I Side With Engadget: Cold Water on the iPad 2 Retina Display Hype | Daring Fireball

| | Comments (1)

In this article, Gruber makes some good arguments against a double-resolution iPad 2 display, chief among them that it’s one helluva’ lot of pixels to push. I have to admit, I’m with him on that.

But I side with Engadget which thinks that the display resolution will increase, i.e., it won’t remain at 1024x768, but won’t double, either. Gruber thinks that’s unlikely, too, because that would require graphics to scale up from original iPad resolution to some new iPad resolution, a non-integer (i.e., “not easy”) multiple. And that would require developers to implement three different graphic designs for their programs in order to make it look pixel perfect.

Here’s where he and I disagree.

First, I think the iPad display looks great, but not that great. I’m comparing it to an iPhone 4 which looks absolutely frickin’ fantastic. Today’s iPad looks positively dowdy in comparison, and I think Apple knows it. A resolution bump is a good fix.

Second, I think that this change might result in a push for developers to use Core Graphics and Quartz 2D to create resolution-independent graphics. (App icons still remain a problem.) In general, I think Apple is gently pushing developers in this direction, so it kinda’ fits.

Third, where bitmap graphics are required (icons, for example), my guess is that we’ll see developers encouraged to create 2x graphics and let the hardware do scaling down, not up. That’s considerably easier to do and have decent results.

Finally, all of Quartz 2D and Core Graphics is implemented as floating point. There’s nothing special about the number “2” except that it is easier for graphic designers to deal with in the land of integral pixels. Each UIView, the iPhone container for any kind of on-screen graphics, goes through a massive amount of floating-point computation (the “transform,” if I understand things correctly) before bits are moved to the screen buffer. Because we’re not dealing with integer math, there really is nothing inherent in the system which makes dealing with one screen size and/or resolution any easier than any other.

So while I am completely on board with the “no double resolution,” I’m willing to bet John a Dogfish Head World Wide Stout (which costs considerably more than my usual nickel bet) that we’ll see a non-integer bump in resolution with the iPad 2. It’s feasible and—I believe—likely.


Public Farley said:

Nice post! I sincerely hope that you are correct with respect to Apple's thinking on the matter.