Cheap as in Computing

There’s a good case for an iPhone that costs less. But with this lower cost, developers fear that device specifications will suffer:

As someone who’s actively working on an iOS 7 update, I’m noticing a definite pattern emerging: we’re removing a lot of shadows, gradients, and transparency. A lot of views that were previously required to make an app look at home on iOS 6 are no longer needed.

The visual simplification of iOS has led directly to a simplified implementation. As every developer knows, the less work your app does on a mobile device, the better it performs. It’s a lot easier now to make an app that feels fluid and uses less CPU and GPU resources.

While everyone focuses on what Jony Ive has put on the screen, he’s also made the hardware under that screen able to do more with less. And yet again, Apple’s tight integration of hardware and software is going to kick everyone’s ass.

Updated August 14th, 2013: A lot of Twitter followers are saying, “But what about the live blurs? Aren’t those CPU/GPU intensive?”

Yes, they are. And you should also note that access to those features is strictly through private API. An iPhone 4 turns off blur, an iPhone 5C could do the same if necessary.

(If you look closely at the blur behind a toolbar, you notice that there’s some kind of sub-sampling of the screen image. Because this implementation is private, the algorithm could also be adapted for other devices.)

There’s also the question of all the new dynamics in the UI (like bouncy messages.) The highest costs in a GPU, both with computation and hardware components, is with dealing a lot of textures. The math for a physics engine is relatively easy to handle.