Having a split view similar to Mail app, whose left pane hides when in portrait orientation, is it possible (and conforms iOS Human Interface Guidelines) to display a popover when tapping some of the cells in the left pane, instead or showing related content in the right pane? Lets say that such cell in left pane is a "Settings" one:



  • Some of? So Option 1-5 will do the normal thing of bringing something into the right pane, but Settings will bring a pop-over? Sounds inconsistent. I'd prefer one of these (in no particular order): 1) Settings as just another right pane item. 2) A settings button in the nav bar that brings up the pop-up. 3) Put the app settings in the iOS settings app. May 28, 2013 at 12:31
  • If the number of options in 'Settings' is less, Another alternative solution would be to display the settings in the left sidebar itself. Demo - jsfiddle.net/Vbpcs/2 May 30, 2013 at 18:24

3 Answers 3


The element you are referencing in the mockup is called 'Action Sheet' in iOS terminology.

An action sheet always contains at least two buttons that allow users to choose how to complete their task. When users tap a button, the action sheet disappears. An action sheet doesn’t include a title or explanatory text, because it appears in immediate response to a user action.

Use an action sheet to:

  • Provide alternate ways to complete a task. An action sheet lets you to provide a range of choices that make sense in the context of the current task, without giving these choices a permanent place in the UI.
  • Get confirmation before completing a potentially dangerous task. An action sheet prompts users to think about the potentially dangerous effects of the step they’re about to take and gives them some alternatives. This type of communication is particularly important on iOS devices because sometimes users tap controls without meaning to.

The guideline states that it should not contain any title or explanatory text (you are showing the title). If you can make the pop-up menu (action sheet) that obvious, then you can use it (according to the guidelines).

That being said, guidelines can be broken if deemed necessary. In your case, I would like to know why a standard ipad menu is not being used? When you select 'Settings' the current menu items are replaced by the settings' items. Back and forth navigation.

The action sheet menu can be useful when changing certain settings, like, volume or something from the menu. The context is quite clear and there is no need of adding another layer of hierarchy, rather can just use a pop-up at that level.


I can state that I haven't encountered such a design, which might hint that it's novel. Not being bad by itself, just don't expect people recognizing it from before.

By itself, I'm not sure this design is a good idea, since it breaks user's expectations. This is most probable due to the inconsistency between the options that open content on the right pane and options that pop up this menu.

Why not dedicate to these options a page of their own? What are the benefits of using such a pop-over?

  • I've seen something similar in Spotify for iPad, but there the left pane is not like mine, it's like a vertical tab bar...
    – AppsDev
    May 28, 2013 at 11:47

1) If there is no drill down in the right pane - do as @siddharthkp says and drill down in the left pane.

2) Another option is to use a form style modal view.

Remember that depending on the IOS version the left hand pane is either a swipe over, popover view or compressed on the same level as right hand pane. So the first option is preferred.

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