Is Apple preparing us for a new UI control specific to iPads (and a larger iPhone 6?) in iOS 8? Apple just released (finally!) a new iPad-only version of their Apple Store app. Just in time for the holidays.
The really interesting thing about this app is that it sports a unique toolbar at the top of the app that combines features of a navigation bar, a tab bar, and a toolbar.
Up until now,
Apple has always emphasized the differences between these types of controls, and even specified the right and wrong way to use and embed them, through the HIG (Human Interface a Guidelines for iOS).
But those controls and guidelines were invented for the smaller form factor 3.5″ iPhone. The debut of the iPad in 2010 didn’t bring much in the way of new controls (other than popovers and split views), much to the dismay of many pundits (but to the great joy of developers!).
As the iPhone grows in size, and rumors of a larger iPad Pro with a 12 inch screen circulate, perhaps Apple is seeking better, more customizable controls that work with these larger form factors better.
So what’s new with this super tab/nav/toolbar? I’ve only played with it for a little bit (I’m at the Modern Apps Live conference in Orlando, Florida today, giving a talk on developing universal apps for iPhones and iPads), but it seems quite powerful. It combines a home button with a dynamic, expandable, scrollable tab view that also dynamically exposes a back button (like a navigation bar) and sports toolbar-like buttons for search, account, and shopping cart (the latter two bringing up small modal windows similar to the iPhone app).
So it packs quite a bit of functionality in one bar.
Now, there’s no guarantee Apple is going to make this available as a new control in iOS. They already have a faux popover in the iPhone iBooks app that they haven’t made available to developers. So there is precedent to keeping this for themselves.
But I think that, as iPhones and iPads are rumored to grow, Apple needs to create more complex, robust controls to advance the platform. What do you think?