With all the apps we have on our iPhones these days, organizing them into folders is pretty much a requirement. But why does Apple still only show nine apps per folder page, especially with screen sizes getting bigger?
Apple first introduced folders in iOS 4, and you could only have up to 12 apps in a single folder—they bumped up that number to 16 starting with the iPhone 5. But the nice thing was that all 16 would appear on the screen at once.
However, the introduction of iOS 7 meant a completely redesigned user interface, and that included folders. While folders now came with pages you can swipe through (up to 15 of them!), you can only fit a measly nine apps on a page at once.
This still made sense on the iPhone 4 and even on the iPhone 5, both of which had a much smaller screen size than current models. On the smaller models, opening up a folder with nine apps filled out the screen quite nicely. But with iPhone screen sizes all the way up to a gargantuan 6.5 inches with the iPhone XS Max, using that same folder size just wastes screen space.
Unfortunately, on these larger iPhones (even on the regular iPhone XS’s 5.8-inch screen), folders look kind of…bad. Just look at this screenshot of an open folder. There’s a lot of wasted screen space that could otherwise be put to good use. And why is the folder title so far apart from the folder?
Of course, this could be a deliberate design choice by Apple so that you wouldn’t have to reach way up to the top of the screen to select an app in a folder, but you have to do that anyway to select apps at the top of the home screen.
In any case, we did a bit of Photoshopping to see just how much better a folder could be on iOS, and how much nicer it would look on newer, larger iPhones.
As you can see, adding another two rows of apps increases the count from 9 to 15, which is a more reasonable use of all that space. You’d still have pages you could swipe through, but having more apps onscreen at once would reduce the amount of swiping you had to do.
Apple could easily implement something like this on the iPad as well. Granted, a folder page on the iPad shows 16 apps at once, but there’s still a lot of space around the folder that could easily be put to use, as shown below.
Hell, Apple could easily expand the size of a folder to cover most of the iPad’s screen.
On Android, it depends on the specific device and what launcher you’re using, but the default launcher on the Pixel 3 can show up to 15 apps at once within a folder. If you have a custom launcher, like Nova Launcher, you can squeeze up to 20 apps in a folder to show at once, which works pretty well.
In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple implements an improvement of its iOS folders at some point in a future update, but I’m perplexed as to why it’s taking this long.