Jul 21 2011

Two For the Price of 1.1

FDX Reader iPhone screenshot

FDX Reader 1.1 is out today! In addition to bug fixes and a price change, we’ve turned our little iPad app into an iOS Universal app. That means if you’ve got a device running iOS 4.2 or better you’ll be able to run FDX Reader on it. That means you, iPhone and iPod Touch.

John made the announcement at johnaugust.com, and explains some of the background behind the app. We decided pretty early on to bring FDX Reader to the iPhone, and that we wanted you to be able to buy once and get both the iPad and iPhone versions. I think most people would agree that it’s kind of a dick move to make someone pay twice for the same thing. But the thing is, the iPhone version of FDX Reader turned out to be a very different app from the iPad version.

The iPad version of the app uses a page flipping metaphor. We fill the screen with content, and you can flip forward and backward through the script, always looking at a single full screen of content. This is very natural for a screen the size of the iPad, and I think it works very well. But this doesn’t scale down to the iPhone’s smaller screen size. Trust me, as the guy responsible for writing this stuff, I desperately wanted to just load the iPad code-base onto the iPhone, rejigger some widths and heights, and call it a night. But just reformatting the same views for the iPhone would have meant flipping up to four times more on the iPhone than on the iPad, and we couldn’t do that to you.

Long story short, the FDX Reader for the iPhone uses a scrolling metaphor. The entire script is loaded, and you scroll through it as you read. This feels much more natural on the iPhone’s smaller screen, and we all think it works pretty well. Unfortunately, that meant rewriting all of the script display code, most of the code related to the page jump slider and the font size switcher, and some of the data model internals. This is why it took us a while to put the iPhone version of the app together, and why we’re treating it like a big deal.

Moving forward, we’re going to have to handle two separate code-bases, each with it’s own needs and potential bugs. I mean, don’t cry for me Argentina, but, yeah, it’s going to be kind of a pain. In light of this, I completely understand why some apps charge separately for iPad and iPhone versions. If you can’t just re-scale your interface, it’s potentially a lot more work to support the iPhone and the iPad version. I think going Universal still felt right for us, but I’m much more sensitive to apps that split the iPad and iPhone versions. It’s not always motivated by greed, but by the amount of work needed to support two very different user interfaces.

If you’ve already bought FDX Reader, download the update and try it out on your iPhone or iPod Touch. If you haven’t bought the app yet, now is as good a time as any.