One undersung component of interactivity with mobile apps is the press-and-hold gesture, a gesture that allows you to activate a context-sensitive menu by tapping and holding your finger down on the screen.
Say you want to read more about a song you’re playing on your iPhone; use a long-press two-finger gesture in the Apple Music app, and you’ll see a scrollable menu that lets you copy a link to the song, share it, or add it to a specific playlist.
It’s an incredibly useful component of many mobile applications that opens up a host of user-friendly interactions and makes mobile apps feel more dynamic and robust. If you want to work it into your mobile app design, read on.
What does press-and-hold mean?
Press-and-hold, otherwise known as long press or tap and hold menus, require users to touch the screen for an extended period of time to activate.
Rather than evaluate the force by which a user presses on the screen, press-and-hold menus are activated by a detected press for a certain amount of time.
The minimum duration required to activate a long-press menu varies by app; it could be half a second, or two whole seconds, or anything in between. It’s up to you to determine the most intuitive form of long press, including how many fingers touch the screen, or how many times the fingers have to touch the screen.
The history of press-and-hold menus
Apple were the first to really make the press-and-hold gesture trendy among app developers. When the iPhone XR was released in 2018, it sported a Haptic Touch feature that proved popular among users. iOS 13 codified that feature into Apple phones, and its popularity meant that the long press menu was here to stay.
If you want to incorporate long press menus into your app, try this example in Framer and see how it can bring enhanced usability to your mobile app.