It seems that The Verge Forums became a platform for techblog readers, that can think and have something more to say, that just troll the comment section. A recent post by modilwar is a good example of that. In a nutshell, modilwar speculates about how Apple can increase the size of the iPhone’s display, while getting the maximum effect from it (i.e. increasing the display resolution) and avoiding the issues with fragmentation and existing applications. His solution? Change the aspect ratio, so that the display becomes more vertically elongated.
Modilwar also proposes two solutions to fight fragmentation issues, which would arise from moving to a different resolution: applications that use standard iOS user interface elements can just scale up to use addition screen real estate to display more content, while applications with custom a UI (e.g. games) can run at their native resolution of 960 x 640 pixels with black bars occupying the unused space.
And while this does seem like a generally good solution, I think that it’s highly unlikely that Apple will enable scaling for existing application, without developers needing to modify them. First of all, as some commentators have already mentioned, scaling an application isn’t that easy — sure, the layout of UI elements can scale, but it isn’t the only thing that needs to work. What about animations, transitions, effects, gestures and content? Current applications can scale, but they weren’t designed to. Suddenly adding scaling into the equation will just result in a mess.
Moreover, different behavior of applications, with one set of applications “just scaling” while other fallback to displaying black bars will just add confusion for users — something that Apple clearly doesn’t like or want to. If Apple does indeed change the aspect ratio in the described manner, it’s more likely that all “old” applications will display black bars or something other instead of them, e.g. notification tray, multitasking bar, etc.