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iPad Apps Explained: Compatible, Universal & iPad Only

March 26, 2010

We're unveiling quite a couple of iPad apps these days and I noticed one particular recurring question that deserves to be addressed; what will run where and how? So, there are fundamentally three kinds of apps. The first one, the iPhone apps you know so well, can run on any device. This means that when you buy this kind of app, you can run it on your iPhone or iPod Touch as well as on your iPad. With one particularity however, when ran on your iPad, they will only show in "compatibility mode" (screenshot above). You can choose between seeing them in their normal dimension, or double-sized with the 2x button. These will always look the same and offer a pretty poor experience on the iPad. We call them "compatible". The second kind are the universal apps. These apps are 2-in-1, when ran on your iPhone, you get a normal iPhone app; while on your iPad, you'll be getting a different, enhanced interface specifically developed for the larger screen. They will always show in full-screen and not run in compatibility mode. For instance, this is the case with the Instapaper Pro app. The third kind are the iPad Only apps. These were specifically designed for the iPad and come as a separate iPad-only application. While they'll probably offer the best experience, you'll have to pay for them again. This is the case for FlightControl or Sparkle HD. Understood?