From the very beginning, iOS devices have been all about the display and your interaction with it.
Apple first presented the iPhone essentially as a small pane of glass with a single front-facing button, omitting even a logo from the front of the device. It wanted you to interact with content directly, manipulating on-screen elements with gestures that rapidly became second-nature.
The iPad followed: a ten-inch display, that becomes whatever app is running. It’s no exaggeration to argue that this created a revolution in computing—the meteoric rise in sales backs this up.
Additionally, the iPad has found itself blessed with apps for a surprisingly wide range of tasks, showcasing that millions of people spend more than the odd fleeting moment interacting with their device’s screen.
With the new iPad, Apple’s tablet is more than ever about this display. The latest change impacts everything to do with Apple’s device and will have big repercussions on the industry as a whole. On the face of it, the change seems merely logical and evolutionary. Apple’s crammed in four times as many pixels, much like it did on the iPhone, branding the result ‘Retina’
The thinking is someone with average eyesight can no longer resolve screen pixels when the device is held normally. But this seemingly simple and obvious update comes with consequences. It’s only when you compare the iPad’s resolution with other displays that you realise how revolutionary rather than evolutionary it is.
2048-by-1536 dwarfs 1080p HD (1920-by-1080); even Apple’s largest display, which is 27 inches, is not large enough to provide a full preview of the new iPad’s screen—you’d need something like Dell’s 30-inch 3007WFP for that.
Such a display requires power, which has forced Apple to work up the new A5X chip, capable of driving higher-resolution graphics and retaining the device’s noted smoothness and fluidity. Apple’s had to upgrade the internal camera, otherwise video-chats and video recording would have been noticeably ropey on the new screen.
And then there’s the battery—Apple still claims ten hours of use, yet reports suggest the battery has a capacity 70 per cent higher than the previous iPad’s; clearly, the new screen requires a lot of juice.
But the effects of the Retina display go beyond giving headaches to Apple engineers. Developers must now make the decision on boosting the resolution of their applications and games, which will increase development costs.
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