What Old Apps Look Like on the iPhone 5′s 4-inch Display

Now that we know the iPhone 5 will officially ship with a taller 4-inch display, some might wonder what this does for older apps that weren’t designed with the longer display in mind.

I was concerned that apps would just stretch to fill the screen looking warped. For example, if an app included a circle shape in the UI design, that circle would look like an oval on the new 4-inch display as the interface stretched to fill the screen. Or worse, would they zoom in so that part of the app gets cut off?¬†Fortunately, that’s not how Apple handles older apps.

Phil Schiller of Apple explained this clearly during the iPhone 5 announcement event in San Francisco., which is now online for anyone to watch.

On the new iPhone 5 an older app will instead show up on screen at the same size as on the iPhone 4S. iOS 6 will place two black strips along the top and bottom in portrait mode or the left and right in landscape mode just like a letterbox film on a TV.

apps letterboxing on iPhone 5

Here’s what happens to apps not yet updated for the new 4-inch iPhone 5 display

Anyone who has watched a DVD on a screen that didn’t fit the movie’s widescreen aspect ratio, knows what the letterbox effect looks like. The same thing happens on the iPhone 5.

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Hopefully, apps will get an update to take advantage of the full 4-inch display. If they don’t, or until they do, this letterbox effect sounds like a good solution in the interim.

  

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