Not only are consumers excited about Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) larger-screened iPhone 6 devices, but media companies also are embracing them. BuzzFeed plans additions to its app to take advantage of the larger displays, including a home-screen widget that will show the site’s main feed with enough room for controls to bookmark posts for later or read them in-app.
CNN and other content providers are also taking a close look at the new phones.
With the iPhone 6′s screen measuring 4.7 inches on the diagonal and the iPhone 6 Plus measuring 5.5 inches, these larger phones might be the ultimate device for on-the-go media consumption.
The iPad was supposedly going to be the platform of choice for media consumption — Netflix in bed, e-books on the train, and the like. But over time, developers and users have gravitated more toward using productivity apps on the iPad.
Now the market is faced with Apple’s new phablets: tween-sized devices markedly larger than the iPhone 5S.
Phablets — that is to say, smartphones with big screens — are not new. Samsung’s Galaxy S II, for example, debuted in 2011. But it’s only now that Apple has thrown its hat, and considerable influence on content providers, into the ring.
John SanGiovanni is co-founder and VP of product design for Zumobi, a company that specializes in app design and in-app advertising. He says that Apple’s two new phones are a “validation of a new category of device, particularly in international markets where one’s smartphone is one’s primary (or only) computing device. Apple has gotten aggressive and is now selling a super high-end offering for those looking for a phablet.”
Apple made no small show of boasting about the display quality on the new phones, and SanGiovanni agrees: “The screens are excellent, no question. Just look at the numbers — the pixel densities are awesome. Apple does an exceptional job of thinking about displays in a holistic sense — they have incredible color reproduction, bright colors, dark blacks.”
Neil Young, CEO of N3Twork, an app that essentially builds a custom TV network using Internet video based on users’ interests, says, “Apple does an amazing job integrating its software and hardware together, so it’s not just that there are more pixels but that the pixels are used in a way that makes sense. In short, the extra real estate is used really intelligently by Apple.”
Apple’s new smartphones offer not only a much larger screen but also a higher-quality one that users may want to spend all day looking at. This sets up the iPhone 6 devices to be a truer consumption device than the original iPad. After all, these are still smartphones intended to be carried everywhere and used all the time. Jan Dawson, of Jackdaw Research, said in an email that the newer, bigger screen sizes are everything:
Larger screens tend to drive higher video related bandwidth consumption, both because people spend more time watching video on a bigger screen, and because the video they watch tends to be higher resolution, which drives more bandwidth consumption than lower resolution video. I’d definitely expect the new iPhones to drive more video consumption, as watching video on the 4.7″ and 5.5″ screens is going to be a much better experience than on the existing phones.
CNN was invited to Apple’s stage to demonstrate what it’s cooking up for the bigger-sized phones. Here’s what it showed off:
“The iPhone 6 Plus is clearly a phone for video, pictures, and gaming,” says Dewey Reid, vp and executive creative director at CNN. “We tried to take advantage of the new screen size as much as we could with the imagery and video that we already have. Because the phone supports landscape mode, users will be able to split the screen, reading stories on one side and searching for new stories on the other.” Reid added that CNN has even changed the app’s typography and that it has “taken out as many design elements as possible” to make it less obtrusive.
Not all content providers are rewriting their apps. A Showtime spokesperson says that the new Apple phones will merely plug into the company’s app ecosystem as conventional iOS devices. On the other hand, streaming giant Netflix has already announced it will add shorter clips to its library to accommodate an increase in mobile users looking for more “snackable” content on the iPhone 6.
If Apple has indeed created the ultimate media consumption device, streaming media companies are no doubt ready to get on board. Says Young: “A bigger screen equates to more viewing, so having a widely adopted large-screen device that people can still hold in one hand means that streaming media on mobile adoption is going to accelerate.”