I would like to innovate the efficiency of space utilization on small screens by using 3 dimensional shift controlled by the tilt of the device to pull part of an icon grid toward the user so that all icons, and special information can be more accessible to the user dynamically in a smaller space.

On a non touch display, this functionality will be accessed via mouse hover.

So, my question is whether or not I can expect modern (I'm interested in supporting any popular touch device sold in the past 5 year period) touch devices to support some kind of motion sensory input (device tilt).

  • 1
    "Is it safe to assume..." - Nope. Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 21:45

2 Answers 2


It is never really safe to assume anything along these lines. No not all touch devices in the past 5 years will have gyroscopic technology (the feature that registers tilt). I have had quite a few lower end cell phones with touch input but no gyroscope (or other related features like accelerometer). Even if the device did have a gyroscope maybe it will be broken or disabled by the user, this would render your navigation useless. On top of that, screen tilting (and mouse hovering on desktop) aren't very intuitive you'll run into a whole other basket of issues getting users to adapt to this new UX.

For a short list of compatible devices though have a look at these:

iOS Device Compatibility - iOS 3.0 and hihger have gyroscope capabilities

Which Android phones out there do have a gyroscope? - incomplete compiled list of android devices with gyro

Andorid with gyros - more android info, note people referencing high end Androids like HTC Desire, HTC Incredible S, HTC Thunderbolt as NOT having gyro

  • I appreciate your answer, you have good points, but on the final point, with screen tilting /hovering being non intuitive, consider the concept of this behavior making itself obvious to each user very quickly and intuitively. For example, as the user holds his device, in any position, he'll notice the icons shifting based on his slight tilt. Or as he moves his mouse, he'll notice the icons shifting based on his mouse's position on screen. If designed properly, the relationship would be recognized by any user quick, and would be quite convenient. However, not as widely supported as I thought!
    – J.Todd
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 20:58

I don't think you can rely on it and should always check if the hardware is present. My best estimate would be that this is, in most cases, true, albeit the devices that are "smart" and powerful enough to run said application.

That being said, have you considered the usability part of such an idea, like, how can they discover this gesture? Will they have to learn it, or will it take (valuable) space informing me that this is the way it should happen. What is this pulling? If i'm standing up, do I pull it towards me? But what if I'm lying on my back? Or I want to stay seated at my desk? How will the phone know it is "pulled" towards me and that it wasn't accidental?

Another consideration is also, why do you want to "cram" so much info on a small screen that it would need such contraption? Perhaps you can figure out better ways that dose the amount of data and options so a user is more "helped" towards his goal, rather than "overdosed" with options :-)

Finally...I'd definitly pretotype this first thing after you've answered the previous questions :-)

one of many sources:


  • Thanks for your notes. A few responses: Consider this is a well thought out solution, involving the problem of converting a very advanced tool into a very simple, mobile / touch friendly interface. Now consider how one could link the tilt of a device in relation to the nearest axis (whether laying down, standing, etc) so that subtle motions and icon positioning movements would allow icons to be focused in a smaller space as needed while remaining highly accessible, and this relationship between tilt / cursor position becoming obvious to the user quickly. The issue here is compatibility.
    – J.Todd
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 21:05
  • The main factor in the necessity of such a solution is that there exists a certain number (well, a range) of icons on the screen at one time that can be optimal for efficiency vs visibility. One can maximize both efficiency and visibility by innovating away from a static icon grid and into a dynamic display, where icons are positioned in a 3D setting and an intuitive control strategy (tilt, mouse position) is implemented to make access of more icons, in a smaller space, simple and easy and optimal.
    – J.Todd
    Commented Aug 13, 2015 at 21:12

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