An update to the Apple Books UI on iPadOS!

I’ve been mildly sad for a while about a very minor thing: Changes to the UI in Apple Books on the iPad.

Apple Books on the iPad mini has been my favorite way to read ebooks since the mini first came out. And part of that was the UI.

In particular, one of my favorite things about the iPad version of Apple Books was the page-turn effect. You could drag the edge of the page, and it simulated curving the edge of a paper page through the third dimension. It even showed the back side of the page that you were leaving, with the mirror image of the printed text on it, as if the paper were so thin that the print on the front of it was showing through. It was a lovely effect, an entirely unnecessary bit of skeuomorphism, and it always made me happy.

But a couple of iPadOS versions ago, they revised the Apple Books UI, and they took that effect away, replacing it with an entirely utilitarian non-3D effect. That change had very little effect on the experience of reading; most of the time, I swipe the page fast enough that I didn’t really see the page-turn effect anyway. But it took away a little bit of delight.

That UI update also made some other changes. For example:

  • It took away the display of how many pages until the end of the chapter, which I had always found useful. (I dunno, maybe there was still a way to see that display, but if so I couldn’t find it.)
  • It moved most of the controls so that to get to them, you had to tap a tiny box in the lower right of the page, which often failed to detect my first two or three taps.
  • In particular, it moved the bookmark control so that to get to it, you had to first tap that tiny unresponsive box. But it made up for that change by adding a new way to add and remove bookmarks: double-tapping the middle of the page. So that was good.
  • It added a mildly annoying (to me) little x control at the top right, which was the way to exit the book into the list-of-books interface.
  • It changed the magical but finicky swipe-to-highlight effect; instead, swiping would now select text instead of highlighting it, and then it immediately brought up a menu that let you highlight. But if you wanted to highlight in a different color from the one that you last used (and I switch highlighting colors often), you had to then select and highlight again. (This was almost certainly a positive change for most people, but it usually got in my way multiple times per chapter.)

None of that was awful. Apple Books on the iPad mini was still my favorite ebook-reading experience. But it added a minor layer of discontentment and annoyance and inconvenience to my reading experience.

I was just thinking about all of that the other day, and sighing in particular about the loss of the page-turn effect and the pages-until-next-chapter display.

And then today I updated my iPad to the latest version of the OS—

—and it’s fixed most of the above issues!

In particular, the 3D page-turn effect is back, as an option. There are now four options for how to proceed to the next page. I of course immediately set the control to use the 3D effect, and have been delightedly playing with it. It makes me happy.

And the pages-until-next-chapter display is back.

And swiping text still selects rather than highlights, but after you tap Highlight, it immediately brings up the possible-highlight-colors selector, which is a great compromise between the way it originally worked and the way it has worked lately.

The one thing I dislike about the latest round of changes is that they took away the double-tap-to-bookmark feature; now, to add or remove a bookmark, you have to tap the lower-right box and then tap the bookmark icon. But at least the lower-right box seems more responsive to taps now, or maybe I’ve just gotten used to tapping it.

The little x to exit the book is still there, but that’s not so bad.

Anyway, I am very pleased with the latest update. And even more so because I wasn’t at all expecting it—I was assuming that the previous changes were permanent.

Join the Conversation