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How marketers can best develop iPad apps

How marketers can best develop iPad apps

By Russell Berr, Director,

Apple has sold two million iPads since launching the tablet computers in April, with the original sales forecasts upped to 12.9 million units.  Blowing up iPhone apps to fill the iPad screen not only looks weird, but organisations are failing to capitalise on the rich user experience the iPad delivers.

Despite most people thinking that the iPad is just a larger iPhone, our designers have found that there are big differences in the underlying specs of the iPad especially its unique multitouch functions that make it a fundamentally different user experience.

Quickly porting your iPhone app to the iPad to take advantage of the emerging trend is a big no no. Just blowing up an iPhone app to fill the iPad screen looks and feels weird, even if you use a pixel-doubled iPhone app or a desktop app with the mouse replaced by a finger.

But given the runaway success of the App Store and the technical similarities between the iPhone and iPad, it’s not surprising that so many companies have been porting their iPhone apps to the iPad. One thing we do know is that iPhone apps running unmodified on the iPad are simply not good enough.

Tips For Getting It Right

1. Don’t just replicate what worked on iPhone

You’re already competing with those apps, since they run on the iPad, too. Instead, think about using iPad’s larger screen and other features, and also its living room credentials.

2. Think about your content

Whilst its exciting to think you can fill every pixel on the iPad’s 1024-768 pixel screen, actually its more important that users can see the content.  We’ve found that our removing the toolbar and window frames from our iPad apps tend to work better as it feels like wasted space otherwise.

3. Don’t get carried away with the multitouch functionality

The iPad’s multitouch capabilities expand on those of the iPhone.  But having a whole host of new gestures means more cognitive work for the user who might have trouble remembering what gesture did what, so stick with the actions iPhone users are familiar with at the moment; pinching, double tapping etc.

4. Remember the social aspect of the iPad

You may need to make the default sizes of your app more readable and larger than what you would for a single user so it can be used easily in a group to show things off. The iPad is a more collaborative device.

5. Forget high price points for your app

Premium pricing for iPad apps is going to drop off as quickly as it did for the iPhone.  So instead concentrate on creating an app with a potential audience that’s big enough to support your product and make a decent profit at a very low price point, unless the product is very niche.

Why develop an iPad app?

If you are looking deliver a consistent user experience across all platforms, then you must think about developing an iPad app as well.  You should be able to learn a lot from the development of your iPhone app to enhance the experience you can deliver for iPad users.  Simple things like adding interface functions not possible on the iPhone and being able to view a full-page “title view” all help.

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