On your mark, get set, go! Okay, yes, today was the release of Microsoft’s Surface 2 tablet, but we want to discuss some other tablet news today. By the end of November there will be two more iDevices, developers need to think about when testing their apps, the iPad Air and the iPad Mini with Retina Display.
“But I’m already testing my iPad apps vs. my iPhone apps, why does this matter,” you cunningly ask. Well, let’s talk about what’s changed. While the Retina screen on the iPad Air remains the same as the previous generation, the updated iPad Mini receives a resolution upgrade to that same 2048 x 1536 resolution found on its big brother. This is good news for simplicity as it means iOS developers can continue to develop for a consistent resolution, knowing their users’ experience will be roughly the same (albeit smaller) on the iPad Mini with Retina as on the iPad Air. On the flip side, Apple’s decision to keep selling the iPad 2 and the original iPad Mini means that developers still need to account for both Retina and Non-Retina experiences, continuing to carry larger payloads and extra graphics.
What about the processor? It seems that Apple has simplified things here a bit. In the past, Retina display iPads ran on a variant of the chip used to power the iPhone, providing the extra computing power to light up those additional pixels. But due to the processing power available in the A7 chip, recently introduced in the iPhone 5s, the new iPads can run the same chipset. While this means it may be easier to test apps designed for the 5s and the iPads, the same testing challenges of the 5s emerge. Namely, we’re talking about 64-bit architecture. As we suggested with testing the iPhone 5s, you’ll want to ensure any apps that are compiled with a 32-bit and 64-bit binary are tested on multiple variations of devices. Evaluating apps against older A-series processors will also still be a sound testing practice.
So what’s the net impact? At a minimum, if you develop for iOS you should consider adding an iPad Mini with Retina to your testing matrix. This device gives you the ability to test both the new screen resolution at a smaller physical screen size as well as the power and functions of the A7 chip in an iPad. A more comprehensive approach is to ensure that you are testing on the iPad Air, iPad Mini with Retina while also keeping an iPad 2, 4 and original mini in mind. This will provide the most flexible coverage for the bulk of your users. We’ll be working with the uTest community from day one of availability to ensure we can help you meet these expanded testing needs.
The only question now, is which one should I get?!