Custom View Controller Transitions in Landscape

Recently, Jerry wrote about a really cool view controller transition we put together, SMLBookshelfTransition. As you can tell from that post, we’re really excited about all the possibilities this new API provides. You might have noticed though that Jerry made a point of saying he doesn’t usually write about brand-new API, because of the difficulty of doing it authoritatively.


Being excited, we spent some time putting custom transitions into the project we’re working on. Everything looked good… until we rotated the device.

Turns out custom view controller transitions just plain don’t work in landscape. It seems that the system doesn’t apply the correct rotation transforms to the views involved: the container view that the transition context creates is always in portrait, even though the transitioning view controllers’ views may not be.



If you google around enough, you may eventually arrive at this Developer Forums thread (Apple Developer account required). It suggests some potential workarounds, involving shuffling transforms around between the views involved. Make no mistake: this is seriously hacky, and likely to break with a future iOS update. Using these can make the transition look okay, but in my testing, rotations are still broken after the transition completes:


Instead, we took our own app back to using the slightly older-school view controller containment design. Making the presented controller a child of the presenting controller entails a bit more work to make sure the views all appear where they should, but it’s fully supported, uses the API as it’s designed to be used, and works as expected.


As far as I can tell, this stuff is just plain broken. I can’t in good conscience recommend that anyone use custom view controller transitions in any app that might ever need to go to landscape. Despite how cool the API is, it’s probably best to avoid it entirely in shipping projects until Apple fixes it in a new version of iOS.

About Joel Kin

Developing on Apple platforms for, holy shit, like twenty years now. Find me on linkedin and twitter. My personal website is
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