iOS 7 and motion sickness: What you can do, and where you can learn more

One of the most amazing new features of iOS 7 is that it's built on top of a physics and particle engine, allowing almost any and every element to come alive with movement - shifting, colliding, bouncing, floating, and more. It looks and feels like a game space. And therein lies a problem for some people. It's reportedly making them motion sick.

I have a friend who can't play 3D games or watch 3D movies on big screens for more than a few minutes without feeling sick and having to stop. Another with Labyrinthitis that's, off-and-on, threatened his ability to get around and even stay standing. I myself can't read for long in a moving vehicle without getting nauseous and having to stop. None of us have had a problem with iOS 7 to date, but for those who do, it can be a show-stopper level problem. Craig Grannell has been tracking the issue closely, and has written about it on Revert to Saved:

Despite this, I worry a little about iOS 7, on the basis of my own problems with motion sickness. I've heard the parallax effect (a known trigger) can be disabled, but Charles Skoda has written about new motion-sickness triggers in Messages, and this on a system already packed full of large/full-screen transitions, which are also a big problem on OS X.

You can keep up with his information campaign by following him on Twitter @CraigGrannell. You can also email and go to Apple's feedback page (opens in new tab) and let them know exactly what causes you problems. (Heartfelt emails to Apple executives have been known to get responses, at the very least, in the past as well.)

For many people the iOS 7 parallax effect is cool, dynamic wallpapers amazing, the Messages bubbles fun, the folder and app zooming transportive, and so on and so on. For those for whom they trigger motion sickness, they're off-putting, nauseating, or simply impossible to use.

Parallax can be turned off in Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion. So can Dynamic wallpapers in Settings > Wallpapers & Brightness. Message bubble bouncing, folder and app zooming, not so much. Apple also provides UI Dynamics as an application programming interface (API) so developers can more easily add some of those effects to their own apps.Those often can't be turned off either. That some of the effects can be turned off means Apple probably foresaw at least part of the issue. That all can't means they probably didn't foresee enough of it.

If 3D games bother you, it sucks but you can avoid playing them. If reading in a car, train, bus, or plane bothers you, that sucks too but you can listen to or watch something else. If the entire operating system discombobulates you, you have far fewer options other than seeking out an alternate platform.

I don't know enough about either medicine or programming to know if higher frame rates, faster animations, or less fiddly movements would help, or if there's any practical way to add a big honking toggle in Settings that turns off all physics-based animations throughout the OS. All I know is that attention levels need raising.

