Apple fans are eagerly awaiting next week's announcement about the iPad 3. We've previously reported that the new device is widely rumoured to have an upgraded "retina display", vastly improving the resolution which, in turn, makes apps and games look better.
But reading about resolutions is one thing. What do the numbers actually mean? What difference does the increase in pixels actually have for users? Indie game developer Pixels on Toast have shared a breakdown, using images from their upcoming game Food Run.
The goal of Apples retina displays, across their device lineup, is to be so high resolution that at a normal viewing distance (roughly a foot or more), the human eye literally cannot distinguish the pixels. These ultra-close-up images show the way that the game would look if a player were holding the iPad as close to her face as possible, nose against the glass.
This image shows how Food Run would display on the iPad or iPad 2, which has a resolution of 1024x768. While the colours are vivid and the overall curves are still reasonably smooth, the pixels themselves are visible at this distance. One can see the jagged edges that add up to form the illusion of unbroken smoothness from a distance.
This second image, on the other hand, shows how the same scene from the same game would look on the iPad 3 with its presumed resolution of 2048 x 1536. Again, that's not at normal viewing distance; that's how the image would look holding the iPad right up against one's face.
The developer blog goes on to caution what such an upgraded display would mean for developers and for device owners, adding that the change, while gorgeous, could have some unintended consequences.
Not all iOS developers make their artwork using vectors. Many of the more hand-drawn titles will have pixel-based source art, meaning that unless they were working in high resolution to begin with, there is going to have to be a lot of reworking to fully support the new displays.
Titles using 3D graphics will be in a better state of readiness than bitmap games. It's likely that just a few lines of code will enable these games to run on the new display. However, for best results, games developers are going to have to raise the resolutions of their textures, otherwise the 3D models will look smeary, albeit with sharply defined silhouettes.
As higher resolutions, crisper art and higher processing power in tablets increase, the possibilities for games on those platforms increase along with. If the rumoured iPad 3 specs pan out, the next wave of tablet gaming could easily give our many other portable devices a run for their money.
What would Food Run look like on an iPad 3 Retina Display? [Book of the Dev]