The Apple iPad Review (2012)by Vivek Gowri & Anand Lal Shimpi on March 28, 2012 3:14 PM EST
The most visible improvement of the new iPad is naturally its Retina Display. Originally introduced with the iPhone 4, the concept of an Apple Retina Display was created to refer to a display where the pixel density was high enough that the human eye, at a standard viewing distance, could not resolve or identify individual pixels.
Unlike traditional OSes, iOS doesn't support a laundry list of display resolutions. The iPhone was introduced at 480 x 320 (3:2 aspect ratio), while the iPad came to be at 1024 x 768 (4:3 aspect ratio). Rather than require iPhone applications be redesigned for a higher resolution iPhone, Apple simply doubled both the vertical and horizontal resolution for the iPhone 4—maintaining the same aspect ratio as the previous models, and only requiring higher quality assets, not a redesigned UI, to take advantage of the new display.
The iPad on the other hand always required a redesigned UI to make the most of the iPad's larger display and higher resolution. With a different aspect ratio, simply scaling up an iPhone app wouldn't work (although to enable backwards compatibility Apple did allow you to do just that). Admittedly Apple wouldn't want to allow such easy portability between iPhone and iPad apps as it wanted the extra effort to improve the quality of tablet apps.
The new iPad does what the iPhone 4 did and doubles both horizontal and vertical resolution: from 1024 x 768 to 2048 x 1536. All iPad applications work by default as developers don't directly address pixels but rather coordinates on the screen. Existing apps take up the full screen, and if higher resolution images are present they are used as they avoid the interpolation associated with scaling up an image designed for the original iPad resolution. For example, below we have a makeshift iOS icon in three different forms—10x7 native (72x72), upscaled to a 2x version using bicubic interpolation (144x144), and a 2x resolution version (144x144):
The upscaled form looks good, but the 2x resolution version looks better.
More traditional OSes have always given you additional desktop real estate with increased resolutions. iOS simply gives you a better looking desktop. This distinction is arguably one of the reasons why the new iPad's display can be so polarizing. As consumers of high-end displays we're used to higher resolution going hand in hand with a larger panel size. Alternatively, we're used to a higher resolution enabling us to see more on a screen at one time. In the case of the new iPad, the higher resolution just makes things look sharper. It's a ton of work for an admittedly more understated impact, but it's the type of thing that simply had to be done.
Retina Display Enabled Apps
Apple has created such a healthy marketplace with the app store that developers are eager to quickly deliver apps with updated graphics for the new iPad. Sure enough, by the day of launch we saw several high profile applications with higher resolution assets for the new iPad. The motivation to have Retina Display support is huge as Apple is actively promoting those apps that have been updated for the new iPad via the app store:
These updated apps now come with larger image assets, which can increase the total app size. Not all apps will grow in size (e.g. Infinity Blade 2 simply renders at a higher resolution vs. using tons of new content, not to mention that textures are already heavily compressed) but some have/will. The retina burden unfortunately impacts all iPads as there's only a single app package delivered upon download. Even if you don't use them, the higher resolution retina graphics are there.
Note that iPhone apps will now load their Retina assets (designed for 640 x 960) rather than their normal assets (designed for 320 x 480) on the new iPad, resulting in a significant improvement in image quality there as well:
Games are a special exception to the 2x asset scaling of the new iPad. Applications that simply have their UI accelerated by the A5X's GPU do fairly well at the iPad's native resolution. 3D games are another story however.
If all you're doing is determining the color of a single pixel on the screen, not impacted by lights in 3D space or other transparent surfaces above the surface, it's a relatively simple and painless process. For the majority of what you're looking at in iOS, this is simply the procedure. The app instructs the drawing APIs to place a red pixel at a set of coordinates and that's what happens. In a 3D game however, arriving at the color value of that pixel can require quite a bit of math, and quite a bit of memory bandwidth.
Game developers have a few options on the new iPad. One option is to not update a game, running it at 1024 x 768 and rely on the iPad's scaler to upscale the image to 2048 x 1536. The game will take up the full screen, run faster than on the iPad 2, but it won't necessarily look any better. Low resolution content upscaled to a higher resolution display still maintains much of the aliasing you'd see at a lower resolution.
Another option is to render all scenes at the new iPad's resolution: 2048 x 1536. With four times the number of pixels to fill and only 2x the compute and memory bandwidth compared to the iPad 2, this will only work for fairly lightweight content. Not to say that it's impossible—even GLBenchmark's Egypt test, in its current form, actually runs very well at the new iPad's native resolution. Many stressful 3D games won't fall into this category however.
The third, and more popular option is for a game developer to render all frames offscreen at an intermediate resolution between 1024 x 768 and 2048 x 1536, then scale up to the panel's native res. So long as the developer maintains aspect ratio, it'll be possible to use this approach and get a good balance of higher resolution and performance.
Infinity Blade 2 for the new iPad Renders at roughly 1.4x the iPad 2's resolution, then upscales to fill the screen
Infinity Blade 2, for example, renders offscreen at roughly 1.4x the resolution of the iPad 2 before scaling up to 2048 x 1536 for final display. The result is a sharper image than what you'd get on an iPad 2, without sacrificing performance.
