Apple’s Made It Impossible For Developers To Optimize Websites For iPad Mini

Apple’s Made It Impossible For Developers To Optimize Websites For iPad Mini

Even though they’re not leading in marketshare, Apple’s iOS devices account for more than 60% of all mobile web consumption. Because of this, many websites provide custom layouts for multiple devices so that users can enjoy an optimized experience regardless of whether they’re viewing a website from their iPad, iPhone or MacBook.

However, with the new iPad mini Apple has made it impossible for developers to deliver an optimized experience for the device, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

According to a developer at Stackoverflow, the iPad mini and the iPad 2 are detected as the same object in javascript, which means developers can’t give the iPad mini its own layout and features independent of the iPad 2 because both devices have the same screen resolution.

It doesn’t sound like a big issue at first, but when you consider that even though iPad mini and iPad 2 have the same number of pixels, the experience is different on both devices because the iPad mini is smaller and its number of pixels per inch is greater.

Apple probably went with the approach of making the iPad mini and iPad 2 indistinguishable because it’s easier and quicker for developers to just build for both and it would lead to less fragmentation  The problem, as many developers have noted, is that the form factor of the iPad 2 and iPad mini is drastically different. The iPad mini can be used with one hand while the iPad 2 requires two hands.

The form factor of the different devices could lend itself to different controls styles in games.For example, if developers could detect that a device is actually an iPad mini rather than an iPad 2, they could change the orientation of controls, or add a swipe or tap control. Data could be compacted or expanded depending on if it’s a 7.9 inch screen or 9.7 inch screen. But the way things are setup right now, developers can’t get around the fact that Apple has pretty much married the iPad 2 and iPad mini together.

Developers are looking into different ways around the restriction, but none of the solutions are as elegant as it would be if Apple allowed developers to uniquely identify devices, which means a truly optimized web and gaming experience on the iPad mini might not becoming for sometime.

  • dcdevito

    Mini Tablet.
    Epic Fail.

  • sigboe

    And then, the iPad Mini retina came out.
    Same problem or fixed? We must only wait and see.

  • Jonathan Ober

    web designers/developers just use responsive fluid websites vs. fixed.

  • bri_maher

    That “developer” is talking crap. You don’t design on screen size – you design on a) screen resolution and b) aspect ratio and c) pixel density/ratio.

    Websites will work exactly the same on both the iPad 2 and iPad Mini – they have the same resolution, same aspect ratio, and same pixel density (as in each “rendered” pixel is one physical pixel – NOT PPI). From a web development perspective, they’re exactly the same.

  • MacHead84

    Good I say! I hate layouts that are custom fitted to what the developer thinks I want on a specific device. Just give me the normal format of any other iPad not some shifted around nonsense they think its better.

  • easydone101

    I’m a web developer and I have to say that that statement is false; it is based on mainly aspect ratio and the resolution of the screen. There are thousands of different sizes a screen’s aspect ratio can be made and if you set it to do it specifically this or that, you will have to spend time working all of the code for those devices. You website should automatically adjust to the ratio for those who want to gain more attraction to their site as the mobile computing world expands.

  • ramunasbl

    If to start creating/adapting a web site for every single tablet, computer, smart phone on the market – the web site will never gets released.

  • cricket

    1. The iPad mini is the size it is so that developers don’t HAVE to build separate apps and sites for it. Also, the form factor is NOT drastically different for the mini and full size iPad. I can hold my iPad 2 in one hand with no problem. What is the big deal?

    2. I am really getting sick of people whining about responsive websites. Six years ago people whined because they couldn’t view a full website on their phone. Now people whine when they visit a site on their phone and it doesn’t size itself to fit their screen. Chill the F out! The whole point of having an iPhone or Android phone is so that you can browse full websites using a full-fledged working web browser. I don’t want a slimmed down website with less content just because I’m looking at it on my phone. I want to see the full thing.

  • Buster

    That “developer” is talking crap. You don’t design on screen size – you design on a) screen resolution and b) aspect ratio and c) pixel density/ratio.

    he’s not talking about just websites though. games could be played differently with an iPad mini rather than an iPad 2 because of the form factor, but if you can’t tell if a user has an iPad mini or iPad 2 what’s the point in giving them a control scheme that’s great on the iPad mini but sucks on the iPad 2?

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

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