As much as I love new gadgets, I waited until the third generation before I got the new iPad. While thousands waited anxiously in lines all over the world on March 16, my new best friend, the UPS man delivered the “new iPad” to my door at 8:15am, minutes after it was officially on sale. I was among the lucky few (three million) in the first week.
It took a while to convince Joanne why I needed that ”missing link” between the iPhone and the laptop. At a recent photographers meeting, I noticed that iPads were the cool accessory, peer pressure was on. Why an iPad when for the same size and price you can get a full featured laptop? I guess each of us have our own justifications but after a week of use, I know that it is a game changer which will radically influence computer evolution and affect photographers and other content creators. Much of it revolves around that “retina” display, and that is a major shift for images on the web.
The quality of the images and text on the retina display is simply gorgeous. There are major changes with the display – first, the screen resolution on the new iPad is 2048-by-1536 pixels at 264 pixels per inch (ppi), compared to the normal 72 ppi of normal displays. This means that some low res web images and graphics may look less than ideal, but for higher resolution optimized images, the retina display can rival the printed image and that is “resolutionary”, to borrow Apple’s line. You can see the evolution of this high resolution screen coming -from the iPhone, to the iPad, to a laptop, and eventually to larger desktop monitors. Even though this is years away, it will involve a whole new paradigm of creating images and content to accommodate these high resolution displays. Luckily, in my last web portfolio redesign, I made the images with enough resolution to look fine in the retina display.
With the new iPad, I realized that since I now have full size browser experience as compared to the iPhone, I don’t need as many separate apps for different sites and purposes. One of my favorite ways to read online material is to amalgamate many different sites into one program. I subscribe to dozens of sites which offer RSS (RDF Site Summary, or Really Simple Syndication), and through Google Reader synching, apps like Feedler, Feedly, Flipboard and many others do an excellent job of having all those RSS feeds in one place. I was doing most of the RSS reading on the iPhone, but on the iPad, it’s a more enjoyable experience and much kinder to my own retina.
Along with all these improvements there are always a few caveats. For photographers, there’s still limited functionality in actual shooting situations compared to a laptop. There has been some early user comments about the iPad being warmer, which makes sense with the new higher powered display but I have not noticed it due to the cover and I don’t spend hours doing HD gaming. To take advantage of the HD, apps will have to be reworked and will increase dramatically in size. As an example, one of the first HD games, Real Racing 2 is almost a 500mb download, and an HD weather app with pretty graphics, was 150mb (tip: buy the biggest capacity iPad you can afford).
I bought a protective case which was supposed to fit the new iPad, which is a tad thicker (0.81 mm to be exact, to accommodate the larger battery) than the iPad2, but I had a heck of time fitting it. It snapped in place in my last attempt. Some fitted cases for the older iPads will not fit the new one. Also, the “smart cover”, a magnetic folding protector for the screen which is part of the case, is supposed to put the iPad to sleep when closed but mine does not work along with the early covers from Apple because the magnetic polarity was reversed. Apple has since corrected the issue on the covers, but something to watch when buying from another source. And when I ordered protective film for the screen, they sent the one for the iPad, not the “new iPad”. I do wish Apple had better product identifiers.
With this new iPad, Apple is again pushing the technologies of the web and ready or not, designers and photographers will have to adapt to HD design over vastly different screens and resolutions as other tablets also catch up. Unlike graphics and text that can be resolution independent, photographs are rasterized images which are not scalable without a quality hit, and the only solution for now is serving different resolutions for different devices. All of this will cause interim confusion not to mention the additional bandwidth needed while we lag behind many other countries in internet speed. The hard truth is that millions of viewers with their HD screens can’t be ignored, and photographers will have to adjust to these new evolving standards.