Ways to interact with an app rise and fall. Some stick around, while others fade away, often replaced by newer and more refined paradigms. For example, pull to refresh. The concept was first demonstrated in Tweetie, the app which eventually was purchased by Twitter and turned in to the official Twitter client. Yet, pull to refresh exists in numerous other applications that rely on information to be pulled from an external source. Even Twitter’s competitors use the paradigm, and Apple even listed their implementation of pull to refresh as a major change point in iOS 6′s Mail.app.
Other design or interaction paradigms are harder to see, but they exist just the same. Instagram uses the center button as an action, instead of just pulling up another menu. Facebook, Sparrow, and dozens of other high-profile, important applications began to employ a design that revolved around a sliding panel in order to find more specific, less accessed items.
Shake to report looks to be a similar case. The paradigm seems to have originated from test builds of Facebook’s own iOS and Android application, where Facebook employees would simply shake their device in order to report either a bug or something that they considered to be an issue.
Google has since implemented the paradigm in their Google Maps app. Shaking the device brings up an option to report a problem with Google’s mapping data. Compared to Apple’s implementation of reporting an issue, Google’s is both simpler to activate and faster to use. Considering the use cases of navigation applications (in-car use), it seems more likely that Google’s will be used, since reporting an issue on Apple’s stock maps is more involved.
The only downside of this feature is that iOS already has an action associated with shaking a device, though many are unaware of it. In any application that involves inputting text, shaking the device is used to undo the last input or change.
Regardless, it is interesting to see something like this evolve in to a more refined process.