Path was the start of it. If you haven’t heard of Path, it’s another social network. I haven’t used it in ages, but I can admit that Path was where my love affair for sliding panels started. It certainly isn’t the first application to use it, mind you; it’s just the app that sticks out, that moment where I said, aloud, “Yes, sliding panels are awesome.” (I don’t think I said it just like that. Maybe I did. I don’t know.) Since then, a lot of different applications have started using that same “sliding panels” feature, and the moment I find it, the more I fall in love with that particular app.
I just went through my phone, and I’ve got seven applications that use the sliding panel feature I’m referring to. Those include Sparrow, Facebook, Facebook Messenger (kind of the same thing, I know, but still different apps), Tweetbot, and ESPN ScoreCenter. All of these apps allow you to navigate to the information you want by sliding your finger over certain areas, using a gesture. Of course, once you get to that area you want, you’ll still have to tap on something to activate it, but we’re using touchscreen phones, so that’s just the way things go.
However, I don’t want to tap on small buttons anymore. To be specific, I don’t want to tap on any buttons for navigation anymore.
The best example I can think of is Rdio. Before the major overhaul in the UI, for both Android and iOS, you had to navigate the app through the use of buttons. It wasn’t terrible, but only because we’ve grown accustomed to using those on-screen buttons to get to where we want to go in an application. Now that the app has been updated, though, and you can reach all the important parts of the service by sliding a panel to the right? Those buttons look downright silly.
Path is the same way. You can slide the top panel, usually your information feed, to the right or left. Sliding it to the left shows you your Friend’s List. Sliding it to the right shows you your options, including Settings and things like that. Facebook is the same way. If you have the CNN app for your iPhone (I haven’t tested it on Android yet), then you know that you can slide your finger to the left or right, and find your way through all sorts of different categories in news.
I still use apps that don’t have the sliding panels feature, but that has more to do with the fact that some apps just don’t use it. I wish they did, though. I think it’s one of the coolest uses for a touchscreen device. And, it’s awesome to watch, too. I wrote earlier this month about being excited for Research In Motion’s BlackBerry 10 all over again, and while I mention the Hub feature of the new platform, I realize now it has more to do with the swipe of your finger to access it. Sliding panels.
Give me more sliding panels. And yes, I’m perfectly okay with all aps having sliding panels. The more the merrier.
How do you feel about that particular user experience? Do you use sliding panels in the apps that the feature is available? Or do you stick to the buttons? How many apps do you think you have on your phone that use the feature at all? Or do you hate the sliding panels, and wish developers would come up with some kind of other gesture? Let me know!