Mobile in the Enterprise

How the iPhone 6 Plus changes things for businesses

December 2, 2014

  • Felipe Laso Marsetti

iPhone 6 Plus a new ecosystem for businesses

With the release of the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple has changed the iOS device ecosystem. Android users have enjoyed larger, more versatile devices for many years now, but this is the first time iOS users get this choice. Considering the history of iOS device adoption, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus adoption rates are well poised to increase, including in the enterprise.

So what’s the big fuss about a phone with a larger iPhone screen?

Here are some points to consider about the iPhone 6 Plus:

  • Users will use the iPhone 6 Plus in different ways than a smaller iPhone or an iPad.
  • The thumb friendly areas for the iPhone 6 Plus are vastly different. Even with Reachability, it’s still difficult bordering on impossible to use the phone one handed.
  • One-handed use is also different between left and right-handed people. As a lefty, I have a hard time reaching the top right corner of my 6 Plus.
  • Apps can work in landscape similar to how they would work on the iPad. Split views are now comfortable and common (see the native Messages, Mail, FaceTime, and Notes apps for reference). The device is not just taller. It’s also wider. In landscape you get a better view of things and extra keys on your keyboard.
  • Apps on the iPhone 6 Plus can become hybrids between phone and tablet apps, offering the best of both worlds in a unique experience only possible on the iPhone 6 Plus.
  • Apps get even more screen real estate to display information and content, so simply scaling up your existing UI may not always be the best plan.

These are just a few items that highlight the changes and functionality of the iPhone 6 Plus, but this brings up an even more important question. It’s expensive to create new versions of your apps. Why should your business care?

Why should you and your business care?

We know the iPhone 6 Plus offers a better landscape experience, a bigger screen, changes in how users hold and interact with the phone using one hand, split views on landscape apps, and more. These aren’t just superficial changes. They have a profound impact on your customer’s expectations and how your users will interact with your apps. Remember that an unused app is a wasted app, so an excellent UX/UI is vital.

Here are some important items and things for you to consider as a business:

  • Users don’t care about the code you write or what goes on behind the scenes; they expect apps to be ready and updated for the latest devices from day one.
  • How are your users using the iPhone 6 Plus? Are they replacing their iPad and iPhone with just a single device? Is it still a companion to the tablet?
  • How can your app or product be different and benefit from native support on the iPhone 6 Plus? Perhaps offering a landscape mode or a unique UI designed for the larger screen could go a long way towards attracting new customers.
  • The iPhone 6 Plus offers Full HD video support. If your app relies on video it would be great to offer that resolution and add that small but important benefit.
  • An adapted UI may be required to facilitate using your app with a single hand, or to show more data and take advantage of the increased screen real estate.

How to find your iPhone 6 Plus user base

It’s important that in the process of taking all of these items into consideration that you don’t assume anything about your users, including what devices they’re using. Here’s how to find out what your iPhone 6 Plus user base is.

  1. Do your research: You can use your user research on file, or for an internal app, you can do some basic inquiries into what your staff profile looks like. Although they require collaboration, you might poll users with a few basic questions (including what device they’re using).
  2. Create user personas: If you have the budget and/or the staff, a great way to focus on delivering a well articulated and highly valuable user experience around your users is to develop four to five user personas and then start brainstorming and making initial decisions from there.
  3. Find test subjects: Team leads and managers who are directly engaging with the end user can work with the stakeholders (your app development project decision makers) to set up sessions to test your app with test subjects (actual end users or people very similar to end users).
  4. Create prototypes for your apps and test them. This is an iterative process between your designers and your test subjects. Feedback early in the development lifecycle will help you create a better experience and therefore a better app.

The iPhone 6 Plus may seem like “just an iPhone with a larger screen,” but it can completely change the landscape of apps and user expectations. I’m not a tough customer to please, but one of the things that irks me the most are apps that are not updated to take advantage of the features I have on this brand new phone I just acquired.

How is your product affected by the new, larger screen phones, and what can you do to improve your app’s user experience?