Game developers may choose to increase the level of anti-aliasing instead of or in combination with an increase in resolution. As we'll discuss shortly, Apple's A5X does come equipped with more GPU execution resources and dedicated memory bandwidth for graphics that would allow for an increase in quality without a corresponding decrease in frame rate.
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mr_ripley - Friday, March 30, 2012 - linkIt's a shame some people argue that against the workers when over a hundred of them have committed suicide over the working conditions. How can you still say that they are being offers a better deal here??
On the other hand, it is also unfair that Apple is being singled out here. The world of Chinese manufacturing is a dirty one and all major corporations have a part in it. I'd trust Apple over most other companies to make a difference in that regard, and I'm happy to see something is being done in that regard. Ever heard McDonalds CEO touring the slaughterhouse of the meat packing companies??
name99 - Friday, March 30, 2012 - linkReporting suicides as a number not as a rate shows you to be either a fool or a deliberate liar. How many people, over how many years, comprise the pool from which this suicide number is drawn? Everything I have read says that the actual suicide rate is not only lower than the average rate for China, it is lower than the average rate for the US.
mr_ripley - Friday, March 30, 2012 - linkIn 2010, 18 workers attempted sucide, 14 succeeded. To me even one in a whole year is not acceptable. If you think that is ok I hope that statistic turns out to be you!!
name99 - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - linkThe argument was NOT that suicide is a tragedy, it was a claim that FoxConn employees specifically tied to Apple production have such lousy lives that they commit suicide in higher numbers that other people around the world.
You have done NOTHING to prove this claim; all you have done is bring up a very different issue.
mr_ripley - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - linkThere is no disputing the fact that these deths are related to working conditions. I'm pretty sure this has been well established and documented. However, I did say in my previous post that Apple is unfairly singled out. It could have been any other company.
Comparison between suicide rates is irrelevant. Higher sucide rates elsewhere does not justify this problem. Again the fact remains that many people have died and it is directly related to the working conditions.
Apple happens to be in a position to directly influence their lives and make it better, after all they profit in billions from the work these people do. Corporations typically place little value over human life and living conditions (IBM sold equipment to the Nazis to track the Jews in concentration camps). Somehow, I feel Apple is different.
doobydoo - Sunday, April 1, 2012 - linkDude, sorry but you're talking no sense at all.
First of all, pretty much any product you want to buy, electronics wise, uses parts from China where conditions are far worse on average, than Apples factories. So if you actually factored working conditions into the product review, it would look favourable for Apple.
Secondly, your argument that comparison between suicide rates is irrelevant, is absurd. Higher suicide rates where legislation is such that no jobs suffer such terrible conditions that suicide is the only option, such as is the case here, prove that even if working conditions are refined, you still get some depressed people. Your argument, therefore, is with the people who committed suicide. You say it is 'directly related to the working conditions' but where have you evidenced this, at all? You simply haven't. The fact that the suicide rates at Apple factories are lower than some American ones further backs up my point on this.
Every company is in a position to change lives and make them better. You too, are in a position to do this. But guess what. You, just like companies, can do WHATEVER YOU LIKE with your OWN MONEY and have NO OBLIGATION WHATSOEVER to solve the worlds problems. Apple already has amongst the best conditions of factories in China. The amount of profit they make is absolutely irrelevant, if you say Apple should be putting money into this then a lot more manufacturers should also put a lot more money into this. It's very easy to decide what other people 'should' do with their money now, isn't it?
Corporations don't have to adhere to moral values - they are not people. They are there solely to make money. Nothing else. Don't confuse them with people. And I hope you donate every single spare penny to charity and spend every spare second of your time working to build homes in the 3rd world. Oh wait, you're on here crying that other people should do it instead.
Get a hold of yourself you illogical fool.
mr_ripley - Sunday, April 1, 2012 - linkLike I have said before it is a shame some people argue with great zeal against others who are suffering and devalue human life. Fortunately, Tim Cook is not one of them.
If scores of people killing themselves citing poor working conditions is not enough proof what is? If your claim that there are work environments in America that have higher suicide rates because of working conditions is true that needs to be investigated as well and rectified.
You give charity to people who are in need and cannot earn for themselves. If you think giving someone fair amount of compensation for hard work is charity you are delusional.
If working in those factories is such a pleasent experience I suggest you try it out for yourself. Maybe the experience might broaden your perspective.
Although, I don't see the point I will attempt to educate you. Legally, a corporation is considered as a person, that is right just like a live human being. Regardless of that corporations are run by people and actions of a corporation reflect upon the morality of the people running them.
I will stop here as there is no point in continuing but you can respond with more insults and accusations of what I do or have done which frankly is no concern of yours.
PeteH - Monday, April 2, 2012 - linkI've not seen a single report of people killing themselves and citing "poor working conditions" as the reason. Can you provide a link?
There have been reports of people killed because of unsafe working conditions, but that's a different issue. Maybe you're confusing the two.
mr_ripley - Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - linkHere's a Wikipedia link: you can read some of the circumstances and judge for yourself.
They may not have said it in so many words but it is clear they were unhappy with ther work environment.
Imagine your boss coming and beating you up because you lost an iPhone prototype!!!
mr_ripley - Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - linkhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foxconn_suicides