There’s A Cool Scientific Reason Why iOS 5’s Round Buttons Are Better Than iOS 4’s

There’s A Cool Scientific Reason Why iOS 5’s Round Buttons Are Better Than iOS 4’s

Do you prefer iOS 5’s rounded buttons while a friend prefers iOS 4’s rectangular ones? Well, as it turns out, there’s a scientific reason why you’re right and he’s just a total idiot and needs to just talk to the hand, and it all has to do with the shape of your eyeball.

As it turns out, rounded corners are more aesthetically pleasing because the brain has an easier time processing them. Your fovea — which is responsible for sharp central vision, which is required to read, drive,watch television or use your iPhone or iPad — has an easier time processing circles than squares.

That’s not all. As Gizmodo explains:

Rounded corners also point inward and focus your eyes on the content inside an object. A squared edge is the exact opposite — it focuses your eyes on the stuff outside of the object. When you look at the rectangular buttons of iOS 4, you have to work harder to shift your gaze from the outside to the inside of the button. In iOS 5, there’s little work involved. You look at the round button, your eyes focus inward and you make your selection with ease

So what seems like a small aesthetic tweak in iOS 5 will, in actuality, make Apple’s iPhone and iPad much easier to use. They’re just always thinking of everything!

  • Bozo

    iOS 5 beta 6 within the next 12 hours?http://wp.me/p1Mrnd-Jthe Bozo.

  • Romeyn Prescott

    I was thinking about basically this while watching “Warehouse 13″ recently.  The screen on the Teslas (communicators) they use is ROUND, and I kinda like it.  But couldn’t put my finger on WHY…

  • gareth edwards

    interesting stuff. 

  • Paulo Fonseca

    so, snow leopard had them round and now in lion they’re squared? way to go coherence…

  • Jonathan McDonald

    not to mention that i looks like the mute switch on the iPad 2…

  • David Alexander Harrison

    *Farnsworth, not Tesla.  The Teslas are the stun-guns they use.

  • longzero

    On Mac? Where are those buttons? I didn’t notice.

  • BrooklynTrees

    totes my thoughts too

  • Bozo

    iOS 5 beta 6 within the next 12 hours?

    http://wp.me/p1Mrnd-J

    the Bozo.

  • imajoebob

    Yep.  Farnsworth is Philo T Farnsworth, inventor if the TV (and eponymous “Philco” brand).  Tesla was Nikola Tesla, inventor of the modern light bulb (he finally won the patent suit about 40 years too late) and champion of AC current.

    Hence the device names.  And it’s round because early TVs couldn’t focus the square edges on the tube, not for any ergonomic reason.

  • prof_peabody

    Please stop spamming Bozo.  You know it ain’t right.  

  • TechTeich

    No just the idea of buttons in general (ie. save, quit etc buttons). They used to be round ever since the introduction of Aqua, but now they are square! So much for logic!

  • timborama

    It’s change, for the sake of change, nothing else.  Don’t look for logic where there is none.

  • GDal

    I like the look of the round switches better. The squared buttons give me more space to click. Good moves both, even if the real change is minimal.

  • ElWeroOjiverde

    What’s the deal using “as it turns out” phrase so often lately in Cult of Mac articles? is this the new “seriously” or what?… anyway, be careful, Apple could patent that phrase which is used often in their keynotes and Apple Stores… and many people would be in trouble.

  • Girts Dumpis

    ok, i didn’t get it either – which buttons are square in lion? seems to me they’re all with a rounded corners…..

  • BriZap

    Mac OS X 10.7 is all about not focusing on the controls, just the content. It’s only natural to create something that doesn’t draw the eye. But yes, it is whacked up and inconsistent. 

  • Luke Desroches

    Looks like my next site will have to be comprised of entirely circles.

  • sunnysingh

    Yes, rounded corners are more pleasing to look at and can be proven scientifically, but doesn’t mean that Apple actually knew that… it just probably looked better in their design mockups and so they just went along with it.

    Unless every company that uses rounded corners is “just always thinking of everything.”

  • TechTeich

    Its not the idea of rounded corners, but completely circular. Lion has “rounded” corners but the overall design is quite square

  • Barton Lynch

    rounded corners, but they’re rectangles. they used to be ovals 

  • prof_peabody

    Actually the Scottish inventor John Logie Baird invented the first television.

  • lls700
  • lhle21
  • lls700
  • lsl67
  • lsla81
  • Guest

    This is a huge bunch of bullsh!t.  Pure and simple.

  • Rann Xeroxx

    …and he wore a kilt while inventing it! “Merito!”

  • Mystakill

    I despise the rectangular buttons in Lion.  The rounded buttons of old looked significantly better than their flat replacements, and now iOS is switching to rounded buttons; WTH is/was Apple thinking?

  • Christian

    Is there a theme I can get on Cydia that will do this on iOS4? I absolutely LOVE the way it looks, but that is not a reason at all to give up my jailbreak. Please don’t respond with “there are tons of other reasons to upgrade” or the like.

  • Bjorvik

    It is kind of suck that Apple had make the iOS have the circles button and makes Apple OS has the squares button. Apologize for the bad English.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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