Why A More Interactive (& Customizable) Control Center Would Be Awesome

Control Center was a welcome addition in mobile UX. It added a helpful menu, easily accessible from swiping up from the bottom of the screen. It added quick access to various settings and a couple apps which was much needed but its implementation is quite basic. A very common sentiment is that we should be able to customize Control Center and I agree. It is such a limited environment that people should be able to choose what they want to see but the main reason I want customizability is to enable interactivity.

Customizability

I played with both accurate app icons and Control Center inspired icons. Which do you like better?

Customizing the Control Center would be a big step forward for usability. (Even if they didn’t allow 3rd party apps. They should but you know Apple.) Allowing us to set 3rd party apps, instead of what Apple deems important, is when the real magic could happen. I am not saying they should allow users to cram the control center with every app they have, the UI should remain pretty much unchanged. I think the answer is to simply allow us to customize what the four buttons at the bottom. While app shortcuts could be useful I think that misses the point. This is where interactivity comes into play.

Interactivity

There is already some basic interactivity like changing brightness or toggling certain settings/music but it has the potential for so much more with 3rd party apps. Wouldn’t it be better to be able to do simple tasks right from the Control Center rather than switching apps and breaking up your flow?

  • If you need to set a timer you press the button and the wheel pops up right there, you swipe down and you’re back to whatever you were doing.
  • Need to write a quick note or reminder? Press the button and a text box pops up with a keyboard. It sends the note/reminder where you want it and you’re back to your app.
  • Have a certain podcast or music station you always listen to? Press the Rdio button and it starts “Ian FM” or press your podcasting apps icon to play the newest unplayed podcast from a specific source.
  • Want to Tweet/Update your Status? Press the respective icon and a text box/ keyboard comes up. This would allow you to use the app you wanted. (Like Tweetbot)

Launch Center Pro interface, with shortcuts from the Control Center.

Tweeting with Tweetbot.

Rdio Station playing with the apps UI.

The possibilities are endless. To be clear this isn’t a replacement for the full app just quick access to one specific feature, or by default launch the app.

Final Words

The iOS 8 announcement has made one thing vehemently clear to me: the design goal of iOS should be to keep the user in the app they're using as much as possible. Extensions will help but those will have a different purpose. This could reduce the friction for some of the most common actions users take on their iOS devices. Here is to iOS maturing and what could be.

Agree? Disagree? What do you want to see from Control Center? Comment Below.

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