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iPad Is NOT an iPhone

Universal Apps are the way forward

This title may be an obvious statement to us all, but a lot of applications and therefore application developers on the Apple App Store seems to have lost sight of that fact. I believe that over 90% of these applications have the potential to be awesome on the best tablet device around, but are sadly falling short of the mark.

I have been using the iPad since it was launched in the UK and there is nothing more frustrating to me than iPhone applications on the iPad. Let's face it, the iPad is the first computer designed purely for hand-held mode. It's not a tablet with a touchscreen. It's not a Windows PC that happens to be mobile...It's a custom designed purpose built device designed to view the web and operate applications purely by using the screen...Oh and what a device! and I am still saying that two versions in!!!

As you may know from my last article, I use my iPad whenever I travel as a replacement to my MacBook and a more useable extension of my iPhone, in the area of mobile computing. The iPad allows me to create such objects as presentations, document, spreadsheets, email's etc. I can design Application Design with such apps as iMockups, though yet I can carry on development. It allows me to present and share my thoughts with an audience with the VGA connector and with AirPlay to a certain extent. It is such a delight now to travel light with such a powerful and mobile device.

So those bits of functionality (presentations/documents/spreadsheets/emails, that I have mentioned above translate to the iPad applications created by Apple... Keynote, Pages, Numbers, Mail etc and each a a great example of how an iPad application should be designed and implemented. Each of these applications have had so much thought and design in the area of UX (User eXperience) by the Apple Engineers, whilst designing them for use on the iPad. They are just a delight to use, even on a tablet device, which is smaller than a MacBook. I mention this because what became obvious within hours of getting my iPad, was the fact that iPhone Apps, unless they are so simplistic, just fall short of expectations on the iPad!!! And that was even before Apple released the iWork trio onto iPad.

Here is a set of must have features I believe an iPad application should have...

Never loose the fact that an iPad application is Not an iPhone application - iPad Developers need to make good use of the greater screen area. iPad vs iPhone will usually mean more data that can displayed, or different ways of displaying and interacting with your data, both due to the increased application 'real estate'. Just porting the application to the iPad or letting it run in compatibility mode sucks!!! in my opinion Universal Apps are the only way forward!!!

Graphics can be a physically larger as well as a higher resolution and more expressive to the solution being developed.

Design for Orientation Changes - Support both landscape and portrait, as iPad users more than iPhone users love to use the device in different orientations, usually for a larger keyboard, but also to display & format data in a better form.

Make good use of iPad interface - Gestures such as pinch to zoom and swipe to move screen rather than the more traditional tap and click type behaviour. This makes user navigation etc more intuitive and also means that the application is consistent relative to the native apps on the device. In fact with the release of iOS 4.3 or beyond, the Apple Engineers have been taking gestures to a new height and that should be an area that developers should too.

Check out again the apps from SAP that exist for both iPhone and iPad and you will see the time and effort of the UX teams, paying back rewards in fantastic Enterprise Mobile Apps.

In closing I want to share a comment made by an Twitter friend Alan Cannistraro. He said "Build stuff you love and build stuff you would want to use yourself. I promise you success if you stick to those 2 rules".

Please follow me on Twitter @ithain

More Stories By Ian Thain

As one of the Sybase Technical Evangelists, Ian regularly addresses technical audiences all over the world and his sessions are always very well attended. He also writes education classes, whitepapers, demos and articles for various Sybase products and publishes regularly in Journals such as SYS-CON's PBDJ and International Developer Magazine. He is also the Sybase Unwired Platform & PocketBuilder Evangelist and works closely with the team in Dublin, CA and Concord, MA on new features and demonstrations for the products. In his customer-facing Evangelist role, Ian is very involved with the design, production and testing of Enterprise class Unwired Solutions, that have been implemented using Sybase's Unwired tools for Sybase customers around the globe. In addition, Ian is a dedicated technical expert continually working with Sybase's key partners and clients to enhance the capabilities of the Unwired solutions that Sybase can offer to its customers. Ian can also be found on Twitter @ithain