This page collects all the familiar navigation patterns for structuring iOS apps, like drill-downs, modals, pyramids, sequences, and more! Think of it as an unofficial bonus chapter for Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines, written by someone who cares deeply about well-crafted user interfaces.
A typical iOS application has a fixed architecture—often a hierarchical tree with multiple levels. This rigid structure makes navigation options predictable. Structural navigation patterns give users confidence about where they came from, where they are in the hierarchy, and how to navigate back to where they came from.
Overlays want your attention. They can appear over any context—even on top of other overlays! Modal overlays require a user action before they go away: They switch the app into a different mode, blocking the interface behind them. Non-modal overlays—like transient notifications—do not block the app.
Embedded navigation patterns require special care to fit into the strict structural and spatial model of iOS. It is best to contain or embed these patterns in another view, either at a well-defined location in the app structure or in a modal overlay.