Thursday, February 4, 2010

Designing for an (unavailable) iPad

The iPad isn't available yet, but it's already time for us to start working on Apps for Apple's "magical" new device. Since I can't get my paws on one for another couple months, this presents a challenge and imagination alone isn't going to cut it. Fortunately, there's information and tools out there that can help. These are the basics:

1. Read Apple's iPad Human Interface Guidelines
Summarized here at UX Magazine, The guidelines are an interesting read as the offer insight into Apple's design philosophy around the device. Without being able to use one yet, this is helping to fill in some gaps. Those of you with experience with the iPhone User Interface Guidelines can agree that Apple does a very thorough job on these documents. Super Helpful.

2. Download the SDK
Running the iPad Simulator is as close to using it as we can get for now.

3. Download iPad GUI PSD
Teehan + Lax created one of these for the iPhone, and they've done it again for the iPad. Handy.

4. Build your own papercraft iPad
Yeah I actually did this. Mainly, the display was looking so big on my monitor that I really wanted to get a feel for the true size. As I'm noodling some early designs, I find myself picking this up all the time and referencing it. I used this downloadable template from Hisashi Imai. It's decidedly more rectangular than the real deal, but still nice.

Oh, and... yeah I get to pretend I already have one... which is awesome.

I've just begun playing with some sketches and early designs for the device, but it's already been surprising me. for one, the display is huge. Like many, I didn't think much about the 1024 x 768 spec after the announcement, but once I started working with it, I was surprised by how much larger it was than an iPhone. Obvious, yes, but until you're confronted by the fact that all apps run full-screen on this thing 100% of the time, it doesn't really sink in. A few years ago, we were running 17" monitors at this resolution in a windowed MAC OS environment. This is a big difference.

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