Apple’s Effect on User Experience (UX) and How iOS 9 Affects The Design Industry

Gravity Jack In the Press

Here at Gravity Jack, we’re big fans of all things Apple. Recently, the company announced new products and updates to existing product lines. We’re, of course, always keeping abreast of new technologies, so our UX/UI Engineer, Lauren Pangborn, has put together an analysis of how Apple’s recent announcements will affect how our own design team (and we anticipate designers everywhere) will create simple, beautiful, and easy-to-use interfaces.,

During the recent keynote, Apple announced some exciting things, including new bands for the Watch and updates to WatchOS, which we jokingly refer to as “wachos” (pronounced like “nachos”). The iPhone 6S will use the screen as a context-sensitive flash for the front facing camera and the back facing camera will be able to shoot 4k video.

We’re more interested in the announcements concerning a giant iPad (and its accessories!), 3D Touch, and Apple TV apps. The new iPad is truly massive: it sports a 12.9in screen with a higher resolution than any other iOS devices. We’re used to designing for a variety of screen sizes, so we look forward to the challenge of designing for this one!


First off, the UI designs we create are always vector, so we’re always prepared to scale them up (we have a feeling Apple will continue to announce higher and higher resolution devices). The 2732 by 2048 screen resolution means we’ll have some extra screen real estate to use, but we’ll have to use it wisely, since users might not hold it as close to their faces as they do their iPhones. Additionally, most users won’t be able to reach the center of the 12.9in screen if they are holding it with both hands, so any apps that are designed for on-the-go use will need to have most of its buttons on the right and left edges of the screen. However, the apps that are designed for use at a desk (when the user isn’t holding it with both hands), are exempt from that rule. That gets into another product announcement– the keyboard.

Some users have been using bluetooth keyboards/cases for their iPads for years, but now they’ll have a chance to use an Apple-branded one. We want to allow users with these keyboards (and older ones) to take advantage of them in our apps, but keep a high-quality user experience for those users without the extra hardware.

Apple also announced a new stylus it calls Pencil. The design team is obviously super stoked about this one– the drawing demos shown in the announcement made our collective jaw drop. We’ll treat the Pencil similarly to the keyboard: help our users with the device take advantage of it, but keep the experience great for those who don’t.


The new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will sport new screen technology that can sense how hard the user is pressing. Apple wants its app developers to use this new technology in interactions it calls Peek and Pop. Peek allows the user to ‘peek’ into a piece of content, preview it, and close it immediately– all without leaving the original context. For instance, a user can Peek into an email by lightly pressing on that row in her inbox. A small preview of the email will show (until the user stops pressing). She can press a little deeper to Pop into the email to respond, tap links, etc. Check out the video below to learn more.

We’re big fans of Peek because it allows the user to quickly preview content without leaving context. It’s important to us that our users can always tell where they’ve come from, where they are, and where they’re going. Peek and Pop together accomplish these well: on Peek, the background blurs, but it’s clear that the user hasn’t left the background altogether. The animation that occurs when a user ‘Pops’ into content clearly conveys that the user is specifically focused on that content, while still free to go back just as quickly.

We imagine using Peek to give the user a taste of a virtual reality scene before he puts his phone in the headset to watch it, for example. There are tons of ways 3D Touch can be used and we can’t think of them all!

Additionally, the light press can be used on the iOS home screen to quickly jump into a certain feature of the app. For example, the light press on the Phone app will show a small menu, where the user can call a favorite contact or create a new contact. We’re imagining using to this to allow users to quickly get into the Plane 360 video (where our founder jumps out of a plane with a 360 degree camera rig) in our Skydive 360 app. This is awesome for users who are already familiar with our apps and want to get to a certain feature without hunting through menus.


Since we call WatchOS “wachos”, can we call the newly-announced tvOS “teevos”? We’ll take that as a yes. Never before have developers been able to create apps for the AppleTV, but we look forward to creating some cool stuff with tvOS. Our dev kit has arrived and we have a few projects in the works, so stay tuned!

The remote for it is pretty different from previous versions: combine the original Wii remote, the touchpad on your laptop, and Siri on your phone and you’ll have the new Apple TV remote. If you’ve ever used an AppleTV, you’ve probably noticed that navigation can be difficult. Instead of furiously pressing the right arrow button to scan through a row of movies, imagine swiping gently through them. Or in our case, imagine using the touchpad to look around a 360 degree video!

And instead of typing the thirty character-long movie name into the horrible keyboard on the current AppleTV, imagine pressing the mic button on the remote and asking Siri to find it for you.

We’re betting the user experience of this new Apple TV will be a massive improvement over the last one, and we’re stoked to develop for it.


One of our favorite aspects of the technology industry is that it’s always changing– everyone from big companies like Apple to small startups are constantly coming up with new stuff. Since the experience that a user encounters while using any of our projects is most important, we love investigating the impact these new features and elements will have and, when appropriate, thoughtfully incorporate them into the apps we create.

Here at Gravity Jack, we’re committed to creating the future experience — whether that involves hardware or software. That said, we know that not everybody uses all the newest, Apple-branded toys. We’re committed to keeping the experience awesome for everyone, for many updates to come.