iPhone X App Switching Will Work Like This

The removal of the home button on the iPhone X, mostly done for the sake of reducing bezels, has given Apple a lot of headaches. First is the removal of Touch ID, now replaced by Face ID. But that was just one of them. Another problem was how it would replace the common gestures used with the home button, like switching between apps. Apple has promised to replace those with swipe gestures, which, based on this leaked video, doesn't seem so bad.

iPhone OS, the predecessor of today's iOS, was designed with a single app interaction in mind. It psychologically helped users maintain focus on just one app, but also helped optimize hardware resources. But multi-tasking is an inescapable fact of computing life, and iOS has been catching up with paradigms and actions to make that easier for users.

That was a big a part of the iOS 11 release for iPads, but the iPhone X is also going to have its own special method. Instead of having to double press a home button, which no longer exists anyway, iPhone X users will have to swipe to switch between "adjacent" apps.

While it might look smooth and easy, it does bring up some theoretical questions. For one, the new global gesture might conflict with gestures that apps might already be using inside, especially when swipes are done from the edges. Apple could very well just impose new rules on iOS apps to leave those edges free, but that could break functionality and habits for apps and users alike.

The method also adds a new cognitive load on users. They now need to remember which apps are to the left or right of the current one. This requires a spatial mental image of the apps arranged in a row. While a grid also does impose a spatial arrangement, having a broader overview of previously used apps might not be a big deal compared to this.