is structured. Also, Android’s notification center is quite robust, even allows you to expand emails without switching apps and reply from there, but the drawback on Android is that it is access to notification center from within Apps is developer dependent. On iOS, it’s not up to the app devs, it’s system wide at the OS level, but on Android, the app dev has control over this and that’s not a good idea in my opinion. I don’t want some basement developer of some app to decide if I should have access to my Notification center or not. This means that from within some games or other apps, you just can’t get to your notifications, you have to leave the app. On iOS, you never have to leave where you are and always have access. This also makes homescreen widgets completely obsolete, again, because their information is only on the homescreen, which doesn’t help you when you’re in an app. Therefore, it’s easy to see that iOS’s implementation of the notification center is more designed around usability and effectiveness rather than appearance.

    In general, I think Apple tends to be more concerned with “how should it work to work best” rather than, “it’s boring lets change it just because”. And that’s why after owning 4 Android phones (last was a Nexus 4) and 5 iPhones, I’ve gone back to iOS for longer periods of time and am now probably settled on it for good. It has fewer bells and whistles and gimmicks, but the important things it does, it does better in my opinion.
    Just my 2 cents, no need to hate below….

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      Thanks for taking the time to respond in so much detail, Jrox. Some very useful comparisons with Android there, and very good point about the strength of the Notification Center. I wouldn’t want to see it go, but I do think instant access and a redesign to get more onto a single screen would be good.

  34. Fil Aperture - 9 years ago

    That’s about the same as asking ‘When will the Mac operating system evolve beyond the menu bar’.

    • jrox16 - 9 years ago

      I hope never, lol. Change for the sake of change doesn’t always lead to better things. :-)

  35. Sumocat (@SumocatS) - 9 years ago

    iOS has already evolved beyond the homescreen. Without unlocking my iPhone, I can pull down the Notification Center, pull up the Control Center, and talk to Siri, none of which was available on the first iPhone. I can launch pertinent apps from the Notification Center or nearly any app through Siri (try asking Siri to open Waze) and switch between running apps with a double-click of the home button, all without using the homescreen. At the same time, the homescreen acts as the starter interface for newbies and the familiar, reliable interface for experts. It is the rock-solid foundation that holds up the evolutionary advancements that followed. iOS should continue to grow out from it, as it has done, but changing the foundation for the sake of change is just foolish.

  36. charilaosmulder - 9 years ago

    I can’t stand this ongoing debate about bullshit. People refer to iOS (the whole OS) as a “grid of static icons”. When will it move beyond it? It already has. YEARS AGO. The so called “home screen” is just a misleading name. Everything in iOS is organised and has its own place. The home screen is the app launcher. The app switcher is the app switcher. The notification center is for notifications, control center is for quick controls, spotlight is for searching, Siri is for assistance, and the lock screen is what it’s supposed to be.

    Why can’t people understand this? Why do people always want to clutter the homescreen with every form of information and widgets that already have their dedicated places in the OS? And yes, the icons are placed in a grid. The other option is a list (which would be less effective) or a randomly placed and randomly rotated chaos of icons (which many jailbreak tweaks have already proven to be useless).

    You want iOS to do payment? great. Want your iPhone to be able to unlock your door? awesome. Want iOS to keep a timeline of all important events in your life? not sure about that, but you may think it’s a great addition. BUT. IT. WONT. BE. ON. THE. HOME. SCREEN. Get over it.

    • jrox16 - 9 years ago

      A sensible efficient and easy to use “place for everything and everything in it’s place”?? Stop it with all that logic, you’re going to hurt someone….

    • Alex (@Metascover) - 9 years ago

      People forget that iOS is the only mobile OS that has the advantage of having all apps in one place. How simpler than that can it get? Android uses widgets, but people often need to look at a list of apps to select one. That’s lame. Windows phone does the same. Lame too.

