I am working on an iPhone app for a client.

At the moment they have a main page for viewing a list of events and then a "filter" button to press to take you to another page to set the distancea away from the users current locations. The filters just affect that page.

I wondered if it would be appropriate to use popovers for this - just because they more directly link the page to the filters.

And that got me to thinking whether there is any best practice for using popovers in an iPhone app?

Oh yes and are they called popovers or popups? (:

Here is an example of a popover:

enter image description here

More here: http://mobile-patterns.com/popovers

  • Pop-up indicates a modal (or a different "window" in desktop situations), I'd definitely call that a pop-over
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 13:31

2 Answers 2


I can't come up with specific best practices, but I have seen a worst practice in use quite a bit: Using pop-overs when a separate page would make more sense.

In your example, I'd see that as a quick navigation tool, and probably makes sense to leave as a pop-over.

But I've also seen apps based off of existing desktop apps where they had made use of a lot of modals. On a mobile device, if you're using the modal to display content, the modal tends to have to be as big as the screen itself. As such, making it a modal doesn't really benefit the user and often is a detriment, as now you have to deal with scrolling/navigating around a modal. Often, the better option would be to use a new 'page'. I use 'page' in brackets in that it doesn't have to physically be a new web page if we're talking a web app--but it should be a full page in the sense that it's a native mobile screen. A common UI interaction would be to slide the current page to the left to show the 'modal' content sliding in from the right.

So...after typing that, maybe I did formulate a best practice:

Don't use pop-overs on mobile to display page content. Consider expandable sections and/or separate 'pages'. Leave pop-overs for single task interactions such as navigation.


Bit of an old question but aren't popover controls only available on iPads.


Popover controllers are for use exclusively on iPad devices. Attempting to create one on other devices results in an exception

  • Clearly not as the examples above come from mobiles :-) Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 8:23
  • @LisaTweedie that example looks custom (if a real screenshot) or could just be an image mockup. either way you cant have popovers on an iPhone app only iPad - see link.
    – Dave Haigh
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 9:57

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