News and speculation about the Apple iPhone 5 continues to flood in at present and some of the most recent rumors have surrounded an increased display size. This idea has gathered pace lately with more and more leaks and reliable news sources talking about a 4-inch display. Although there were concerns from some about how developers would handle this, it now seems that a bigger display for the iPhone 5 seems to be no real problem for developers.
The question of a 4-inch display for the iPhone 5 rather than the 3.5-inches on the current iPhone 4S has led to questions about how the change in iPhone screen size could be handled and whether it would it be at the expense of the iPhone’s famed Retina Display. There have been many ideas about how this could be achieved including scaling the display up and reducing the pixel density slightly, changing the aspect ration, stretching the screen height and maintaining the current pixel density or moving to a screen even larger than 4-inches and using a 16:9 resolution instead.
There has also been plenty of talk about how any changes may affect third-party app developers who may have to completely rebuild apps so that they work on a larger display but news today suggests that developers are not as worried about this issue as we may have thought. It seems that many developers of iOS apps just don’t think Apple will want to fragment the platform and make it more difficult for developers who would then have to work on different screen sizes.
A report on GigaOm notes the opinions of some of these developers, for example Sam Shank, CEO of hotel-finding app Hotel Tonight. Although Shank doesn’t discount a change in screen size for the iPhone 5 he doesn’t think that Apple will interfere with the pixel density or aspect ratio. Shank said in a recent interview that 50% of iOS development is involved in the layout of the app and so designing apps for two different aspect ratios would considerably increase the workload.
Another developer, Lenny Rachitsky CEO of Localmind says that his company hasn’t even put a lot of thought into the possibilities of Apple fragmenting the platform yet as they have assumed “Apple isn’t going to pull an Android.” Rachitsky feels that in the rare event that this would happen that Apple would want to avoid friction with developers by providing easy migration tools. Nelson Gauthier, the chief iOS developer for Localmind, also points to the fact that Apple made the transition to Retina Display and the iPad as pain-free for developers as possible with the provision of good tools and plenty of warning.
Another CEO, Ken Seto of iOS game app maker Massive Damage Inc., also doesn’t appear to think that Apple will really expect developers to cope with another resolution. Seto feels that if the screen size is increased Apple will want to avoid further fragmentation and will be likely to retain the aspect ratio. Furthermore Seto thinks that if the display size does increase Apple could simply scale up the current retina resolutions as the display increase would not be too much bigger.
Finally developer Donnie Dinch, co-founder of ticketing app WillCall points out that any changes made will affect some iOS developers more than others. Whereas a screen size change would not be of much significance to an app such as WillCall it would be a different story for gaming developers. However Dinch does feel that if Apple negatively affects the screen in any way in order to achieve a larger display then “that would be insane.”
None of this brings us any closer to knowing whether the much talked about larger display is really coming or not but it’s certainly interesting to hear that at least some developers don’t seem too concerned about possible consequences. Are you expecting a larger display for the iPhone 5? If it finally releases with the same sized screen as the current iPhone would this be a dealbreaker for you? Maybe you’d prefer the next iPhone to stick to the current screen size? Let us know by sending your comments.