Xtreme Labs director of engineering Boris Chan has written a helpful piece for TechCrunch in which he gives three practical tips for developing apps for the iPad mini.
Chan explains that, while the mini runs the same apps as the iPad and works just as well with the same screen resolution, developers must nonetheless take into the differing demands of the new device.
Firstly, the mini’s smaller size means users are more likely to use it one-handed, which is significant for navigation. “Where pinching and zooming motions once flourished on the iPad, the iPad mini will need to rework gestures so they can be performed with one hand,” Chan writes. “I imagine developers will employ more tapping, double tapping and scrolling to accommodate for single-handed use.”
Secondly, developers must consider their use of landscape mode, with many apps currently set to landscape by default. “Since one-handed use will predominate with the iPad mini, this trend will shift,” Chan predicts. “If they aren’t doing so already, I see an added need for developers to support orientation changes so that consumers can use an app in both portrait and landscape.”
Finally, Chan says that “glance-ability” is an important consideration for apps on the iPad mini. “I see more frequent usage while people are out and about, given the portability of the device,” he says. “This means there’ll be more scenarios where users are only looking at an app in passing. I see navigation for directions/maps as a space where this is especially interesting.”