I have a full screen iPad app that deals with graphics. The user has full screen as canvas, with extra controls added along the bottom and right side of the screen.

I'm looking for an intuitive way for the user to hide these extra panels and view full screen. Ideally, the user can easily switch between full screen and screen with panels.

I see that the native iOS camera app uses a single tap gesture to toggle panels on and off - touch anywhere but the panels does show/hide transition.

Because my app deals with graphics, and the user is expected to touch the screen quite a lot, I'm thinking of using double tap gesture to show/hide full screen. Would double tap to hide be counter-intuitive to users who might've been used to a single tap?

I can do the same show/hide with buttons, but this poses a question - once the panel is hidden, do I keep buttons on the screen (as little tabs), or hide them somehow?

Native iPhone camera hides top status bar, top navigation bar and bottom toolbar with a single tap gesture: enter image description here

3 Answers 3


In Camera Roll user does not interact with the main view in other ways than swipe (to change image) and tap (to show/hide controls). If in your case user needs to interact with the displayed elements, I would suggest following a great example of Adobe Ideas, where the toolbar is minimized to a very small tab visible in a corner of the screen, activated by tapping or swiping:

enter image description here enter image description here

  • This is a fantastic design, my app designer suggested something similar, but I didn't get it until seeing your screenshots. Thanks a lot!
    – Alex Stone
    Mar 21, 2013 at 15:40

Double tapping the screen seems like a decent idea - an alternative, if your application does not have a semantic use for swiping up/down, is to use a large swipe to scroll the canvas and then reveal your menus. Another idea is show a small button at the top of the screen that the user can pull down or tap to reveal menus (swipe down on the iPhone home screen to show what I mean).


Taking a clue from the desktop and some other iOS apps I've used along what you describe.

  1. Switching between full-screen and non-, use a single button - look at the QT player and Mountain Lion apps (Safari).
  2. When you switch to full-screen mode on the desktop you can hover over the header area to make the menu and toolbars appear again - for your app you may want to consider a "pull tab" that will optionally show/hide the full menu (look at XCode storyboards and the ability to expand/collapse the view drawer.

So, putting it all together and wrapping up. Maybe the enter/exit full-screen mode button is in the navigation bar - when you are not in full screen mode another "tools drawer" icon appears to display the various menu items. When you are out of full-screen mode, the tools drawer is just always there.

Another option would be to just always be in full-screen mode, then have the show/hide on the tools panel itself - see the Apple Pages app for iOS for an example.

As to the double-tap - on a mobile platform, double-tapping is not a standard concept yet. I actually don't know of any native app which requires it - and I don't believe any of the apps I use regularly have it either. It would require educating the user on this bit of knowledge, which may not be worthwhile if you can get around just not using double-tap at all.

  • Good point, I've removed the double tap and went with a persistent semitransparent button which does fullscreen toggle
    – Alex Stone
    Apr 4, 2013 at 2:51

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