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Old Apr 2, 2010, 11:52 PM   #1
MICHAELSD
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Lightbulb Why Universal Apps Are Being Done the Wrong Way

Anybody who owns both an iPhone/iPod touch and an iPad would obviously want the iPhone and iPad versions of an app that they pay for. However, universal apps are done in a way that has a lot of flaws.

First, file size is an issue since, whether you have an iPhone or an iPad, an universal app contains all of the files for both devices. This will be less of a problem for general usage apps (though it will add up), and a bigger problems for games that have to work around file limits. A game could be using better textures, etc. on the iPad, making the app take up an unnecessary x amount of space on the iPhone (let's say 300MB). We could also say that the iPhone version has to use a lot of seperate lower quality resources, so the app takes up an extra 150MB than necessary on the iPad.

If a developer doesn't want a 600MB app, then they could split the app into seperate iPhone and iPad apps. In this scenario, let's say that you pay $14.99 for the iPad version, and the iPhone version costs $9.99. You'll probably choose the higher quality experience on the iPad and pay $14.99, but find yourself at times when you want to play the game, but you only have your iPhone with you and would have to pay another $10 for the same game to be able to play it on your iPhone.

Finally, we're down to this, which applies a lot to this weekend. What if a developer really wants to charge half price for customers who have already purchased the iPhone version of an app? Or if for $9.99 for an iPad app, you get the $2.99 iPhone app for free if you don't already have it. Older games enhanced for the iPad that I had never bought on the iPhone would be more appealing to me if I could get the iPhone version as well for paying a premium for an older app.

Apple would be better off letting developers bundle seperate iPhone and iPad apps or offer special offers on the apps than forcing developers to develop universal apps that include all of the resources for the iPhone and the iPad whether the device being used needs those resources or not.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 12:00 AM   #2
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I pretty much agree with your points. The universal issue is kind of a tricky one.

You have the way it is done now. The pros are that customers get both versions without any extra effort, and the initial download file size is smaller than if it was two completely separate binaries for each device. The main con is that once you put the app on a particular device, it still has the code and resources that are meant for the other device, wasting space.

One alternative (and how I had originally assumed it would work) is to have it be more like Mac Universal Binaries are, which are basically two distinct apps packaged into a single .app (although they can still share resources), and once you put it on a particular platform you can delete the executable that you aren't using. The main down side of this is that the initial downloads are bigger, but the pro is that once it's on a device, it could trash the version you're not using.

I guess the third alternative would be to keep the iPhone and iPad apps completely separate, but have the App Store kind of keep track of things so that you can buy the app once and then download each version separately in a manner convenient to you.

I'm not sure if one of these is really better than another.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 12:08 AM   #3
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I think you'll see a parallel among apps that use a lot of resources that would require splitting, will also mean more work on all that media to justify a separate purchase. It will work itself out.

But I agree it would be nice to have the option to download a companion app for the iPhone/iPod or iPad.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 12:13 AM   #4
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I agree with your bundling suggestion.

They should do what they already do with HD movies and TV shows. When you buy an HD movie on iTunes, it downloads the HD file for your computer and the SD file for your iPhone/iPod.

It should be that when you download a "universal" app, it simply downloads separate iPad versions and iPhone/iPod touch versions.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 12:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MICHAELSD View Post
What if a developer really wants to charge half price for customers who have already purchased the iPhone version of an app? Or if for $9.99 for an iPad app, you get the $2.99 iPhone app for free if you don't already have it. Older games enhanced for the iPad that I had never bought on the iPhone would be more appealing to me if I could get the iPhone version as well for paying a premium for an older app.
What the developer in that situation could do, right now, would be to release two separate universal apps. Blarg for iPhone, and Blarg for iPad. In each app have an in-app-purchase which unlocks the game for the other device, and just charge less for that than for the separate app. That'd be really easy to setup. It doesn't solve the size issue, but I don't think it's as big of a problem as you think - I have an iPhone app, and they just released an update that makes it a Universal app. The original App was 36MB, the updated version was like 42MB.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 12:19 AM   #6
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OP. Interesting, and agree.

It would be nice to allow users to purchase a bundle which allows you to install one version optimized for the iPhone/iPod touch and another optimized for the iPad.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 02:13 AM   #7
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Even though its a .ipa file, it's really just a folder filled with files. iTunes may be smart enough to only copy the resources required on a per device basis which means they just allow a developer to package two apps together to simplify their presence and intentions to the user.

