Pour one out for our dear friend Slide to Unlock. Ever since Jobs first showcased it on the iPhone in 2007 – “And to unlock my phone I just take my finger and slide it across” – it has been an iconic symbol on iOS. With iOS 10, it’s gone to live with his skeuomorphic cousins.
It might seem like a small change but this “Slide to Unlock” was literally the first interaction for millions of new smartphone users. So simple. So brilliant. This smooth, delightful interaction told them – it’s fine. It doesn’t stutter, and it won’t lag. Smooth, just like the door lock it was probably inspired from.
In iOS 10, instead of “Slide to Unlock”, you’ll see a small text that says “Press Home to Unlock”. And even that will appear only after a while. When you pick up your phone to see the lockscreen (something you can do in iOS 10), there won’t be any text at all here (just like in iOS 9).
I’m being sentimental here because I really liked this interaction. I remember I used to play around with it on my 3rd Gen iPod Touch, trying to see how close I could get to the right edge without actually unlocking the device. And at the end, there was always some struggle, and I liked that little detail.
Even in iOS 7 I liked it. It wasn’t much but the way the colors moved across the text, to suggest motion, was pretty well done.
But of course, it makes sense. Slide to Unlock had to go.
Ever since I’ve owned the iPhone 6s Plus, I don’t remember actually sliding my finger on the screen to unlock it. I just press on the Home button. And I’m sure I’m not alone here.
It’s just that users without Touch ID will need to get used to clicking the Home button to unlock their devices. And that’s not an easy task.
To bid farewell to our little friend, here’s the video of Jobs first showcasing the feature.
RIP old friend.