MavEtJu's Distorted View of the World

iPhone / iPad development

Posted on 2010-08-19 18:00:00
Tags: iPhone, Coding

Until the release of the iPad the world was very easy for an iPhone programmer: The screen was 480 x 320 pixels. You substract a number of pixels for the banner at the top with the carrier, time and battery level on it, and depending of the style of your application substract some for the menus at the top and bottom. The leftover area is for you! Oh, if you hold it landscape, you end up with a screen of 320 x 480, minus a couple of pixels for everything described before.

Then came the iPad with a muuuuch larger screen and the iPhone4 with a little bit bigger screen. And all the hardcoded values of the screen size, banner, menu areas etc were suddenly invalid! Oops.

To be honest, that are easy things to fix. Instead of using hardcoded values (which should have been #define's in the first place anyway), you just call a function which return the values based on the environment you are living in. Problem resolved. Maybe...

Not only were the dimensions of the screen wrong, also the look-and-feel of the screen now looks wrong. On a small iPhone screen, this is how for example a list entry looks: A three word name, plus an > to indicate that if you touch this that that there is more to see about "Foo bar quux".

| Foo bar quux          >  |

Now we increase the dimensions to the iPad:

| Foo bar quux                                              >  |
Instead of a nicely filled line, it is now a short text on the left, a lot of white in the middle and an > at the end.

How can we overcome this? Maybe we shouldn't try to get iPhone applications directly ported to the iPad... The iPad has a iPhone compatibility mode for iPhone apps: Instead of using the whole screen it uses only a middle part of the screen, with the same dimensions of the iPhone. Hardware compatibility via software, everything still works!

That works fine for the old apps, but what about the new apps? Before the iPad came out, the SDK version was 3.1. To make programs work on the iPad, you need to use the SDK version 3.2 which supports programs on both the iPhone and the iPad. To make programs which work on the iPhone4, you need to use the SDK version 4.0, which only supports programs on the iPhone and iPhone4.

So, the questions these days are: Which SDK do we use, which hardware do we develop for and how do we make it look good?

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