Strong words, given that we're talking about a gesture. But that's the core idea of this recent article from Co.Design - pull-to-refresh has to go. The author, Austin Carr, argues that pull-to-refresh is an out of date design, no longer relevant in today's mobile ecosystem. "A relic of a bygone era," he says. More specifically, the problem is that pull-to-refresh is an unnecessary step in a world where things should probably just refresh on their own, and hanging on to this manual choice just takes away a design choice that is simple and intuitive and potentially useful for something else.
Carr does provide some counterexamples - Twitter's use of pull-to-refresh as a tool to allow user's to return to the same place in the Twitter feed before refreshing, for example. Overall, though, it's an interesting point when it comes to mobile design, and pull-to-refresh likely isn't the only design choice that is still being implemented just because people are used to it.
Check out the full article and see what you think. How does one innovate in something like mobile design when so much of good design relies, for example, on control schemes that users find to be intuitive?
I guess killing pull-to-refresh is a start, though.