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Twitter recently released a complete redesign for all major platforms, in part the redesign has been made to unify the experience across platforms.

But, because of this goal I couldn't help noticing the iOS version has the menu/navigation bar at the bottom of the screen:

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The web app's menu is at the top bar:

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As is Android's

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This difference is easily the most visible difference between the apps and can make the experience slightly confusing when switching between the iOS and other versions. The previous Twitter iOS app had the menu bar at the bottom too.

Why is the menu bar at the bottom on iOS? This visibly harms their cross-platform unification, so there must be some reason beyond "it's the way the old app was" as the apps were all changed despite that.

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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Because the Apple iOS Human Interface Guidelines say it should be there:

Appearance and Behavior - A tab bar appears at the bottom edge of the screen and should be accessible from every location in the application. A tab bar displays icons and text in tabs, all of which are equal in width and display a black background by default. When users select a tab, such as Search in YouTube, the tab displays a lighter background (which is known as the selection indicator image) and its icon receives a blue glow.

This place makes more sense too, because when you are touching the tabs, your hand/fingers are not blocking the rest of the screen, as there are when using the Android version.

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I don't have an iphone for personal use, only work so haven't used Twitter on it. I am suprised the bar wasn't at the bottom before! As Matt says its in the guidelines. –  Sheff Dec 9 '11 at 14:35
    
@Sheff sounds like it was on the bottom before as well. I guess now the better question is why the Android one isn't at the bottom...good practices aren't only supposed to be followed because of a platform's guidelines; Android and iOS are similar use cases--identical for the "rule of thumb" reason in Roland's answer –  Ben Brocka Dec 9 '11 at 14:44
    
Is the iOS one actually accessible from every location? On Android, these options are only at the top level - not there if you look at stories, people, tweets, profile... –  Roger Attrill Dec 13 '11 at 11:34
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"This visibly harms their cross-platform unification"

Why is that important? I propose that it isn't, and can actually be a detriment.

For instance, I work on a team building web apps. We are given marching orders to support iPhones and new Androids, as well as BlackBerries running old OSes and Nokia phones.

That, in and of itself is fine, but we have management and even UX that looks at these devices side-by-side and get upset when they don't match to the pixel across each device...which is just absurd for a variety of reasons:

  • devices have different native UI conventions that people are likely used to
  • devices have hardware interfaces
  • very, very few people ever actually compare different devices side by side

As for why to put the menu on a touch device at the bottom, it's because that's usually where your thumb is at. ;)

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They're not pixel to pixel perfect, but the flow and layout are very similar, which is extremely important. In addition Twitter is very simple, IMO very few features need to be cut from desktop twitter to make a successful mobile twitter. Compare this to Microsoft Office, which would probably need to lose 95% of it's features in order to be even slightly usable on mobile. –  Ben Brocka Dec 9 '11 at 15:49
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Pixel Perfection was perhaps taking the example to the extreme, but the argument (IMHO) is the same...flow consistency is NOT necessarily important. It may be, but it may not be. There may be plenty of arguments for the flow to change to best reflect the operating system's preferred methods. –  DA01 Dec 9 '11 at 15:58
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In my opinion the menu bar should be in the bottom in mobile apps, because there you can easily reach the buttons, when using your phone with one hand!

Here's an article about the 'Rule of Thumb'

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