Does iOS 7 tell us anything about Apple’s plans for the iPhone 6? Not directly, but there are a few hints that Apple is laying the foundation for scaling iOS 7 up to larger screens, and not just those on the iPad mini.
Apple’s new iOS 7 beta is out and it offers a completely new look for the iPhone. Apple went as far as to call it the biggest change to iOS since iPhone. This fall Apple will ask millions of iPhone users to re-learn how to use many parts of iOS 7, something they won’t want to do again in 2014, which is why Apple may be laying the framework for a larger display.
These conclusions come from time spent using the iOS 7 beta, while switching back and forth between the 5-inch Galaxy S4 and 4.7-inch HTC One. These are far from definitive proof that Apple is planning an iPhone 6 with a larger display. While we feel confident calling things the iOS 7 beta tells us about the iPhone 5S, these are observations about how small changes could lead the way to something bigger.
iOS 7 & iPhone 6 Hints Video
These small changes address some common issues with using larger screens, especially one-handed. The video below demonstrates these changes to how users will interact with iOS 7, and offers more on why this could be the very start of framework for a larger screen on the iPhone 6.
In iOS 7 users can now swipe to perform more actions, and the swipes are not limited to small touch points. The lock screen lets users swipe to unlock the iPhone from anywhere on the screen. Swiping down from anywhere will open the Notification Center and up from anywhere part fo the screen at the bottom will launch the new Control Center.
All of these small changes make it easier to use a larger display iPhone 6 with one hand because there is not a need to reach to a corner or hit small touch points.
The camera remains the outlier here. It is still in the far corner requiring a specific swipe to open. There’s no answer to how this would fit into the theory above, but the Control Center does feature a camera icon.
Even inside iOS there are small changes thanks to the swipes. While Settings, Safari and Messages do include icons to tap to go back, a swipe will also go back one screen.
These changes address Apple’s reasoning for sticking with a 4-inch display, not perfectly, but in part.
We also see better landscape support for the iPhone in iOS 7. iOS 6 on the iPhone offers limited landscape use for functions like multitasking. In iOS 7 we landscape multi-tasking that looks nice, though not perfect and a control center that looks amazing n landscape mode.
What does landscape mode have to do with a larger screen on an iPhone 6? Well, it’s a small step towards better support for landscape on the iPhone. The iPad and iPad mini offer landscape support throughout and it is a big part of how many use those devices.
While using the Galaxy S4 and HTC One landscape quickly becomes a natural way to hold the phone while watching video, surfing the web and playing games. Even the new video playback app shifts the important controls to one side. Check out iOS 6 vs. iOS 7.
Landscape mode requires two hands, and swipe potentially makes one-handed use on a bigger screen easier, but this doesn’t need to be one way or the other. While using the iPad mini, portrait is perfect for one-handed use while reading, but landscape mode requires tow hands for a different experience. If Apple does plan an iPhone 6 with a bigger display, expect a focus on these multiple use scenarios.
iPhone 6 Rumors
Why are we talking about an iPhone 6 with a larger display already? Well, rumors point to an iPhone 6 in 2014 that includes a larger display. Rumors are not always right, but talk of a larger display iPhone 6 prototype and multiple analysts pointing to an iPhone 6 that delivers Apple’s next screen jump are enough to keep us interested in how Apple might be slowly inching in that direction.
We expect the iPhone 5S this fall with the iOS 7 release and an iPhone 6 in 2014 with a new version of iOS. This would allow Apple to build on iOS 7’s framework to ease users into a new version of iOS designed with a larger display iPhone 6 in mind.