  37. Craig Fawcett - 9 years ago

    I think the way the iPhone works is great, its simple, quick and easy. And if with IOS8 Apple pair the ease of use my iPhone has with a great set of useful live notifications on my iWatch, thats going to be perfect. Why would I want to keep getting my iPhone out to look at notifications. Thats the evolution, just as we moved away from our desktops to our smartphones, so we evolve live notifications from the smartphone to wearables.

  38. Alex (@Metascover) - 9 years ago

    We don’t need widgets. Apps can be opened in a quarter second and can send notifications.

  39. Drew (@gettysburg11s) - 9 years ago

    I happen to live in both worlds. I love my iPad mini, but my smart phone is a Galaxy S4 (which runs Android 4.4.2). One thing I notice right away is that the Android notification shade is way more useful than notification center. Its more actionable. Whenever something, anything, happens on your smartphone, the information is there.

    So, could iOS be more functional in relation to how people use their phones today? Almost certainly.

  40. Jazz Bo - 9 years ago

    Way back in the stone ages of smartphones I had an HP iPaq 6800 series phone. When I turned it on I was greeted with everything I needed to know at that moment, for that day and the next day. I miss that because it was quick. Turn the phone on and there it was. Why would that be so difficult to accomplish on an iphone today? Without swiping or jailbreaking.
    This article hits the nail on the head. That should be a mandatory function of the lock screen.

  41. Lance Newcomb - 9 years ago

    Why does it need to change?
    Change for the sake of change results in things like news websites that have 14 inches of white blank space on my iMac’s screen.

  42. zeromeus - 9 years ago

    Apple still has the left and right side of the screen to add stuff. Anyway, the ONLY thing I wish they add is the ability to put the icons where I want them. For example, when I have a photo of myself and my girlfriend on the home screen, I don’t want the icons to block it, so I just want the icons to be wherever I put them rather than being forced to arrange the way they are right now. I don’t mind that they lock into a grid, but I want to be able to put the icons at different places on the grid.

    Now as far as Apple changing the the grid into something else, I DON’T want that AT ALL. I think most people don’t either. Just look at what happened to Windows when Microsoft puts Metro onto windows 8. Now they’re scrambling to put it back to the way it should be before.

    The few android trolls who keep criticizing Apple’s UI are just that… opinionated trolls with loud mouth. I like Apple’s UI just the way it is with the exception of being able to put the icons where I want them.

    NO LIVE TILES AND NO LIVE WIDGETS! Thank you very much. I like my battery life better than some gimmicks.

  43. zubeirg87 - 9 years ago

    Probably Apple seeks to continuously enhancing the user experience without complicating things. It is actually difficult not complicate things up. Or it is very easy to complicate things up. If we look at the way iOS is designed, it is clear that Apple wants to user not to waste time on the home screen, but rather be in the app, and going from app to app without delay. The reasons are simple. Firstly let’s not forget that this is a mobile device with a relatively tiny battery compared to a laptop. So it is not desired that the user waste time starring at the home screen. Any other change in the os will have to be such that battery life is not compromised.

    Then if we take a look at what others are offering. Microsoft thought that live tiles are the solution. But how much relevant information can you put in a tile. A few photos which you won’t even know are from whom? Or a few words that make no sense? Make the tile big enough to display enough information as to be relevant and you’ll end up in a tile that fills at least half of your screen(on a smartphone). So you’ll probably have only 2 apps on one screen. This will require quite a bit of swiping to see what are the updates on all your apps.. impractical!!

    Now google has thought that the solution is widgets. As I can recall htc, which happens to be among the first android makers, said they observed that users do not use widgets as what they are intended to be. They just use them as an icon to get into the app. So this speaks for itself. And let’s not forget what impact widgets have on battery life. They need to be continuously updated, while icons barely use up resources. Apps use resources only when opened.

    However I personally thinks they could be ways of improving the actual iOS experience. For one, the user gets all notifications on the lock screen. But he can only get into one at a time. Then he has to rely on the notification centre. It is not that bad an experience but sometimes the list is so long that going from one app’s latest notifications to the next will require you a great deal of scroll. This is not practical. Some notifications can be a few days old as well, and not be relevant. So then there is the icon badges that give a count of the latest unveiwed notifications. But the user definitely need to go inside the app. May be the user does not to do it because it will waste his time.

