The almost weekly leaks of details around the new screen on the iPhone 6 continues. This week it was 9to5Mac’s images of the glass layer of the screen, which shows a more rounded edge. If this is the actual design (as always, the jury is out until the reveal of the final product) then the styling of the iPhone 6 edges will be in line with handsets such as the Nexus 4 and the Lumia 925.
In all these leaks, the shiny superficiality of the iPhone 6 is being emphasized. The flood of stories place the iPhone 6 (or whatever Apple decides to call it) on a pedestal, to be looked at with awe and wonder, and allowing readers the thrill and honor of looking at the handset early, before the rest of the world.
The articles also have the handy effect of driving traffic, so as always my variant of Taniyama-Shimura is in effect.
Many of these leaks are from the supply chain that must necessarily be in place for the construction of the next iPhone, which will all be gearing up for production right now so there will be sufficient stock to put the handset on sale as quickly as possible after the announcement.
With the various parts that make up the outer casing of the new iPhone breaking cover, the profitable third-party industry that has built up around iPhone cases can begin to build up their own stock for the launch of the handset. That’s the real prize in the leaking of physical details. It does mean these manufacturers will be taking a bit of a gamble, but the rewards of being ready on day zero with a suitable case make it a profitable gamble that many companies are willing to take - Mark Gregory’s piece on the BBC is a good example of the time pressures that case designers will be under with the approaching release of the next iPhone.
Peripheral designers have a large and porous supply chain to help them get ready for the launch, unfortunately iOS developers have nothing to go on when designing for the new screen size.
It’s clear that there is going to be a new physical screen size on the new iPhone. What’s not clear is what size the developers will need to code for. It’s all well and good proclaiming 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, but unless the pixel size is known, then developers are going to be left in a state of limbo.
This year’s WWDC could have been the place to maybe talk about screen sizes, or even aspect ratios, but no. The only hint that was offered was some new code allowing the emulator to replicate different sized screens for iOS devices - previously the screen options were fixed to those of current iOS devices, but the tweaks allow developers to set their own screen size.
You can be sure that as the dimensions are announced during the presentation there will be countless iOS developers plugging those numbers into Xcode, and hoping that their code to cope with any screen size will work on the new devices. At which point the building and testing will commence, and the race to be in the store as the new handset reaches consumers two or three weeks later will start.
Part of the beauty of software is that it can change at short notice, unlike the physical cases that will have been machined, cut, stitched, and glued, ahead of the big reveal. Software developers are in a better place than the case manufacturers, but it sure would take the pressure off them if some useful soul could leak the pixel dimensions, rather than the physical dimensions.