Rejoice! The iPhone just became a little more accessible to the left-handed.

Rejoice! The iPhone Just Became a Little More Accessible to the Left-Handed.

Rejoice! The iPhone Just Became a Little More Accessible to the Left-Handed.

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Oct. 12 2016 3:16 PM

Rejoice! The iPhone Just Became a Little More Accessible to the Left-Handed.

Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images
Lefties can now use their iPhones—with their left hands—a little more easily.

Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

The life of a lefty is riddled with inconveniences and obstacles. We jam our thumbs into right-handed scissors, hang our elbows off of those annoying right-handed desks in lecture halls, and bruise our hands on spiral notebooks. Simply writing leaves ink or graphite smeared down the sides of our left hands and up our forearms. In sixth grade, my violin teacher essentially told me to “get over it” when I struggled to play the instrument with my right hand. “Typical Americans,” he told my mom. “Reinvent the violin for my left-handed child!” (One in 10 people is left-handed, but half of U.S. presidents since the end of World War II have been lefties. No word on how many of those left-handed presidents played the violin.)

Alas, the world is made for the right-handed majority, and we elite 10 percent accept our sad fate, dreaming of the Leftorium. But lefties, rejoice! We can now more easily use our iPhones with our left hands. Because now, we no longer have to slide to unlock.

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One of the many major changes that came with downloading Apple’s iOS 10 was the elimination of the slide-to-unlock function. Now, iPhone users simply push the home button to unlock the phone and travel to the home screen.

Slide-to-unlock is probably the reason I have trained myself to pick up my phone with my right hand. The slide function required the user to use a thumb to move the arrow from left to right. It’s easy to do with a right hand: Just pull the arrow. With a left hand, however, the movement is awkward and uncomfortable. Instead of pulling the arrow, we must awkwardly scrunch up our left thumbs and then push the arrow across the screen. While not too difficult with older versions of the iPhone, the larger iPhone 6s display screen aggravates the problem, especially for us smaller southpaws. (Go ahead, right-handed readers, try it.)

And I swear it’s not just me. A quick Google search turned up multiple examples of other struggling lefties seeking ways to flip the slide to unlock direction, like this one, this one and this one from 2009, which claims to have a hack on how to reverse the slide direction on an iPod Touch. The motion is doable, but unnatural.

No longer! It’s unclear whether Apple made the choice to jettison slide-to-unlock deliberately to accommodate lefties, or whether it’s just a happy side effect. But earlier this year, Apple made a move that showed that it might have room in its heart for southpaws after all. In June, Inverse reported that Apple had patented a feature that would enable the iPhone to detect when a user was using her left hand, and adjust the user interface accordingly. With this feature, the apps could be shifted closer to the left side of the phone screen—especially helpful for lefties with small hands.

But we lefties still have battles to fight. Next up: equal cell reception quality for iPhones held in right and left hands. Also, Tinder: Are we lefties who struggle to swipe right less deserving of love? If I die alone with 10 pet dachshunds, I’ll know what to blame.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.