Just a thought...
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 02:16 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by jman240 View Post
Even though its a .ipa file, it's really just a folder filled with files. iTunes may be smart enough to only copy the resources required on a per device basis which means they just allow a developer to package two apps together to simplify their presence and intentions to the user.

Just a thought...
The first universal update I saw was about double the size of the original app, and I downloaded and installed that directly on my iPhone.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 02:21 AM   #9
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The first universal update I saw was about double the size of the original app, and I downloaded and installed that directly on my iPhone.
You're right. Friend has a jb iphone and he just showed me the dir of Pandora and it's filled with filename_ipad.png stuff.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 02:28 AM   #10
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Do the universal apps have redesigned interfaces for the iPad or are they just resized iPhone/iPod apps?
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 02:32 AM   #11
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Bundled apps would be nice. But no way am I buying two different versions. Especially the way developers are pushing now, where its twice the price for the same exact thing but with a higher native resolution using the exact same assets from the iPhone version.

Why should I spend $14.99 for Need for Speed Shift when its the EXACT same thing, using the same textures, models, etc. as the iPhone game but rendered at a native higher resolution?
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 02:34 AM   #12
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Do the universal apps have redesigned interfaces for the iPad or are they just resized iPhone/iPod apps?
Whatever the developer wants. Apps are usually optimized nicely for the iPad. Even if it's just running at a higher resolution, whatever the developer is doing should be better than Apple's double pixel method.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 02:39 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MICHAELSD View Post
Whatever the developer wants. Apps are usually optimized nicely for the iPad. Even if it's just running a higher resolution, whatever the developer is doing should be better than Apple's double pixel method.
Ahh, okay. I think that devs should charge the same for iPhone/iPad versions of their apps, but make two versions, one for the iPhone and one for the iPad. So they're two separate apps, but when you buy one you get both. So your iPhone only gets the iPhone app, and vice versa.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 04:37 AM   #14
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I agree with your bundling suggestion.

They should do what they already do with HD movies and TV shows. When you buy an HD movie on iTunes, it downloads the HD file for your computer and the SD file for your iPhone/iPod.

It should be that when you download a "universal" app, it simply downloads separate iPad versions and iPhone/iPod touch versions.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 07:16 AM   #15
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I believe it was the Labyrinth developer who proposed the ability for devs to submit dual binaries into the App store sorta like a Universal binary as mentioned and would have the following user cases:

1) Download app directly on iPad, it downloads the iPad binary.
2) Download app directly on iPhone, it downloads the iPhone binary.
3) Download the app on iTunes, it downloads the combined Universal binary of both.

^ This seems to be the best proposal so far that I've seen. We just need to rely on Apple to implement it now.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 07:20 AM   #16
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I think Apple just didn't have a solution for the OS 3.2 for iPad combined with OS 3.1.3 for iPhone. Remember this would require a change to iTunes on all devices including the actual iTunes client on OSX and at this moment I don't think they are in sync within. It looks like they'll focus mainly on iPad first than the rest later. I'm sure they'll have something figured out for the OS 4.0 as well as iTunes X.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 08:28 AM   #17
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Space is going to increase with each release. I don't think it's going to be a huge issue.

It might be a slight issue for some, but I think a majority of users are going to be just fine. Eventually, you'll just need to upgrade. Or be more selective about which apps you have on your phone or iPad. I have plenty of apps on my phone, i rarely use all of them. I make it a habit to go through and remove apps occasionally that I haven't used much.
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Old Apr 3, 2010, 08:56 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by mosx View Post
Bundled apps would be nice. But no way am I buying two different versions. Especially the way developers are pushing now, where its twice the price for the same exact thing but with a higher native resolution using the exact same assets from the iPhone version.

Why should I spend $14.99 for Need for Speed Shift when its the EXACT same thing, using the same textures, models, etc. as the iPhone game but rendered at a native higher resolution?
Wow, have you looked at the game's assets and seen this? Because in Real Racing HD, they are very obviously using WAY higher poly models for everything, and more graphical effects, than the iPhone version. As well as more things you can do, like take a photograph and wrap it around your car. From what I can tell, most games are more than just using the same assets from the iPhone version.
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