Safari received a boost in iOS 15, bringing the mobile browser application closer to the desktop clients that run on iPadOS and macOS, but some features are designed just for smartphones and handhelds — like swiping left or right to change tabs. The upgrade brought the address bar to the bottom of the screen in a controversial move that Apple thought would make Safari easier to use. Since smartphones are getting larger and larger each year — the Pro Max models of the iPhone offer nearly 6.7″ of diagonal screen space — reachability is a big concern. If users have to stretch their hands across the display to reach key items, they’re more likely to drop an iPhone and incur accidental damage that will be expensive to repair.
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Though it made sense, in theory, to redesign the address bar and move it to the bottom of the screen, users weren’t exactly thrilled about the change. The response to the redesigned address bar, which was detached from the top of the screen and instead floated at the bottom of a webpage, was extremely critical. The reactions were so extreme that Apple uncharacteristically reverted the address bar to the old version during the beta software period, completely removing a staple of the upgrades to Safari in iOS 15. Apple did bring back the traditional action bar and address bar, but they remained at the bottom of the screen. It might have drawn ire from the power users who had gotten used to its location, but it brings new features to Safari on iPhone.
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Tab management has changed quite a bit on Apple iOS 15 and is much like how tabs are managed on Safari for Mac and iPad. With iOS 15, there’s now a start page that the user can customize to have a set background, favorites, Continuity tabs and more. The start page is shared through Continuity, so a start page already created on macOS or iPadOS will automatically be reflected on iOS. This is a big deal because there is less of a need to keep hundreds of tabs open if pages can be saved to a start page for quick access. Tabs can also be searched, closed and sorted into groups for easy-to-digest organization.
The Bottom Address Bar Brings Gestures To Safari
Moving the address bar to the bottom of Safari’s user interface is quite the change to the application, but it brings support for gestures on iOS. Only one tab can be opened at a time on iPhone, which makes the need for changing tabs more prominent. Previously, the process for changing tabs required tapping on the tab button in the action bar and finding the tab manually. In iOS 15, changing tabs is as easy as swiping left or right on the address bar. Continuously swiping to the left will change tabs until a user reaches the first tab open, while swiping to the right will open a new tab. Between these tabs, users can swipe to find any open tab.
The tab window can be opened quicker by swiping up on the address bar for more precise findings. By using these three gestures, navigating tabs in Safari can get a lot quicker. There is a caveat to the feature additions, though — gestures only work when the address bar is located at the bottom of the screen. Apple made it possible for users to place the address bar back at the top of the screen in a Safari settings menu, but doing so will remove support for gestures. It’s a tough choice because longtime iOS users have gotten used to the address bar at the top of the screen. But support for gestures that make Safari easier to use might convince users to keep the address bar at the bottom of the screen.