Grassroots UI Innovation

Posted on Apr 6, 2010 in Featured, iPad, iPhone, UI Design

When Apple introduced the iPhone and later the iPhone SDK, they established a series of UI metaphors, interaction models and conventions, that have served as a template for nearly all third party apps. Gestures such as swipe to delete, or UI elements such as springy lists are simply expected.

Apple has done such a great job of establishing best practices for nearly all types of UI interactions that it’s not often you see news kinds of UI interaction introduced by third party developers.

But when Atebits introduced Tweetie 2, it also introduced so-called “spring reloading”. Basically if you pull down past the end of a list, causing it to spring back, you can refresh the current list of tweets.

Many reviewers noted the ingenuity of this design, as it effectively turned a habit of many users (namely playing with the springy lists) into a useful feature. This design has since been adopted by several other applications and seems as though it may become a de facto UI convention on the iPhone OS.

Here is the original Tweetie 2 design:

Foursquare is basically a straight up copy:

This is Gowalla’s take on it – the logo appears to let you know you’ve pulled down far enough:

And the Wikipedia app Articles uses the design to lock or unlock your screen orientation:

It’ll be interesting to see if this convention is adopted by more applications going forward – or if Apple will even perhaps add it to their own apps. But at any rate, it’s nice to see good UI innovations from a third party developer being adopted by others. I can’t wait to see what Atebits and others come up with for the iPad.