The Physics of iOS 7 Animations Have Been Revealed

ios 7 hero.jpg

When the original iPhone and the iPhone OS (now iOS) first launched, it redefined the smartphone as we knew it, as the action on the touchscreen was triggered by our finger. By tapping on a link, it opened, and if you pinched your fingers on a photo, you increased its size.

Although it was a huge change, users got used to it almost immediately. The UI remained almost unchanged until this year. With iOS 7, however, Apple has initiated the biggest change since the original iPhone: The animations have been taken to the next level.

iOS 7 animations are centred around zooming, or flying, as BuzzFeed’s John Herman notes. Since the public release of the latest iOS, some users have complained about nausea caused by iOS 7’s zooming-in-and-out animation. Herman has extrapolated the effect into the real world, offering a weird but interesting explanation of the physics of iOS 7.

After running the numbers on how deep the iOS 7 user interface is, BuzzFeed’s data team member Jake Levy found that your home screen is, in the physical world, about 5 feet away from you.

From there, it was easier to find out just how fast the apps are flying toward you. And they are moving quite fast: An app has an average speed of about 4.5 miles per hour.

That is to say, if iOS animations suggest that the icons are falling away from you, they are falling about 5 feet, and moving pretty fast. Assuming it takes about 0.8 seconds for this animation to complete, the app is moving at an average of about 6.6 feet per second, or about 4.5 miles per hour: a slow jogging speed.

For an app to appear the width of one of those tiny folder icons, according to these calculations, it would have to be about 24.62 feet away. That’s 19.29 feet of depth between a folder-size icon and a full-size icon. It’s kind of incredible: Those 19.29 feet are traveled, again, in about 0.8 seconds, which works out to a little more than 24.1 feet per second, or 16.4 miles per hour.

As developer Steve Streza has pointed out, the animations are based on spring physics:

So it’s like you stretched a spring from you to the folder and then let go… Animations pre-iOS 7 were based on sine wave curves. iOS 7 animations have a more gradual decay.”

Now, that’s a weird but interesting explanation for the motion sickness effect that the iOS 7 zoom-in-and-out animation triggers for some users. In case you dislike this animation, you can always opt for a smooth fade effect. Check it out here.