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Bigger-Screen iPhone 6: A New Challenge for iOS Developers?

By Viktor Bogdanov | Small Business

With so many rumors and speculations about Apple’s next-gen iPhone flooding Internet these days, one thing is pretty obvious – Apple is working up a sweat to get on the bandwagon with a bigger-screen device. Mass-market success of such bigger-screen newcomers as Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z2 and HTC One M8 demonstrates well what today’s smartphone users are looking for in new gadgets.

Given iPhone 6 is the most anticipated device in the United States, with consumer interest outstripping that of iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S, Apple just can’t afford to leave their brand advocates unimpressed.

Yet, some gadget geeks think that Apple will only stretch the new iPhone’s interface, but won’t change its screen size and will retain iPhone 5S’ resolution of 1136 x 640 pixels. While this approach will definitely allow iOS software and all existing iOS apps to work well on iPhone 6, it will reduce the screen density, making the display fall below Steve Jobs’ definition of a Retina Screen with the arbitrary 300 pixels per inch.

According to industry watchers from 9to5mac.com, Apple is really preparing a major resolution change in iPhone 6. Some sources claim that Apple is planning to scale its new iPhone’s display with a 3x (pixel tripling) mode. That said, Apple will most probably triple iPhone’s base resolution of 568 X 320 to make it 1704 x 960, which is a 150% increase from iPhone 5S’ 2x resolution of 1136 x 640. However, according to the previously leaked schematics of iPhone 6, Apple is going to retain its display’s aspect ratio at 16:9.

Regarding screen’s diagonal size in iPhone 6, experts are mainly discussing 4.7- and 5.6-inch panels which both mean significantly more dense screens in comparison to iPhone 5 and the earlier versions. This will result in sharper text, crisper images and videos for users. Also, both screens will have densities fitting within Apple’s threshold of a Retina display.

If these forecasts come true and Apple does deliver its new iPhone with a 3x screen resolution, what implications will it have on iOS developers?

First off, let’s remember that until recently Apple has used UI aesthetics imposed by Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall who were obsessed with the skeuomorphic design. In 2014, Apple’s iOS design is managed by Jony Ive, and features vector graphics, clearer text, animations and a more prominent content. Since it’s no longer dependent on raster graphics, apps can be updated more easily for iPhone 6’s denser and larger screen.

Yet, not all apps will automatically look cool on iPhone 6: some will need a certain level of optimization to fit in. Otherwise, such apps will be able to fit the entire screen, but will feature all non-3x imagery as very blurry.

Now when Apple has a few months left until the official release of iPhone 6 (probably in fall 2014), it’ll most likely take measures to make developers’ life as easy as possible with their bigger-screen device. Some analysts agree that app developers shouldn’t hurry to update their apps for working properly on iPhone 6. It’s expected that Apple will optimize its entire software for a new screen resolution. Additionally, use of vector graphics in iOS 7 is also expected to make this transition seamless and painless for iOS apps developers. But still, there’re always certain risks as far as a big change in screen size is concerned.

I’ve asked Head of Software Development of one of Chicago’s Top Mobile Apps Developers (according to SourcingLine) about how a new screen size in iPhone 6 may impact the future of iOS apps development. That’s what he replied:

“If we’re speaking about a new resolution, it won’t make any huge difference. But if we’re speaking about the change in aspect ratio, it will most probably lead to a very time consuming and pretty tough task. Most of developers will linger with their apps optimization, as it’ll require additional cost spending and efforts. I believe Apple fully realized all of the complexities developers faced when optimizing apps from 3,5- to 4-inch displays in the past. They even found a way to deal with unoptimized apps – by featuring them with a black border. Considering this, I expect Apple will offer a convenient way for us, apps makers, to cope with their screen size changes.”

 

Sources: TechRadar, 2014; 9to5mac.com, 2014; featured image - ExtremeTech 

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Bigger-Screen iPhone 6: A New Challenge for iOS Developers?

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