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Two of my colleagues think, in iOS apps, vertical scrolling (irrespective of whether the screen has UI elements or content like pictures etc..) should always be enabled on iOS screens. Even when there will never be elements or content out of bounds. They say it always feels like it's a bit janky/wooden, when it does not scroll (and as a consequence bounce).

I for a number of reasons think this kind of modality should only be enabled, when it serves a purpose, otherwise it's a UX antipattern. Some of the reasons would be:

  1. unnecessary gesture clash with element-specific gestures (for example horizontal slider)
  2. false promise of something out of bounds (will never happen)
  3. diminishes the conditions leading to easy muscle memory build up

What would you advise?

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  • Your arguments are correct, but what is the question you are asking? Are you looking for research to support your arguments, looking for tips to convince colleagues to care about good UX, or something else?
    – Izquierdo
    Mar 16, 2021 at 14:58
  • The question is in the title..I am looking for a "yes" or "no" or "depends" and arguments why from experts in UX community.
    – Earl Grey
    Mar 16, 2021 at 16:17

2 Answers 2

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Even when there will never be elements or content out of bounds.

You can never know that, right? How big an element really is depends on the users setting of font sizes, accessibility settings, margin/paddings, line spacing, screen resolution and physical screen size, how much space the title-bar or task bar takes up and probably some other settings.

Something that fits on your screen today might not fit anymore tomorrow if some new hardware with an unknown screen configuration (think apple watch, or a flipphone with a second, smaller screen on the outside) comes out and your app overrides system defaults.

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When in doubt ... check what the OS itself does. From a quick experiment, 95% of the screens support vertical scrolling, even when it doesn't really make sense when purely looking at the content. This may be a consequence of the ubiquitousness of UITableViewController though:

enter image description here

Some notable exceptions:

  • Springboard, the equivalent of Windows' Desktop, which only scrolls horizontally (a vertical gesture opens the search bar)
  • Modals can be swiped down to dismiss them; this includes viewing a photo in the Photos app
  • The main screen of the Camera app, when there is a horizontal slider for the 'mode' (a vertical gesture may change things like shutter time)
  • The Timer tab in the Clock app, where more than half of the screen is occupied by the time picker

So it seems that unless there is another function on that screen for a vertical gesture, the iOS enables vertical scrolling.

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