You Take the High-Res Road and I’ll Take the Low-Res Road

There’s a brand new game available on the App Store, especially for iPad developers. There’s no need to download it — it comes free with Xcode and a developer account!

Here’s the idea: Create an app for the iPad and try to decide whether you should increase the resolution of your artwork to suit the retina display on the new iPad or stick with the lower resolution of the iPad 2. The object of the game is to not get one-star reviews on your app! It’s called “iPad Development!”

I’ve found a few iPad apps on the App Store where developers – major developers at that – are playing and losing. Let’s look at some reviews:

Major News App

Where is retina support for the new iPad? (One Star)

Popular Game

Come on, you release an update after the new iPad comes out but you don’t update for the retina display! (One Star)

Board Game

Good game, but the update has increased the file size by a ridiculous 700MB. I have an iPad 2 16GB and have no need for the retina functionality … (One Star)

… unbelievable how the amount of storage has gone up to almost 1GB. Got to delete now sadly. (One Star)

Social Media App

… the latest update has ruined everything. After the [retina display] update, it’s taking longer to load pages … (One Star)

It’s no surprise of course that apps that make use of a lot of images for graphical impact dramatically increase their footprint with the iPad retina display. It does have four times the number of pixels of the iPad 2. Even the base artwork recommendation for iPad apps these days is 1024×1024! That’s more pixels than the pro-quality projectors we use in Learning Tree courses — just for the hi-res version of the app’s icon! The iPad display itself is 2048×1536 — a staggering 3.1 million pixels in a full-screen image!

As you can see from the one-star reviews above, people want updates that make best use of their retina iPads on the one hand, but on the other hand, people don’t want to fill up the storage on their older iPads with graphics they can’t use. How do we as developers manage the expectations of a demanding user community?

Unfortunately, like the developers of the apps that got these reviews, I don’t have the answer. I wonder if Apple do?

Richard Senior

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