    MY IDEA of a possible improvement-
    I think it will be great if the badge on the icon becomes big enough it becomes easily tappable. Tapping on it opens a small box (about the size of an opened folder) within the home screen which shows what notifications the number on the badge is referring to. The user can have a glance at them and see whether these are important enough for him to see them through inside the app. Then tapping on any of these notifications brings the user directly into the relevant part of the app. Probably this will need heavy infrastructure in the os to allow developers to make their app work that way. We’ll see if something of the sort comes over time.

  44. Alex Bubin - 9 years ago

    I think you might be on to something here… With the integration of TouchID into devices, Apple added a second layer of security. This could be used to take care of the privacy concerns you had near the end of the post. Your phone session to check something would be much simpler; I envision a little something like this… You wake up your phone and you just see the same boring lockscreen we have today with only clock and recent notifications, but with a scan of your fingerprint, the display comes to life with live data. Not unlocked, but it presents you with a view of your daily schedule, recent text messages (along with reply capabilities). Basically full access to reading any important information on your phone, but not the ability to edit or change anything. This ability comes once you fully unlock your device along with the ability to open other apps for other purposes (games, navigation, music, etc.)

  45. 1nf3cted - 9 years ago

    I remember that my college professor for java development had taught his students how to efficient code out your applications using a handful of principles and guidelines. There is one that I’m going to discuss here: The Single Responsibility Principle. It states that every class or method should have the code to accomplish one responsibility; one purpose. This is done for the sake of making it significantly easier and more efficient to expand your application with new features, without having to rewrite half the code to make implement that one new feature. It can save the developer hours of unnecessary work; and it makes it easier to expand in the future — and software is always in need of an update or expansion

    What I love about iOS is that Apple seems to be following this principle throughout their system. A good example is Android’s Notfication Center vs. iOS’s. In Android phones (most if not all I believe), the notification center has a top layer for hot-toggles and switches… but why? It’s the center for notifications, not for notifications AND toggles. When I swipe down, I would expect to see notifications pushed from my apps, not switches. Simply put, that is out of place, because it has more than one responsibility. Apple’s is more focused — it organizes ONLY your notifications. The Today screen gives you info which notifies you of the weather, the day, your alarms, and upcoming calendar events, while the other screens organize your push notifications from all your apps. That is clear and concise, and it holds it’s single responsibility.

    Before iOS 7, people wanted to access to quick toggles, like they would with Android; and Apple had to figure how to accomplish that. They could’ve simply squeezed them into Notification Center like Android, and then the problem is solved… but then a new problem occurs — it’s got two responsibilities. It adds an extra layer of responsibility that could lead to bugs that effect the toggles, or the way notifications react, or both… It becomes more difficult to MANAGE. So, Apple made Control Center. It is IMMEDIATELY clear that this is a better way to approach offering quick toggles, because it is in its own place, meaning that you could fit MORE toggles there — not just quick switches, but volume control, brightness, and even quick access to a flashlight, camera, and more. Accessible, from ANYWHERE. They’ve designed a “center” for just “controls” — effectively keeping it down to one responsibility, and one purpose. It is easier to understand on a user level, it is more efficient being on its own, and it just makes more sense.

    The Home Screen has one responsibility too — launch applications. Throwing in widgets adds an extra layer of content that could cause problems. I believe that if they were to ever add Widgets, they would simply create a version of Dashboard for iOS — a layer that could appear above the home screen which contains ONLY widgets with one one flick or pinch of the screen. Android can have widgets, toggles, and apps positioned all over the home screen, and the result is largely a laggy, buggy, battery draining mess. There are way too many responsibilities that need to be accounted for on their home screen. It is hard to manage, and even harder to expand easily without having to rewrite a lot of code… maybe this is why there have to be so many different manufacturer-tweaked versions of Android?

