Something that Android lives on is the ability to scale applications to accommodate many different screen sizes. Apple on the other hand, has had developers target a single screen size (for iPhone, and a single for iPad), only having to deal with the pixel-doubling of graphics. iPad’s can upscale iPhone applications, but it does not stretch their hard coded interfaces. A new development though is saying that could change in iOS 6, with a feature named Auto Layout being included in the iOS 6 SDK. This would seem to be either extremely coincidental timing, or a hint at something to come, seeing as there have been rumors of both a taller iPhone and an iPad mini expected in September or October of this year.
With the release of OS X Lion, Apple released a new way to build interfaces by using relative positioning of objects. This new Auto Layout feature has become the default for all Cocoa projects in Xcode. So if Apple were to release new devices with different screen sizes, this would be the perfect addition to iOS to help out with developing good looking, and good scaling, applications. As TechCrunch put it:
Auto Layout allows developers to create a set of constraints that define how UI elements are displayed on-screen. Instead of using the standard “springs and struts” positioning method, Auto Layout allows those elements to shift and move depending on a prioritized list of rules — think “the left side of one button should always be 30 away from the right side of another button.”
This approach to application development would bring the best of both worlds for scaling applications and defined graphics. Looks like Apple is on to something, again.
What do you think? Looking forward to the possibility of a larger/smaller screen for iOS devices? If you are a developer, do you think this will help? Let us know in the comments.