What, if any, is the difference between the motion of sliding and swiping? For example you may adjust the volume control by sliding the indicator, but to unlock your phone I think most people refer to it as swiping? Is it correct to say the term "swiping" implies a greater degree of difficulty and is used in situations where you don't want the event to be accidentally triggered e.g. turning off an alarm?


The best example of a slider as you have mentioned is a volume control. it is defined as "move smoothly along a surface while maintaining continuous contact with it."

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Whereas the swiping action is defined as "hit or try to hit with a swinging blow."

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The swiping action is only used in few places where the actions will not cause any major changes in the functionality, for example swiping to change the image from the image gallery. where as sliding is used in almost all the places like the ON/OFF button's and even in iPhone unlock its slide function for the reason not to be triggered accidentally.

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  • I didn't know on iPhone it's called "slide" to unlock screen. On Android (at least cyanogenmod) it's called "swipe". – Celeritas Aug 6 '16 at 8:15
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    @Celeritas The "slide to unlock" phrase is a left-over from the time when the iOS lock screen featured an actual slider with a thumb that had to be dragged from left to right. When the gesture was changed to a swipe of the whole screen, the original phrase was kept. – Tin Man Aug 6 '16 at 8:58
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    Great answer that is perhaps missing the following: Swipe is a touch only gesture, whilst slide is on both mouse and touch. – Izhaki Aug 7 '16 at 14:45
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    Actually, sliding is always pertinent to rails. You slide when there's a depicted path and direction available, like on the volume sliders and even on the iPhone lockscreen. Swipe isn't directional. Hence the phrases go like, "Slide to unlock" and "Slide the volume bar" while "Swipe left to Cancel and right to Accept" – Shreyas Tripathy Jun 19 '17 at 6:16
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    It's almost an analogue vs digital difference: a slider can be set in one of many positions (like a volume control); a swipe either has been swiped (the next image/whatever appears) or is not swiped -- like pressing the < and > buttons on a carousel. – TripeHound Jun 19 '17 at 14:52

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