I went to a free mini-conference (#iPadCUC) all about the iPad. It was interesting so here are some notes…
A very nice man called Dave Verwer from Shiny Development spoke about the differences between iPad and iPhone from a development perspective and the common misconceptions about what iPad is.
If you understand what the platform IS, what it ISN’T and how people will want to use it, your development and use of that platform should be effective as a result. It’s similar to the basic principles of writing and journalism: 1. Know your audience. 2. Know your platform / device / delivery method. 3. Always keep both of those things in mind and your writing should hit the target!
Back to the iPad…
IT’S NOT JUST A BIG IPHONE!
This is probably one of the biggest marketing hurdles Apple face with the iPad. To the early adopters, it’s a thing of beauty that they will jump on, buy and figure out all of its quirks and features straight away (In other words, they’ll play with it now coz it’s cool, and work out what it’s good for later!) To the less technologically progressive (the more cautious types perhaps?), they need to see the point before they’ll part with their cash. And let’s be honest, the iPad does look like an unnecessarily large iPhone.
Get that idea out of your head right now. Go on, shoooo, scram, vamoose!
Good. Now that’s over with you can start thinking about developing for iPad specifically.
- Bigger screen
- More User Interaction possibilities (BOTH hands, wahey!)
- Hopefully in future there’ll be higher screen resolution than presently
- Possibilities for higher-value apps
- Not all about being ‘on the move’ any more. When you’re on your iPad, you’re on your iPad (not wandering around)
- You can use the whole screen – navigation can fit on one screen rather than leading you through lots of them
- Flatten the interface hierarchy where appropriate (less click-throughs)
- Tilt function is less applicable with iPad
- Best to include autorotation on apps, as people can choose themselves to turn it on or off (hard button is included on the platform – removes the annoyance with iPhones when your screen keeps auto-rotating when you don’t want it to)
- Colours – WOW. ‘Nuff said.
- More of a shared than purely personal device
Now just a few summary notes:
You CAN run iPhone apps on iPad, but this effectively just turns it into a huge iPhone and doesn’t make the most of the platform features at all. The apps stay same size so you either have a load of blank space around the edge, or you magnify the app to fill the screen. But this leads to very poor jagged graphics and typography and results in mammothly HUGE large print.
Pursue excellence in design
Small features can make the world of difference to an app, so they’re worth taking the time over. You can increase the value of the apps by taking the time to create high quality effects where appropriate.
For example, the standard Notes app (above) has been enhanced on iPad with leather effects and circled pencil lines (instead of ‘blue background’ selection) all of which mimic the ‘real world’ effectively, recognising what is appealing to the eye. They are giving users what they (unconsciously) want and (often unconsciously) appreciate.
This is all about valuing your user. A common mistake websites have made in the past is that they are more geared towards the company giving the information, than the customer’s experience in accessing that information. Make it easy for the user!
Make the user experience understandable, pleasing to look at and fun to use.
Consider interactivity, but make sure it’s with the right kind of things. ie. if your users are likely to be on twitter, make that experience easy to link with your app. Same goes for annotations, reviews and other forms of information sharing. It goes back to the point of knowing your audience!
A note on Gestures
This is all relatively new technology and a brand new platform. Apple set the standard gestures with iPhone (and indeed with iPod, which led to copycat navigation systems in other brands mp3 players). Now people understand swipes and pinch-to-zoom and tap functions and these have become relatively standard now.
But the iPad allows users to use more fingers! This obviously opens up a whole new world of User Interface. The problem with brand new platforms is that developers introduce different gestures or assign them to different functions. On one app a tap zooms in, on another it might hide all the UI controls (like in iBook – that’s caused some confusion!) This can be hard to discover if developers choose to use unusual or hidden gestures in their apps. These new gestures will eventually become standardized down the line, but it will take a while for it to become clear which ones users favour. Ultimately it will be their decision and the most popular gestures will win, becoming more consistent and standardised.
One final note to admit… I don’t actually have an iPad… yet.
Reasons being that (a) I haven’t got a computer at home at the moment, so would be forced to sync with work one and (b) I’d like to wait for the new improved iPad to be released (less buggy, more apps available, faster and better screen resolution = yes please!)
Come on iPad 2 or 3! When the features I want are there I will be first in line (well, maybe not first as that will probably mean getting up early…. but I will eventually crawl outta bed and order one!)