    Apple knows how to be smart and efficient with their software. While I would like to see some changes to the home screen to keep things fresh, I can’t deny that the way their system is layered and established is very efficient and easy to understand — and that is one of the most important things when creating an OS, especially a mobile OS. It makes it approachable to the user. I believe that iPhones and iOS are so popular and highly desired largely because of the principle I’ve discussed. Apple makes thing efficiently; they make it so that it just makes sense; and they don’t put more responsibility than necessary on each aspect of their system. The result is a mobile OS that is approachable to anyone.
    Further change is welcome, but not unless it is just as efficient and comprehensive as things are now.

    • WisdomSeed (@WisdomSeed) - 9 years ago

      That is a really valid point and I don’t want my screen to be too busy. For the time being, my home screen is empty with four folders with oft used applications at the bottom. But what I want isn’t more of any particular things on the screen, I want the screen to be more ‘mine’. But leaving it alone may be the best way to go.

  46. devanealex - 9 years ago

    So surely OSX needs a radical change seeing as it’s had the ‘same design’ for over 10years! A dock with your windows open above it. The home screen is there for opening apps – nothing more, nothing less. It’s an app launcher – just like the dock or the applications finder folder is in OSX. Just because they function largely the same since their introduction doesn’t mean they need a radical change.

  47. Jim Phong - 9 years ago

    If the homescreen, icons and UI must be badly designed like with the atrocious childish unusable Microsoft Metro/ModernUI crap .. or the huge mess on Android devices…
    ..then it’s better to keep using the same design for many years.
    The Microsoft nonsense with Metro was the worst ever .. trying to replace the whole windows interface paradigm with its start menu being used since 1995 was just a very bad idea and the execution the worst ever.
    So better is no changes than bad changes. If Apple engineers,designs and coders have some really good and usable ideas to improve things then yes.. otherwise it’s a no. No changes needed. Bad changes are just bad.

  48. jigsaw4life - 9 years ago

    Separate tab in notification center (accessible on lock screen) with customizable, dev accessible, notification/live data menu. Merry Christmas

  49. Cameron Bernhardt - 9 years ago

    I don’t see why it has to ‘evolve.’ You sound as if a static screen of icons is somehow archaic or backward; it’s just a different way of doing things. In fact, look at our computers: we don’t exactly have stock tickers and weather flying across our desktops (unless you’re on Windows 7). We can easily access that information if we need it, but it doesn’t need to be right there. The desktop is essentially a place for apps to run, and this parallel is enforced even further with fullscreen applications.

    This is a well written article (most of Ben’s are – a rare occurrence in online journalism these days) and I’m not saying that Apple will never make a different use of the screen space (especially if it’s increased), but I don’t like the tone of this article in that it suggests that iOS is somehow primitive in its dealings.

    (Yes, I know that ‘evolve’ technically just means ‘change,’ but it’s generally used to indicate movement from a simpler to a more advanced form)

  50. I’ve been a hardcore Mac user since OS9 and iOS user since its inception but my smartphone is Windows Nokia Lumia and has been for over a year. I agree that it may be time to change the way user interface is structured in iOS.

    I do not agree that Windows phone is a complete flop as you put it, however.
    That is completely taken out of context, I’m sorry.
    This article is about design of the UI, right? Windows 8 phone is a flop because it was 4 years too late to the party and its app store was near non-existent for nearly a year. It was not a flop because of its UI design which is actually very well thought out.

    The live tiles, which can be repositioned and given three different sizes, are a very clever idea and also most useful. When I wake up the Lumia, I get lock screen similar to iOS notification center which shows information of my choice. When I unlock and swipe the notification center away, I get the main screen with LiveTiles which contain info which I would not like to show on the lock screen to anyone pho just happens to pick up my phone.

    Plain and simple UI with lots of information without ever opening any app.
    I still think iOS is better, but there is something about that LiveTile idea……..

