When Apple released a version of iOS with a limited form of multitasking, they also added a way to switch directly between apps by double-tapping the home screen. I almost never used that feature, however—I don’t have so many apps on my phone that it’s hard for me to get to the one I want through the home screens, and in particular the ones that are on my first screen are there exactly because I use them so often! (The main time that I drop into the “view recent apps” mode is to kill Mail to force it to resync my mailbox, which I have to do surprisingly often.)

A few weeks ago, though, I tried using double-tapping to switch between applications; and, to my surprise, I found that I rather liked it. In fact, I found that, when I’m switching applications that way, it feels like the machine really is multitasking: going to the home screen triggers an “exiting an app” feeling in my brain, while double-tapping to switch triggers a “switching between active apps” feeling in my brain.

Which is, I realize, kind of ridiculous: I am quite aware that there’s nothing different going on in those two scenarios. Brains are funny things, though, and it behooves us to design interfaces with that funniness in mind!

(Incidentally, this change in habits makes me wish that I had a case that didn’t cover the home button, because the case makes the button mushy enough that I can’t reliably double-tap. Definitely something to avoid next time; I may well go without a case at all next time, both because of this and to better appreciate Apple’s industrial design.)

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