Rapidly Switching Between iPhone Apps

This follows on from my previous post.

Here I propose what I think could be a faster and more elegant solution for switching between two apps on iOS, which would replace the upcoming ‘tray’.

With the iOS as it is now, a double tap on the home button can be used as a shortcut to the Camera, Phone apps etc. My proposal is that an option could be added so that double tapping the home button goes to the previously used app.

If you are in Safari and then go to the home screen and open Notes (or Simplenote) then a double home tap would return to Safari. Do it again to go back to the notes app. Again for Safari and so on.

This system is more limited that the tray. I do not think it could be considered a new way of opening apps in general, just a way to very rapidly switch. We are already familiar with double tapping the home button to go straight to an app. This system is similar but is flexible about which app you are taken you to.

A different use of this system would be to return to an app after following a link into Safari, App Store or something else. You might forget where you came from but a double home tap would take you right back to the app you were previously in. I think this, combined with iOS 4's ability to leave apps in memory, would eliminate the need for built in browsers. (Currently used in apps such as feed readers and Instapaper.)

I have not devised a way to build audio controls into this system.

The functionality this idea provides is also available with Apple’s tray in iOS 4. However, I think it is more focused than the tray and better at what it does while the other features of the tray are not needed.

It is very likely that Apple have thought of this themselves an rejected it. They're usually right about these things.

1 February 2011: I have updated this to reflect the name change from iPhone OS to iOS.