There were a number of groans heard around the world last week when Apple announced two new sizes of iPhones, and they didn’t all come from competing handset manufacturers.
Mobile app developers who enjoyed the relative stability of the size of iPhones to help speed up the creation of software now have three sizes of iPhones to create for: the 4S, with its 3.5-in screen, the 5-series, with their 4-in. screens, and now the new iPhone 6 with a 4.7 in and the 6 Plus with 5.5-in screens.
Actually, as a piece in GigaOM points out, it isn’t all that bad because developers have another way of looking at it: there’s only two formats: The 4S screen has a 3:2 ratio, while all the others have a 16:9 ratio. And since the introduction of the 5-series they’ve been on notice that this is the iPhone’s future.
“Out of the gate, Apple has made every effort to keep apps that were specifically redesigned in iOS 7 for the iPhone 5, 5C and 5S to look as good as possible in iOS 8 on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus,” the article says. “The auto-scaling capabilities built into iOS will look better than the letter-boxing effect app owners had to deal with as developers redesigned their screens from the 3:2 aspect ratio inherent to the iPhone 4 and 4S to the taller, more slender 16:9 ratio of the iPhone 5. Meaning, if you buy a device with a larger screen, you will actually get to use the larger screen.”
Still, there will be some things developers will have to adapt apps to, including different pixel sizes on the devices. Some apps will be written specifically for the new 6-series handsets. On the other hand, the piece notes, the bigger handsets mean apps on those devices will be able to handle landscape mode better. Some apps won’t display in landscape mode because the 4-in screen wasn’t big enough.
At least, as the piece points out, Apple developers are better off than the Android world, where a blizzard of formats fight for their skills.