Max Rudberg

Posts tagged iphone

Jan 5

✎ Will Apple Make a “Phablet”?

Mockup by Lorenzo Orlandi

The past week there has been rumors about the iPhone 5S coming in an array of color and more than one screen size. This could mean just 3.5” and 4”, the sizes that have been available previously.

But more interestingly it could be a new, larger size.

This principle was proven with the iPad with Retina and the iPad mini, that the iOS interface can have the same resolution and the same interface at two different screen sizes. The smaller iPad mini uses a 163 PPI screen, the same pixel density as the original iPhone. The corresponding Retina version of that screen is 326 PPI. The iPad with Retina uses 264 PPI, still plenty of pixels1 to qualify for the Retina brand.

We’ve learnt that displays are made out of larger sheets, then cut into the desired size. Apple are already making these sheets at 326 and 264 PPI. So what they could do is cut the same 640x1136 pixels used for the iPhone from the 264 PPI sheet, and get a 4.9” screen.

This would be both cost effective and would require no effort from developers; apps would just work. An interface that becomes larger only becomes more usable.

This way, Apple would enter the “phablet” market2. There is obviously such a market, likely people who figure they can get something in between a phone and a tablet instead of having two separate devices. If they can enter a new market segment this easily, why shouldn’t they?

  1. You might think Apple wouldn’t compromise the quality of the display by lowering the PPI. But Retina is just a brand, not a pixel density. It basically means double the density of what it was before. For example, the MacBook Pro with Retina use 220 PPI. So 264 PPI is still a high resolution screen and Apple could just say you will use it further away from your eyes, qualifying it for Retina. Changing the amount of pixels and introducing a new resolution is not likely since it would cause increased fragmentation. 

  2. You might think Apple wouldn’t make a phone you cannot easily use with one hand. They made a point of this when introducing iPhone 5. But what Apple says is always in support of their current lineup; it doesn’t mean they won’t do something else in the future. For example, Steve Jobs said 7” tablets should ship with sandpaper so the user could sand down their fingers to be able to use them. But now we have the iPad mini, although to be fair it’s closer to 8”. 

Jul 4

Jun 11

iOS 5 Notification Center Fall Down Transition

My tweak is a change to the transition that takes you to the Notification Center. Swiping down from the menubar makes the interface fall to the bottom of the screen, revealing the notifications in the background. To leave the notifications, you tap the interface at the bottom of the screen.

There has been a number of redesigns of the Notification Center after Apple revealed it in the WWDC keynote. Most change the linen texture into something else. I think the texture could be toned down a bit, but my gripe is that the linen texture is used inconsistently.

The linen texture has been used to denote that something is at the very bottom layer of the interface. For example, when you open a folder, the wallpaper separates to reveal the folder contents on a linen texture.

Therefore, the Notification Center that slides out above the interface shouldn’t really use the linen texture.

Feb 17

If a phone were to be designed with an edge-to-edge screen, it would lack a hardware home button on the front. Therefore it would require a new way to go to the Home screen. Advanced gestures often requires two hands, which is not optimal for such a frequently used feature. 

A more intuitive way could be to equip the phone with a pressure-sensitive body. The phone could then be squeezed and the current app would shrink and return the user to the Home screen. 

This could be a real wow effect. Seeing how the phone reacts to your grip and then having the app vanish in the palm of your hand. 

To avoid ‘squeeze to go Home’ from happening by accident, a visual cue could show that pressure is being applied. In this concept, the app begins to shrink to reflect the pressure that is being applied. When the pressure goes over a defined threshold, the user is returned to the Home screen.

The strength of a users grip will of course vary. Therefore, a setting for how much pressure that’s needed before an app is exited could be a good idea.

Oct 11

The Importance of a Well-Designed iPhone App Icon

The first thing that will catch your attention when looking at the iPhone is the candy-colored, push-friendly icons that inhabit the home screen. 

The rounded squares that frame the icons makes them look like buttons. The shape is characteristic enough to be printed on the hardware home-button as a representative of the home screen. And with a curved gloss put on top, the impression is a device that looks so good you want to lick it. Or at least pick it up.

Ruining a perfect picture

Ever since the introduction of the iPhone 3G and the 2.0 firmware, users of the iPhone have been able to download third party apps from Apple’s App Store. Consequently, the balanced design present in the stock icons and depicted on every box that the iPhone ships in is quickly shattered once you’ve downloaded a handful of third party apps. Many third party icons fail to reach the same quality.

Stand out in the crowd

Aesthetics might not be the main concern if you are the developer of an app. But I think users are picky with which icons they let inhabit their home screen. Collecting apps and their icons on the home screen is almost like having a physical item, a small gem. If it doesn’t look the part, it might get stuffed a way on a different page or in a folder.

And with the large number of apps on the App Store, it’s becoming increasingly harder to get people to notice you. 

When browsing the App Store, all you really have to guide you is the name of the app and the icon. Based on those two pieces of information you have to decide if the app seems interesting enough to read more about and possibly download.

With so little information to go on, the importance of a well-executed icon becomes apparent. The icon must not only represent the core functionality of your app and communicate your brand, it must also do so in such a visually appealing way that makes it stand out and get the quick scrolling through long lists of apps to come to a grinding halt.

Gloss for everyone

Apple provided an easy way for anyone to become a master of the lickable gloss. You can simply add a squared image to your app and it will automatically be masked in the correct shape and have a pre-made gloss put on top. 

This might sound like an easy way to a good-looking icon. But if your image is pulled off a website or perhaps a photograph, all the gloss in the world is not gonna make it a good icon. It’s like putting lipstick on a pig.

Thinking inside the box

I believe that a successful icon needs to be made from scratch. And instead of seeing the rounded square shape as a limitation, it should be seen as a possibility to be creative. The shape can for example be used to deform regular objects to fit inside. Take a look at the Youtube, Calendar and Notes icons – these are clever examples of how an object can fit into this shape.

And remember that an iPhone icon doesn’t have to have to have gloss either, almost a third of the stock icons does not have it.

A dedicated community

Did you know there is an entire community based around the customization of the home screen icons on the iPhone?

The MacThemes forum is probably the biggest outpost for such icon sets or themes.

The majority still uses the exact same rounded square shape and many are very similar to the design of the original icons. In fact, some of the most popular icon sets are just refined stock and third party icons. 

So if you don’t supply a good icon with your app, chances are someone else will. If they notice you in the first place.