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Developing separate iPad iPhone versions vs. universal apps

View Poll Results: Would you prefer separate iPhone/iPad apps or one app for both gizmos
I don't wanna pay extra for an app I've already purchased for my iPhone! 23 54.76%
I rather pay to save space on my iPhone and have a "proper" iPad app. 11 26.19%
I don't care either way. 8 19.05%
Voters: 42. You may not vote on this poll
01-31-2010, 08:11 AM
#1
Joined: Mar 2009
Location: Oslo, Norway
Posts: 731
Developing separate iPad iPhone versions vs. universal apps

This is something I guess us developers will have to decide upon in the future. Releasing universal versions might seem like good customer service on the surface as users will only have to buy the app once.

Unfortunately I don't believe it is the way to go, despite this obvious advantage to a lot of consumers. One of the problems is the fact that the iPhone apps will have to cary with them a lot of unneeded resources, making the files larger. As an iPhone user I certainly prefer the files to take as little place as possible and although I don't mind saving a bit of cash I wouldn't mind buying my favorite apps again for the iPad if this means they will be truly optimized for the platform. I might be in the minority though and would like to hear from the rest of you.

Separate apps or fat binaries?
01-31-2010, 12:54 PM
#2
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Birmingham, Al
Posts: 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by NickFalk View Post
This is something I guess us developers will have to decide upon in the future. Releasing universal versions might seem like good customer service on the surface as users will only have to buy the app once.

Unfortunately I don't believe it is the way to go, despite this obvious advantage to a lot of consumers. One of the problems is the fact that the iPhone apps will have to cary with them a lot of unneeded resources, making the files larger. As an iPhone user I certainly prefer the files to take as little place as possible and although I don't mind saving a bit of cash I wouldn't mind buying my favorite apps again for the iPad if this means they will be truly optimized for the platform. I might be in the minority though and would like to hear from the rest of you.

Separate apps or fat binaries?
Well for my customers the universal binary will be the best, I would only need to release one update at a time, use the same code base, and only need to add additional content and config files to handle multiple platforms. The binary actually won't increase that much, but the File-size of the Application will rise. Also I have a bet the Fieldrunner guys will release a new iPad only version, they are all about the money.

My only real concern is will the universal binary still work on 2.2.x devices, since I don't want to leave them behind.

Developer of Port Defender, & Have a Masters Degree in Software Engineering and actually have a real Job

01-31-2010, 03:00 PM
#3
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Munich, Germany
Posts: 754
Send a message via Skype™ to mobile1up
Quote:
Originally Posted by slashandburn View Post
My only real concern is will the universal binary still work on 2.2.x devices, since I don't want to leave them behind.
apple has dealt with this before. universal binaries exist on mac osx. power pc and intel - apps written for intel can still run on non-intel devices - as long as the applications do not use mac osx version specific API's and they are built as universal binaries.

you'll find the bootstrap of a universal binary is power pc based so it'll run even on older systems - but, a new intel system could detect this and execute the intel version. for the ipod/iphone vs ipad - they are both assumably ARM binaries so it should be even easier to deal with.

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01-31-2010, 05:31 PM
#4
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 267
I'm not even planning on getting an ipad because I've already got an ipod touch and in my opinion they're practically the same thing except one is bigger. I bought my PC laptop (mid-end) for $399.99 and laughably I can say it at least can play flash! So I prefer games be made universal, both for ipod touch and ipad.

Gameloft ID: VoN_Athlos Plus+ ID: Twizzy420 Warfare Inc ID: Athlos
01-31-2010, 06:52 PM
#5
This is a very complex problem, and not one likely to be resolved in the next two months.

On the one hand, universal apps seem great and simple for users. Buy once, use on all devices. It makes for a clean App Store, and is very 'Apple-like'. Apple are clearly promoting universal apps, and customers will want them and expect them.

On the other hand, the iPad is a completely different device, with a completely different technical requirements. Gaming in particular does not fit at all well with the universal app method. It increases the size of a game to up to 5x the original, making it less likely to fit under 10MB. The coding for two separate display sizes is more complicated. The images required for iPad games need to be at least twice the resolution. For games that are already in the store, this means re-creating all the graphics.