  51. Steve Blackwell - 9 years ago

    I just hope that OS X does not get the iOS7 facelift. I detest the blandness and colour selection of the redesigned “Flat” interface. Clearly, Jony Ive is missing the brutal feedback on his designs that Steve provided…“Jony, that design is Sh#t”. How they could throw out the rich icons and app layouts that took years to finely tune is beyond me. Change just for the sake of change is not something apple ever bought into. I think he is a great hardware designer but maybe he lacks the ability to be objective about his own design.
    Having used iOS7 now since its release, I thought it would grow on me, but comparing the two designs (I still have it on my old iPhone4) I hate iOS7 more than ever. Icons aside, the app look and functionality of Calendar, Reminders, Clock/Timer, etc,is just hideous. And whoever selected white on pale lime green for icons and iMessage text boxes needs to be tar and feathered.
    We already got taste of that design in Mavericks with the crappy calendar makeover and other “Flat” design tweeks.

    So, please, please, please do not revamp OS X (Yosemite?, Tahoe?) to look like iOS7. It stinks Jony!

  52. Well while I could say “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, which works splendidly well in this case. But a little change might be well overdue(of course from my view except for WP, android and even blackberry’s os didn’t really change much at least in my view because they’ve always kinda looked like they do). I’d kinda like to see them present you by default with the option of the classic home screen and maybe something new(that hasn’t been done before) as a second option that you can switch back and forth between. As well as open iOS up to downloading and installing third party apps w/out jailbreak or date hacks. I don’t mind not having the features other phones have because I don’t need them, but these other changes would be very welcome in my view. But then again, I could live without a change to the grid unless it truly has to happen. Though the way I see it, new person in charge since iOS7 should mean some big changes(except the flattening I hated it especially in iBooks….looks good in some apps but the others yuck). But then again like I said i’d be happy if nothing changed but new apps added and a bit of reorganization to other apps…

    • Plus now that I think about it, I remember hearing somewhere that someone within apple said, “If it’s a feature we ourselves would use everyday, then by all means we’ll add it to our products, otherwise it can’t be that important”. I may be misconstruing that quote, but I think i have the general gist. Let’s just hope apple still feels that way(and fixes ibooks…one app where the realism is needed back), because that’s the only reason and way we’d see any major change if it does happen.

  53. They don’t need to change it, they have had a winning formula from the beginning. Why does everyone seem to have an insatiable craving for something radically new, different or ‘innovative’…??? All the major tech companies have world class teams of user interface designers who have surely experimented with every imaginable type of user interface already. Just stop thinking about it, it’s really not an issue.

  54. b9bot - 9 years ago

    If you completely change the look of the home screen then you will confuse your customers. There is no need to change the home screen. You can however move different apps into the home screen and dock. But I see no reason to change the home screen. It to me would just confuse users and really there’s no point to it.

  55. Ali Hamodi - 9 years ago

    add more functionality and thats it. I want a pen for my ipad (like the spen) and thats all I need.

  56. Mike Sabino - 9 years ago

    It might be too much, but I wonder what a movable split screen would be like. Being able to split the screen in half, but also slide the bar (and lock/unlock it) to customer how much of each side is on either side of the bar. On either side, choose what goes there: Live date feed, Apps, Control Panel, or many some other form of category. You would be able to slide the divider to adjust more space to one side. Also you would be able to pick what category or type of stuff goes into each side. Or pick no sides at all, but slide the divider all the way to one side (the divider should probably be horizontal. This would allow several options and combos. Apps and Control Panel, or Live Data & Control panel, then this would push to App drawer to a pull up or a pull down like where the Control panel currently lives. You could also decide to keep 1 side blank, so wallpaper always shows. etc etc.

    This still sticks to the grid we are used to but, offers options that look different and also are customizable, but also still very much in lockdown in terms of overall design and OS functionality.

  57. zubeirg87 - 9 years ago

    Apple wants users to be inside their app. So the home screen is just an app launcher. They don’t want users to stare a their home screen for this will have vain impact on battery life. WP’s live tiles are not space effective as they can’t display enough relevant information without getting too big. Android’s widgets have a great impact on battery life.

