Nov 8, 2018

The pull-to-refresh interaction design pattern in mobile apps

The pull-to-refresh interaction allows users to check and see if there’s new content available, and to refresh the screen if there is. It is found in apps that need to constantly push out new content to its users. Twitter, Instagram and Google etc have applied this pattern in their apps.

Having the pull-to-refresh feature is convenient for users because they’re able to update the screen whenever they choose. However, pulling down and releasing the screen demands a whole lot more physical effort compared to other touch gestures like tapping or swiping. The interaction thus needs to be more productive for the price.

In the Google Chrome app, the functionality of the pull-to-refresh gesture has been expanded with the ability to perform two other additional actions: Open a new browser tab or close the current tab.

Like the standard pull-to-refresh design pattern, pulling down on the screen and then letting it go will just refresh the screen.

If you pull down > swipe right > release, Chrome will close the current tab. Alternatively, swiping left will open a new tab instead.