The iPhone lock screen counterpoint

Jonathan Sutter has written up a counterpoint to Brent Caswell’s article that I linked to earlier this week.



  • David

    I agree with Jonathan; I don’t want the lock-screen bloating with bad design “features”. If you want to do what Bret wants, unlock the screen and use the ‘phone.

  • Jerad

    The point on camera grabber is not entirely correct. If you are holding the iPhone in landscape like you should for most pictures, camera grabber is a left to right swipe.

    • Jonathan

      You have a point, but it is true only if you’re holding the phone with the home button facing left. When the home button is facing right it’s a backwards right-to-left swipe.

      • Jerad

        Correct but because of the hardware shutter button, volume up, that is the correct way to hold.

        • Jonathan

          I don’t think there’s a “correct” way to hold. The Camera UI rotates to display properly in all four orientations. Most normal people use the on-screen shutter button and don’t even know that you can use the + button.

          • http://darcyfitzpatrick.tumblr.com/ Darcy Fitzpatrick

            What other things do most normal people not know about, Jonathan? Double tapping the home key is hardly an obvious thing but it seems most people have figured it out by now, even given the fact that it does different things depending on where you are in the UI.

          • Jerad

            I see what you are saying, but your same logic is applied to the lock screen in general. Hold the phone upside down and it’s a slide right to left to unlock. Hold it in landscape and its a slide up or slide down to unlock. Springboard UI rotates to display properly on all four orientations too. All I was saying was its not quite accurate to say that a slide to the right philosophy was not followed with the camera grabber. I don’t know for sure but I think my logic makes sense.

          • Jonathan

            I can see your point, though I think it would be better if the camera swipe was consistent with the unlock swipe.

            Also, Springboard UI only rotates on iPad.

          • Jerad

            Touché on the springboard comment. Have yet to purchase an iPhone, hopefully soon.

  • http://darcyfitzpatrick.tumblr.com/ Darcy Fitzpatrick

    “Double tapping the home button while the device is locked replaces the date with simple audio controls and current artist/album/song information. The wallpaper is replaced by the album art.

    Third party apps that take advantage of background audio (e.g. Pandora) already have access to this UI so not only has this problem been solved, but the solution serves as a template for the lock screen interfaces of other apps that utilize background services. Basically, all Apple needs to do is make their custom lock screen controls accessible to third party apps that perform the same function.”

    I’m confused. Is he saying the home button double tap is the solution for all third party apps to use? But that would only ever give you control over the very last app you used.

    “The lock and home screens are not supposed to be interactive beyond their core functionality.”

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve read all day. Apple have already made them interactive beyond their core functionality.

    What a stick-in-the-mud.

    • Jonathan

      Sorry for the confusion. I wasn’t trying to suggest using the double-tap for everything, that part was just describing how the background audio controls work.

      As for the lock/home screens core functionality, I feel that interaction with app data should happen in the app itself, not on the lock or home screens (with the possible exception of those apps that use background/multitasking APIs.) For example, if you get a notification from iMessage on the lock screen you don’t reply from the lock screen, you swipe the notification and reply via the Messages app.

      • http://darcyfitzpatrick.tumblr.com/ Darcy Fitzpatrick

        But what about simply accessing data? Like why are date data and time data allowed on the lock screen, but not other data, like weather?

        I understand your desire to keep the lock screen from turning into a circus, but I don’t think it has to be quite as rigid as you describe it, either.

        • Jonathan

          If I had to guess, I’d say that, among other reasons, the time was pulled from the status bar and featured more prominently on the lock screen (along with the date) in order to balance the visual weight of the lock screen UI. Also, I would bet that people want to know the current time much more frequently than something like current weather or stock info. Just guessing though.

          • http://darcyfitzpatrick.tumblr.com/ Darcy Fitzpatrick

            It had nothing to do with balancing the weight and everything to do with making the time more glanceable. If you’re already interacting with your phone then seeing the time up in the menu bar is just a quick flick of the eyes, but when pulling your phone out of your pocket to check the time, your eyes want a nice big target to land on, hence the prominence.

            But why not allow a quick flick of that time card to view something else, like the weather? What’s so wrong with that?

          • Jonathan

            Again, I would argue that such data belongs in apps, not the lock screen, and that the added complexity isn’t worth the marginal benefits.

          • http://darcyfitzpatrick.tumblr.com/ Darcy Fitzpatrick

            The added complexity of swiping a card. Right.

            The marginal benefit of saving time. Got it.

  • Jerad

    Jonathan, would you be a fan of widgets on the phone in any capacity?

    • Jonathan

      Possibly. I think that there is a deeper problem that has to do with giving people quicker access to relevant data. I’m just not convinced that adding widgets is the best way to solve that problem.

      • Jerad

        I agree with your article and I think your approach does make more sense, especially considering your cited example of developer abuse of notifications. I can see keeping the phone lock screen as simple and streamlined as possible with such limited screen real estate. However the iPad seems to have a lot of wasted space on its lock screen which I think could be used for something interesting. Thoughts?

  • lucascott

    There’s a simple solution. If you think that skis kind of thing is a must then jailbreak your phone. There are tons of hacks to do this sort of thing.

    Just remember that is any of this eats your battery, freezes up the phone etc you are on your own. Apple will just tell you to restore your phone and stop jailbreaking it to solve the issue.

  • http://flekkzo.blogspot.com John “Flekkzo” Gustafsson

    This, a thousand times this. It’s far more about what you do NOT do than what you do when it comes to truly great UX/UI/Design. We already have two christmas tree mobile UIs out there, and one that looks absolutely dreadful to boot. Making iOS more like them seems to be counter intuitive as the reason why iOS is as good as it is, is by keeping things focused and not adding in things everywhere.

    It’s the same reason why there are no widgets in iOS, as there is no need for them. That’s what you have apps for. If you want to know about the weather, you go to the weather app. If you do it a lot you either put it on the first screen of apps, or as one of the four always accessible apps.