    I think the notification centre is a great way of knowing which apps need your attention. However I think there is room for improvement there. Sometimes the notification centre becomes so long that you’ll need a great deal of scrolling from one app’s latest notifications to the next. To my experience the missed tab does not work that well. It so happens that tweets that I already viewed directly in the twitter app still remains in the missed tab. This should not be happening and needs rectification. Probably they could also use the today tab to display not only things in calendar or reminders, etc, but all notifications of all apps for that particular day. That way one can know which notifications are the most relevant and which have already expired.

    I also mentioned in a comment above that there should be a way of tapping the badge on the app icon. They might need to get a little bigger. Tapping on them opens a small box (about the size of an open folder, with a similar opening animation) which displays the list of notifications the number in the red circle is referring to. Then tapping on any notification brings you directly to the relevant part of the app, as it already works for notification centre. The way it is now is that you’ll have a number in the badge, but need go throughout notification centre to know what are these numbers referring to. They might not be there as well, depending on your notification centre settings. Then you’ll need to go inside the app to know what they are referring to. This is not time effective, as you these notifications might not be that important to you at that particular time. So there definitely need to be a way of “glancing” at what these numbers refer to.

  58. philips9179 - 9 years ago

    Brilliant article. I’ve been thinking and trying to deal with this problem for sometime. Basically I was forced to do something about this ever since Touch ID came out because out of habit I use my thumb BOTH to switch on my phone and then for Touch ID. So I have been basically completely skipping the lock screen. so I thought why bother with the lock screen, and keep it for Touch ID, and make my first home screen a notification screen. seems to work ok.

  59. amitvedant - 9 years ago

    I was thinking on the similar lines. iOS is great and let Apple do it at the right time in the right way. :)

  60. Sean Tarzan Tan - 9 years ago

    That hit the nail. Hope Apple reads your post.

  61. Keith Sturgill - 9 years ago

    How has the desktop changed over the past 10 years or so? Very little.

    I can’t think of anything better than a row of apps, unless you want an app drawer like Android to hide the less used apps and keep only those you use on the home screen.

  62. Mark Blake - 9 years ago

    Apple has never been one to rush into a new idea, and for good reason. In my opinion the other devices and networks can’t compare with the sheer dependability of something that has been engineered and designed very well. The iphone has gone from the original phone/ipod/internet device coined by Steve Jobs during his keynote to an extension of our hand and lives. I agree with the comment made by someone else below about the consistency and quality of a BMW interior, because thats kind of how I view my own iphone. I think the other devices are not as polished as Apple’s. I don’t like a lot of flashy change just because i’m a little bored, but I can see an update now and then if the tech is there. When I first saw the gears move on my icon during an update, a spark of interest occurred, and the possibility of live icons on the home screen was a natural and logical second step. Some icons wouldn’t have any live info, and others will try to clutter the icon with useless junk thats just plain ugly, causing me to want to delete the damn thing. Like with all things Apple, some research will have to be done, and some basic rules set, but the down side to all this is the processing power and battery usage it will require for all those icons with moving stuff going on, giving me a headache. I can see the possibility, but im not sure I am quite ready for that big a leap just yet; I’m still enjoying the last release and the small simple pleasures of quiet dependability brings. In the end, it is a tool with some flash to it; it does what they say it is supposed to do, and it does it without much problems. I am satisfied with the speed at which Apple does things; any faster and it may be fun and exciting for a week, and then I’m gonna be doing a reload of the previous version.

  63. robertvarga79 - 9 years ago

    I can easily disagree with nearly everything stated in this article of boredom.

    1./ I wish, truly honestly wish i would own such a “flopped” product as the Windows Phone 8/8.1 platform. If that is failure, what they already achieved with such a latecomer product, i want to fail so richly in my whole life, than i would become billionaire finally! Control again some purchase-usage statistics, fresh ones, market share, etc… I also prefer Apple products myself, but stating that WP is a failure is simply uninformed at least

    2./ Design of iOS: sir, you have serious boredom syndrome, you need to spice up[ your life bit, and on your devices find some more interesting activities. There is nothing wrong with iOS’ design, looks, functionality. It is just wonderful, optimal and a lot enhanced since 2007.

