For all of the differences that drive the two communities apart, there are several similar elements to the iOS and Android operating systems that users on both have come to appreciate and depend on. Most of the similarity has to do with the basic functions and gestures that control each of iOS and Android, as well as the assignment and purpose of buttons on the physical phone hardware. In the following article, we’ll show you the most common gestures and control commands that you should know for each; from simple stuff like the button that allows you to go to your phone’s home screen, to more complicated swipes and menu options.
One of the joys of personal technology is making it bend to your needs and wishes, so read on to learn how to do that, exactly, with your iPhone or Android device.
In the same way that the desktop is where most of your computing activity branches from, so too is your Home screen the central hub for most of your smartphone activity. Regardless of whether you’re using an Android or iOS device, it’s the place that you’ll always come back to when you want to begin a new task. The same exact way that you’d come back to your desktop on a laptop or desktop computer, whether you’re running Windows or Mac OS X.
Users want a “landing” that they can come back to in an operating system. A place to which they can exit from their apps and tasks, and arrive with a sense of familiarity. A place from which they can begin any task or access any of their device’s features, with minimal amounts of digging through menus or settings options. This is the purpose of the Home screen on both operating systems, and it’s one of the only parts of each OS that has a dedicated button built right into a device. This, of course, is ignoring standard-fare electronics stuff like the volume rocker and power button.
The rest of the operating systems’ most familiar gestures and commands are built into swipes. Swipe up. Swipe down, left, or right. Pinch the screen, swipe with two fingers…you get it. But you might not be aware of all of the simpler gestures and commands unique to each operating system. It’s what we’re going to delve into in the article, below.
Navigating to your device’s home screen is a cinch, thanks to the ever-present, dedicated button allowing you to do so. Other commands are less simple, and they’re going to change a bit depending on whether you’re using Android or iOS. Keep in mind that Android, in particular, is a flexible, varied operating system that is designed to work on a vast number of hardware configurations, some of which contain unique buttons and functions. Rest assured, we’re talking about commands that are baked into the operating systems; not niche stuff for respective devices.
iOS & Android
Between them, iOS and Android encompass nearly the entire smartphone operating system marketplace. There are some outliers that are still preferred in certain niches, of course. Blackberries are still used by many professionals seeking productivity and simplicity, and though it’s not a particularly successful platform, Windows phones are still being manufactured, supported, and used.
However, most find themselves choosing between Android devices and iPhones when they’re shopping for a new smartphone. iPhones, of course, are the home of Apple’s iOS operating system, which it shares with the iPad line of tablet hardware. Android is a much more amorphous operating system, which has been designed to run on a hugely varied amount of hardware, from tablets to smartphones designed by a large number of manufacturers.
Perhaps the most prevalent design function in almost all smartphone hardware is the Home button. It doesn’t matter if you’re using an iPhone, an iPad, an Android device, or even one of those less frequently-used operating systems mentioned above. The purpose of the Home button remains the same, even if the Home screen itself will look different between each of them.
It’s usually located on the front of the smartphone, low in the frame, and centered. It’s probably the most prominent button on your device, and might just be the one you use most often, too.
One tap will bring you back to the Home screen of your device; the landing from which you can launch new applications and tasks. It’s also a handy “escape” command if you’re in the middle of a glitched or locked-up application.
Is the Home Button Disappearing?
A rumor that’s been making the rounds since the iPhone 7’s debut a few months ago has to do with the Home button on future iterations of iOS devices. Many insiders and journalists familiar with Apple’s hardware development are predicting that the “button” itself is going to go away, being replaced by a touch-sensitive digital button. It would hypothetically function in the exact same way but would omit the necessity of having a physical button built into the hardware.
While this seems like an unprecedented move, it’s not entirely out of the question. Apple tends to be an industry leader with its hardware decisions and innovations. After all, the iPhone 7 was one of the first devices to entirely omit the 3.5mm headphone jack that’s standard in many electronics, and now, quite a bevy of smartphone manufacturers are considering the same move.
Swipes & Gestures
Between the two operating systems, Android is far and away the most malleable. It’s meant to be flexed, changed, and altered to suit both the needs of its user and the particular hardware that Android is running on.
Comparatively, iOS is far more static. It’s meant to be a familiar experience no matter what piece of Apple hardware you’re using. Most settings will be in the exact same place, and the gestures and swipes are unified across all devices. It may seem like a limitation to some, but for others, the familiarity that comes with the iOS software ecosystem is a welcome thing. If you’ve used an iPhone, for example, you can pick up an iPad and use it without any associated learning curve.
However, this has created some wider disparities between iOS and Android with regard to how they’re controlled. Below, we’ve accumulated lists of some of the most common swipes and gestures associated with each.
As stated above, you’re going to find the gestures and motions associated with iOS devices the same across the entire software ecosystem. This is an intentional design decision by Apple, and one that’s widely welcomed by fans of the company and its hardware. The only time that you’re going to encounter any major differences is when you’re dealing with different versions of iOS. For our intents and purposes, these gestures are up-to-date with iOS 10, the most recent version of the operating system.
- We’ve already covered the Home button, the most prevalent way to return to the iOS Home screen. However, it can also occasionally be used to sign into your device when it’s locked. Additionally, double-tapping on the Home button will bring up a scrollable list of active applications in iOS.
- In many apps–and especially web browsers–swiping from the left edge of the screen to the right will allow you to go back one page.
- Swiping down from the top of the screen will reveal your notifications and widgets.
- Swiping up from the bottom of the screen will reveal the control center.
- You can pinch to zoom when viewing photos or videos. Pinch your fingers together to zoom out, and apart to zoom further in.
To some, these might be common knowledge. For others, you might have learned a thing or two about how to better manipulate your smartphone’s operating system!
Android is a much more flexible mobile operating system. While there are several swipes and gestures built into the software that show up on all versions of Android and all hardware that it’s installed on, individuals can modify these gestures to suit their own experiences.
In the list below, we’re referring only to Android-standard gestures and swipes.
- Swipe down with two fingers to bring up Android quick settings menu. From here, you can adjust all of your device’s most commonly-used settings, like WiFi.
- Notifications can be swiped left or right if you want to dismiss them, but if you press and hold a notification, you can adjust individual apps’ notifications settings.
- Safe mode is available if your device is giving you trouble. Press and hold the power button on your device to bring up the power pop-up. Then, press and hold the pop-up itself to reboot in safe mode!
- As long as the magnification gesture is turned on in your Android device’s settings, you can triple-tap on images, videos, websites, and more to zoom in.
Of course, these are just the standard, baked-in gestures for Android. Using the operating system’s settings, you can create your own custom gestures, thereby shaping your device’s performance to suit your needs.
We hope that this brief primer on swipes, gestures, and buttons commonly used in iOS and Android has been informative! You should have no trouble going to your device’s Home screen, or performing any of the functions built into your device’s operating system. If you have any additional questions, let us know in the comments below!