What the iPad mini Means for App Developers

“It is meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one-quarter of their present size.” – Steve Jobs

That’s what the late Apple leader thought about smaller tablets.  It’s just funny how the Jobs-less Apple seems to be getting further and further away from his influence, especially after the launch of a bigger smartphone and a smaller tablet.  Is it working for them?  Apparently not, as their shares are down roughly by 15 percent.  That’s a huge drop considering Apple’s stock recently reached the $700 mark.

Jobs, who some considered a genius and others thought him the devil, released products that aren’t dictated by the trend, rather they make the trend.  But under Tim Cook’s reign, it seems as though Apple’s becoming a follower, and investors and shareholders aren’t happy about it.

But some still say that the iPad mini is a good buy for people who own an iPad 1st or 2nd generation who may want a new iPad, or for those first time tablet buyers.  It’s the same iPad just wrapped in a smaller package.

With Android, varied screen sizes means an entirely new app experience, adding quite a burden for mobile developers.   The iPad mini, however, is compatible with almost every iPad app on the store.  But because it has a smaller screen, some people may find it hard to use certain apps, as the virtual buttons may be a bit difficult to hit.  So the question is, will Apple provide developers a new tool kit to help them build iPad mini specific apps?

Some see the iPad mini as another opportunity for developers, while others see the existence of the device as another burden.  It could be said that if you make a great app for the bigger iPad, that app would look just as awesome on the mini.  But others say that developing for the iPad mini will result in an app ready for the larger screen of the full-size iPad.  Whichever way you look at it, developing mobile apps these days is a matter of scale.

But developers doubt that Apple will be promoting app development for the iPad mini rather than the bigger iPad.

“We haven’t seen any updates to Apple’s developer tools yet,”   Pocket developer Steve Streza said.  “It’s unlikely that there will be a ‘third’ part of a universal app. But what I’m hoping for is some way to programmatically determine that the device the app is running on is the iPad mini. Then we can make changes to font sizes and stuff if we need to.”

Though Apple says that iPad apps will still look great on the iPad mini, a lot of app developers are still looking into ways to make their apps perfect on any iOS screen.  Just like BeFunky, the photo editing app, that recently released a new version with support for iDevices running on iOS 6, the iPhone 5, and of course the iPad mini.  The updated app features unlimited stacking of effects, expanded editing features, change history, more filters, and a new interactive Photo Gallery.  They want their users to have a seamless experience when using any device they please.

“Much like Apple, BeFunky lies at the intersection between technology and art, allowing users to turn ordinary pictures into incredible works of art with creative options that cannot be found elsewhere,” said Tekin Tatar, CEO of BeFunky. “Our mission is to bring easy-to-use professional photo editing to the masses and we will follow our users wherever they go.”

Pocket is also excited about the arrival of the iPad mini since it will give them another device to showcase the beauty of their app.

“The existing iPad app we have will work fine for iPad mini owners,” Streza said. “We’ll make any design tweaks we need once we have the device. Based on what we’ve seen on Android, the 7-inch tablet seems pretty popular for reading Pocket.”

When it’s all said and done, the mini opens up new opportunities for developers to create apps that work well on a 3.5, 4, 7.9 and 9.7-inch screen without exerting much effort in scaling the apps.  And that fragmentation workaround could be great for Apple in the long run.