If you've had any problems with iOS 7 and motion sickness, let me know in the poll, and give me the details (which particular elements are causing it) in the comments below.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Rene, it does make me a little ill. Even with a static wallpaper and motion reduced switched on. I would much prefer the zoom in/out effect for folders me something i can turn off, but I'm at least mild enough that I can live with it.
  • i don't like the effects and would prefer to turn them off. i've turned off every thing that i can find to turn off and it has lessened it somewhat.
  • I get motion sickness fairly easily, and so far it's not been an issue for me. I do have that parallax effect off, for battery reasons, but even with it on it didn't bother me.
  • "That some can means Apple probably foresaw at least part of the issue. That all can't means they probably didn't foresee enough of it." - these two sentences are really confusing.. I can't even guess what you were trying to say?
  • I know Rene virtually always has a missing or extra word in his articles, but I see nothing wrong with those sentences. Practice reading comprehension and you'll understand better.
  • That sentence is a little awkward. I had to read it 2x.. but it is clear. Read it again. Slowly. Bottom line - they thought about it, but not enough. You can disable some, but not all of the offending effects.
  • that some can, < comma that all can't, < comma. This just needs commas to make sense.
  • More garbage, Rene. No one is getting motion sickness from ios7. You can't even cite an example in your post. And anyone claiming it in the comments section is full of it. I expect more than stream of consciousness writing and blogging for the sake of blogging from you and the rest of the tipb (always tipb to me) team.
  • It's been complained about on several sites. I seems more sensational news for attention than anything to me. iMore seems the last to be reporting on it though and at least points out ways to minimize the effects. Most are just saying iOS 7 makes people sick, etc. blah blah..
  • It's always something.
    hypochondriacs everywhere you turn nowadays. Go live in a box for Christ's sakes and give us all a break. I pity the national health care system if it goes into motion. We're all screwed paying for morons...
  • I can't play most video games because of the violent motion sickness I get. iOS 7 hasn't bothered me at all, but I can certainly understand those who it does. Hypochondriac ? I took 2 gravol and wore a sea band to try The Last Of Us and still played for 20 minutes before I was so sick I was down for hours.
  • I feel like if it doesnt happen to one individual, they dismiss it as "a load of crap" or something along those lines. Ive been getting motion sickness too from iOS 7. It's unfortunate, but it happens.
  • Not true. You could take 10 seconds to research before yo comment.
  • Check out the thread on macrumours then apologize for being rude. One poster there tried to make sickgate stick, great.
  • I'm not interested in people posting online. You gotta give me more than what I imagine is probably a lot of android ppl posing as iPhone ppl complaining. Too many trolls out there for commenters to have any credence here. You're just gonna have to give me something a little more objective and concrete.
  • There's a link in the post to a respect UK journalist suffering from the problem, and he links to several more. Usually I ignore people being dicks in the comments, but there's absolutely nothing funny about trolling accessibility. This is one of those issues that matters. I'd rather not start deleting asinine comments and bouncing people, but this is one of those threads I"ll have really low tolerance on.
  • ^ This. Totally agree, Rene.
  • Rene, I think you're real off base here. Based on your writing and your link and the link in your link all I'm reading is second- and third-hand word of mouth reporting and anecdotal evidence. You link to Grannell's letter doesn't contain one word about him suffering from motion sickness in ios7. He makes note of it as it relates to osx and the kindle app. But not a word about an actual experience in ios7. Same w the link from Grannell. That review of ios7 doesn't say anything more than there's a possibility of motion sickness from messages animations. I fail to see how pointing out these facts makes me a dick. And I don't even know what you mean by "trolling accessibility". I come to this site to read things like your fantastic review on ios7. No other site I read gave a more detailed and thorough review of this very new, very different os. Your attention to detail was unmatched anywhere else on the web. I expect that same quality of writing, research, and analysis on a subject like this, too. And if my tame critique of that is something you deem worthy of bouncing me for then I'm happy to take my reading elsewhere. What's the point of a comment section if agreement w the author is required? Great technology comes from people challenging one another and the status quo. Funny that would be lost on the editor-in-chief of a blog dedicated to Apple and their products.
  • Kudos - Admirer! I don't see how RUSH can say that this site is a WEALTH of information. Sometimes it is just RUBBISH. RENE! - just the facts. I don't care about feelings, I want TECH TALK! NOT, " WAAAAH, MY THUMBS HURT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! RENE you are in rare SOAPBOX form today!
  • I don't think you get, or are willing to accept, that a lot treatments and symptom logging are based on anecdotal evidence. How else would we come up with lists of known side effects from medications and conditions if not for anecdotal evidence? Those anecdotes aren't any less factual in such a scientific arena. Just because it doesn't affect you personally doesn't mean it doesn't have an effect on someone else and your disagreement with the subject doesn't make it any less factual, either.
  • Well, I just went back to this article to see where to turn off parallax because someone on a completely non-tech forum I'm on said iOS7 was making her nauseous. She's had post-concussion syndrome in the past, so I imagine she's more susceptible than the average person. But it's still affecting her for real, and that shouldn't happen from an OS. Rene was right to write about it IMO.
