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iOS developers not concerned about Apple making a larger iPhone screen

post #1 of 98
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If the rumors pan out and Apple's next-generation iPhone features a larger 4-inch screen, developers say they don't think the change will be a major problem.

Erica Ogg at GigaOm spoke with a number of developers who said that they trust Apple will not make it more complicated to design applications for a number of different iPhone screen sizes. Lenny Rachitsky, CEO of social discovery app Localmind (iTunes link), said he doesn't think Apple will "pull an Android and fragment the device market unnecessarily."

"If they do, they must have a really good reason to do it, and we're confident they'll provide tools to make it easy to migrate," Rachitsky said. "The last thing they want to do is put more friction in front of developers."

Apple last changed the iPhone screen with the launch of the iPhone 4 in 2010. That model marked the debut of Apple's "Retina display" branding, which packs twice the pixels of the iPhone 3GS screen into the same screen size.

By keeping the screen size and aspect ratio the same, Apple made it easy for developers to upgrade their applications to take advantage of the new Retina display with minimal effort. The strategy also ensured that legacy iOS applications would look acceptable on the new screen.

Last week, a pair of reports claimed that Apple is purchasing 4-inch screens for its next iPhone, which would be a step up from the 3.5-inch displays found on all previous iPhone models. While the screen is rumored to be bigger, it is unknown whether Apple plans to change the resolution or aspect ratio of the display.

iPhone 4S


If Apple keeps the same aspect ratio and resolution, existing applications would be able to run unchanged, but the pixel density of the Retina display would be diminished. Some have speculated that the new screen could be slightly taller, which would give it both a new aspect ratio and new resolution.

But Ken Soto, CEO of Massive Damage Inc., which makes iOS games like Please Stay Calm (iTunes link), told Ogg he doesn't think Apple would introduce a new aspect ratio, as that would require developers to redesign their application's user interface.

"I have a feeling a bigger iPhone will automatically scale up existing retina resolutions as the screen would likely only get a little bigger," Soto said.

Reports have claimed that the larger 4-inch screens for Apple's next iPhone will be built as soon as June, which would allow production of a sixth-generation iPhone to begin as soon as August. That would put the next iPhone on track for an anticipated fall launch, one year after the debut of the iPhone 4S.

The next iPhone is rumored to have a significantly redesigned exterior that will move away from the look of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S that Apple has utilized since mid-2010. Some reports have suggested the next iPhone will have an aluminum back as part of a "unibody" frame.
post #2 of 98
Quote:
Erica Ogg at GigaOm spoke with a number of developers

 

Okay, what's the number?

post #3 of 98

Beats developing for a platform with fragmentation in the thousands.

post #4 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post

Beats developing for a platform with fragmentation in the thousands.

 

Exactly. Android is a nightmare like Symbian used to be.

post #5 of 98

Think about just how many apps use a top/bottom bar UI (like Navigation and Tab Bar controllers) with a scroll view in the middle. I would be willing to bet that all such applications will scale exactly as one would expect, with showing just a bigger view. Interface Builder already allows for dynamic sizing of such UI styles. Games and videos could also scale with little effort, as I imagine most aren't hardcoded to device size as much as they detect the resolution they have to work with.

post #6 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post

Beats developing for a platform with fragmentation in the thousands.

 

It isn't that hard to deal with. Certainly no more difficult than the PC used to be.

post #7 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlando View Post
It isn't that hard to deal with.

 

Having to check 200 devices to make sure your application works isn't a thing like Windows development.

post #8 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by aderutter View Post

 

Exactly. Android is a nightmare like Symbian used to be.

 

 

At least you don't have to overhaul the UI every time you need to change the resolution of the device.

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post #9 of 98
If Apple increase the screen size from 3.5" to 4", the change is small enough that they could keep the same resolution and aspect ratio and then 99% of apps wouldn't need to be modified at all. That's the most likely scenario if they do increase the screen size.
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post #10 of 98

True that. However, Android has a desktop emulator to test the different screen sizes making things easier. This is still not as reliable as testing it on the actual hardware, but it will get you to Beta a lot quicker.

 

Btw, to test on the numerous devices, developers send their code to India and receive screen shots of their software.

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post #11 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post
Btw, to test on the numerous devices, developers send their code to India and receive screen shots of their software.

 

If they're not worth buying from, maybe.

post #12 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Having to check 200 devices to make sure your application works isn't a thing like Windows development.

