Developing Perspective

#62: Size Does Matter


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective, developing perspective as a podcast discussing

00:00:04   news of note in iOS development, Apple and the like.

00:00:07   I'm your host, David Smith.

00:00:08   I'm an independent iOS developer based in Herne, Virginia.

00:00:11   This is show number 62 and today is Monday, July 9th.

00:00:15   Developing perspective is never longer than 15 minutes, so let's get going.

00:00:18   All right, so the topic I'm going to talk about today is certainly the thing that's

00:00:22   making the rounds the most in the sort of Apple tech news and things.

00:00:27   I guess you can call it the iPad Mini, iPad Nano, Dan Benjamin wants to call it the iPad

00:00:32   Junior, whatever it's called, it's the concept of Apple this fall releasing a sort of finding

00:00:40   another niche in the middle of the iOS landscape to squeeze another device in.

00:00:46   And in some ways it kind of reminds me of when Steve Jobs first introduced the iPad

00:00:51   a couple of years ago, he kind of put that slide up where it's iPhone on one side, MacBook

00:00:57   Pro or Macbook or whatever it was, and he said, "Is there a space for something in the

00:01:01   middle?"

00:01:02   And he said, "Okay, yes, we think there is.

00:01:03   Let's squeeze the iPad in there."

00:01:06   And it's almost like he's doing that same thing again, but he's making the question

00:01:09   mark between the iPhone and the iPad.

00:01:11   It's like, "Is there something that we can squeeze in there?"

00:01:13   And in many ways, I think it makes a lot of sense that Apple would go after that market,

00:01:19   especially because its competitors seem to be heading in that direction as the only way

00:01:23   they can legitimately compete with Apple is to shrink the device down, which helps them

00:01:29   to make it cheaper. And if they can make it cheaper, then they can potentially compete

00:01:33   on price rather than necessarily on functionality, quality of apps, sort of aesthetics, all those

00:01:39   kind of things that Apple just sort of tends to be winning at this point. Well, that makes

00:01:44   sense. And it seems reasonable that Apple would be going after it. I mean, Bloomberg

00:01:49   and Wall Street Journal are reporting about it, so it seems at this point pretty likely

00:01:54   that Apple's going to go after it. And I think it's interesting that the leaks have been

00:01:58   coming from main news sources like Bloomberg, because in my experience, typically that means

00:02:04   that it is an intentional leak from Apple, rather than some guy got drunk at a bar and

00:02:11   just started talking. It's not an accidental leak, it's an intentional thing. And my suspicion

00:02:17   is Apple is trying to take the wind out of the sales of the Nexus 7 and the Microsoft

00:02:24   Surface, for example.

00:02:27   They all get announced, they get their few minutes of fame, and then if Apple starts

00:02:30   leaking out the information about, "Hey, you like 7-inch tablets?

00:02:36   Wait until this fall.

00:02:37   Wait until you see what we got."

00:02:39   And it definitely has...

00:02:41   If that is what's happening, it's genius.

00:02:44   Apple is doing a great job of having someone who looks at the K- you know, say the Nexus

00:02:48   7.

00:02:49   It's like, "Oh, this looks kind of cool.

00:02:50   I always kind of wanted something a little smaller.

00:02:52   I hear the Kindle Fire is a little limited in some ways.

00:02:55   You know, hey, let's give this a try."

00:02:57   But of course, if all of a sudden you're like, "Huh, but maybe there's going to be another

00:03:03   $200 tablet made by Apple, the iPad Junior.

00:03:07   That's interesting.

00:03:08   Maybe I'll wait."

00:03:10   And that's all Apple has to do to really kind of smush those platforms before they even

00:03:15   really get to any traction.

00:03:18   It's pretty impressive.

00:03:19   They're all over the news press, both mainstream and otherwise, that they're like, "Oh, maybe

00:03:23   there's going to be a new iPad."

