While a good amount of the tech world tuned into Apple’s big event at the Flint Center in Cupertino in eager anticipation of the unveiling of two new iPhones (the iPhone 6 and 6+) and the new Apple Watch, there is a group whose excitement was also mixed with some anxiety, panic, and possibly even dread: App developers and technology design folks.
App developers have had the beta software for Apple’s new mobile software, iOS 8, for a few months now, and most have updated their apps for the launch of the new mobile operating system to maximize all the new features.
However, one thing app developers haven’t been able to do is adjust their applications to fit the size of the new iPhones, as Apple treats details about its hardware like state secrets.
As such, developers and designers will have to scramble to update their applications to fit the new size of Apple’s larger iPhone screens. Most companies would love to have that done by the day the mobile phones are expected to ship, Sept. 19.
Additionally, many app companies will want to integrate new features like HealthKit and the upgraded M8 chip that can now better gauge elevation.
Before and after today’s event, I spoke with Matt Johnston, the chief marketing officer at local app testing company Applause. He gave me some great insight into what app developers have been up to ahead of today’s announcements and the deployment of the new iPhones and mobile software in little more than a week.
“We’ve seen companies more proactive than last year,” said Johnston in regard to the activity leading up to today. However, Johnston said that most company’s were trying to get out in front of the release of the new software, making sure their apps worked with the new software, and not trying to figure out how to leverage new features like HealthKit.
“They want to make sure their existing app works flawlessly on iOS,” he said. By contrast, of the dozen or so fitness app that use Applause to test their app, only two had been testing capabilities for HealthKit, he added.
Multiple new devices
For Johnston, the new devices were the the wild card heading into today. Having to have an app layout that works on two or three different devices, including the new Apple Watch, “is pretty daunting,” he said.
While the news is great for users, journalists, and marketers, “ensuring quality app experiences just became even more complex,” Johnston added.
Matt Bridges, the chief technology officer at development shop Intrepid Pursuits, said that while they didn’t know the device dimensions, Apple did offer a “resizable simulator,” to help app developers prepare for possible different iPhone sizes.
One thing Bridges said he didn’t expect was the news that Apple will be “upscaling,” making the apps fit into the new iPhone screen dimensions automatically. Although it won’t maximize the new larger screens, it will allow companies to still run their apps on the new iPhones until they can figure out how to best utilize the larger screen space.
As far as the new Apple Watch is concerned, Bridges said they were excited to learn that Apple will allow third-party apps on the new devices, meaning they can start creating applications built specifically for the phone as soon as Apple releases the developer software.
At Applause, Johnston was excited by what the need to test for a new iOS and a three new devices means for his application performance testing company. “They will need to test across a range of devices – including the new Apple Watch,” he said, in order to bring a “flawless experiences to the hands (and wrists) of users.”