How to Enable Button Shapes on iPhone/iPad in iOS 7.1.x for Better Usability

Usability is a key point in any design. In their quest to simply and flatten the interface, Apple designers removed the background/highlight around links/buttons in the menu. For instance, in iOS 7.x (default setting) the menu buttons are shown as blue-colored links.

In iOS 7.1 and later, fortunately, the designers introduced a toggle to bring back “button shapes” – solid-background tap targets that are more usable than the flattened, simplified design. Here’s where to find it.

How to Enable Button Shapes on iPhone

  • Open the Settings app
  • Tap on General
  • Now tap on Accessibility
  • Scroll down and switch ON Button Shapes

How to Enable Button Shapes on iPhone and iPad on iOS 7-1-x

Almost immediately, you’ll notice that the “< General” link on top has a solid-gray background now. The font color remains blue.

Top-menu items are not the only items that are changed by the Button Shapes toggle. For starters, you’ll notice that the “Send” button in the Messages app gets underlined as a way of highlighting the button.

Removing the background around tap-targets turned out to be a very bad move. On Android’s UI (which has long gotten used to simple menu items sans the background fill), it seems natural. But the ultra-minimalism in iOS took it too far.

Adding back the background-fill through button shapes also isn’t nice. The gray-fill with a blue-color text doesn’t look neat at all. But the only good thing to come out of it is the fact that tap targets are now clearer.

Note that this option is only available for iPhones and iPads running iOS 7.1 and above. If you have iOS 7.0.4 running, you’ll need to update it to iOS 7.1.1.