 

Do you have any understanding of APIs and software development? Or do you just post trolling comments for laughs? Either way, no developer anywhere checks 200 devices, and nor is there a reason to.

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post #13 of 98

I bet they will only increase the size (1/2 inch is not that much), keep the aspect ration and resolution.

post #14 of 98

What if the extra space was just enough to always show:

 

Notification Center, OR

iAds, OR

Time, Date, Signal, Etc, OR

something else so that the apps could have 100% of the space they use now, with the new space being utilized by Apple 99% of the time??

post #15 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by thataveragejoe View Post
Either way, no developer anywhere checks 200 devices, and nor is there a reason to.

 

animoca-android.jpg


Better tell these guys to either stop putting their applications on so many devices or that they're doing it wrong and that users of half these devices don't deserve an application that works, then.

 

They'd be fine with that, right? It's not like they actually want the money they make.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by philtuttle View Post
Notification Center, OR

iAds, OR

Time, Date, Signal, Etc, OR

 

I don't want to see notifications all the time. NO ONE ON EARTH wants to see ads all the time. We already have the ability to see time, date, and signal. 

 

But I'm curious if you have any ideas about the 'other' category. I'm staunchly opposed to a 'taller' screen, as it's mildly unusable and just looks outright stupid, but if there's a compelling change in the way the UI works, a taller screen might be able to grow on me.

post #16 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Okay, what's the number?

 

Knowing most of these articles, 3. At most. 

 

That said their comments are still rather valid, if Apple does make a hardware change they aren't likely to do something to crazy that it would destroy the current apps because those apps are just as much a reason for folks buying the phones as the hardware. So either they will keep the same aspect ratio or built in some kind of black bar gig to 'float' apps in the same screen until they can be properly adjusted etc. 

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post #17 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by thataveragejoe View Post

 

Do you have any understanding of APIs and software development? Or do you just post trolling comments for laughs? Either way, no developer anywhere checks 200 devices, and nor is there a reason to.

 

You are correct that no developer checks 200 (or more) devices, because they can't afford the hardware or the time. But it doesn't equal to not needing to actually check all of those or that their apps will work on all the various arrangements because they checked 3 or 4. And actual Android developers will tell you this. Which is why some of them are very specific that their apps are only for X Y and Z hardware and why others have actually gotten out of Android development and just stick with iOS. 

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post #18 of 98

So let me get this straight...

A small group of developers are not concerned about a theoretical change in the screen size, resolution or aspect ratio of a yet unannounced phone? I'm glad they're not concerned but I'm sure there are a ton of developers including myself that really don't want to have to deal with another screen size.

 

I still don't buy the rumor though. Apple doesn't have to buy into the ever increasing comically large phone screens to be successful. The trend in large screens is akin to tail fins on cars in the 50's. Every manufacturer tried to one up the other and the fins got bigger and bigger until we got the '59 El Dorado and then we realized how absurd the whole thing was to begin with and started to get rid of them.

post #19 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Having to check 200 devices to make sure your application works isn't a thing like Windows development.

 

You don't need that many devices. You just classify devices into categories and get one of each. About 12 devices will cover pretty much everything (including tablets) and allow you to throughly test apps. For most apps you don't need that many. Just make certain to include a low end phone. Obviously this is more than with iOS but it still isn't that hard to do.

 

Most of the time you simply anchor elements to the edges of the screen and everything dynamically resizes. It is the same reason as I'm not worried about different resolution or aspect ratios on the new iPhone. The only problem is if someone has hardcoded aspect ratios.

post #20 of 98

To me the most important problem the app store is facing is not adjusting to apples limited screen size options, but that of the many, many abandonware apps it hosts...

post #21 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by helmsb View Post

A small group of developers are not concerned about a theoretical change in the screen size, resolution or aspect ratio of a yet unannounced phone? I'm glad they're not concerned but I'm sure there are a ton of developers including myself that really don't want to have to deal with another screen size.

 

I still don't buy the rumor though. Apple doesn't have to buy into the ever increasing comically large phone screens to be successful. The trend in large screens is akin to tail fins on cars in the 50's. Every manufacturer tried to one up the other and the fins got bigger and bigger until we got the '59 El Dorado and then we realized how absurd the whole thing was to begin with and started to get rid of them.

