Apple's iOS 6 software-development kit comes with a new Auto Layout feature. And now, some are wondering whether this indicates that Apple will be launching a new iPhone this year with a larger screen.
Auto Layout essentially allows developers to establish parameters for how user interface elements show up on a screen. Depending on a device's resolution, those elements will move to their correct place, based on the parameters established by the developer.
TechCrunch yesterday asked whether that feature indicates that an iPhone with a larger display will launch soon. The blog said that it spoke with one developer who said that Auto Layout is a necessity before Apple can launch devices with different resolutions. The idea is that if Apple launches the long-rumoured iPhone 5 with a 4-inch display, its resolution will be different to the iPhone 4S', requiring developers to have Auto Layout in place to keep a consistent experience across devices.
TechCrunch also pointed to tweets that developers Matthew Wilkinson and Dmitry Zakharov sent out last week, which said that Auto Layout "screams new device sizes [are] coming soon".
But does it? Apple currently offers three iPhones. Two of them — the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 — come with the same 960x640 resolution. The iPhone 3GS comes with a 480x320 resolution. It's possible that Apple is helping developers more easily handle that. What's more, Auto Layout could be a way for Apple to help improve how iPhone apps are displayed on iPads, though it likely wouldn't be the only solution to make them look better.
Simply put, Apple has a tendency to cover its tracks by way of reasonable doubt. And although it's entirely possible that an iPhone 5 with a 4-inch screen is launching soon, thus requiring Apple to deliver Auto Layout, it might also be a catch-up feature to address current development concerns.
CNET has contacted Apple for comment on the TechCrunch report. We will update this story when we have more information.