  • Really?
    Is there really any respected journalist out there anymore? Come on Rene... and the UK no less. Who gives a crap what the UK has to say about anything. They're still pissed about America.
  • Oh. You're one of THOSE. Okay then, carry on with the obnoxious behavior wrapped in a country's flag for protection.
  • Yep. I went through all the betas on the iphone and ipad no problems. Had a friend with a balance problem caused by antibiotic side-effects upgrade after it shipped and it was the very first thing she said. "iOS 7 is making me sick". So yeah it probably affects a small number of people, but it affects them very negatively and severely. It needs a solution. Apple can do it without adding any more UI elements. Just make the existing reduce motion switch apply to the animations too (i'm hoping just slowing down, or making more localized motions is all that is needed as some of the motions are key indicators that something is happening.)
  • just turn it off or stop taking Clap pills!
  • No one has to give you anything, admirer_of_you. What, just cause it doesn't happen to you, then it isn't true, right? Whatever. How self centric can one person be?
  • This whole ordeal is based on conjecture, hearsay, and a lot of what ifs. I just want some empirical evidence. I don't exactly see that as being self-centric.
  • Why are you so invested in this? What constitutes "empirical evidence" in your mind? If first person commentary doesn't then you are SOL. Pointing out facts doesn't make you a dick. Starting first post on this subject with this does:
    More garbage, Rene. No one is getting motion sickness from ios7. You can't even cite an example in your post. And anyone claiming it in the comments section is full of it
  • I don't know what you mean by "invested"? Does the fact that I'm making comments make me "invested"? And if so, does that not make you invested, too?
  • Admirer - don't get started, you can't argue with the mentally challenged.
    They're unarmed.
    Sick love to be sick, and love to do nothing but try and make others sick around them by complaining. There is a study about it on the web, search it. It is true.
  • Wow, thanks for all those facts and empirical evidence about that study, Orealy. "There is a study about it on the web, search it. It is true." You realize the same statement exactly can be said about the motion sickness issue. It's on the web, so it must be true, according to you. Or is only what you want to believe from the web true, and everything else is false? You can't talk out of both side of your mouth, genius. You and admirer obviously are cut from the same cloth. If it doesn't affect me, then it's not real. If you say so. You can't argue with close minded people who wouldn't even consider the thought that this could be a possibility. Not wasting any more time on either of you.
  • There seem to be a lot of logical issues with your position but among the biggest is the low standard of evidence required for your opinion vs the high standard of evidence you require from others. This was an article on the Internet with comments by Internet users and you shared your disagreement via the Internet yet, according to you, it's not good enough for the opposing side to share their evidence...via the internet. If somehow you're really a good, open-minded person, these comments from you do not represent that. In fact, it's a classic example of the behavior identified with trolls.
  • Reporting is sources and cited. Commenting on a website is anyone spouting off whatever they want. That is not empirical. You could never turn in a college research paper cited w anonymous commenters in web forums. That's the difference.
  • If you're married to the empirical standard, where is your empirical proof that it does not exist. Now, we both know that it's pretty you to prove a negative, but you didn't simply state skepticism. You expressed in no uncertain terms that NO ONE is experiencing motion sickness from iOS 7. So, by what empirical method did you come to your conclusion? Just let it go. You overreacted and overstated. It happens to the best of us. Refusing to back down, no matter how wrong you are, though, is what happens to the worst of us. Clearly you're too smart for that. Anyway, for further anecdotal evidence, Leo Laporte (and please don't think I'm saying he is th standard of all things empirical) has repeatedly stated, before I heard anyone else do so, that the animations made him feel motion sickness. His co-host, Sarah Lane, responded with at least a tone of skepticism. I felt similarly. It seemed unlikely that the mild animation he showed resulted in feelings of nausea. BUT, what reason would Leo, Rene, or anyone else (particularly those who are largely pro-Apple) have to lie about this, of all things? If the well-reputed say something lik this is so. It's probably so.
  • "If you're married to the empirical standard, where is your empirical proof that it does not exist. " Sigh. You do realize it's not possible to prove a negative, right? While I like iMore and admire Rene this does need to be quantified as people might use the same term in different ways, i.e. one person finds the zooming a bit disorienting, another is violently ill. Both call it motion sickness, but those are very different results. Admirer's correct, too, that internet comments can't be taken as evidence. Sadly, there are too many people who troll for that to work.
  • You don't get to sigh when you quoted me but stopped right before I said the part that shows that I know about proving negatives: "If you're married to the empirical standard, where is your empirical proof that it does not exist. Now, we both know that it's pretty you to prove a negative, but you didn't simply state skepticism. You expressed in no uncertain terms that NO ONE is experiencing motion sickness from iOS 7. So, by what empirical method did you come to your conclusion?" Did you just stop reading then or did you deliberately misrepresent things to make your point look good? Because it really seems that you're defending trollish behavior by exhibiting trollish behavior.