 The problem is apple doesn't have anything else, or rather much else, to sell the new iPhone by, no haptic yet, no dual eink (or similar tech) and LCD, etc. so they have to follow the trend. I expect their screen size will be one the smallest large ones though, as it should be IMO on a phone, but larger it will be for sure, 3.5" can be a bit larger and keep the form factor pretty much the same. I also expect the new iPhone to be thinner and with a larger width.

post #22 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 


Better tell these guys to either stop putting their applications on so many devices or that they're doing it wrong and that users of half these devices don't deserve an application that works, then.

 

They'd be fine with that, right? It's not like they actually want the money they make.

 

 

I don't want to see notifications all the time. NO ONE ON EARTH wants to see ads all the time. We already have the ability to see time, date, and signal. 

 

But I'm curious if you have any ideas about the 'other' category. I'm staunchly opposed to a 'taller' screen, as it's mildly unusable and just looks outright stupid, but if there's a compelling change in the way the UI works, a taller screen might be able to grow on me.

 

Do check also what apps they put on the market with that much testing. It's quite telling about the company. Maybe they have reasons to need some additional testing...

 

Anyway, here's an idea for devs who can't muster enough brains to deal with more than three resolutions:

 

1. Pick a few companies that produce hardware with the OS of your chioce.

2. Buy their flagship devices (you may need to get ones from different US carriers due to the CDMA hardware difference)

3. Develop and test software ONLY for these devices. You will reach the most affluent customers who will be a lot likelier to pay for your efforts.

4. Profit.

 

Combined, Samsung Galaxy S line, Google Nexus line, Motorola Droid and HTC will give you enough customers.

 

What's the point to develop for the low-range cheap phones? Does any iOS dev only code for the venerable 3GS?

post #23 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Barriault View Post

Think about just how many apps use a top/bottom bar UI (like Navigation and Tab Bar controllers) with a scroll view in the middle. I would be willing to bet that all such applications will scale exactly as one would expect, with showing just a bigger view. Interface Builder already allows for dynamic sizing of such UI styles. Games and videos could also scale with little effort, as I imagine most aren't hardcoded to device size as much as they detect the resolution they have to work with.

 

Sounds like you are assuming they will go with the changed aspect ratio screen, which is the least likely of all.  

 

IMO the only reason people talk about this option a lot is because people like John Gruber are talking it up.  Personally, I think the main reason for it's popularity is that most tech bloggers are male and the changed aspect ratio screen with the extra row of icons would make the iPhone penis shaped

post #24 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

If Apple increase the screen size from 3.5" to 4", the change is small enough that they could keep the same resolution and aspect ratio and then 99% of apps wouldn't need to be modified at all. That's the most likely scenario if they do increase the screen size.

 

If they keep the same aspect ratio and resolution why would any apps need to be modified? As far as the apps are concern, nothing has changed in that scenario.

 

By the way, I think that is exactly what Apple will do. Going to 4" isn't enough of increase to justify changing the resolution or aspect ratio. Apple will still call it a retina display with the spin that since the screen is bigger, you won't be holding it as close which means the resolution can be less.

 

-kpluck

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post #25 of 98

I don't want to see notifications all the time. NO ONE ON EARTH wants to see ads all the time. We already have the ability to see time, date, and signal. 

 

But I'm curious if you have any ideas about the 'other' category. I'm staunchly opposed to a 'taller' screen, as it's mildly unusable and just looks outright stupid, but if there's a compelling change in the way the UI works, a taller screen might be able to grow on me.

 

Take a look at this for a good example - the KTVU (Bay Area channel 2) News app.  In their intro screen, about 50% of the space it taken up with the app name banner, an ad, fixed banner bars ("top news", "local news", etc), and navigation bar.  Even in a story, significant space is taken up by the navigation and top banners.  Moving these to a "dedicated" banner spot would free up a lot of space for actual scrolling and reading.

KTVU intro.JPG

post #26 of 98
If I understand the Developers response correctly, they want your money but they don't want to earn it. It's not like there are hundreds of different devices that their apps are running on. If the next iPhone has a different size and resolution, that brings the total to three right?
post #27 of 98

As long as the pixel width of the iphone screen remains at 640 px then there shouldn't be any problem. A slightly longer screen doesn't matter. The app developer can choose whether he makes use of the extra pixels or keeps the same aspect ratio. Current apps will simply stay at the same aspect ratio which means the screen will stay shorter (black bars above and below). Other apps can make use of the extra space (browsers, movies, books etc) with little effort.