  64. What is supposed to be the iPhone 5 homescreen in this evolution thingy dingy might (regarding the cydia app) not be the official one ;)

  65. Duke Woodson (@El_Woodo) - 9 years ago

    I actually like the old icons better

  66. saysitlikeitis - 9 years ago

    There is a very good reason that the “static icon” layout works. It’s simple, and consistent. New and exciting, changing for change sake, isn’t always a good reason to design a product. Or to make it better, especially when there is nothing wrong with what is now.
    Simple is good. Complexity out of necessity is one thing, but changing a proven design because you find it boring, no way.

    We are deluged with information as it is. Recent studies have proven and reinforced the fact that we can’t do many things well at the same time. Much more productive to focus on one thing or as little as possible at any given time.
    Placing more info on the lock screen will not be a great improvement.

    If you want a more visually interesting interface, you are free to switch to Android. Leave IOS alone. It is GREAT the way it is.

  67. WisdomSeed (@WisdomSeed) - 9 years ago

    I kind of agree with the idea that something should change. After, I think it was iOS 6, I was so sick of looking at it, that I no longer have any apps on my home screen, there are folders at the bottom for apps I use more often than others. For apps I barely use, I just search for them, instead of trying to find out which screen they may be on.

  68. Giorgos Amigdalos - 9 years ago

    Instead of changing that static grid they removed skeuomorphism. Everything got worse after Steve died. Jony stick to the hardware design, software design is not for you. Tim bring Scott Fortsall back as CEO and get fire yourself. This job is not for you

  69. We do not need Android like sh*t in our iOS ;)

  70. Pierre Calixte - 9 years ago

    Here’s what I don’t get…every OS interface is icon based (android, windows, mac, unbuntu, chrome, etc.) and has been so for quite sometime. But it seems that only iOS seems to get flack for using icons. No other OS gets such criticism. Why?

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      I’m not criticising iOS for using a grid layout or suggesting it shouldn’t do so for apps, just wondering whether it’s time for a different kind of homescreen/lockscreen. Both Android and Windows Phone have some live data on it. I don’t think either interface is right for Apple, but I do think it’s interesting to think about what might be.

      • Pierre Calixte - 9 years ago

        I agree with the live data aspect of your comment. I’ve been wanting live icons before windows came out with their live tiles.

        It doesn’t make any sense that the company that first brought widgets to the computer desktop is slow to bring the feature to their mobile platform.

  71. biso007 - 9 years ago

    Interface is one factor of many … I see iPhone in terms of stability at 1st place .. when IOS SDK will be developed to allow 3rd parties live tiles or widgets to be stable enough without screwing RAM usage or draining the battery, then maybe it will be the time to change .. for now, plz stay off

  72. Zade Samuels - 9 years ago

    Why do you say Microsoft was late with entering the mobile market? I remember buying a Windows CE PDA back in 1999 when there was only Microsoft and Palm in the market, with Palm being more dominant.

    When Apple announced their first iPhone there was already windows phones in the market which Balmer famously bragged were more competitive than the iPhone.

    The problem with Microsoft is they always copy someone else’s successful product rather than innovate their own. It worked for them a number of times (Windows, Xbox, Office… etc) and it flopped many others (Zoon, Mobile, Bing..etc)

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      I had an early Microsoft smartphone myself. My comment that “Microsoft took many years to notice that the world had gone mobile” refers to the company not realising the importance of the market, rather than not being active it it at all.

  73. Why not have it user-configurable? Let the user decide which is more important and customize the screen. BTW, the new icons are boring and sometimes hard to tell apart. Having choices here would be easy

  74. drummerstar - 9 years ago

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having the exact same breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. Consintence is a good thing. Thanks apple

  75. Luqqa (@luqqarodri) - 9 years ago

    I used android for a while, and after a time I actually missed the simple and static user interface of iOs. Its great to have all the icons you need right in the homescreen. Theres no need to add any kind of useless widget. The weather its exactly at the notification center, the toggles at control center.. what they can do is improve control center a little bit, but what i mean is that i really love the apple design for the homescreen

  76. Luqqa (@luqqarodri) - 9 years ago

    Also, android has lots of useless icons that the only thing they do is make your homescreen disordered

  77. Brett Reed - 9 years ago

    I totally agree with your comments!!! I have been saying this for a long time now. It’s the reason why I love the UI on Windows Phone and find it much more usable than iOS!