00:03:25   So I think it's something probably coming, and that makes me excited as a developer,

00:03:29   especially as a developer who makes a lot of money on the iPad, to potentially see Apple

00:03:35   expanding that market of larger than pocketable devices. People joke, "Oh, the Nexus 7, you

00:03:42   can put it in your pocket." Sort of. You need some very large pockets. But primarily, it's

00:03:49   making it smaller and, more importantly, making it cheaper. I mean, the number of iPod Touches

00:03:53   they sell, especially at Christmas, is kind of incredible. It's a very common Christmas

00:03:59   present to give to someone. And I think if they can take that and turn it around rather

00:04:04   than being just a small three and a half inch screen, if they can make that into whatever,

00:04:08   a seven inch screen, an eight inch screen, whatever, you know, developers can do a whole

00:04:12   lot more with that and that makes me excited. I'm really excited about that prospect and

00:04:17   what that would do and what that would be like for my sales, at least. I'd probably

00:04:22   use it a little bit but I mean, I'm a--in general, I don't even use my iPad. I use my

00:04:26   iPhone because it's always with me and I have little kids and it's so much easier to just

00:04:32   have this tiny little thing that I carry around and I can reference whenever I need to,

00:04:36   you know, I don't have the time to kind of have that

00:04:39   reclined, lean back experience where I think the iPad really works.

00:04:43   I'm either chasing art after my kids or I'm sneaking a moment here or there

00:04:48   and so it's typically not that relaxed. You look at the Apple

00:04:52   commercial for the iPad and you see the guy

00:04:53   lying back on his sofa, feet up on the coffee table, flipping through

00:04:58   the New York Times or whatever. It's like, "Mm, I don't know about..." That's not an

00:05:03   experience that I tend to have. So, you know, that's interesting. But one thing that I...

00:05:08   And this is probably going to be the crux of what I talk about. I've been kind of frustrated

00:05:12   by a lot of people talking about, "Oh." It's like they have this great realization that

00:05:17   if Apple took the screen resolution of the current iPad, so 1024 by 768 in terms of points,

00:05:24   You know, the iPad 3 has retina doubled it and all that, but you know, 1024 by 768 is

00:05:29   the logical size.

00:05:31   And they take that and they change the DPI so that if the DPI of an iPhone, then magically

00:05:37   they can have like a 7.85 inch iPad that all of these apps will just work wonderfully on.

00:05:44   If they've been following the HIG and other pixels and other buttons are smaller than

00:05:47   44 by 44, somehow magically it'll just work.

00:05:52   And Apple's probably been thinking about this all along.

00:05:54   They can launch and they can do all these great things.

00:05:57   And that's sort of true.

00:05:58   And I mean, it's great that the math kind of works out that way that you can make an

00:06:01   eight inch tablet that's a little bit smaller.

00:06:03   I think it's 23% smaller.

00:06:06   That probably is great from economies of scale perspective.

00:06:09   They've been making iPhone screens forever now and they've probably got them super cheap.

00:06:14   You know, they have this huge collection of iPad optimized applications.

00:06:18   That's great.

00:06:19   you know, they're launching with way more tablet applications than like the Nexus 7

00:06:23   is or anything like that. That all makes sense. But I hate this service undercurrent that,

00:06:30   "Oh, if Apple does that, developers won't have to do anything. It'll just magically

00:06:35   work and we'll have these huge greater applications that look great on this new device." And it's

00:06:41   sort of like the thing that--there's a sentence that I've been kind of--been going over and

00:06:44   over my head, it's like this any user interface or design that does not take the physical

00:06:51   size of the display into consideration in its design, in its layout, can never be optimal.

00:06:58   It may work, it may be functional, it may be interesting, but it's never going to be

00:07:06   optimal. If I take an app that I've laid out to look good on a 10.5 inch red current iPad,

00:07:14   you can only squeeze that down by 23%.

00:07:17   It may work in a functional sense,

00:07:19   kind of by making the pixels smaller,

00:07:21   you can squeeze more in, you squeeze it down,

00:07:24   but that interface is not gonna be optimal for the user.