 

I think it also makes a lot of sense to increase the width very slightly without increasing the number of pixels while increasing the length more significantly. That's where there is room to grow, conveniently, without changing the size of the phone noticably.

 

My prediction is a 4" screen with an aspect ratio of 1.6 (1024 x 640) giving a retina display of 302 px/inch. The phone will be 2 mm wider and 2 mm longer but 3 mm thinner and with more rounded edges so it will actually fit more easily in pockets. This should be within the realm of feasibility, especially with Apple's resources and more than 2 years of development.

post #28 of 98

This is yet another reason why Apple needs to make app installation on iDevices smart enough to only include the images needed for that particular device. Having images intended for my 3-gen iPad install on my iPhone 3GS makes no sense. Having every app on every iDevice include images for every other iDevice is ridiculous, particularly given the size of many people's music collections.

 

And as new versions of iOS come out, Apple also needs to make the iTunes store and iTunes (and the App Store) smart enough to retain (and supply) older versions of apps that aren't supported by some of a user's iDevices and OS versions. If they don't do that, the main reason for letting Apple manage apps, convenience, disappears.

post #29 of 98
The quoted "developers" are blowing their credibility here. Apple has been warning developers for years now not to make assumptions about screen density, aspect ratios and the like. Anybody with even a limited exposure to Apples tools and documentation should be aware of these warnings.

As to a possible new iPhone I can only guess at what Apple might have in store. The first is that most likely this won't be the "new" iPhone but an addition to the lineup. Second it would be foolish to come out with a new screen that doesn't support at least one of the common HDTV formats well. So I would expect an aspect ratio change. Beyond HDTV a wider screen would greatly enhance text entry and viewing in horizontal mode.

In the end I would suspect that the developers with issues here will be the ones that are impaired with respect to their reading skills. There will be app updates required but to one extent or another that always happens with a new iOS release. This is really not a big deal.
post #30 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcphoto View Post

If I understand the Developers response correctly, they want your money but they don't want to earn it. It's not like there are hundreds of different devices that their apps are running on. If the next iPhone has a different size and resolution, that brings the total to three right?

Yeah pretty sad really. Mind you this is after years of Apple telling developers not to make assumptions about the screen. 1oyvey.gif
post #31 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sierrajeff View Post

Take a look at this for a good example - the KTVU (Bay Area channel 2) News app.  In their intro screen, about 50% of the space it taken up with the app name banner, an ad, fixed banner bars ("top news", "local news", etc), and navigation bar.  Even in a story, significant space is taken up by the navigation and top banners.  Moving these to a "dedicated" banner spot would free up a lot of space for actual scrolling and reading.
LL

If the above example was coded correctly the programmer would have little to do to make it compliant with a larger screen iPhone. The scroll area would simply resize to the larger screen. There is no need for dedicated space on the screen.
post #32 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by kpluck View Post

 

If they keep the same aspect ratio and resolution why would any apps need to be modified? As far as the apps are concern, nothing has changed in that scenario.

 

By the way, I think that is exactly what Apple will do. Going to 4" isn't enough of increase to justify changing the resolution or aspect ratio. Apple will still call it a retina display with the spin that since the screen is bigger, you won't be holding it as close which means the resolution can be less.

 

-kpluck

Some apps may depend on exact physical dimensions. A ruler app (to measure inches or centimeters) comes to mind. Those apps are probably few and far between.

 

The problem with going to 4" without changing the aspect ratio is that the phone will be significantly wider (3 mm) which might not be deemed acceptable. Also the pixel density goes down to a sub-retina 288 px/inch which might also not be acceptable.

 

It'll certainly be interesting to see what Apple comes up with after more than 2 years of design development and near infinite resources.

post #33 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by philtuttle View Post

What if the extra space was just enough to always show:

 

Notification Center, OR

iAds, OR

Time, Date, Signal, Etc, OR

something else so that the apps could have 100% of the space they use now, with the new space being utilized by Apple 99% of the time??

That wouldn't work in landscape mode, especially games.

 

Having said that, extra height in portrait mode can be useful for display such info, but individual app should be able to control whether they should be displayed or not (should default to FALSE).

post #34 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by thataveragejoe View Post

Do you have any understanding of APIs and software development? Or do you just post trolling comments for laughs? Either way, no developer anywhere checks 200 devices, and nor is there a reason to.

