There’s a lot of neat things coming with iOS 15, but Safari’s redesign was a major disappointment. However, it looks like Apple’s listening to feedback because the sixth iOS 15 beta now gives users the option to bring back the “old Safari.”
As a refresher, Safari got a major redesign as part of the iOS 15 beta. The search bar was moved to the bottom of the screen, mostly as a way to make it easier for one-handed use. However, it wouldn’t stay put. Instead, it would ping-pong between the top and bottom of the screen depending on what you were doing. Other key functions, like the reload button, were hidden within unintuitive menus. In our iOS 15 preview, the Safari redesign was one of the few features where it felt like Apple had simply missed the mark.
According to the Independent, Apple’s been making small tweaks to the redesign following backlash from beta users. One small initial change was in one of the beta updates, the search bar stayed put at the bottom of the screen. However, the latest update now allows users to select a “Single Tab” mode — which the Independent says is effectively the old version of Safari, with the search bar up top.
Well, so what? Isn’t that the purpose of a beta? To see what works and doesn’t before a public release? Yes, but this is also Apple — a company known for making you deal with its design choices whether you like them or not. Take the fierce public backlash when Apple decided headphone jacks were over, for example. At the time, Apple SVP Phil Schiller infamously said, “The reason to move on comes down to one word: courage.” Translation: Sorry folks, you might not like what we’ve done but trust us when we say it’s for the best. That’s pretty much been Apple’s stance on design changes in a nutshell.
Apple does occasionally change course, but it takes a lot. Last year, the company caved when it came to its hated butterfly keyboards and returned to scissor switches for its laptops. However, it took nearly five years of complaining (from some very famous people too) to get to that point. The fact that Apple is including a separate option for users is a major shift from their usual strategy — even if it’s one that’s being applauded by almost everyone who had to suffer through the Safari redesign in beta.
“I’m glad Apple is now offering an option to revert to the old Safari address bar in iOS 15, but this idea of Apple offering two different UIs as a setting is un-Apple like, I think,” Mark Gurman, a veteran Apple prognosticator, wrote on Twitter.
Of course, things are still in beta. The final public release of iOS 15 likely won’t drop until next month, when Apple is widely expected to launch the iPhone 13 and other next-gen gadgets. But for once, it’s nice to see Apple offer users more customisation, instead of less.