More on Why I Think "two ex" Isn't As Likely As "any ex"

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John Gruber and I have briefly conversed about what the resolution of an upgraded-resolution iPad will be. He firmly believes it will be 2x the current resolution because it’s just easier. (True, it is.) But I believe that some future revision of the iPad will have a higher-resolution display which is not a fixed integer multiple of the current resolution for reasons I’ve outlined previously. Two more things make me think I’m right.

First, Apple itself. With 10.4 and 10.5, resolution independence was introduced in phases and was “developer only.” (Via 10.6 was supposed to be more resolution-independent than the previous two releases, but… alas, not so much. That’s bad.

Or… is it? Wouldn’t it be a convenient alignment of things if iOS 5 and Mac OS X 10.7 introduced resolution independence about the same time? They share the same rendering engines, after all, and many other parts of their architecture. If both OSs introduced the last bits of making their interfaces resolution independent, it would make good use of resources in the company. Not that Apple has to think frugally, but if they’re trying to converge the two platforms somehow…

I’m just sayin’.

Second, WebOS Enyo apparently does some resolution independent jiggery-pokery according to this Engadget note. Not that I understand exactly what this means, because I am not about to plunge into the WebOS SDK documentation, but they are making a concerted effort to attract developers by allowing devs to write once for multiple target resolutions. That’s powerful stuff.

Now, Apple does not promote that devs should write once for iPad and iPhone/iPod (because the interfaces themselves should really be tailored to the different screen sizes), though it does work. Instead, Apple would likely try the same approach as HP and promote resolution independence as the bridge between future higher-resolution devices and the past’s lower-resolution devices. WebOS is ahead of both Mac OS and iOS here—there’s some real competition, finally.

So that’s it. I further stick my neck out on the subject of the iPad X’s resolution.

I sure hope I’m right…


Joel Bernstein said:

The issue isn't that there's a technical issue with a 1.5x or whatever DPI increase, it's just that the result would be ugly. It'd be virtually impossible to make pixel-perfect bitmap resources for both sizes. (imagine your low-DPI image is 5 pixels wide. How do you make a 7.5 pixel wide version?)

And what does it buy them? A year, maybe two, until RAM and memory bandwidth catch up and 2x is feasible.

So ask yourself, would Apple choose an ugly option to temporarily pad their spec sheet? Do they seem like a company that lacks the patience to wait until they can do the job right?

Bill Eccles said:

You are right that bitmaps would look ugly, hence all of my references to resolution independence, which is entirely based on vector graphics. (Think TrueType or PostScript fonts vs the original Mac bitmap fonts.)