inessential by Brent Simmons

More from Clark on the End of Separate iPhone and iPad apps

Clark Goble, Developers, the iOS Line and Reactive Design:

I’d be shocked if, a year and a half from now, the separate iPad/iPhone categories don’t disappear. I suspect they’ll maintain some semblance of them for legacy apps but will start requiring all new apps be universal. Again it won’t happen quickly. Give it a year and a half. It’s coming.

Maybe. But here’s the thing — while developers should come to see it as a gradient of device sizes instead of separate families, users still see iPhones and iPads.

And it’s also a cinch that lots of iPhone apps already in the system won’t be updated to work well on iPads. And plenty of iPhone apps to come still won’t work well on iPad, even though Apple has made that much easier. (And vice versa, but to a lesser extent.)

And there may be some apps that really only make sense on small or large devices. Panic’s Status Board, for example, makes perfect sense as an iPad (big-screen) app, but much less sense as an iPhone (small-screen app).

I’m skeptical. It’s a radical change. It makes sense, mostly, but… I don’t know.

Clark also mentions that some indie developers count on the iPad version as a separate app — it’s another SKU, another source of revenue. It’s unlikely that these same developers can go universal and raise the price of their app to compensate.

So this change, if it comes to pass, makes making a living on the App Store incrementally harder. Which is not a reason Apple shouldn’t do it.