It's interesting though that the developers of Angry Birds said that they investigated the various Android configurations as well as the hardware, and decided to just assure that it worked on a few of the most popular. They said that it was too much work to assure it worked on the majority of phones.

That doesn't mean that it might not work on phones they didn't bother with, but it might not either. It's a problem with the Android universe that not every app works on every phone, or, in a number of cases, even the majority. Even when it does, often, something is funky with the UI.
post #35 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


Yeah pretty sad really. Mind you this is after years of Apple telling developers not to make assumptions about the screen.

Apple makes the assumptions about the screen really straight forward. Xcode interface builder sets the screen size for you. If the new screen is the exact same aspect ratio it can scale without distortion, however the bitmapped images could be less than optimal resolution afterward. Ideally the developer should make decisions on the new size and rework their interfaces accordingly. Also remember there are two orientations so that also may impact what the best approach is, to be considered on a case by case basis. 

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post #36 of 98

Of course they're not concerned. Because they're much *more* concerned about making MONEY. And iOS = MONEY. 

post #37 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Apple makes the assumptions about the screen really straight forward. Xcode interface builder sets the screen size for you. If the new screen is the exact same aspect ratio it can scale without distortion, however the bitmapped images could be less than optimal resolution afterward. Ideally the developer should make decisions on the new size and rework their interfaces accordingly. Also remember there are two orientations so that also may impact what the best approach is, to be considered on a case by case basis. 

 

For very simple apps there probably is no real rework but many apps will need to be reworked for a new aspect ratio.

 

The reason the devs are unconcerned are the same reasons I'm not concerned:  it's unlikely that Apple will change the aspect ratio and if they do change it they'll make sure it scales well enough for current apps to get by at the beginning.

 

What they aren't going to do is announce a new, incompatible, aspect ratio in June and then expect everyone to scramble for an Sept/Oct release.  If they do, then they'll break a lot of developer trust that has been built up.

 

Thus far the two prior events (move to retina on the iPhone and move to iPad) have been handled very well.

 

My guess has been that the 4" displays being sourced are larger 4.7" displays destined for an iPod Touch refresh and will keep the current screen resolution and not be as "retina".

post #38 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sierrajeff View Post

 

Take a look at this for a good example - the KTVU (Bay Area channel 2) News app.  In their intro screen, about 50% of the space it taken up with the app name banner, an ad, fixed banner bars ("top news", "local news", etc), and navigation bar.  Even in a story, significant space is taken up by the navigation and top banners.  Moving these to a "dedicated" banner spot would free up a lot of space for actual scrolling and reading.

 

This is a craptastic looking app.  Catering to the needs of craptastic app designers is probably not the way for Apple to go.

post #39 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Sounds like you are assuming they will go with the changed aspect ratio screen, which is the least likely of all.  

IMO the only reason people talk about this option a lot is because people like John Gruber are talking it up.  Personally, I think the main reason for it's popularity is that most tech bloggers are male and the changed aspect ratio screen with the extra row of icons would make the iPhone penis shaped

This was something John Gruber was putting out there, and was mentioned somewhere else as a way to get to a larger screen without having to increase the width of the phone. A really bad idea though. It would move the ratio further away from that of the iPad for no good reason.

I'm sure most people would rather have a phone an eigth of an inch wider to accomodate a continued 3:2 screen ratio for a 4" screen.
post #40 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by nht View Post

For very simple apps there probably is no real rework but many apps will need to be reworked for a new aspect ratio.

The reason the devs are unconcerned are the same reasons I'm not concerned:  it's unlikely that Apple will change the aspect ratio and if they do change it they'll make sure it scales well enough for current apps to get by at the beginning.

What they aren't going to do is announce a new, incompatible, aspect ratio in June and then expect everyone to scramble for an Sept/Oct release.  If they do, then they'll break a lot of developer trust that has been built up.

Thus far the two prior events (move to retina on the iPhone and move to iPad) have been handled very well.

My guess has been that the 4" displays being sourced are larger 4.7" displays destined for an iPod Touch refresh and will keep the current screen resolution and not be as "retina".

If they do make the screen slightly longer, which I hope they don't, the could always center current apps on that longer screen for esthetics sake. When developers decide to use the extra lines of pixels, they could do whatever they wanted to.

But this will make the UI for the phone and tablet even further apart. It would be more work for developers.
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