00:07:27   I mean, the simplest version of this,

00:07:29   and I'm not even really talking about touch targets

00:07:30   and things, which are fair enough,

00:07:32   you know, if you're taking the touch targets

00:07:33   that are at a minimum 44 by 44 points,

00:07:36   and moving them to a resolution like an iPhone,

00:07:39   it works on the iPhone, that's great.

00:07:41   All that is true, lovely.

00:07:43   The thing that I'm worried about,

00:07:44   Let's say for example font size, which is, if you currently are displaying on the iPad

00:07:50   a font, you've likely optimized it so that that font is nice and readable at the physical

00:07:55   size that it gets displayed at.

00:07:58   And say, whatever it is, you take your 18 point font and you put it on there.

00:08:03   Now if you suddenly squeeze that down 23%, suddenly it's like you're displaying whatever

00:08:09   that is, a 14 and a half point font or something.

00:08:13   that may not be optimal.

00:08:15   That may not be what you want.

00:08:17   For example, I have a recipe management app

00:08:19   that has a view that makes everything really big.

00:08:22   Because it's designed when you're actually making a recipe,

00:08:25   it makes it really big so you can easily look at it

00:08:28   across the kitchen when your hands are full of whatever.

00:08:32   And that's a design consideration

00:08:35   that I would need to adapt in order for it

00:08:38   to work on a smaller screen.

00:08:40   And so it's kind of there's this underground, oh, it's like Apple has this great trick up

00:08:45   their sleeve.

00:08:46   They can just leave everything the same size and it'll be no big deal.

00:08:50   It will be a big deal.

00:08:51   And I think developers will need to be able to adjust their displays for a smaller size

00:08:57   in order for it to really be an optimal user experience.

00:09:00   That of course brings up an interesting question because if Apple is taking the, giving it

00:09:08   exactly the same physical size 1024x768, unless they added a new API, which they certainly

00:09:14   can, it would be kind of complicated to actually adjust your display accordingly because the

00:09:22   physical size would be the same as, for example, an iPad 2.

00:09:25   As far as the app's concerned, I believe, at least I've never found any concept in all

00:09:32   the existing SDKs for a concept of DPI, that you're being responsive to DPI changes. You

00:09:39   can be responsive to scaling changes to retina, non-retina, to physical resolution size or

00:09:45   logical resolution size and points, but there's nothing in the concept of DPI. If you didn't

00:09:50   have that, it seems like it would be really hard to sort of design an interface that's

00:09:55   optimal for a user. Like I said, it can work, but it would kind of work like a compatibility

00:09:59   mode. Like you have, for example, on the iPad now, you know, if you open an iPhone app on

00:10:04   the iPad, you can hit a button and you can 2X it and it works. It's compatible. It's

00:10:09   not really optimal. It's not going to be laid out the way you want it. And so, part of me

00:10:14   is, Sue's got me thinking about whether Apple would actually change the dimensions but keep

00:10:19   them similar. And by that I mean, there's all this speculation and rumors about a 16

00:10:25   by nine iPhone. So taking the existing iPhone screen and squeezing it, making it a little

00:10:30   longer, making it 16 by 9 so video displays well, you can show more lists and things.

00:10:35   And I think there's some value to that. And I think I'd be delighted if they did that.

00:10:39   It's a relatively straightforward change to make. You have to adapt your apps a little

00:10:43   bit to be flexible in that way, but not too bad. And I was wondering if they instead of

00:10:51   making it 1024x768. They did the same thing

00:10:55   in terms of making it so that it's a 16x9 iPad display, for example.

00:11:01   So rather than being 1024x768,

00:11:05   let me see, actually I should have done this before the show, but I can

00:11:09   do that now. Let's see, so let's divide by 9 times 16.

