Users have been calling for Apple to implement the popular ‘pull-to-refresh’ feature into Mail and other native iOS apps for quite some time now. The function, which is found in Tweetbot and several other third-party applications, allows you to refresh the on-screen information by pulling down on the app’s UI.

But judging by this report from designer Dustin Curtis, we won’t be seeing the easy refresh option integrated into native iOS apps anytime soon. Why? Well apparently Twitter owns the patent to it…

Curtis points out that the pull-to-refresh function is covered in a patent entitled “User Interface Mechanics,” which lists former Tweetie developer Loren Brichter as an inventor. And since Twitter purchased Tweetie two years ago, ipso facto, Twitter owns the patent.

Here’s the part of the filing that really matters:

“Then, based on the scroll command, a scrollable refresh trigger may be displayed. Subsequently, the scrollable list of content items may be refreshed in response to determining, based on the scroll command, that the scrollable refresh trigger has been activated.”

Perhaps nobody understands the dangers of using the patents and intellectual property of others without permission better than Apple, so we wouldn’t be surprised if this is what has been holding the company back from using pull-to-refresh in their own products.

But here’s hoping that Apple figures out some way to license the invention, because it would really improve the user experience of native iOS apps like Mail and Safari (without having to jailbreak). Heck even the Stocks app would benefit from it.

What do you think? Would you like to see pull-to-refresh in native iOS apps?

  • Is really that hard to press a button?

    • It feels more natural to scroll

      • “Natural”? Using “natural” and any technological device in the same sentence is wrong in the first place…

      • My brother, ur getting nowhere in life with that thinking.

      • The word is intuitive. “Natural” has morning meanings than simply in regard to nature.

      • as it’s been said before, the device has to fit you.
        not you to the device.

      • Anonymous

        …but using “feels more natural” turns out to be perfectly all right.

      • Moving nowhere in life…..

    • It is when there are multiple spots on a page you could “tap” accidentally instead of the refresh button. Only one thing would happen when you scroll up and you have the whole screen to use the gesture on.

      Not saying that tapping a button is hard but it would be easier if all you had to do was scroll up. And its more fun that way

  • Anonymous

    So then what is Tweetbot an example of? A) Twitter not enforcing their patent rights on the functionality, or B) Twitter’s willingness to legitimately license their patent to 3rd parties? Either way makes it sound like an indication of exactly the opposite of what this article concludes. Thoughts?

    • Yup exactly my thought but with Facebook. Doesn’t really make sense.

    • Anonymous

      I think that Tweetbot, Facebook, etc. are an example of A). Twitter has shown no signs that it intends to enforce the patent. But that doesn’t mean that Apple is comfortable enough with the situation to say, “hey, let’s embed this function into our core apps.”

      • Anonymous

        Couldn’t they just ask?

  • That’s the easiest patent listing I’ve ever read. I don’t think there is any wiggle room around that one. It pretty says “pull down the list to refresh the list”. this is unfortunate for Apple however as this function is very useful and for more ergonomic and inventive than pushing a refresh button.

  • Maybe they bought the rights to use it

  • What about google voice??? Their app uses pull to refresh!

    • Apple should buy twitter and sure google!
      mother of patent-troll!

  • Falk M.

    I’m torn… because you can activate the refresh easily by accident, as it (in it’s current implementation in that Apps that I’ve tested) it lets you scroll all the way up to the top of the page with one swipe and after that if it has enough overhead it will also bounce over for long enough to invoke a refresh.

    I think the page needs to be scrolled all way up to invoke it.

    • Pedro Diogo

      What app is that in the print screen?

    • Pedro Diogo

      What app is that in the print screen?

      • Falk M.

        Tweetbot

      • Pedro Diogo

        Thanks.

      • Falk M.

        Tweetbot

  • Anonymous

    I don’t care either way

  • I work in an Apple store, in the concierge app to pull to refresh feature does exist. I Don’t think they are apposed to it.

  • Apple has Twitter baked into iOS. I don’t think implementing it would be too far of a stretch.

  • Always wondered about this. Apple just needs to find a patent that twitter is infringing on, and a nice little cross-license agreement can be worked out.

  • Oh for fucks sake. Apple had no problems copying notification centre from android so the fuck is stopping them from copying this?

    • Oi…. Let’s not start down the copying road. If someone copy’s an idea and inproves on it 10 fold… Is it really copying?

      • Anonymous

        Just remove the “improve it 10 fold” and you have Apple’s notifications. Of the two things I like about Android’s implementation of notifications, Apple only got the “list” feature. The ability to turn on/off WiFi, GPS, etc. does not exist with Apple’s implementations. Therefore, in my opinion, Android’s implementation is worlds better than Apple’s.

      • Kok Hean

        And that’s why we jailbreak our devices.

    • the patent.
      didn’t you read the article?
      I don’t believe google has a patent for a scroll from top for notification menu patent.

  • Anonymous

    Does Apple have a patent on the “pull to reveal Search Field” function? I think Apple has just made a UI decision that most third party devs seem to disagree with. And I don’t see them swapping their search vs refresh triggers anytime soon. Not saying I agree with them but…

  • I installed pull to refresh on everything that I can from cyida. Funny thing if that is the case that twitter owns the patient then my playbook is in violation for its mail app.