Feel like stretching out those fingers a little? The new iPhone 6 Plus stands 6.22 inches tall and uses a 5.5-inch display that can give your digits a nice workout. Fortunately, several new apps do more than just stretch out to the new screen size—they sport refined interfaces and gestures that really take advantage of the wide open real estate.
Here’s a big win for frequent travelers on American Airlines. With the larger screen size in landscape mode, the app lets you search for a flight on the left, then see its status and details on the right. Being able to adjust your search without going back a screen really speeds things up.
The big, lucious photos in Yahoo Weather are its main selling point on the iPhone 6 Plus. When you turn the phone into landscape mode, the images fill the entire screen with a small temperature reading in the lower-left. Flip back to portrait, and you’ll see the tiny icons for hourly forecast a bit easier than on older iPhones. Another bonus: it’s easier to see inclement weather in the map view without always needing to go fullscreen.
Love it or hate it (depending on your politics), the CNN app for the iPhone 6 Plus looks quite impressive. It’s particularly useful if you sign in to your television provider (say, Dish or Charter) and view the full-screen live television view in landscape. Filling the edges of the screen with what looks like HD video, and depending on the quality of your carrier coverage, you can expect the live view to run smoothly. When watching news clips in landscape orientation, you can flick easily through story headlines on the left and see the full story on the right.
One of my kids is in calculus and uses a real scientific calculator on a daily basis. The problem with most smartphone apps that mimic the hardware calculator is that the screen is too small, and the buttons are even smaller. PCalc Lite is one of the best apps for the new screen size. In landscape view, you can easily (and quickly) find a square root or add numbers to memory without fear of the dreaded “wrong key” error. (It’s incredibly frustrating because you have to start over with the calculation.) The keys fill in to the side of the screen and are about a half-inch wide for easy touch-typing.
The recently updated Storehouse app for visual storytelling now shows images and videos in landscape mode. On the iPhone 6 Plus, photos pop vibrantly on the screen and videos fill the display edge to edge. Photo-centric apps like this get the biggest boost on the larger screen, but it’s not just the photos: I also found it easier to flick through images of other users because you have more room to drag your finger across the screen. The app also feels more responsive when you swipe from a full-screen photo back to the main photo viewer—an important gesture to get right if you ever try to use a large phone with one hand.
Hold up the new Sky Guide app to the night sky in landscape mode on an iPhone 6 Plus and you’ll be amazed. Just click the compass icon at the top, and this $2 app shows you constellations, satellites, and even mythological symbols in real time as you move the phone. If you rotate into landscape, the app rotates along with you, changing the orientation in real time too.
Duolingo on the iPhone 6 Plus almost reminded me of using an iPad app—in landscape mode, the interface is just plain easier to use. When being quizzed on your vocabulary words, you’ll select from four generously sized choices lined up in a row. The same quiz in portrait mode on the older iPhones always felt scrunched to me. It made such a difference that I wanted to stick with the lessons longer.
With Evernote currently in a redesign phase (at least with their brilliant new Web app), the pressure is on for the Vesper note-taking app to take advantage of the lull. It’s already clean and usable, but the larger screen size of the iPhone 6 Plus does help. You can tap up notes faster with the bigger keyboard, swipe notes out of the way and expect that to actually work, and read with a bit less eye strain. The app doesn’t flip over to landscape mode, at least in my tests, which means Vesper is sticking with a portrait orientation.
Having bigger icons when you are tweeting is a major advantage, especially when you are a social media kingpin like me. In the well-known Twitter app Tweetbot 3 ($5), it’s easier to swipe through tweets and direct messages, check a profile, and dismiss messages because you can see more of the screen. Typing up new tweets is also easier because the keyboard keys are bigger. When you do check a profile, the thumbnail photos at the bottom of the page are big enough to see without having to select them.