Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apps Made the iPad a Ten-Year Success Story

Jason Snell, Macworld:

In the second part of the presentation, Scott Forstall (then Apple’s software chief) invoked the App Store, which had already become wildly successful after less than two years in operation. It was the App Store’s Gold Rush era, and Forstall’s message was clear: There’s a new Gold Rush coming, and it’s in iPad apps. And if developers wanted their apps to be prominently featured on the App Store for iPad, Forstall pointed out, those apps would need to be updated to support it. iPhone-only apps would run, but they’d do so in a diminished compatibility mode and be relegated to the back pages of the App Store.

The iPad was introduced in January, but it didn’t ship until April — and Apple released tools for developers to build iPad apps the very day the product was announced. The message was clear: Build iPad apps and a flood of users will come your way. You’ve got three months.

Forstall was also quick to point out that good iPad apps were more than just blown-up iPad versions. Several compliant developers were brought out to demo how they’d already begun work on reconceptualizing their iPhone apps for a larger screen, including MLB At Bat and the New York Times.

Really great apps designed for the iPad indeed make it a uniquely worthwhile and good experience. It’s a shame, then, that some developers in the past few years — Apple included — have been putting less effort into designing apps specifically for the iPad. It remains somewhat dispiriting to see that the biggest difference between the iPhone and iPad versions of an app is that there is an always-visible sidebar in the left third of the screen area. Even system features like Siri are half-assed ports on the iPad.

But that could all change soon. One of the most interesting things to happen in 2019 was the bifurcation of iOS into “iOS” for the iPhone and iPod Touch, and “iPadOS” for the iPad. So far, this change has largely been in name only, but I am hopeful that this signals a future in which iPad apps and features are more specific to the platform. Apple has also been steadily updating the iPad at both the high and low ends of its lineup, which is equally good news for the platform.