3379797466 64cd3ac55d 300x225 Apple taking iPhone app design tips from Android?Apple is widely regarded as the master of mobile software design, but is it about to copy a key feature of Android?

The reason iPhone apps are so easy to use is that Apple enforces strict design rules on third party developers. Those rules could be about to change, we’ve heard.

The familiar bar of icons across the bottom of the screen on many apps could be replaced by one of Android’s most popular features – the pull-out menu.

Android has a notification menu that updates when you receive new emails, SMS messages and the like. To access it you pull down with your finger from the top of the screen, revealing a menu containing all the notifications. It’s a feature that has been praised by many and it appears Apple may be preparing to introduce something similar on the iPhone.

What we hear is that Apple has advised some developers to replace their bottom-of-the-screen icon bars with a menu that you pull up from the bottom of the screen with your finger. Sound familiar?

iPhone icon bar 300x45 Apple taking iPhone app design tips from Android?Why would Apple advise developers to take this approach? Apple likes to provide a unified approach to apps across the iPhone and iPod Touch platform. If third party developers are being told to take this approach, it points to the possibility that Apple may release something similar for the iPhone’s built in apps.

Something here doesn’t quite add up. The next full revision of the iPhone OS isn’t expected until summer 2010. While Apple regularly offers small OS updates throughout the year, changing something as major as a central part of the user interface is something they would probably want to wait for iPhone OS 4.0 in June or July to introduce. Why would Apple tell developers about such a major change so far ahead?

True or not, such a move by Apple would provide more screen real estate for when the buttons aren’t needed. It would also give room for more options without having to leave an app’s main screen.

So, an unconfirmed rumour at present but we have heard this information from different sources over the past few days so there may well be something in it. Let’s sit tight and see what unfolds.