I’ve noticed a worrying trend in the misuse of the Pull-to-Refresh interface paradigm. For those that are not familiar with it, Pull-to-Refresh is a common interface pattern that is used to refresh a list of items on mobile devices. The user pulls down while at the top of the list before releasing to trigger an update action. Pull-to-Refresh was devised by Loren Brichter for use in the Tweetie iPhone application.
The brilliance in the design of Pull-to-Refresh is that the motion of pulling the list down is the exact same action that the user would perform if they were scrolling up to see more items above the current view. This allows it to be simple, fast, discoverable and, above all, downright genius.
It’s a testament to the brilliance of this interface element that it has become so widely used among iOS applications (even Apple has conceded and added it to the Mail application in iOS 6). Unfortunately, in the hurry to use it in their applications, some developers are putting it in places where it does not belong.