I’m not an designer, but I’m always curious why Apple doesn’t make a better way to switch between apps on the iPhone. Double-tapping the home button to bring up the app switcher tends to wear out the home button pretty quick.
If you’ve jailbroken your iPhone, there are apps out there that allow you to access the app switcher via the Notification Center, which is a pretty good idea. At least you won’t have to use the home button.
The frustrating part is that Apple already solved this issue in the iPad with it’s multi-touch gestures. A four-finger swipe (after multi-touch gestures have been enabled) to the left or right allows you to switch between apps easily, and I use it a lot. Of course, there is a pretty reasonable argument that the iPad has a much larger surface, and the iPhone doesn’t have the necessary space to allow such gestures.
I think the best solution would be a mix between the iPad’s gestures, and the gesture that Microsoft’s Surface (and Windows 8) uses to switch to the previous app, which you swipe from the side of the bezel. With that in place, you should be able to swipe from the left or right side of the iPhone, and achieve app switching via gestures, similar to that on the iPad.
Of course, some would probably mention that many new apps use the hidden sidebar menu in iOS, but while the Facebook app has that feature, I’ve tried swiping from the bezel and it almost never triggered the sidebar menu, so it isn’t overly sensitive. Let’s not forget that the iPad mini also has some pretty interesting (from what I’ve read) touch-detection on the sides of the display, so it’s not like Apple hasn’t done any research on the side bezels of its iOS devices.
Not only would gesture swiping mean that the home button won’t be worn out so fast, it’d also make switching between apps faster as it currently needs 2 actions to switch to the previous app on the iPhone, but an edge-gesture would allow me to switch apps in one motion, that’s a pretty big improvement.
In the end, that’s my solution to this, and I’ve no idea whether it’s feasible or not, but hopefully in the long run, Apple figures out a solution to this.
PS: A non-mechanical touch sensitive home button would address the issue of the home button wearing out, but it wouldn’t improve the speed of switching apps, and the lack of tactile feedback isn’t that pleasant either.