All Thumbs, Why Reach Navigation Should Replace the Navbar in iOS Design

Brad Ellis
May 25, 2017 · 7 min read

The Navbar is Tapped Out

Hurff’s Touch Zones illustrate right-handed thumb reachability.

Why the Navbar is Out of Touch

Some sample navbars for your enjoyment.

Reach Navigation and Apple

In lieu of a back button, navigate back by swiping from the left edge.
Lightly double-tapping the home button shifts content down.
Apple Music changes from iOS 9 (left) to iOS 10 (right). Removing the Navigation Bar allowed the primary view label to increase in size. Pretty.
Apple Maps changes from iOS 9 (left) to iOS 10 (right). The UI is almost entirely inverted. Map Settings and Lock to Current Location are harder to reach, while Search and Results are prioritized.
The Back button in iOS 10 is taking up a lot of real estate here. Seems temporary, no? Yes.

Incorporating Reach Navigation

A quick rendition of how Safari could move the address bar to the bottom, remove the toolbar, and still maintain functionality.

Examples of Reach Nav in the Wild

Pokémon Go and Lyft employ Reach Navigation.
Overcast uses sheets that let users swipe down.

Stay In Touch


Tall West

Thoughts and ideas from Tall West, a design consultancy in San Francisco.

Brad Ellis

Written by

Interaction Designer • Tall West

Tall West

Tall West

Thoughts and ideas from Tall West, a design consultancy in San Francisco.