[Ovmsdev] Thoughts on iPhone 5 and its larger display

Mark Webb-Johnson mark at webb-johnson.net
Wed Sep 19 14:27:53 HKT 2012

I guess the following thoughts may be interesting to others in our community...

I've been looking at our iOS App - as I need to send out a new build anyway (to appease the British in America, and their pesky Celcius vs Miles issue), I had a look at adding support for the new iPhone 5 with its bigger display.

The iPhone 4S has a screen of 960 x 640, and the iPhone 5 has a screen of 1136 x 640. An extra 176 pixels in the vertical orientation.

1136 vs 960 is a little over 18% taller. Not much difference, right?

If the developer does nothing to his App, it gets letter boxed. Two black borders of 88x640 pixels are added to the top and bottom, and the application virtual size of 960 x 640 is maintained - even though it is running on a 1136x640 display.

It turns out by adding one file to the build project (a specially named splash screen at the 1136x640 resolution), you tell the iOS not to letterbox you, but give you the full screen. Doing that I expected to get a little 18% layout problem.

Not so fast.

If you look at the screenshot (from an iPhone 4S) below, you can see the status bar, top bar, and bottom tab bar are all fixed in size (whether it is running on a 4S or 5). It is the big blue bit in the middle that gets resized.

The status bar is 40 pixels in height, the top bar 128 pixels and the bottom tab bar 98 pixels. That leaves 960-(40+128+98) = 694 pixels (the height of that blue background bit) to show the real application content.

On an iPhone 5, the status bar, top bar and bottom tab bar all remain the same. That leaves 1136-(40+128+98) = 870 pixels to show the real application content.

870 vs 694 is a little over 25% more usable screen real estate.

This explains a lot to me about what is so important about the iPhone 5 being just that little big taller. 25% more usable screen real estate for an App like ours.

I've already re-worked the App auto-layout to at least look on the iPhone 5. Things like the map, tables and lists just automatically work and take advantage of the extra room. But, fixed screens like the Battery and Car will take some work to think about and take advantage of that new usable screen real estate.

Regards, Mark.

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