I'm an adept Android user, but know my way around iOS as well. Something both platforms has in common is the stubborn conviction of not introducing the landscape mode for their Dashboard/Home screen for their cell phone models but only for their tablet ones.

I can't personally see the gain behind it, and I don't see any technical or usage problems with introducing it either.

Rather, the current approach annoys me. I usually have my cell phone mounted on my car dashboard in landscape mode when using the GPS. However, if I get stuck in a queue for example, I may take the time to leave the navigation for doing something else, like checking a message etc. I'm always annoyed and dumbfounded when navigating through the home UI when it's tilted, and relieved once I enter for example the messaging page (which is native) and the UI adapts to landscape. I'm fairly sure that the task would be a lot more simple to perform if the UI adapted to how I'm viewing it, still no one will introduce it.

I'm getting close to a rant, so I'll stop...

I've seen the subject being discussed on the Apple forum, but since no representative from Apple has participated in the discussion I'm none the wiser to what the rationale behind this choice is.

I would like to know if someone has some insight in this matter.

  • What is the rationale behind two competitors restricting the user to use their device home screen in portrait mode?
  • If that's hard to answer, then what could be the reason behind this rationale from your own reasoning?
  • 1
    Apparently it's coming to Android: gigaom.com/2012/10/09/…
    – jfrej
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 10:12
  • 2
    This is a guess, and only a guess mind you - it may not be simple to rearrange the icons on a homescreen to fit in landscape orientation. Android has widgets and other items which may not fit. I know ICS for tablets simply resizes the entire layout and leaves large bars on the sides - presumably for this reason.
    – kastark
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 10:14
  • @dhmholley that's a very good point, I missed that one. It doesn't explain why Apple would refuse it though.. Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 10:26
  • @jfrej very interesting to know! that was about time... :-) Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 10:30
  • 1
    Doesn't answer your question but solves your problem: Flip It! Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 10:31

2 Answers 2


I owned an HTC Magic - one of the first Android devices. And AFAIR it was possible to put springboard into a landscape mode in early versions of the Android OS, but...

It was awful.

Basically because of widgets which get scaled and placed randomly since you have a different number of cells (Android splits screen into grid cells and use them to define widget size and position AFAIR) in portrait and landscape mode. So it was a very bad experience and I believe Android guys switched it off until a proper solution for this will be worked out.

There are no widgets in iOS, but there is a locked row at the bottom which has 4 apps which are available at every screen. And a column in portrait mode has 5 (6 for iPhone 5) icons, so, it will be just impossible to keep the same number of icons on one screen in iOS for both horizontal and vertical modes. So the only thing Apple may do in portrait mode is to rotate every icon but not the whole screen.

  • hmmm... I get your point. I don't recall how it looked on the initial Android devices, but what you describe doesn't sound that good. Nowadays however the home screen which holds application tiles and widgets is pretty much a square. The icons/labels/widgets could easily be tilted to adjust to the orientation. Regarding the quick access bar on iOS I don't see a problem keeping it where it is, just tilt the icons/labels for better readability. You don't have to make a change in the layout to still make the experience better. Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 14:34

The main reason could be that both Android phones and iPhone were designed to be used with only one hand, and with one hand you could not perform the same tasks with physical buttons on the bottom.

The screen size is increasing, and physical buttons started to disappear from Android phones, so I think they will introduce the feature you are looking for soon, beacouse there will be enough space on phone screens to display the navigation on the bottom of the screen even in landscape mode, and after physical buttons disappeared they will not confuse your user experience in landscape mode.

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