UIDW 5: iPhone 12 mini & iPhone 12 Pro Max

Welcome back to UI Designer Weekly!

By this time next week, the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be out in stores. I am planning on upgrading this year and have been trying to decide which to get. It’s made me think about whether I use my phone more one-handed or two-handed.

The 12 Pro Max has a gorgeous screen for viewing basically anything, but I’ve been leaning towards the smaller models since the 12 Pro Max puts a lot of buttons out of reach when holding it in one hand.

I wonder what you all would think about this open-ended question: Should the design for a given interface be very different between, say, the 12 Mini and the 12 Pro Max? Does it matter that more people’s thumbs may be able to reach Control Center on the Mini than the Pro Max, especially if more people use two hands with the Pro Max anyway?

I know these questions overlap into design questions for products and physical dimensions beyond the exact work we do as interface designers, but, who knows, perhaps it wouldn’t be that far out there to imagine one day a design that the Pro Max can enter that moves many more interface elements into the bottom half of the screen (Outside of Reachability and more as a true re-layout of interface elements).

This time next week, we will also know what surprises may await us with the Apple event next week expected to be about Mac.

I hope you’ve had a great week and that you enjoy this shorter, lighter read this week! Design some great designs next week!

UI Designer Weekly

Bringing Out the Sound: Part 1

A larger, refined Now Playing interface delights in iOS 14.2. There are two storylines here: AirPlay with multiple speakers and Now Playing.

This area has always let you control any audio playing on your device while also allowing you to control audio playing on any number of AirPlay devices nearby. What might jump out to you here is the kind of refinement that can come later and later in the life of a design. This new design features the audio currently playing prominently and hides any other speakers behind a small button at the bottom with a clear title. Previously, this design showed all speakers, equally sized and vertically listed, whether or not any of the other speakers were playing any audio. If it’s true that the majority of the time people are controlling music on their own device, this is a fantastic reorganization that brings the common case into a beautiful, solo spotlight and tidies up the other cases.

The second story here is playing out with the larger album art and the small overlay in the bottom right corner of the art that shows the source application. Something as simple as designing this area to feature album art as large as it could go will delight many people listening to their favorite tracks. And while the Apple Music icon pictured here may seem a little unnecessary, imagine how useful somebody who listens to podcasts with several podcast apps will find this.

Perhaps a sign that an updated design is a great one: you quickly forget what it was like before.


Bringing Out the Sound: Part 2

An empty state for the history books in iOS 14.2. An empty state refers to a design that accounts for the “empty” moment before any content has been created or selected. An effective empty state meets you where you are and suggests exactly what you were hoping to do before you even figured out how to go about doing it. In this example, listeners are treated to a fresh, double-row scrolling wall of recently-played music. There are several details to call out here.

First, notice the nice headline/subheadline pattern being used where it says “Not Playing” and the current speaker above. These two are made distinct using both size and color and present the latest iteration of this flexible layout.

Second, we see the small icon overlay carried over here on each individual album, creating great consistency with the design for when something is playing.

Third, this scroll setup uses horizontal scrolling. Often, designers may choose to use horizontal scrolling in a design when the containing screen is already doing a long vertical scroll — here, we don’t have that situation exactly as there is no vertical scroll. Horizontal scrolling can have the effect of giving content more theater, more presence, more elegance. Hand-in-hand with any scrolling design goes the task of making it clear that content is scrollable, and we see the task completed here quite nicely with a visible, even peek coming from the next column of content.

Finally, there’s one more element of refining a design that has become so mature there is a lot to be known about it: one-tap play. The safe call might have been to simply open the corresponding audio app when people tap on their selected album art, but the more interesting and perhaps more effective call could be simply playing that audio right away.


New Wallpapers in iOS 14.2

As interfaces evolve, their surroundings often do too. Before it became possible for people to see their favorite wallpaper behind the apps on their homescreen (as opposed to on the lock screen, which has always been supported), many design questions had to be solved — What if the time is hard to see? Do apps have shadows? How does the dock adapt to a wallpaper?

It is for this reason that I am including the news of new wallpapers in iOS 14.2 this week — I think they set a new tone every time they are updated and speak to us as designers in the intangible, abstract areas of design.

UI Designer Weekly

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