I’m worried about our relationship with the pull-to-refresh interface in most iOS applications. The user experience for this feature is great, but the nature of what the action represents is concerning.

The animations are ascetically pleasing. The luxury of syncing without having to close and reopen an app or wait a pre-configured interval of time is certainly appreciated. The pull-drag-bounce routine is satisfying at an almost emotional level, and the gesture itself is infinitely preferable to a manual sync button.

But what need or desire is compelling this action? What are we expecting to have transpired or changed in the brief moment since this application was opened? What update could possibly have been applied that would require another check so soon? This feeling is particularly insidious in regards to social media applications. What are we looking for when we pull-to-refresh?

Perhaps its the fear of missing out on some hilarious banter or breaking news. Perhaps we’re checking to see if you’ve responded to the message we just sent - What could you possibly be doing that is more important than reading and responding to my @reply!? - Perhaps we’ve lost our patience with asynchronous communication.

More likely though, its worse than all of that. What we’re waiting for is someone we follow to say something that is going to inspire us to action, or looking for someone share something that will distract us from it.

Every time we pull-to-refresh, there’s a small chance that we can delay or completely eliminate the need to conjure within ourselves the motivation to do something meaningful.

Pull to refresh | November 13, 2012 by James. Looking for more? Check the archive or follow the feed. Want to say hello? Send me an email. Or a beer.