Apple Increases Display Resolution On Some Device Again, Look For Extra HD Apps Soon

First there was the original iPhone. It had a pretty good resolution at the time, but not great. Conveniently, though, if you wrote an app for one iPhone they worked on them all. The resolution on the phone didn’t change for three years. The iPad, rumor has, won’t take nearly that long.

Then Apple released the iPad. For the first time there was a device available to the App Store that did not have a 480×320 resolution. This screen was 1024×768 on a 9.7″ screen. Now, in order to compensate for the lack of tablet-specific apps, and to ensure the device did not launch with no apps at all, Apple introduced a process called “pixel doubling”. Which, if you’ve ever grabbed the corner of Windows Media Player and stretched the window to fill the screen, is not a concept you’re unfamiliar with. It makes apps look bigger. And crappier. Needless to say app developers needed to create new versions of their apps that didn’t look horrible on a tablet, and preferably, made use of all that extra space.

Then, a couple months later, they released the iPhone 4. One of the headlining features? A Retina Display. With a resolution of 960×640, and a pixel density of 326ppi, Apple redefined OCD by blurring the line between pixelated and blurry. Problem: now, we have a third resolution to support, old iPhone apps that have no business on a tablet have to be updated to not look crappy, too. Perhaps most importantly, though, iPad owners are now aware that their crappy screen, with only 132 ppi is crappy.

Note: a 50″ HDTV, with full 1080p picture has a pixel density of roughly 44ppi. Obviously less if you go higher.

Now rumor has it that the iPad 2 will have a display close to that of a Retina Display with 2048×1536 on what we can only assume will still be a 9.7″ screen (clocking in at 263ppi. For reference, the original Droid weighs in at 260ppi).

So, if you’re a developer, here’s a list of the current and/or soon-to-be supported display resolutions:

iPhone 3G S and older: 480×320 (165ppi)
iPhone 4:  960×40 (326ppi)
iPad: 1024×768 (132ppi)
iPad 2:  2048×1536 (263ppi)

Or, put another way:

iPhone 3G S and older: Regular
iPhone 4: Retina Display-Compatible
iPad: HD!
iPad2: Extra Super HD Extreme To Tha Max

I fully expect all iPad 2 versions of various apps to be appended with the above label. Otherwise, well, I just won’t know what in the world I’m installing, will I?

On a related note, I honestly can’t remember the last time Apple released an iOS device that didn’t require app developers to update their apps to support a new resolution.


Posted on January 17, 2011, in Apple, Apps and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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