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iOS 15 Safari Update - What Can We Learn?

The one sure thing about technology is that it will continue to advance and evolve at a rapid pace – and that’s regardless of whether you like the change or not.

One of the biggest areas of change is in your mobile phone, just look at how far things have come in the last 5 years or so. The annual iPhone release and subsequent iOS updates have become a measuring stick for technological advancement at speed.

Apple are known for constantly looking to tinker and tweak their products, adapting them for consumer needs that are evolving day by day. Their iOS changes are frequent and significant, and the most recent release of iOS 15 is no different with several noticeable changes to their own browser Safari.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the search bar on the browser has been moved to the bottom of the screen, allowing greater reachability with a single thumb. This was one of Apple’s goals with the redesign, aiming to ‘put content front and centre’ whilst making control of the browser ‘easier to reach with one hand’.

Unlike many iOS updates in years gone by, there is still the option to revert back to the old layout with the search bar at the top of the screen (just head to your Settings if you’d prefer that).

But why is this change so significant? What can we learn from it?

Well, according to data from Stat Counter, Safari remains the leading browser for mobile devices in the UK. Making life easier for mobile users on the browser will likely keep them loyal to it, rather than defecting to its closest rival Google Chrome, or worse, Firefox.

In addition to the change in layout, there are a number of functionality changes designed to make using Safari simpler and more efficient:

  • The top of the screen is now empty, allowing greater design flexibility
  • Swiping down on your screen will refresh the page you are viewing
  • A coloured divider line now sits between the status bar and main navigation
  • There’s more screen space in general as the browser now only utilises the bottom of the screen in iOS 15 compared to iOS 14 and previous versions

With the need to retrain your muscle memory for most of these changes, it’s clear that Apple feel making Safari more intuitive and user-friendly is paramount in retaining its customer base and competitive lead at the top of the user charts.

Grace, our Optimisation Analyst and User Experience expert, discussed her thoughts on the changes:

‘Generally speaking, I don’t think the new search bar position is too disruptive when using Safari, it’s just more a case of getting used to it/your preference. That said, its new position at the bottom of the page means the bar could be very close to key CTAs on a page, so potentially users could easily click the bar instead of selecting the CTA.’

‘I also think the new tab grid feature delivers a far superior user experience than the old layered style tabs – you can see more tabs in the viewport and scrolling/navigating through them is much easier and more digestible.’

Grace Adams

Optimisation Analyst

Media Lounge

The new tab grid feature delivers a far superior user experience than the old layered style tabs – you can see more tabs in the viewport and navigating through them is much easier.

While many will feel like this is a dramatic and seemingly unnecessary change, we’re confident that you’ll appreciate the alterations after a few days of using the new layout. It is likely to be the first in more steps towards interfaces that shift tools to the bottom of screens, shrink unnecessary toolbars to leave more space and allow flexibility in both portrait and landscape modes across iPhones, iPads and other devices.

It’s a refreshed design and a new concept that *should* make your life easier to organise and access, so give yourself some time to adapt.

The more you use it, the more you’ll like it!