The super-sized smartphones of this era make the user stretch their thumbs to reach touch targets on the top. The one-handed mode does not really solve one-handed reachability as it shrinks the screen making it harder for the user to see the content. How might we redesign smartphone Interfaces to solve reachability concerns consumers face?

  • No ideas of your own to bring to the party?
    – straya
    Dec 7 '20 at 23:20
  • 1
    I am new to UX, Hence the question :) @straya Dec 8 '20 at 8:49

I would say there is still a lot of room for R&D here. Some have tried and may have not succeeded to get the pattern in the hands of the masses for reasons other than it being a competitive approach to gesture input.

The Floating Action Button on Android facilitates easy access to actions in the easiest to reach part of the screen. When extended, a range of actions can be accessed through the same mechanism and some swipe gestures. Prolonged usage of that pattern will yield Repetitive Strain Injury, a topic not yet commonly associated with mobile phone usage but a present and growing danger none-the-less.

FAB is terrible for left-handers, however, so I would propose that a similar pattern that can somehow determine the hand the user wishes to use and adapts to it could provide a better solution for "one handed" usage.

There is a potential to leverage other sensors and input devices to provide an array of inputs, enough to say navigate a menu in order to access more, and all quite easily accessible with a single hand:

  • volume control,
  • gyrometer,
  • accelerometer,
  • compass,
  • squeeze sensor,
  • light sensor (covering the phones sensor to action something).
  • Thank you so much for your insights. If I am to take the Whatsapp interface and redesign it to facilitate one-handed usage, as you mentioned FABs would be difficult for Left-hand users, can bottom navigation substitute the top interface functions; displaying the main function as icons from Settings and the search icon. Not sure if that would work. Will like to know your insight regarding the same. Dec 8 '20 at 10:57
  • I also read about the repetitive strain that can affect the carpal tunnel region of the wrist due to over-stretching of thumbs for navigating larger phones but there are not a lot of researches to back this up, Even though I somehow agree with it as my mom faced carpal tunnel wrist strain due to excessive use of her phone and Doc advised her to not use her phone for a while. Dec 8 '20 at 11:00
  • Sure, bottom navigation is another common UX pattern as Juliano Braz stated in his Answer. It and FAB aren't designed to provide an entire suit of controls however - I think there's plenty of room for you to try and build upon them to do that!
    – straya
    Dec 9 '20 at 2:55
  • There's also arthritic problems which don't even need stretching to exacerbate - just the same repetitive gestures or even certain gestures (that is where offering multiple ways to accomplish the same task can benefit the user). Where it is possible to minimise the dependency on user input one can make marked gains in mitigating against UX that achieves health problems.
    – straya
    Dec 9 '20 at 2:56

I prefer use bottom navigation, it's more accessible because the fingers are closer to the bar


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