Josh Ginter:

Surprising to me is the fact that some apps have far superior swiping experiences. Some apps require a swipe from off-screen to go back a menu while others allow for swipes to begin in the middle of the screen.

Yes! Sloppy swiping is a superior experience.

Try this: swipe from left-to-right in Unread, Paper (so I hear), Agenda calendar, Reeder, or Check the Weather. In those apps you’ll notice that you can start your swipe from just about anywhere and it works. Just like moving between Home screens doesn’t require a specific off-screen starting point.

Now try the same thing in Apple’s Mail app, Messages app, or Tweetbot. The requirement to begin the swipe off the left-most edge of the screen just doesn’t feel as generous when you’re used to an app that allows the sloppy swipe.

Now, I get why this is important in certain cases. In Tweetbot, for example, a left-to-right swipe on a tweet is a shortcut for quickly replying to that Tweet. Tweetbot could allow sloppy swiping when on a screen that doesn’t use gesture shortcuts, and then require non-sloppy swiping when in the Timeline view, but then you’ve chosen to have an inconsistent gesture experience. However, that’s exactly the implementation Day One uses.

Day One allows half sloppy swiping, half not. When viewing an individual entry, a sloppy swipe will take you back to the Timeline view. But on the timeline view, a sloppy swipe is actually how you get to the individual quick action menu for an entry. And so to go back to the main menu from Day One’s timeline view, you have to do a traditional swipe.

And then there’s another type of swiping transition that is just all wrong. It’s most prevalent in OmniFocus 2 for iPhone and Simplenote. In OmniFocus 2 for iPhone, a left-to-right swipe from the Forecast view, Inbox view, etc. will take you back to the main menu screen. However, the transition to the main menu screen is one where the latter closes in from top and from bottom. Moreover it closes over the top of the Forecast view.

And it’s a similar transition effect in Simplenote. When swiping left-to-right out of an individual note to go back to the main notes list, the current note fades away and the notes list comes in from both top and bottom edges. These transitions are neat in theory, but they are jarring in actual use. Because the gesture is the same as used by all other iOS apps, yet the animation completely breaks the illusion that you are “swiping this screen away to go back to another screen”.

Sloppy Swiping