The iPhone X’s lack of a physical home button is the most significant update to Apple’s world-changing smartphone since the original iPhone’s launch in 2007. I’ve had an iPhone X for the last day, and I’m still getting my head around the new list of gestures and interactions — so here’s what I’ve learned. If you want a quick guide to everything new before you get your own new iPhone X on Friday, here’s your cheat sheet.
Gestures like tap, double tap, pinch, drag, tap and hold, shake, flick and swipe remain the same from previous iPhones, but it’s the iPhone X’s lack of a home button that primarily changes the way you’ll interact with this all-screen phone. The power button replaces the home button when it comes to a couple of tactile interactions and Face ID’s biometric authentication. Apple Pay, for example, takes a double-click of the home button and a Face ID authentication before it unlocks.
But to navigate iOS without a home button, this is what you need to know.
Swipe up to go home. The replacement for the home button is an inch-long bar, either black or white depending on the background on the content you’re viewing. It’s universal, just like the physical home button was, and the direct replacement for a quick tap on that tactile button is to swipe up from the base of the iPhone X’s screen and flick your thumb or forefinger up and off the display. This’ll drop you back at the home screen from any app, or drop you back at your first home screen if you’re a couple of pages deep.
Swipe the bar to switch apps. Swiping right on the bar will take you through a chronological list of your most recently used apps. Once you’ve swiped right, you can continue swiping right or left to move back and forth between apps as you’re switching between them. There’s one extra thing to learn here — once you’ve stopped on an app for more than a few seconds, it’ll ‘move’ to the rightmost position in the list — and you’ll have to swipe right again rather than left to find other apps.
Swipe up and stop to multi-task. To access the multi-tasking app drawer of currently running apps, you’ll have to swipe up from the bottom of the screen and then stop — it’s that pause that distinguishes between this gesture and the upwards swipe that replaces the single press of the home button. Swiping the bar is quicker, though. From there, if you want to close apps, tap and hold and then tap the minus icon in the top left of each pane.
Swipe down from the right corner for Control Centre. This is probably the most significant swiping change from previous iPhones — instead of living on the bottom of the screen as an upward swipe, the iOS 11 Control Centre on the iPhone X can be accessed from the top of the phone by swiping down from the cellular, Wi-Fi and battery icons over to the right of the notch.
Swipe down from the left corner for Notification Centre. Swiping down from the clock on the left of the notch will drop you into the iPhone X’s notifications screen. This is also accessible by swiping down from almost the entirety of the iPhone X’s notch, so it’s much easier to access than the Control Centre — but if you’re right-handed that’s easy enough to get to anyway. Notifications work like normal — tap one and you’ll go to the app.
Swipe down anywhere on the home screen for Spotlight. The iPhone’s universal Spotlight search is still there in iOS 11, and you can find it by swiping down from any part of the home screen that’s not right up the top where you’d activate Notifications or the Control Centre.