Why an iPhone 6 Plus?

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Have you seen an iPhone 6 Plus? Or better, have you HELD an iPhone 6 Plus?

Pretty big.

Most people I know who upgraded their iPhone got the iPhone 6, because that was plenty big enough. Whether an issue of fitting in their pocket or being able to have their thumb reach the screen, the iPhone 6 Plus is just… too big.

However, as an iOS developer, that’s the device I have.

If I was not a developer, I’d probably be just happy with the iPhone 6. I’ve had an iPhone 5 since it first came out and have been generally happy with it. The 6 wouldn’t be a huge difference, although slightly larger.

I mean, I hold a 6 Plus and it’s… big. I have larger hands, longer fingers, and while I can swipe and reach the screen, there are still corners I cannot easily access. I may have to shift my grip, I may have to reach a little more, or I may just have to employ my other hand.

That’s precisely why I wanted it.

See, as a developer I really need to understand what’s out there. The iPhone 6 Plus changes things in the Apple iDevice world because it has a form factor that no other iDevice has.

Take a look at this chart from PaintCode: “The Ultimate Guide to iPhone Resolutions

The iPhone 6 Plus stands alone in terms of what it does.

Due to this direction, in iOS 8 Apple introduced a new UI concept about “Adaptivity and Layout

People generally want to use their favorite apps on all their devices and in any orientation. In iOS 8 and later, you use size classes and Auto Layout to help you meet this expectation by defining how the layout of screens, view controllers, and views should adapt when the display environment changes. (The concept of display environment can refer to the entire device screen or only a portion of it, such as the area in a popover or the primary view in a split view controller.)

iOS defines two size classes: regular and compact. The regular size class is associated with expansive space and the compact size class is associated with constrained space. To characterize a display environment, you specify a horizontal size class and a vertical size class. As you might guess, an iOS device can use one set of size classes for portrait orientation and a different set of size classes for landscape.

While the iPad (of today) does what it does, every iPad does the same thing.

iPhone (and iPod Touch) in general do the same sort of thing too. This holds for all iPhones: 4s, 5 series, and 6. But, not the 6 Plus.

The iPhone 6 Plus uses a unique layout size class.

The place this is most evident to anyone? Take any iDevice (running iOS 8), put it on the Home screen (the “Springboard”, showing all your app icons), and rotate it from portrait orientation to landscape. iPad? The toolbar stays at the bottom of the screen. Most iPhones? it doesn’t rotate and remains portrait. But the iPhone 6 Plus? The icons rotate, but the toolbar moves too, to the right side of the screen.

Another consideration is placement of things on screen. If you look at where thumbs can reach relative to content on screen, the smaller the screen, of course the more of the screen you can cover with your thumb. Now with a larger screen, your thumb doesn’t have as much coverage. This plays into usability, UI design, and UX design. When a designer or developer works to determine where to put a button, to design a layout and flow, we need to consider such reach. Something used often? You’d probably want to make it easy to reach. Something a user doesn’t need often or perhaps you want to keep away from them (e.g. a “delete” button), that might be OK to put out of the “thumb swipe” area.

But the reality is, you can’t really appreciate this unless you have first-hand experience. I wanted to have the 6 Plus to use every day. To find what was good, what was bad, to see how I struggle with it, how I adapt and adjust to it. That sort of experience is valuable in designing UI and UX.

So why did I get an iPhone 6 Plus? Because as a developer, the 6 Plus presents unique challenges, and I aim to meet those challenges with experience, knowledge, and creativity.

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