Why Hasn’t Apple Added “Pull to Refresh” Feature to Native Apps?

If you’re a Twitter addict and a long time iPhone user then you’ve probably heard of Loren Brichter. Loren was the developer of a popular iPhone app called Tweetie. Tweetie was renamed as “Twitter for iPhone” after Twitter bought Brichter’s company – Atebits in 2010.

The “pull to refresh” UI trick was one of the Loren’s coolest contribution to the iOS world, which was first introduced by him in the Tweetie app back in 2009.

We have always wondered why Apple hasn’t implement such as cool and intuitive feature in their native apps such as Safari, Mail etc. Dustin Curtis may have found out the answer to that question. It looks like Loren patented the feature, which is now owned by Twitter. Here’s an excerpt from the patent titled “User Interface Mechanics” that lists Loren Brichter as the inventor:

Input associated with a scroll command may be received. Then, based on the scroll command, a scrollable refresh trigger may be displayed. Subsequently, the scrollable list of content items may be refreshed in response to determining, based on the scroll command, that the scrollable refresh trigger has been activated. In at least one instance, it may be determined that the scrollable refresh trigger has been activated in response to determining that the scroll command was completed while the scrollable refresh trigger was fully displayed.

While that could be a reason, we are not completely convinced.

Even if Apple couldn’t add the feature because Twitter owns the patent, it could have used the open source version of the feature built by Enormego with Brichter’s blessing.

Though Facebook got into trouble for using the open source version without proper attribution, it has been using the feature since 2010. We have also seen a number of developers and tech giants like Google use the UI trick in their apps. So it still remains a mystery why Apple hasn’t included the feature in their native apps.

Thankfully if you’ve jailbroken your iOS device, you can add the functionality to the Mail app and Safari by installing jailbreak tweaks “Pull to refresh for Mail” and “Pull to refresh Safari”.