last week, our project manager mentioned that we needed to incorporate more of the "big 3" gestures in our mobile software. unfortunately, she's off on vacation now and none of us know what exactly this means.

what are the "big 3"?

  • 4
    I sympathise deeply with anyone who works with a project manager who drops vague ideas from on high, doesn't explain, and then goes on vacation :)
    – David More
    Aug 21, 2012 at 23:28

1 Answer 1


The big three gestures are tap, swipe/flick and pinch/reverse pinch.

Tap Swipe Pinch

These are the rudimentary motions that are inherent to the end-user for mobile devices. This is due to the early adopters of mobile technology incorporating these gestures in their proprietary software, conditioning consumers to use these motions throughout their devices. Thus, many application developers have chosen to incorporate these motions to better aid usability. The other two more popular gestures, pan and rotate, are derivatives of pinch and swipe respectively and are more situational in terms of their use-cases.



Includes tutorials on tap/swipe/pinch functionality and mentions the similarities between rotating/swiping.


Interaction with the OS includes gestures such as swipe, tap, pinch, and reverse pinch, all of which have specific definitions within the context of the iOS operating system and its multi-touch interface.


It also captures touch screen navigation, including gestures like swipes, pinches, and taps.


The interface: tap, double-tap, swipe, pinch – everything you would expect from Apple’s iOS.

  • Are you sure these are specifically the Big 3? How do you know that, for instance, two-finger scrolling doesn't count as one of the big 3? Basically I'm asking; can you cite your sources here?
    – JonW
    Aug 20, 2012 at 15:58
  • 3
    (Sufficient?) citations added. I will look for more evidence if required.
    – Daniel Li
    Aug 20, 2012 at 16:12
  • Excellent, yes. Thanks for adding those, it's an ideal answer now.
    – JonW
    Aug 20, 2012 at 16:29
  • Dragging is another big one, technically distinct from swipe, but this is generally automatically done by the OS, not the app (as a scroll action)
    – Ben Brocka
    Aug 20, 2012 at 16:47
  • 4
    Android also has long-press, which is fairly distinct from "tap". Don't know about iOS/others
    – Izkata
    Aug 20, 2012 at 18:08

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