How to Run iPhone Apps on iPad (and Why You’d Want To)

| How-To

Part 2 - Why Would You Want to Run iPhone Apps on Your iPad?

Why would you want to bother with iPhone-sized apps anyway? The reality is that there are apps that you either MUST run for whatever reason (like some banking or health-related apps), or apps that are truly compelling and useful to you but not yet natively available (or at all) for the iPad. 

By way of example, here’s a list of apps designed for iPhone that I think highly enough to be willing to use them on my iPad:

  • PayPal
  • License Keeper
  • Heard
  • Nag
  • HeyTell
  • iMilk (look, it's not for me; it's for some kids I know!)
  • Flickr
  • inStatus
  • Postagram

In general, as I shop on the App Store, I’m inclined not to consider iPhone-only apps, but there are those few that, for the reasons stated above, I can’t live without on my iPad… as well as on my iPhone, by the way.

So, here’s what actually happens when running iPhone-only apps on iPad… Let’s consider the current iDevice models at the time of this writing – the iPhone 5s and the iPad Air. The iPhone’s screen resolution is 1136 x 640 pixels. For the iPad Air, it’s 2048 x 1536 pixels.

iPhone-only apps can be run on an iPad in either of two zoom modes: the 1X mode or the 2X mode. These modes are indicated within a small circle in the lower-right corner of the iPad screen as the app is running. 

Two iPad screens running an app in normal iPhone resolution and zoomed in

Tap the zoom button on the lower-right corner of the iPad to zoom in and make the iPhone app full screen

In it’s normal mode, the app appears at the same screen resolution it was designed to display as on the iPhone. Because the iPad displays a resolution of about twice that of the iPhone, this results in a smaller view of the app relative to the iPad screen – about half the size. Tap the 2X button to zoom in, where the app’s screen size, in pixels, approximately doubles in order to accommodate it almost full-screen on the iPad. Doing so makes the app easier to use. Tap the 1X button to return the app to its original size.

As is usually the case with this kind of accommodation, there is a tradeoff. The app running in the pixel-doubled 2X mode is obviously of lower quality in terms of sharpness. Everything – text, graphics, keyboards, content – appears larger in 2X mode. However, the app’s functionality – that is, whatever the app is supposed to accomplish for you – is still there. Assuming the app is compatible with the version of iOS that is running on your iPad, it just works. It’s as useful to you as when running it on an iPhone.

For instance, aside from the functionality I get from a couple of iPhone-only photo greeting card apps, I don’t use photo editing apps that are not universal or iPad-native. When working on images, I want the best resolution possible. End of story. Incidentally, the same goes for games.

Next: Perusing the App Store and Some Tips

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John Stephens™

In other news from 2009….


LOL at the other commenter’s trademark.
As a first time iPad owner, this article was very helpful to me.  Thank you.

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