00:11:13   So it'd be like 1365x768, or something around there, in terms of

00:11:19   and being able to adjust the display's resolution so that it's similar logically to an iPad,

00:11:26   but different, and different in a way that an application could detect and potentially

00:11:32   create a new nib for or play with the application and be responsive to that.

00:11:37   That's just something I've been thinking about.

00:11:39   There seems an interesting continuity.

00:11:42   If this fall, Apple's big event at the end of September,

00:11:45   that they always do when they launch their Christmas line,

00:11:47   line, they'd come out, "Hey, we got this new iPhone. It's awesome. It's 16 by 9. We got

00:11:52   this new iPod Touch. Hey, check this out. 16 by 9." And, you know, pull off the, you

00:11:59   know, sort of pull the cover off, "Oh, and we got this great new thing too. You know,

00:12:03   for $250 or $200, we got this great new iPad Mini." And it's 16 by 9 as well. It's, you

00:12:10   know, $1365 by $768. And, you know, all your existing iPad apps, don't worry, they'll work

00:12:17   great on this. And if developers want to take a little extra time, it can make apps look

00:12:21   even better on it. And the same way they said with Retina display, same as they said with

00:12:25   a lot of things. The iPad launch, they showed a lot of iPhone apps, they talked about iPhone

00:12:29   apps were great. They're launching a tablet with the largest number of compatible applications.

00:12:34   And that would still be true. But it's kind of a compatibility mode rather than something

00:12:39   that is necessarily just sort of that denative experience. That it's, "Oh, it's 1024 by 768."

00:12:47   And similarly, I could also see them just changing the resolution entirely and making

00:12:51   it totally new, having it be sort of a third class of application that there's, you know,

00:12:55   iPad, iPad mini and iPhone.

00:12:59   That'd be interesting too.

00:13:00   And either way, it's like as a developer, it's like I'd just adjust my application accordingly.

00:13:04   I would just make it, you know, bigger, smaller, adjust the things.

00:13:07   I'd be trying to be in there on day one because I think it would sell like hotcakes.

00:13:11   I mean, I think if Apple could especially squeeze the iPod Touch price down, which I

00:13:17   I think they probably could.

00:13:19   In terms of taking, right now I think it's $200-ish, $210, $220,

00:13:23   something like that.

00:13:24   So they say they can squeeze that down to like $149 or $99

00:13:28   or something like that.

00:13:31   And then squeeze in, say, iPad Junior, iPad Mini at $200, $250,

00:13:37   $300, $400.

00:13:39   And then iPads start at $500, $500, $600, $700.

00:13:46   that is an amazing spectrum that you can present your user.

00:13:49   That you have basically any price point.

00:13:51   You know, if you're the granddad looking to give your grandson

00:13:55   a present for Christmas, you can kind of go in and be like,

00:13:58   well, just how much money do I have?

00:14:00   What's my budget for this present?

00:14:01   If you're kind of going into that,

00:14:03   you can basically get something all on that spectrum.

00:14:05   Whereas right now, there's this big discontinuity between 200-ish

00:14:09   and 500-ish.

00:14:10   So I think those are just some thoughts.

00:14:12   I really think it's interesting.

00:14:13   I really think it will happen.

00:14:16   I really hope Apple is being thoughtful about this and allowing developers the ability to

00:14:20   easily adjust to the physical size to make it more usable in that way.

00:14:24   But otherwise, I'm just excited about it.

00:14:26   Alright, that's it for today's show.

00:14:28   As always, if you have questions, comments, concerns, complaints, the best place for that

00:14:32   is on Twitter.

00:14:33   I'm @_DavidSmith on Twitter.

00:14:34   The Twitter feed for the show is @devperspective.

00:14:38   That's where you can go if you want to be updated anytime a new show is released.

00:14:41   And as always, if you have questions, please let me know.

00:14:44   on Twitter you can email me, david@david-smith.org, and I'll be happy to get back to you. Alright,

00:14:50   thanks, have a good week, and happy coding. Bye!

00:14:53   Bye.

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