About the iPhone X notch controversy

The iPhone X was already controversial even before it was officially introduced last Tuesday, mostly due to the rumored removal of Touch ID in favor of Face ID.

However, Apple’s presentation caused a new controversy: the infamous notch. Even though the array of cameras and sensors got leaked long before the event, nobody knew how Apple was planning to do in order to integrate it with iOS 11. We have the answer now: Apple is so proud of that black bar that they decided to render the user interface around it.

Since Apple controls the operating system, they made sure it looks good with most 1st party apps. But what happens with 3rd party content like a website? The notch gets in the way.Safari adds two very noticeable white bars around the content to work around the notch, creating a horrendous experience with many webpages. And when the notch is on the right side, the scrollbar becomes practically useless:

Developers have already started investigating ways of adapting their content (controlling the color of those white bars with CSS, for example), but it’s a problem that Apple could have avoided in the first place.

Look at this design, for example; it’s simple and yet, it fixes all of possible notch issues by avoiding the top region altogether:

If iOS rendered all apps (including Safari) that way, developers would be confident that their content can never be blocked by the notch, regardless of the orientation of the device. Aesthetically it looks better too. The internet is already filled with many designs that go in the same direction, and most of them look better than what Apple did.

Apple is using the notch as a brand statement: it makes the iPhone X immediately recognizable from any other phone and it draws attention to the amazing technology that it packs. But I believe they should have let the notch disappear in certain situations, like web browsing.

I doubt that there will be any changes to iOS 11 before the release of the iPhone X; Apple will probably wait to see the reception of the phone before making any drastic changes. But I bet that they will address the notch interference in a future software update. The alternative is an ugly and bumpy road filled with usability and development issues.


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Images via Apple, Thomas Fuchs, Ben Packard, Carlos Gavina

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