  • Yes, I stopped reading. It's not 'pretty you to prove a negative' [sic] it's not *possible*. I've seen so many people who don't understand this that I immediately discount the logic skills of anyone asking someone else to do so. Oh and yes, yes, anyone who disagrees with you is a troll. You just keep believing that.
  • Well, someone named you right.
  • No doubt.
    Fricktards that start crap.
  • I got a headache from the parallax feature and had to turn it off. If you've never experienced this due to looking at something with 3D effects then that's great. But this is a real thing that can effect some people, including myself. I am not a troll. I have been an iPhone user since day 1. This is 100% real for some people. So here's your example. I'm a real iPhone user and this is absolutely effecting me.
  • He's already written you off as "full of it" (see his initial comment). No matter how many people this genuinely affects, unless the Mayo Clinic publishes a study on the matter, and unless it's quoted by the Wall Street Journal, his opinion is superior to all others. Welcome to the internet.
  • No, all admirer is saying is that, because people DO troll comments, esp Apple site comments, quite a lot that there's no way we can take sting7k's post at face value. He or she could be completely honest. Or a troll. And, sadly, there's absolutely no way to tell which. What Apple should do is gather people claiming to suffer from this and look at it in a controlled environment, trying different things. For example, does speeding up zoom animations help? Shortening duration? What does everyone mean by motion sickness (it might range from mild disorientation to nausea). Technically, it's probably not that hard to disable all of this, but the issue we'll have then is how transitions look and what happens when a 3rd party app calls for a transition that the user has disabled. Even stipulating that this happens it's not a trivial thing to change.
  • ha ha. I love how apparently you've evaluated ALL people. The entire planet. ha ha. "No one?" Such absolutes.
  • iOS7 definitely gives me a headache. I disabled the parallax effect right away. I find the color scheme too bright, but mostly it's zooming in and out for EVERY app. It's like travelling down a tunnel, but worse because the animations zoom to different parts of the screen (to the icon location). To me, the app transitions are like staring a high-speed PowerPoint presentation with animated transitions--I'll have to change to Android unless Apple releases a fix. Plenty of users on Twitter have the same complaints (nausea, dizziness, headaches, motion sickness, etc.).
  • It's not the colors i find too bright, it's the screen itself. Seems to annoying increase brightness in weird times (and not in reaction to light levels in the room i'm in changing.) I constantly bring up control panel to slide the brightness back down.
  • I'm with you on the zoom in/out. I usually look away briefly when entering or exiting an app or folder. That helps a little.
  • I tend to suffer mildly from computer motion sickness. Some games make me extremely sick such as running through mazes, etc. I play World of Warcraft which is 3D and it doesn't bother me at all. (A lot of static and gentle motion vs. rapidly moving sides). I do hope Apple will enable someway to dismiss all effects if one needs it and even maybe consider selecting milder or richer colors or even grey scale. There are some color combinations that do make me a little nauseous. My request to Apple is not one of complaint.... I love what they are doing (especially 64-bit), but, I actually could use the colors a little "different." At least some options to select different palettes to help with any nausea. Apple is the "go to" phone for people with disabilities and this is one area that needs not to be overlooked and added to their long list of how the iPhone helps with disabilities.
  • just don't use your phone while riding in a vehicle....same thing with books. you read a book on a car and you get sick. don't do it!
  • pffft, if it bothers you don't do it. I can read in a car sitting in a seat facing backwards and not have problems. Only time i got motion sick in a moving vehicle was attempting to play Doom in a U-Haul van with no shocks, otherwise i can play games all day in a car. but this problem isn't happening just in a car, it happens to some people just sitting down using the phone normally.
  • Exactly. Im sitting at a desk just using my iPad. AFAIK, my desk doesnt move :/
  • I shut that feature off right away hoping it may help battery life. I also changed my home wallpaper to jet black, looks great with the colored apps.
    PS, battery life keeps getting better.
  • While I don't have any problems, the animations in the springboard app is what causing my wife to not upgrade her phone. The way that the icons are always zooming in and out as you launch an app and return back makes her nauseous. I just find them slowing things down.
  • ydThe parallax feature seemed to give me a bit of a headache - I turned it off and the issues seemed to go away.
  • Thanks for the info on how to turn it of nvr bothered me just didn't really see the point and I'm sure it used battery didn't know how to turn it off now I do thanks. The motion backgrounds if they were cool I'd prob use them but they're pretty lame so I'm out on that too Sent from the iMore App
  • I love the parallax effect. The more I use iOS7, the more I love it. I'm not sure how one can get motion sickness. Now when I check my wife's old iPhone 4 with iOS 6, it feels too static and boring.
  • Medical conditions affecting balance seem to be a big cause. A friend has that as a side-effect of some drugs she has to take, people with vertigo have it too. The icon zoom makes them feel like they're falling and their eyes saying they're moving but their body saying they aren't really messes with them. Like color blindness, not everyone has it.
  • The parallax motion thing strains my eyes and was giving me a headache within the first several minutes after installing iOS 7. I will not be turning that back on.