What Makes a Great iOS Application - dummies

By Neal Goldstein, Dave Wilson

You use the same Software Development Kit and much of the same code to develop iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch applications. The iPad runs the same operating system as the iPhone and iPod touch. However, the iPad is a bigger device with more horsepower and a larger display, as shown in this figure.

Two iPads with a preview of an app

For many iPhone/iPod touch app developers, the iPad’s larger display alone changes everything. Apple demonstrated exactly how much things have changed when the company demonstrated the iWork suite of productivity tools (Keynote for presentations, Numbers for spreadsheets, and Pages for word processing and page formatting) on both the iPhone and iPad.

The biggest challenge in making a killer app for iOS is to design for the iOS experience. For example, according to Douglas Adams, the Encyclopedia Galactica describes alcohol as “a colorless volatile liquid formed by the fermentation of sugars” and also notes “its intoxicating effect on certain carbon-based life forms.”

On the other hand, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy not only defines alcohol, but also says “the best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster,” describes its effect as “like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick,” tells you which planets have bars that offer it and at what prices, and shows you how to mix one yourself.

As Adams points out, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy sells rather better than the Encyclopedia Galactica.

If the explosion of new iOS apps since its introduction is any indication, you’ll want to leverage its fabulous touch-sensitive interface and other features. Because the iPad evolved from the iPhone design, the iPad has design advantages that make netbooks and laptops feel like the dull Encyclopedia Galactica.

Most iOS apps are designed to take advantage of the iPhone’s Multi-Touch display; accelerometer (which detects acceleration, rotation, motion gestures, and tilt); and location services for detecting its physical location — or all three.

However, you can create iOS apps that aren’t just a little bit better than their desktop counterparts, but a lot better, with an interface that’s simpler to use than a Mac or a PC.