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Developers: “iPhone 5’s Larger Screen is a Challenge”

Developers: “iPhone 5’s Larger Screen is a Challenge”

A major question about the iPhone 5’s larger screen has been how it would affect the apps already in the App Store. Some developers had their doubts about how their apps would look on the new, taller 4″ screen.


We reached out to a few active iOS developers to get their thoughts on whether the larger screen would mean delays or a more difficult development process. The general consensus was that it shouldn’t pose too many huge problems, but that it would be a lot easier to test their apps if they had a device in their hands.

Apple explained during the event that most apps would run letterboxed on the new iPhone until they’re updated to take advantage of the added real estate.

How they’ll look on the larger screen seems to be a matter of how they’re laid out. “It’s hard to say,” says Tweetbot developer Paul Haddad. “For some apps it’s really easy for others it’d involve an entire redesign of the app.”

Some apps won’t be hard to adapt to the longer screen. Apps that use a “table view” for example, will most likely just “stretch the middle”, letting the table spread to fill the screen. Apps that use custom graphics, such as 2D games, will need a revamp.

Some developers are more cautious when wondering about how their apps will translate. “I suspect all our clients are going to want to move on to the new aspect ratio as soon as possible—nobody wants to have a big letterbox around their app,” says developer Marco Tabini. “The introduction of a new aspect ratio is not quite as simple as Apple pictures it, in my opinion.”

Not having a device handy to test apps could make it harder too. The iPhone ships in two weeks. That aggressive timetable is going to make it tougher.

“It really is a bit frustrating as a developer to feel pressured to submit updates to support something I have yet to experience first hand,” says David Barnard of App Cubby. “I’ll be updating all my apps over the next few weeks, but will just do what’s obvious until I get to spend some time with an iPhone 5.”