Regarding Vesper and the Accessibility of 2x Mode

Yesterday, I wrote this regarding Q Branch’s plans to bring Vesper to the Mac:

As someone who works more from my iPad Air, it would be neat to have an iPad-optimized version of Vesper. Yes, as Gruber says, I can run Vesper as it is today on my iPad in 2x mode — and it is something — but I like to lament my first-world problems.

My lamentation has mainly to do with the fact that, as a whole, running apps in 2x mode on iPad is kinda gross. It made sense in 2010 — users had to run something on their brand-new iPads as third-party developers optimized their apps for the larger canvas — but it’s far from an optimal experience in terms of design. But they work, as John Gruber is right to remind us:

You can run Vesper on an iPad, though. An iPhone app running on an iPad is far from optimal, but it is something.

Turns out, 2x mode really is something.

Because I wanted to see Vesper Sync for myself (it worked like magic in my tests, both ways), I decided to download Vesper to my iPad Air. Imagine my surprise when I launched the app and tapped the “2x” button in the top right corner. Hey, I can really see this! For as much of a capitulation as 2x mode may be, in design and in experience, the truth is that the pixel-double mode is actually great for visual accessibility.

Because iOS adjusts to fit iPhone apps full screen on iPad when going 2x, an app’s user interface becomes larger, obviously. Consequently, the controls and content of the app are in-your-face, front and center. In the case of Vesper, I would argue that using the app today — an iPhone-only app — is easier to use on an iPad than it is on my built-for-it, 4-inch iPhone 5S. Because everything is so big — system keyboard included — navigating the app and adding/editing notes is no problem whatsoever. Dare I say that using Vesper on iPad is, in fact, more enjoyable than on iPhone for the sole reason that I can see it better, making it more accessible to me.

While I will reiterate that apps in 2x mode on iPad is not the best experience in any design sense, I’m happy to say that I think 2x mode does have a big advantage in terms of visual accessibility. Instead of squinting on a smaller smartphone display, I recommend trying a few frequently used iPhone apps on iPad. I was pleasantly surprised at how much better my eyes felt; it’s a usability win that I’d previously neglected to consider because of my nerdy design prejudices.

All this said, I still would prefer an iPad version of Vesper before the Mac simply because I work so much more from my iPad than my MacBook. In light of this 2x dicovery, however, I am content to use Vesper on iPad as it is today while I wait for a native iPad version. More to the point, I will never again bad-mouth 2x mode because the ugly duckling really has a beautiful side.