The new Apple iPad 3 is a technological marvel. A 9.7-inch tablet with a display resolution that puts 27-inch monitors (and iMacs) to shame. But with this comes the challenge for app developers and designers to move from designing apps at 1,024 x 768 to 2,048 x 1,546.
We sat down with some leading app creatives – with apps including the Met Office, Guinness World Records and Whale Trail (above) under their belts – to find out what they made of the new iPad, what it offers to make their apps better and what hurdles it might throw up in their path.
DA: What do you make of the new iPad?
mills, Chief Wonka, ustwo™: "The biggest new feature has to be the 2,048 x 1,536 screen resolution. That is gonna make everything look so juicy. Bit surprised Siri didn't make the cut, but still, maybe next time."
Brett Meader, senior iOS developer, Mubaloo: "[The resolution] will undoubtedly take the look and feel of our apps to a whole new dimension as well as opening up incredibly exciting opportunities within the development of our 3D modeling within apps.We are especially excited about the new Retina display, the faster processor, the new camera and HD video and the opportunities these open up for us as developers and for the user experience.
"There were a lot of rumours before the keynote yesterday that the new iPad would include haptic display technology. This seems to have led to a few people being a bit disappointed, which is a shame because what we have in the new iPad should not be overshadowed."
Brian Edelman, CEO, Crossboarders: "Just like every one of their other product announcements, the new iPad further extends the opportunity for creativity and innovation for gaming studios and content creators to distribute great products on the highest quality device, which time after time is an Apple product."
DA: What opportunities do the higher resolution of the screen offer for your games and other apps?
David Dixon, senior iOS developer, Mubaloo: "The whole look of our apps will be much slicker on the new iPad. 3D imagery will look even better and HD video will also make video content look fantastic. If you imagine watching HDTV for the first time and how fantastic it made programs look, that is what the new iPad will do to our apps."
mills: "The massive screen resolution offers us an entirely new world of opportunities where we can create even more beautiful and stunning experiences for users. More colour, detail and impact meaning more perfection, engagement and enjoyment."
DA: What are the creative challenges of working at the new resolution?
Dean Johnson, executive creative director, Brandwidth: "There is no margin for error! Everything needs (and should) look perfect. We're now dealing with the closest thing to print resolution since digital became an option. I've never been a fan of 72dpi so Retina offers creatives an incredible digital playground. The limits will be dictated more than ever by client's original assets."
mills: "The largest screens in the studio right now have 2,560 x 1,440 displays, so it is going to be a interesting to see the full picture when designing and developing for the iPad's new retina screen. But apps are already available to allow us to design directly onto the device and I won't be surprised if Apple update their Mac screens to retina later this year too."
Eli Newman, head of design, Mubaloo: "Working to the new retina display will mean all the graphics we use will have to be twice the size, which will make the file sizes much larger. It is going to be harder to source imagery to use within the apps because of the higher resolution.
"It is also going to be hard to have consistency across graphics within apps when the images are being pulled down from the web as a lot of these will not be a high enough resolution. As we create all our files as vectors, increasing the resolution of our existing apps will not be a problem [though]."
DA: What are the technical challenges of working at the new resolution?
Eli Newman: "The new resolution will require more bandwidth, especially when pulling images down via a web service – hence why Apple has increased the download limit [to 50MB].
"If an app is heavily reliant on images through a web service, then it could be a drain on the connection because of the file size being twice the size. Whilst this is likely to not cause any issues for people using WiFi this might cause some issues with the download speed of apps via 3G.
mills: "There will be some practical difficulties since the resolution is higher than many laptops, or even desktop, computers. Things like the total app file size and device performance will also impact on how assets and designs are implemented, which means designers will need to be smarter about how they work with developers to translate the designs into actual implementation"
Dean Johnson: App size and processing power. Most developers won't offer the option to download a Retina or Non-Retina version of an app. This will all have to be bundled into one title, with the app determining which graphics to use. We've all been there with iPhone, but apps are naturally larger on iPad and the iPad1 is going to start to struggle without the meatier processors of its newer cousins. We may see more iPhone and iPad specific titles and less Universal compatibility in the short-term.
Ilyia Yordanov, founder of SilverWiz: "The new iPad iOS 5.1 will automatically scale [graphics] in real-time. If apps are artwork-intense, the artwork will become blurry because of the resizing. But if the apps use just native iOS controls – like native buttons, toolbar, etc – then they will look sharp. So only custom artwork will be automatically scaled up, and become a little blurred – but besides that everything will continue to work as usual."
DA: Think you'll want to take advantage of the new camera or faster processor?
Suvidh Marwaha, iEveryday Apps: "With faster hardware, [there will be] more gaming development happening specifically for the iPad platform. Most developers create apps that are universal, but as the iPhone 4 & 4S already have the Retina display, apps have already been built using high quality graphics."
Eli Newman: "Unless clients specifically ask for apps to be developed solely for the new iPad, the likelihood is that our apps will need to work across the different versions. The faster processor will make our apps work faster and better but in the development process we will need to consider the previous versions so it will not have an impact in our initial decisions yet.
"The iSight camera on the back will lend itself very nicely to augmented reality so hopefully we will be able to create some fantastic iPad AR apps in the near future."
DA: Will users outside the UK being able to access 4G networks be of any significance for you?
Dean Johnson: "Yes! The US is the biggest global app market and over 50 per cent of our clients are based there. Were looking forward to streaming opportunities and taking advantage of the new higher 50MB non-wifi download limit."
Eli Newman: "Our US clients will realise the benefits of 4G but here in the UK there is likely to be another iPad released before we start to see coverage."