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Provide an Immersive Experience with Apps for the iPad

An iPad app can offer a more immersive experience compared with an iPhone app by adding more content — full pages from the Internet or in memory, maps you can zoom in to, full-screen videos and slide shows with music, and so on.

People can enjoy this content while away from their desks — on living room couches, in coffee shops, on the train — and more easily share it with others than they can by using an iPhone or iPod touch. On the other hand, people always have their smartphone with them, so you find many benefits to an iPhone version of your app.

Whenever possible, add a realistic, physical dimension to your application. Touch Hockey on the iPad fully immerses you in an experience that resembles the physical game so well. But it’s also a good idea to extend some physical metaphors, like the newspaper or book page, to provide a more immersive experience.

The New York Times, for example, designed an iPad app that looks like a newspaper and also includes embedded, fully functional videos (not just videos that appear in a separate window). In the iBooks app, you swipe the page to go to the next one, just like a real book, but you can also search the entire text, add bookmarks, and change the font size.

Playing Need for Speed Shift for the iPad from Electronic Arts feels like you’re driving the display with your hands as you steer the car using the iPad like a steering wheel. The high-definition screen is just inches from your face — the field of view and the sensation of speed you get are incredible.

The full-screen display is also fully touch sensitive — you can tap a car to see inside it, flick a lifelike gear shifter to shift gears, and tap the rearview mirror to look behind you.

Even utility apps can be rethought to be a better experience. On the iPhone, the Contacts app is a streamlined list, but on the iPad, Contacts is an address book with a beautifully tangible look and feel. The more true to life your application looks and behaves, the easier it is for people to understand how it works and enjoy using it.

But again, the iPhone Contacts app is always with you, while your poor iPad often gets left home all alone.

The best approach for many apps is to have a portable iPhone version and an immersive iPad version. You can develop both versions in a single universal app — built from a single universal Xcode project.

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