Apple’s new Adaptive Display framework hints at larger iPhone

iPhone 6 (Martin Hajek 010)

Just in case there weren’t already enough signs pointing towards the launch of a larger iPhone or two later this year, a new Adaptive Display framework in iOS 8 is a telltale clue that wider and taller screens could be on the horizon. As reported by The Guardian, the developer protocol is called UIAdaptivePresentationControllerDelegate, and works with a presentation controller to determine how to respond to size changes in apps.

If that sounds like a bunch of garble, allow me to explain in slightly more simplified terms. Apple has improved two frameworks called UIKit and AppKit, making it easier for developers to support multiple screen sizes and orientations. Apple does have multiple screen sizes, ranging from 3.5-inch and 4-inch iPhones to 7.9-inch and 9.7-inch iPads, and the consensus is that 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones will soon crack the list.

This screenshot on Apple’s WWDC sessions page could be a subtle hint… 

App Frameworks

Apple briefly touched on adaptive display during a slide at its WWDC keynote earlier this week, but it does not mention the framework in its public-facing list of new features for iOS 8 developers. Instead, UIAdaptivePresentationControllerDelegate is listed under UIKit Framework Reference in the iOS Developer Library of Apple’s Developer Center.

Charles Arthur elaborated on adaptive display in his report:

Developers at WWDC told me that adaptive display is new this year, and that it does just what Android does: scales up vector assets so that they will fit a screen of undetermined size. That should mean that when Apple introduces one or more phones with larger screens, there won’t be a long pause while developers resize icons and so on to take advantage of it, as happened with the introduction of the iPhone 5 in 2012.

There are many reasons why Apple has not released a larger iPhone yet, despite the surging popularity of 4.7-inch and larger devices from competitors like Samsung. The company is said to be picky about the “white point” of displays, which is how realistic the colors look on a screen compared to real life. It has also always emphasized one-handed touch, and being able to access the entire screen with one swipe of your thumb.

The last we heard is that Apple was enlisting the help of Chinese authorities to cut down on iPhone 6 leaks. It won’t make much of a difference, however, as many potential details of the smartphone have already leaked out. We’ve seen what is allegedly the back cover for the iPhone 6, and know that it could have 1706 × 960 pixels resolutionNFC capabilitiesa slimmer design with an all-aluminum curved shell and more.

Apple is expected to unveil its new iPhone lineup in September.