Developers could be happy with a taller iPhone screen

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It’s been reported multiple times that Apple’s next iPhone(s AAPL) model will have a larger screen, but just how big isn’t certain. The word is now that the company hasn’t yet settled on a final design, but is testing an iPhone prototype with a 3.95-inch screen and added pixels horizontally, according to a report by 9to5Mac.

While it might seem like overkill to dissect reports about the size of a still-unreleased-and-unannounced phone’s screen, when it comes to the iPhone, the screen is kind of a big deal, especially to all the developers behind iOS apps. The screen size determines the most important things: The layout, appearance and user interaction elements of an app. As a handful of high-profile iOS app makers told me recently, they have faith in Apple not doing something crazy or drastic that would upset the established development process.

9to5Mac’s report on Tuesday seems to give added foundation to that faith. Though the report concerns a test device and not a finished product, the scenario laid out is one that would be most amenable to developers and iPhone buyers. Here’s what they learned about the prototype:

Both of these phones sport a new, larger display that is 3.95 inches diagonally.  Apple will not just increase the size of the display and leave the current resolution, but will actually be adding pixels to the display. The new iPhone display resolution will be 640 x 1136.  That’s an extra 176 pixels longer of a display.  The screen will be the same 1.94 inches wide, but will grow to 3.45 inches tall. This new resolution is very close to a 16:9 screen ratio, so this means that 16:9 videos can play full screen at their native aspect ratio.

We’ve also heard that Apple will be taking full advantage of their new pixels. Apple is currently testing builds of iOS 6 that are custom-built to the new iPhone’s display. These builds include a tweaked home screen with a fifth row of icons (besides the stationary app dock) and extended application user interfaces that offer views of more content. Apple is able to pull this off with the same sharpness as the current iPhone Retina Display because of the additional pixels.

Though it’s likely we won’t see a new iPhone until the fall, Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference takes place in June. It’ll be interesting to see if Apple chooses to preview the next version of its mobile software, iOS 6, at that event, and if by doing that they’ll end up spilling the beans on the screen-size changes months before the new device is ready.

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Regardless of the exact dimensions, it’s fairly obvious that developers are going to need to do at least some work in supporting new layouts and resolutions. If nothing else, there will be new technologies coming in iOS 6 that will require support.

With that in mind, is it time for Apple to clean up the App Store? Should abandoned apps be deleted or deprecated to make room for applications and developers who continue to update and improve their applications?


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