When it comes to software and app design, there aren’t many individual names that are very well know. Sure, we’ll know studio names like Rovio, Atbits, EA and so on, but it’s very rare that we have an individual person being praised for his work on app design and user interfaces. If there’s one name you should make it your quest to know, it’s Loren Brichter.
Brichter was the guy behind the Tweetie client for Twitter, which was so good it got bought by Twitter and became the official app that we all know and love today. There have been some UI changes since those early days, but one key feature still remains: “pull to refresh”.
This particular feature has made its way to multiple apps and operating systems since then. In fact, it’s hard to find many that don’t. BB10 has it built in to the Hub, iOS has it in Mail, Facebook has it, Tweetbot has it, the list goes on. Loren Brichter was the man behind it.
And, you must be thinking “I bet he gets a ton of royalties and licensing fees for everyone else using his design”. Nope. He’s happy for anyone else to use it, providing they use open source technology to make it happen, he’s happy for it to be anywhere. A refreshing attitude in today’s world of endless patent and design lawsuits.
Two more features from Twitter – also designed by Brichter – also made their way to multiple apps. Firstly: “Cell swipe” which is essentially when you swipe a cell off screen to reveal a set of hidden icons and features.
A popular example would be in Tweetbot, where you get the options to retweet, reply, favorite and so on. Secondly: The sliding panel. Again, something we see in so many apps these days: swiping from the side of the screen to reveal another set of options and fields. It’s in Facebook, Spotify and is the main inspiration behind the BB10 operating system and access to its Hub.
Over at WSJ, there’s an extensive report in which multiple app developers point towards Brichter as the “High Priest” of the app development world.
“It’s hard to understate the impact his ideas have had on the space,” says Phill Ryu, a developer who helped design the Clear task-management app, which uses variations on “pull-to-refresh” and has been downloaded more than 800,000 times.
Not content with developing these key features, Brichter left Twitter’s design team and started working on and released the popular Letterpress game.
Personally, I can’t wait to see what he does next, and if you do anything today, it’s make sure you remember this guy’s name and look out for the features mentioned in your favorite apps. Without him, some of the best designed menus and functions within apps would not be there.