It’s interesting to watch how the accepted standard for User Experience (UX) evolves over time. It’s like there is a universal “vocabulary” of actions and gestures. We intuitively understand them and also expect them to be implemented in every app we use.

Eventually, developers integrate UX advances into new and existing apps and even into the operating systems themselves. But, it’s fun to think back to where these evolutionary changes came from. Some of the most ubiquitous UX elements started out in a single 3rd party application, only to become absorbed into the larger ecosystem.

Pull to refresh

Pull to refresh is everywhere. It’s in the native mail client of my phone. Every single social networking application I use does it. These applications display data in a list where the newest items are on top. The gesture is intuitive because it’s same gesture you use to scroll to the top of a list. In essence, this gesture is like an “infinite scroll” except it’s for scrolling up. It just makes so much sense.

The first implementation of the pull to refresh gesture came from Twitter. They actually have a patent on it (I didn’t even try to read all of that).

See what I did there?

Swipe to dismiss images

I first saw this one in the Facebook app. But, I’m not sure if they’re the first ones to introduce it. I do know that once I got used to the gesture I was very annoyed at any app that didn’t implement it.

After tapping on a photo to bring it up full-screen, instead of tapping a “Done” button somewhere, you simply swipe up or down as though you’re flicking the photo out of the way. Since I first remember encountering it, swipe to dismiss photos has been implemented in Twitter, the iOS photos app, Pinterest, and many others.

Double tap to jog a video

This last example is more of a prediction. It’s a feature that the YouTube app implemented recently. While watching a video, you can double tap on the left or right-hand side of the screen to jog the video 10 seconds in either direction. I expect this functionality to make its way into any app that plays videos. Why? I already get annoyed when I’m watching a video in an app that doesn’t support it.

This handful of UX practices is just what I’ve personally noticed. I didn’t do any extensive research, so I’m sure there are many more. What interesting progress have you noticed in the process of UX evolution? Please share in the comments!