  78. Greg Csullog (@HiRoadEZ) - 9 years ago

    don’t know about a live home screen but I would like to see an option something like this (a Folder Mode where folders are a scrollable top line and contents are displayed below the selected folder):

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/nc7rswnqi7wso2o/home%20screen.pptx.pdf

    Either a setting icon or a gesture would open up the dialog shown on the second page

  79. Raphael Mendes - 9 years ago

    On my opinion you are almost right. There should be something to present us with information, right before we are able to reach or apps… since I agree that what we want is information. But the problem is that there must be a lock screen before it.

    So, as soon as you unlock your phone you get to this information hub (hey, something like flipboard is amazing for most of us, just throw something more professional there and people will be happy). Of course this is just an idea, and simply another equal swipe would present you with the apps grid. maybe it would work, maybe it wouldn’t, but I think it’s worth a try.

  80. Danny Brown - 9 years ago

    Personally I’d like an app drawer somewhere. All the app icons are clutter. I’d love to have the option to look at my phone and just see a beautiful background.

  81. dadzboyz - 9 years ago

    This home screen idea is a step in a direction that I don’t think you realize that you’re going. You can’t put too much information on the home screen as much of the data needs to be secure, hence the need to enter a passcode/fingerprint. You don’t want everyone knowing who you’re talking to, how to respond, that a package was delivered to your house, etc. without securely logging in. So the lock screen idea works for basic information like, the weather. That you missed a call, etc.

    But your point is also true with that secure info. I am picking up my phone to consume information. To see if a package was delivered to my office….to see if my wife or a client called…..if I have a doctor’s appointment. Some things that I may not want broadcast to the world, or anyone that picks up my phone without an access code. So, that leads to layer two. Basic info on the lock screen, secure updates after the lock screen, then the apps.

    That’s bascially what Android’s interface does. They provide basic info on the lock screen. Once you enter your password, you have widgets that can give you that information, plus more specific or secure/private information that links to the app if touched. Then they have the “App Drawer” which is roughtly the equivelent of Apple’s current apps on a grid home screens.

    What your asing for is Android’s base interface with Apple’s back-end, design and execution. That’s not a bad thing. It would actually be a nice combination.

    • Cameron Bernhardt - 9 years ago

      I think that’s where an iWatch would come in handy – a lot of people like to say that smartwatches are the solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, but as I sit here reading this article, none of these complaints apply to me because I get all of this information on my Pebble.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      That’s an interesting way of thinking about it

  82. Nick Bull - 9 years ago

    I’d like to see big live icons on the ipad, like this: http://goo.gl/oVbY0Y

  83. Lirar Mohamed - 9 years ago

    YES! its time for a new LOOK! Also its time to get rid of the home Button! Also its time to revamp control center! Basically it would be great if we don’t have to ‪#‎JailBreak‬ but get the JB option
    We have fingerprint home button just to unlock phone or few other areas, but with a Jailbreak tweak lets us to configure the whole use of fingerprint home button. I have a JB 5S and i hardly press my HB. I have a modified control center which gives me option to have all the settings right there in my CC
    I can use cool themes, i have an extra raw on my keyboard for numeric, i have contact pictures visible, i have a cool notification center and many more! Can Apple revamp with all these cool stuffs? the same iOS is boring without JailBreak.

  84. Robert Wacker - 9 years ago

    There is a jailbreak Tweak called “SuptleLock” that should be the foundation for the revamp. It simplifies the layout and allows more view of the background image. Its all around slicker. Check it out here:http://www.iphonehacks.com/2014/01/subtlelock-gives-ios-7-lock-screen-minimalistic-look.html

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!


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