I’ve owned an iPhone ever since Apple released the 3G version back in 2008. In that time frame I have since upgraded to a 3GS and now iPhone 4. I remember the first day we discovered that Apple would be adding support for folders in iOS4. I distinctly remember being more excited about that single feature than any new feature in OS X 10.5.
Initially after installing iOS 4, I managed to get 13 pages of apps whittled down to just a few pages. Fantastic, who wouldn’t love that? Well, the problem is when iOS 4 came out, I was still on my 3GS (which has now been donated to my lovely girlfriend) and didn’t realize how unbelievably ugly folders were.
Day one of owning my iPhone 4, the first thing I did was transfer all of my apps over to take a gander at the breathtakingly beautiful Retina display. The difference in resolution was night and day. It was like wearing a pair of glasses with a much outdated prescription and then suddenly getting laser eye surgery.
Okay, so I’ll try not to go off on some crazy tangent about how awesome the iPhone 4 is (well it is), but my point of this piece is to explain my utter distaste for folders. So here’s the thing: from my perspective, on an iPhone 4 I find it very difficult to put my apps into folders. First of all, if you don’t know just how anal retentive I am about the apps I use, I’m extremely picky about the design of the app and how great its icon is. My primary rule of thumb is, if the app has a terrible icon, it’s going to the trash and has no place on my iPhone. After all, what good is a super high res display when you have to stare at an ugly app icon every time you look at the display?
One thing I will certainly not debate, is the usefulness of being able to store 12 apps inside a single folder. That means you can group apps into proper categories and conserve some space on your respective homescreen. The issue is folders are bloody ugly. Ugly, as in shoot me in the face and be forced to stare at my lack of facial features ugly. When you look at a folder that has 12 apps in it, you only get to see a tiny preview of what apps are actually in there. What you see is teensy tiny little icons inside an ugly grey folder. Of course, it’s one thing to criticize the way Apple chose to implement folders, however I’d like to offer at least one suggestion. How about instead of showing me an actual preview of all of the app icons contained in a folder, you just show me one beautiful icon that represents what kind of contents are inside? Honestly, I’d really prefer that rather than stare at the current folders that are on my homescreen.
I’ll close with one last issue I find with folders, and that’s performance. On my iPhone 4, I find that the animation that occurs when you tap on the folder itself unsatisfactorily slow. The hardware on iPhone 4 is no slouch, even though it’s already getting close to being a year old. Perhaps folders will get some attention in iOS 5 and I would certainly welcome it with open arms. I’d like to think Apple already is cognizant of these little quibbles and is dutifully working out the kinks as we speak.