Building mobile apps for the iPhone X

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Apple recently released the iPhone X and once again it looks like a promising device that will be adopted by millions of users.

While the iPhone 8 follows the same pattern as the previous iPhones, this iPhone X is quite different bringing new challenges and problems for designers and developers. In this post we’ll go over some of the technical specifications of this new device and why we think it’s a unique product.

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iPhone X, Apple’s latest revolution

Coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, the iPhone X made its mark with a completely new design. Apple completely re-thought the user experience of the phone with a more modern appearance. All the iPhones, until now, have had the same product design with a home button and similar gestures. With the iPhone X, we will have to retrain ourselves since Apple re-imagined the phone with no home button and new gestures. This is the first time that we get this kind of screen with an edge-to-edge display in an iPhone. The goal was to gain space for the biggest screen possible while keeping a comfortable phone size. Like the iPhone 8, the back of the phone is glass and allows you to charge it wirelessly (to do so you will need to buy a compatible pad). The iPhone X uses iOS 11, and comes with AR capabilities, which are both things we talked about in a previous post.

Since there isn’t a home button, Touch ID is no longer available. In place of that, the phone uses facial recognition. It will scan your face, even in the dark, to unlock your phone.

Since the iPhone X is quite thin and covered in glass, it is very fragile and should be carried with a case. It’s also the most powerful phone released by Apple so far with a processor 25% faster than the previous iPhone generation.

Why is the iPhone X so unique?

Because the user experience has changed on this device, it makes for an interesting QA test case. When we test functionalities and compatibilities, it is always related to the user experience. The testers of our main company, PLUS QA, will have to get familiar with the device to be able to test all of its specific functionalities and gestures on mobile applications. The mobile apps we test need to function under any kind of operation system or phone, and have to work with different behaviors. This means that testing a mobile application with the iPhone X will require a specific process due to the unique functioning of the phone.

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Companies developing applications to get the most out of the iPhone X’s AR features

IKEA is one company that has taken advantage of the explosion of AR, and used Apple’s ARKit to create a new app, IKEA Place.  The app allows you to place furniture in your room by using your phone’s camera and choosing from over 2000 products in their catalog. You can, in real time, see how a desk or a couch would fit in your space and if it would match with your environment. The app has 98 percent accuracy which makes finding a good fit easy. IKEA understood how to make their customers satisfied. First, they invented a brand new user experience, something that could not have existed without the latest technology. With the incredible number of people who have already bought the iPhone X, this IKEA AR feature makes even more sense. And second, they ensure higher customer satisfaction, with fewer customer returns.

IKEA dove into the future of technology, and we can expect that this kind of AR feature will become a new norm for online shopping. For example, online apparel shops will look at developing AR applications that let you virtually try on your clothing selection.

We really think that Apple is right by betting on AR. Developers can start to experiment with AR and how to incorporate it into their apps. The future will see augmented reality as a part of people’s everyday lives and Apple is ahead of the game with the iPhone X.

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Developers, get ready to develop for the future of technology!

You can already find some advice for creating apps for the iPhone X on the Apple developers website:

Here is a quick recap of the most important points:

  • Don’t escape from QA testing!
    • New user behaviors are changing QA testing. Your mobile app needs to function under any kind of operating system or phone, and to work with different behaviors. That means that testing a mobile application with the iPhone X will require a specific process due to the unique functioning of the phone.
    • Don’t bring any frustration to your users, and make sure that your app works fine. To do so, you have two options:
      • You can download the latest version of Xcode 9 and start testing your app in Simulator.
      • Ensure you have a trusted team of professionals testing your app, such as our team at PLUS QA.
  • Be ready for new screen size
    • The iPhone X is unique. Make sure your app adapts to the new aspect ratio of the phone. To make sure your app works with the new dimensions, check out the Safe Area guides.
  • New gestures
    • Previously in this post we mentioned that the iPhone X has completely new gestures from what we are used to. It’s important to make sure not to interfere with the Screen Edge Gestures. People expect these gestures to work in every app and you don’t want to throw them off. Move controls into the safe area.
  • Update for Face ID
    • We think that this is one of the most important features to get ready for. Since the iPhone X doesn’t have Touch ID, you absolutely need to update your app and make it work with Face ID. To offer the best user experience, your app has to recognize what kind of phone the user is using and be able to display the correct text strings between: “Sign in with Face ID” and “Sign in with Touch ID”. You don’t want to frustrate your users by asking them to sign in with face recognition if they don’t have this feature on their phone. Again, here is the importance of QA testing.
  • Surf on the wave of AR
    • Update your app and offer an augmented reality experience to your user through the camera. ARKit is the specific tool you can use to develop AR features/apps.
  • Metal 2 and Core ML
    • Metal 2 with A11 Bionic chip lets your apps and games realize entirely new levels of performance and capability.
    • The Apple-designed A11 GPU gives opportunities for advances in rendering, computing, and machine learning techniques.

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Our first thoughts on the iPhone X

We were very excited to receive our two iPhone X’s and finally hold them in our hands. Our first reaction was just: wow!

The design is really impressive and is unique from any other phone on the market. In terms of appearance, we think that this is the future of smartphones. It combines everything that users love: a great size (not too big and not too small), with a huge edge to edge display and on top of that, it’s light weight. It is probably the most powerful phone that we’ve come across and it may be a real technology revolution.

When we started using the phones, the new gestures definitely took some getting used to. It is pretty different from what we have used with the classic iPhones, and not having the home button feels a bit awkward. We think that it will take users some time to adjust to this, but our team was able to adapt fairly quickly.