iPhone OS 4: I am not calling it “Folders”

Among the new features Apple introduced in iPhone OS 4 is a new way to organize your apps called “Folders”. Great-looking feature. Great-looking implementation. But that name must go.

The system is brilliant in its simplicity. Drag an icon over another icon and they’ll automatically group together in a new icon that offers popup access both of them, plus any other icons you drag to them. Naming is done automatically based on the category of apps in the group, indicating the intent is that you group apps by category. I already do this to an extent with how I lay out my icons on my iPhone menu screens, so I anticipate abusing the heck out of this feature, though I won’t come close to approaching the new 2,160 app upper limit this allows. But I ain’t gonna call it “Folders”.

To me, the term “folders” is part of that old desktop metaphor, which works fine for desktops and notebooks, but I really hate it on my Tablet PC. I’ve done away with much of the hierarchal navigation with pen macros in ritePen. I scribble the name of a folder, and it opens up. I think of them as locations, not folders.

Likewise, on the iPhone or iPad, I’m not going to call these folders, but “Clusters”. It’s a better name in that it can also be used as a verb, as in “cluster my games together.” I know it’s silly, but I like having my desktop on my literal desktop and not in my pocket, and I want my terminology to reflect that.

Alleged Apple fanboi, accused Android apologist, and confirmed Microsoft MVP for touch and tablet Mark Sumimoto a.k.a. Sumocat dabbles in all areas of mobile computing with a focus on Windows-based Tablet PCs and pen input. A mobile computing enthusiast since 2004, he pioneered the field of ink blogging via his personal blog, Sumocat's Scribbles. His current tools include a Fujitsu Lifebook T900, TEGA v2, and iPhone 4. Email: sumocat [at] notebooks.com


  1. I think folders makes more sense because people will more easily associate it with their purpose of holding multiple “things” or apps and links. Because apps and browser links are the only thing you can have on your home screen, its logical that a folder on the home screen will hold more apps or links to webpages.

  2. I’d call it a “nest” which seems fitting given that Apple uses the words “safari” and “leopard” to name their products.

Leave a Reply