With the reveal of the new iPads around the corner, let’s imagine how the interface could be redesigned to allow for even more productivity.
When Apple unveiled iOS 11 for the iPad, I was completely in awe of the new multitasking gestures. I’m totally in love with the idea of manipulating apps with the fingers, and the new multitasking system felt like a great step into that direction.
For months now, rumors have had it that the new iPads were to ditch the Home Button and have a bezel-less screen a la iPhone X. One week before the event, I thought that it was the perfect time to publish this concept that articulates itself around the idea of taking full advantage of big screens.
Siri for the iPad
As we know, the new iPads will most likely let go of the Home Button. The Home Button has been gradually consigned by the software over the past few years, and iOS 12 has definitely put an end to it with the gestures directly taken from the iPhone X navigation paradigm that completely replace its usage, except for Siri.
How will we be able to summon Siri on the iPad once there’s no Home Button? On the iPhone X, Apple introduced in lieu the «Side button» which, if long pressed, summons the assistant. However, on the iPad, this doesn’t seem, at least in theory, like an optimal solution because of the much bigger size of the tablet. Instead, I believe a better solution to call «physically» Siri would be through the software, more specifically, in the Dock, like on the Mac.
That said, let’s see how Siri works on iPad OS.
Just like in iOS Mogi, Siri in iPad OS has been designed to be completely non-intrusive. Ask her to search for photos of a particular place while you’re writing a note for instance, and she will slide in from the side and let you interact with the results without leaving what you were doing.
The handle at the bottom of Siri is to expand the view to take the whole height of the screen.
I believe the top right corner of the screen is the best place for Siri: it combines both reachability and non-intrusiveness and consequently seems like the perfect spot for Siri’s use cases, where the assistant should be seen as a helping hand instead of a servant. Also, notice the small offset from the top as this area is generally dedicated to action buttons in iPad apps.
When Siri has not been used for a while, it hides itself to the right; you can either swipe it left to use it again or swipe it right to dismiss it.
For a full overview of what a non-intrusive Siri could be able to achieve on iOS devices, please have a look at my previous article (iOS Mogi).
Now, let’s dig deeper into the iPad’s navigation system.
Going fullscreen with the iPad
Probably the thing that I like the most about my iPhone X (apart from Animojis) is the gesture-based navigation, and I think a lot of people will agree with me on this. This is really the thing that I miss the most when I switch to previous models of iPhone.
As this system is about to land on the iPad, I figured that now was a good time to try to imagine how it could be redesigned for the tablet. Indeed, just switching between fullscreen apps, although it’s a game changer on the iPhone X, would certainly feel somehow limited on the iPad in my opinion.
To illustrate what I came up with instead, let’s take an example.
I love Abroad in Japan. He’s an English Youtuber who lives in Japan, and I am so fond of his sense of humor and the way he directs his videos. I have also learned a great deal about Japan and the culture there thanks to him.
Lately, he challenged himself to bike 2000 km across Japan, from his hometown Sakata in Yamagata prefecture to Kagoshima down in the South. While I really love watching his trip and visiting the little towns he encounters on the road, it’s also a great opportunity for me to take notes of the places that I would like to visit in the future, as they’re clearly not the typical places that you could find on the Internet if you’re a tourist on vacation.
Typically, a session of Abroad in Japan on my iPad looks like this:
And it works very well. However, it gets complicated when I want to know more about the city or the place Chris talked about.
iOS 11 introduced “Slide Over” which allows to add another app on top of the two below, so maybe I could open Safari in Slide Over mode and make my searches there… But I won’t.
Truthfully, I think I have never used that feature. I can see two reasons as to why:
- The first reason is probably because it blocks me from interacting with my main apps below. Slide Over has clearly been designed for temporary actions and most of the time, when I want to open a third app, it’s not meant to be just temporary.
- The second one is because Slide Over is summoned by swiping from the right edge of the screen. The thing is, I never know what app has been put there, and the interface does not give any hint about it. So clearly, it never occurs to me to swipe from the right as I never know what to expect (and sometimes, nothing happens as Slide Over is disabled).
So yes, I never use Slide Over.
What I wish my iPad could do instead is what I call a “Flow”. Here’s how it works:
I simply pull the dock from the bottom, and drag the app I need to where I want.
To navigate within the Flow, I have thought about re-using this gesture iPhone X users know by heart:
Simply swipe at the bottom of the screen to go left or right in the Flow. Notice how the bar transforms itself into a scroll bar once you start swiping with it:
How about fullscreen apps? You can achieve that using two different ways: either you drag a handle to the edge of the screen like we do today with Split View on the iPad, or, even faster, double tap on the bottom bar; the last active app will go fullscreen in a blink.
Mac users will notice that this gesture was directly inspired by the one we do to quickly resize windows on the desktop.
The good thing about this gesture is that you can even use it in the other way around, to switch from a fullscreen app to a Flow containing the last apps that were used:
Suffice to say, when apps are fullscreen, swiping at the bottom behaves exactly like on the iPhone X.
What about traditional multitasking? Flow on the iPad has been designed to be not disruptive, so the gesture introduced in iOS 12 to open the multitasking is still available. Swipe up further and hold to open the multitasking view:
So, that’s a wrap for the concept of Flow on the iPad. Flow is a response to the problem I have when I want to be able to do multiple things at the same time but the paradigm hardly allows me to. It would be interesting to see how much of this could be actually achievable from a technical point of view, but as the A-chips are so fast now and bound to get even faster, I’m sure it won’t be a huge problem (be there only 5 apps possible in a Flow, I would be so glad!).
New Dock for the iPad
As Flows could end up being quite long, it could prove cumbersome to drag an object from an app to another. To solve that, the Dock in iPad OS behaves a bit differently: now you can drag elements onto it and it will save it temporarily for you to use them elsewhere.
Similarly, Clipboard has now a dedicated interface, accessible right from the Dock, so you can access your copied elements from wherever you are. Simply tap an element to copy it in your clipboard, or drag it to where you want.
For those of you who have read my previous articles, you may have noticed that the ideas presented in this article are mostly inspired from there. I have adapted and tweaked them to suit the iPad, and I hope they bring a nice touch to the tablet and help iPad’s users be more productive.
Let me know in the comments your thoughts! 🙂
As for me, I’m back to planning my future Japanese life (like in 20 years from now). ??✈️