The New iPad: A Retina Display
March 20, 2012. – Apple’s new iPad release announcement has come and gone and the world has moved on. New things are always coming up to occupy our minds. New speculations about Apple’s future plans are being shuffled into place, like the long-rumored development of an Apple TV too. In short, its hard to take a step back and take everything in.
When Steve Jobs took first unveiled the first generation iPad back in spring of 2010 everybody was amazed with its high resolution display and the sheer usability and practicality of its features and companion apps. Being able to hold the iPad’s display 15 inches from your face was the equivalent of watching HDTV. It provided a better way to watch movies, browse the web, read and write emails, read books, and do hundreds of other things in ways we’d never imagined too.
Then, as is always the case, people became used to the iPad and started to ask for more. The surprise wore off, we asked for more, and Apple obliged us. In 2011 predicted enhancements for the iPad 2 included a Retina Display – the same technology that was first introduced in iPhone 4 the summer before – and inevitably it was speculated that the next iPad model would get this same technology. As has become true of forthcoming Apple announcements, at some point people began to believe that such speculations were as good as truth.
The iPad 2 needed a Retina Display, and when this turned out not to be the case a wave of frustration went through tech pundits blogs. The 2nd iPad featured graphics that were 9 times faster, a CPU that was twice as fast, and a thinner case, but bloggers and pundits weren’t impressed. They wanted craved that retina display. Now to be fair, outside the tech community and its writers, people were buying iPad 2s by the bushel and couldn’t care less about the fact that people ‘in the know’ for sure were frustrated.
A year later on we’re in the present and the iPad 3 has just been introduced. It brings the long-awaited Retina Display with it, but for the bourgeois it’s too little too late. Frustration is abounding in the tech pundit community. Blogs wale that it only boasts minor improvements. People who own iPad 2s don’t see the reason to upgrade the iPad 3 this time around either though. It’s true, the iPad 3 it doesn’t levitate. It doesn’t become invisible and it can’t solve the world energy crisis. But it’s brought a great leap in tablet technology with it nonetheless. Given the across-the-board demand, and therefore the stunning number of units needed to be produced and shipped each month, bringing the Retina Display to the iPad was a really tough undertaking, one that took as long to realize as it was overlooked by the public at large.
To be fair, let’s take a look at what the Retina Display brings to the iPad’s users and what it offers iPad app developers. The first thing that comes to mind to me is the pluses it brings to reading books, as the it mimics the quality of text on paper beautifully. From the iPad’s introduction Tim Cook said that according to the company’s recent survey reading books is among the most popular things that people do with the device. Improving the screen quality was tantamount to its progress as a device in this case. In fact if you think about it from this perspective it becomes fairly obvious that enhancing the iPad’s screen is the real key to its evolution.
Every single interaction with this device depends on image display quality, and regardless of whether you’re flipping through your photos, browsing the web, playing a game, or typing an email, all these actions – at their basest – depend on the iPad’s image quality and responsiveness to move forward. The new iPad brings a leap forward in this, getting one step closer to erasing the difference between how we see physical objects and virtual ones. The new iPad presentation was dedicated to gaming and drawing, but it shouldn’t stop iOS app developers from updating apps that fall into other categories. The Retina Display is the reason to improve app graphics. Right now we’re in a race against time – who will update their apps first, you or the competitor? Many iOS app developers are puzzled with how to improve their apps, help them regain traction. Catering to the Retina Display may just be the answer.
I’ll finish with a bit of a speculation, hopefully reasonable speculation at that. The next iPad model will have the same display as the iPad 3 but emphasize longer battery life and faster processing speeds. We shouldn’t expect many dramatic changes, none at least that will force people to re-learn how to use their devices and completely re-think their application in every-day life. Oh, and one last thing – the notion of a 7 inch iPad is still just a pipe dream. A smaller iPad would require developers to scale down the more than 200,000 iPad apps currently on the market. For many of them that’s simple an impossible feat, and Apple is smart enough not to ask them to make this sacrifice.
Last question now – did you read this post on an iPad 3? It looked pretty crisp didn’t it.
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