iPhone 5 nitpicks: Album art not centered on Lock screen

iOS 7 wants: Album art centered on Lock screen

Album art has never been perfectly centered on the iPhone or iPod touch Lock screens. It's been placed immediately on top of the slide-to-unlock bar. Because of the 3:2 aspect ratio of previous iPhone and iPod touch devices, however, and because the top of the album art and the reflection beneath it peak through the translucent time and slide-to-unlock bars, the visual weighting was close enough to appear centered and thus, balanced. Not so with the iPhone 5 and its 16:9 aspect ratio. Now the bottom alignment of album art lookes decidedly bottom heavy. Worse, there's a big black gap between the top of the album art and the bottom of the time bar.

The advantage of bottom aligning album artwork on the 16:9 display is that none of it is obscured by the name of the song, and even when you double-click the Home button to bring up the music controls, very little is obscured.

I'm sure Apple went through every permutation of this and came up with the best compromise they could, but as a mental exercise it's interesting to explore what the other options might be. Placing the album art dead center wouldn't work, for example. There'd still be an empty black space between the top of the art and the bottom of the time bar.

Butting the album art up immediately beneath the time bar, however, and filling the resulting empty space on the bottom with the traditional translucent reflection. The weighting would then be close enough to once again appear visually centered. When the Home button double-click brings up the controls, more of the top of the album art would be obscured again, but with a small tweak it wouldn't be terrible, and still better than it currently is on 3:2 devices.

Here are samples of how album art currently looks on the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 (left and center), along with a mockup of how it would look if fixed as described above (right).

For context, here's the hero pic for this article beside what it would look like with the proposed fix in place.

I hope Apple considers implementing this in iOS 6.something (and yes, I'll file a radar.)

Because, damn.

Update 1: As a number of people have pointed out, the current 16:9 bottom alignment on the Lock screen allows for a seamless transition if you slide-to-unlock straight into the Music app. For me, however, that just means the Music app needs fixing too. Because the the disadvantage is, "Oh god, my eyes, my eyes..."

So here's a quick mock of for that. It's by no means ideal, as it would create immense usability problems -- namely, accidental taps. That to me just show many simultaneous on-screen controls are jammed into the Music app screen. Maybe allow for some of the less commonly used to start off hidden, and be revealed with a tap, and have list view as a double tap?

Update 2: Apple's own Podcasts app centers album art perfectly.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 22 comments. Add yours.

prophoto1 says:

yeah i work at a cellshop and this is so minor an ordinary joe won't notice it! me i'm far from ordinary and i haven't noticed it at all! lol

yurasis says:

I'm sure that Apple will "fix" this with the same priority that they gave that useless "copy and paste" feature ;)

Chaka Jon says:

I never even looked at the lock screen. With that said, I do not like having the track slider visible all the time. It used to toggle on/off. Now it just looks ugly and junked up, especialy when posting a screen capture of "now playing".

PalmerDeville says:

If Apple repositions the album art, I'll have to file a radar myself... based on my own opinions.

The alignment of the artwork on the lock screen is weighted fine. The album's reflection is distracting and unbalancing when not obscured by UI elements. The unlock transition aesthetics are perfect. The UI within the app is well designed as is.

Two rows of distinct buttons in a row looks horrible in the mockup. Furthermore, by moving the buttons you created a situation where attempting to switch to shuffle mode and missing would result in skipping tracks and losing the current song position - a horrible UX. Attempting to pause could result in a Genius playlist which then takes the user out of any current playlist - another horrible UX. As it stands, accidentally missing a tap doesn't result in any unwanted behavior since the album artwork requires two taps to flip to track list, the airplay menu has a cancel, and both the volume and song position sliders are unaffected by a tap.

Basically, the recommended changes make every aspect of iPhone's music controls worse.

Rene Ritchie says:

Why I mentioned hiding them and only showing on a single tap, which is consistent with other UI behavior and presents a less cluttered experience otherwise.

cocochannel says:

Omg i thought i was the only bothered by this . Im ocd so this is really annoyin to me

chaloney says:

OMG. I just deleted imore from my bookmarks after skimming through this drivel

Marsu says:

You are absolutely right, Rene! It must be changed. And not only is it disgusting, but also it's nothing like Apple. I hope the design team (or software design) will return to the right path.

cocochannel says:

Thats exactly what i was thinking. That lock screen is horrendous and Steve Jobs would have never approved this. Apple's ethics is all about details and that was obviously overlooked which is not a normal apple behavior

Ipheuria says:

I grew up in a third world country. This thing about trying to make an issue seem less relevant just because people elsewhere are facing bigger problems elsewhere is so annoying. Problems are problems some are more severe than others. It doesn't mean any are less relevant than the other.

nitishgera says:

Oh so according to your logic, album art not being centered on your $700 phone is equal in relevance to, say, female foeticide in my country.
I get what you are trying to say, but my point is that there are other pressing issues with iOS 6 that iMore could post about. For eg. I have yet to see a post by Rene about Maps and his take on it and does it mean Apple's quality standards are dipping post-Jobs.
I love the iPhone. I'm going to get one as soon as it is launched in my country. I really want to be aware of the more REAL issues that will directly affect me when I get my iPhone.

TenshiNo says:

Dude. He said "some problems are worse than others." All he's saying is that the big problems don't make the small problems irrelevant for the person who brings them up. I don't think anyone would argue that the female feoticide going on in the world isn't a problem, and there are groups working to enact change, but this site is for discussing cell phones and this is a problem the author feels is relevant in this context.

Florence Lee says:

yes, I agree. Therefore, I am suffering

EXIV says:

Hi there, have a look at our new videos about the iPhone 5:

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 4S http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Lj0jBcuAw0
iPhone 5 First Look http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awyIy6JVAHg

Gregz0r says:

All the folks dissing this blog post, obviously aren't aesthetically-minded and have probably never listened to the awesome Iterate podcast.

This album art placement issue has bugged me as well.
Placing the loop, Genius & shuffle control bar below the album art as shown, would be the ideal fix.

Florence Lee says:

It would be great if Apple really consider your proposal