It's a unique feature, one that makes the prospect of using an iPhone 6 Plus over a competing Android device or one of Apple's smaller iPhones slightly more enticing. Admittedly, it's only one app, but one of a growing number, and it serves to highlight one of the advantages of Apple's larger phone.
More to do in landscape mode
The updated Twitter app brings landscape view to the iPhone 6 Plus. Flipping their handset sideways opens up a dual-pane mode that allows iPhone 6 Plus owners to take in more information. Like Twitter's iPad app, iPhone 6 Plus owners can now compose a direct message on the right side of screen, for example, while simultaneously viewing their other message threads on the left. It's a slight tweak, but it does make using the app just a bit better.
Twitter isn't the first developer to take advantage of the iPhone 6 Plus' larger screen. Many of Apple's included iPhone apps -- Mail, Safari, Calendar, among others -- support landscape view, as do several third party apps, including CNN, Asphalt 8, and American Airlines. The standard iPhone 6, and older, smaller iPhones, don't support landscape view.
For Apple's Android rivals, the situation is a bit more complex. Android developers can, if they choose, build in support for a variety of different user interfaces based on screen size. But in practice, few do. I tested the Twitter for Android app on Samsung's (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 4 -- they appeared identical.
Android phablets have other selling points. Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 and upcoming Galaxy Note 5 offer true multi-tasking -- the ability to run two apps simultaneously -- something the iPhone 6 Plus lacks. But despite pioneering the category, there aren't many phablet-optimized Android apps.
This isn't surprising. In general, Android apps are known to be worse than their iOS counterparts, launching later and lacking features. In fact, the number of Android apps optimized for tablets (let alone phablets) is relatively small. Twitter released an app for Android tablets in the fall of 2013, but it came three years after the debut of Twitter for iPad. Android remains the most popular mobile operating system in the world, so the current app situation is far from devastating, but it's one area where the Apple's ecosystem continues to lead.
A hidden selling point?
The biggest selling point of the iPhone 6 Plus is, literally, its size. Even without landscape mode, the larger screen is useful in all manner of situations -- from simply browsing the Internet to typing out an email. But as more third party developers take advantage of it, the ability to run apps in a unique format becomes an increasingly compelling secondary feature, one that may entice more users to switch to Apple's larger iPhone over time.
As it stands, the standard iPhone 6 is more popular than the iPhone 6 Plus. Apple has not released an exact breakdown, but analysts peg the ratio at around 3 to 1. It would be beneficial to Apple, and its shareholders, to drive more iPhone 6 Plus sales. Last year, Morgan Stanley estimated that the iPhone 6 Plus was roughly $41 more expensive to sell than the standard iPhone 6, but Apple charges consumers a $100 premium.
It will take time -- Twitter's update comes almost a full year after the iPhone 6 Plus' debut -- but a vibrant app ecosystem could help drive more sales of the larger iPhone.