It’s Tuesday, December 12, 2017 and 38°F in Austin, Texas
Websites on New iPad Retina Display
Is the screen resolution too good?
The New York Times has a very interesting article on the new iPad retina display, and how websites may not be able to take full advantage of the higher resolution for a variety of reasons:
The new iPad resolution of 2,048-by-1,536 pixels allows more content to be viewable onscreen at one time, but at that resolution the text would likely be too small to read without zooming in to enlarge. And the article points out that the resolution of web photos included on websites is generally lower due to bandwidth and page load time concerns.
Websites generally don't include higher resolution images -- unless perhaps your website is devoted to photography, and even then, lower resolution comps are often used to protect copyrighted images from printing and duplication. Images taken on today's high resolution digital cameras are almost always sized down dramatically before loading them on websites. This ensures speedy loading of pages for a majority of web users.
Moreover, the majority of web users don't have monitors or screens set to resolutions even close to that of the new iPad retina display. Thus, unless you want to create and manage an entirely separate version of a website specifically for the new device, you are somewhat limited by the screen resolution settings of the lowest common denominator of your user base. A site designed to specifically fit the new iPad screen would likely extend beyond the screen viewing area for 95% of web users. The article quotes one web agency as saying they wouldn't focus on upscaling websites until they accounted for 20% of the user base.
The article compares the higher resolution of the new iPad to the advent of HDTV, and how it's taken quite a while for the content quality to even approach the capabilities of the devices used to view the content. It should be noted, that most of today's HDTVs use 1080p technology, but that outside of Blue-ray discs, content is generally delivered by cable providers at the somewhat lower 1080i or 720p quality levels (or lower) to maximize the amount of channels they can deliver on their lines. Similarly, home 3D content is extremely limited these days.
It always seems to take a while for the content to catch up to the technology.