So tens of thousands of developers will need to go out and re-hire their graphics crew to re-create a whole bunch of graphics. This isn't cheap, but customers will be expecting it to be done for free.

So what options are there to charge for the extra development, and distribute the right sized app to the right device?

You could sell an iPhone version for $5, and an iPad version for $10. But customers aren't going to like that. 'I've already paid $5, I'm not paying double that to play it on my iPad!'. Reviews like that will take over your iPhone version.

You can't charge $5 for the iPhone version, then use IAP/DLC for the iPad version, as it would require a universal app. Which means people buying the universal version on an iPad will then have to pay more for the DLC they need. You could, I guess, have an iPad only version as well, but can you imagine the confusion on the store? How many emails will you get from people who bought the wrong version on the iPad, and pay twice? How much would you charge for the iPad upgrade, and how much for the specific version? This method is complicated, though some developers will definitely use it.

Another option might be to release one universal version with no resources, and have it download the correct ones from your web server. This adds to coding complication, requires developers to pay for and keep running a server with potentially huge bandwidth, and is an extra step and delay when a customer starts up the game for the first time.

Maybe there are other options, or maybe Apple will come up with an answer. In the mean time though, I'd expect to see a lot of the current games running all blocky at 2x indefinitely, while new games will likely be universal, larger, and get more expensive on all devices.
01-31-2010, 07:00 PM
#6
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 267
I'm not quite sure as of yet, but in my eyes I see the ipad as doing not so good throughout the future. From what you just said it looks like a big hassle for something that really isn't worth it, for the developers or the customers buying an ipad.

Gameloft ID: VoN_Athlos Plus+ ID: Twizzy420 Warfare Inc ID: Athlos
01-31-2010, 07:00 PM
#7
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: London, UK
Posts: 3,741
People are gonna complain either way. I have no doubt that we'll see both methods tested out by a lot of developers, and in both cases people will respond by moaning and whining. It's possible one will turn out noticably more popular though... then set the standard.

Personally I'd be happy downloading a game then purchasing the iPad "extras" via in-app DLC... but there are problems with that, the main one I can think of being people who can't access Wi-Fi on their device and rely on iTunes on the PC/Mac for downloading, so far there doesn't seem to be a way for them to make in-app purchases.

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01-31-2010, 07:50 PM
#8
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 323
Platforms update and old games become useless. Always have, always will.
01-31-2010, 07:51 PM
#9
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 1,467
Quote:
Originally Posted by Athlos View Post
I'm not quite sure as of yet, but in my eyes I see the ipad as doing not so good throughout the future.
The iPad is the future!
As far as the original question--separate versions vs. universal version--I think that most consumers would prefer an app that runs on either device rather than having to purchase the same game twice.

My expectation--and I know I may be in the minority here--is that currently available games will run well in a smaller window but if I want to run them at fullscreen, the graphics will be degraded to some extent. (And that future games will look great at fullscreen!)

I think it is unreasonable to expect developers to re-do all their work so that every game released in the past few years will look great on the iPad at full screen. That's just plain crazy.
01-31-2010, 09:53 PM
#10
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 172
As a consumer, I'd love to buy an app once and run it anywhere.

As a developer, however, I would like to charge separately for two different versions.

I think both of these approaches will be taken but they will be taken on an app-by-app basis, depending on the complexity of the app itself. If tailoring an app to work on the iPad requires simply using higher resolution art and minor coding changes to account for the larger screen size, then I wouldn't mind making one fat universal binary to keep things simple.

However, if I make large changes to an app's code (or rebuild it from the ground up) in order to provide the user with a vastly improved experience on the iPad, I feel I would be justified in charging separately for an iPad version.

Consumers may initially believe that the iPad is simply an oversized iPod Touch but I believe that perception will change once we see some quality iPad-specific apps. This, in turn, will also help justify purchasing apps separately for the iPad.