Mike Becky

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The iPad 2’s Retina Display

John Gruber decided to put a damper on rumors that the iPad 2 will feature a Retina display:

I asked around, and according to my sources, it is too good to be true: the iPad 2 does not have a retina display. I believe the iPad 2’s display will remain at 1024 × 768. […] Maybe it uses the new manufacturing technique Apple introduced with the iPhone 4 display, which brings the LCD closer to the surface of the touchscreen glass — making it look more like pixels on glass rather than pixels under glass. But my sources are pretty sure that it’s not 2048 × 1536 or any other “super high resolution”.

John has become skeptical of Engadget’s entire report at this point. Especially since his sources also didn’t have anything to say about the purported SD card slot. There are a lot iPad cases turning up that indicate there will be some sort of extra port. But, this could be Apple’s attempt to find leaks in the company — give a number of people different specifications for the iPad 2 and see which ones leak. This might explain why some of the leaked cases (like the one above) has an additional slot along the left hand side while others don’t. On the other hand, the SD card slot may see the same fate that the third-generation iPod touch’s camera did.

John’s point is that none of his sources have told him that the iPad 2 will feature such a high-resolution display and that displays at that size with such high-resolutions would be too cost prohibitive for Apple’s current price points. And, he’s probably right. In the past when rumors would surface of a higher resolution display I passed them off as highly unlikely because I believe the only logical resolution is 2048×1536 but this resolution wouldn’t be possible at Apple’s price points.

We all became rolled up in the hype of an iPad Retina display without thinking too critically about how likely that actually is. I’m certain we all would have been a bit more skeptical if “Engadget” wasn’t in the header. Engadget is highly regarded and their sources are usually top notch, I even mentioned so when I wrote about their rumor yesterday.

Both John Gruber and Joshua Topolsky have exchanged words regarding the rumor on Twitter. Topolsky defending his sources saying they have been “consistently right” and that his report never mentioned a specific resolution. Engadget’s Nilay Patel even chimed in mentioning that Gruber wrote his piece believing that the resolution bump would be 2048×1536 or nothing but Engadget never claimed that this was the case. The iPad 2 could receive a resolution that has a scaling factor of 1.25 (1280×960) or 1.5 (1536×1152) times the current resolution. But, this is unlikely because of how difficult it would be for developers to design assets at both resolutions. And, what happens when an iPad with a Retina display is released and developers will have to support three resolutions for the same class of device? That’s a lot of additional work for developers just because Apple couldn’t wait a year or two. It’s not as if the competition is blowing Apple away with their high resolution tablets.

Another point John Gruber mentioned on Twitter is that Engadget’s source may not have been talking about the iPad 2 but instead the iPad 3. Which may be the case. But, we may have to wait for Joshua Topolsky to write a composed rebuttal before we hear whether or not that’s a possibility. A rebuttal that will be an interesting read to anyone who follows this type of news.

The fact is, either John Gruber’s or Joshua Topolsky’s sources are wrong. At least as it’s written right now. Joshua Topolsky could write that his sources were speaking of the iPad 3. Regardless of what Josh writes about this, I have a great deal of respect for both of these writers and am excited to see how this turns out.

The iPad 2, iPhone 5, and Apple TV

Joshua Topolsky published a ton of solid information Friday night regarding the next-generation iPad, iPhone, and Apple TV. Sources like the ones that detailed the latest Apple TV update have given them this information and I expect it to be incredibly accurate. Not only does Engadget have fantastic sources but they are unlikely to publish rumors that they aren’t confident in.

Engadget has been told that the iPad will be released around April and will feature an SD card slot, dual-facing cameras, and a Retina-like display. An SD card slot may be surprising to some but I’ve been expecting it. When DigiTimes first published rumors of a USB port in the iPad 2 I firmly believed that the iPad would receive an SD card slot long before Apple would ever put a USB port in an iOS device. Unfortunately, I never published these thoughts because Milind Alvares beat me to it. With regards to the Retina-like iPad display, Engadget isn’t the only one with information supporting this. 9 to 5 Mac’s Mark Gurman found evidence of a Retina iPad back in June when Apple developer documents mentioned high-resolution image variations with resolutions at two times the current iPad display’s resolution. 2048×1536 sounds like the logical next step for the iPad display.

Engadget’s sources also said that the new Apple TV will include a new Cortex A9-based multi-core processor that Apple has been working on called the Apple A5. The iPad 2 will also likely receive the new A5 but Engadget has yet to confirm it. This new processor is said to be able to crank out 1080p video “like running water.”

And, regarding the iPhone 5:

We don’t have much info on the phone at this point, but our understanding is that the new device will be a total rethink from a design standpoint and will be running atop Apple’s new A5 CPU (a Cortex A9-based, multi-core chip). This device, like the iPad 2, will feature a Qualcomm chipset that does triple duty as the CDMA / GSM / UMTS baseband processor — from what we hear there’s no LTE in the mix at this point.

Building one handset and tablet that can be sold by two carriers simultaneously makes perfect sense. And, this is exactly what I expected with the iPhone 5. Why would Apple want to put themselves through the agony of trying to anticipate how many CDMA iPhones to manufacture compared to GSM handsets? With just one SKU Apple can manufacture iPhone 5s at full capacity and simply send out units to carriers as they are requested.

I’m incredibly excited about the iPhone 5 and can safely say that I’ll be purchasing two on release day. One will be for me and the other will be for my girlfriend. And if a white version is available when we make our purchase, one of us will get it instead of the traditional black model. We’re both currently using iPhone 3GSs and — because my upgrade eligibility wasn’t until February of this year — we both decided to skip the iPhone 4 and wait for the iPhone 5 in June. And I won’t be making the same mistake I did with the 3GS release.

iOS 4.3 Beta 1

On Wednesday, Apple released iOS 4.3 to developers. The beta is available for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Apple TV. Shortly after news of its release I downloaded and installed the beta on my iPad.

Unfortunately, I was too excited to install the beta to realize that it was my iPhone that was registered as a developer device, not my iPad. So after a few emails to a friend, my iPad was registered and I was ready to play around with the new features.

The main features in this beta release are the new four and five finger gestures for application switching, AirPlay video support for third-party applications, the revival of the hardware rotation lock, and personal hotspot.

There has been a lot of talk about these new gestures in iOS 4.3. Many believing that these new features obviate the need for the Home button. I, for one, agree with John Gruber:

I’m not saying these are bad gestures. But they’re like keyboard shortcuts on the Mac. For any command you expect normal people to actually find and use, there needs to be a visual way to find it. You can add a keyboard shortcut for expert users to memorize, but you can’t have only a keyboard shortcut. Same with these gestures.

No one would know that the five-finger home screen gesture existed unless they were told about it beforehand. And, I’m certain it would be quite frustrating if you forgot which gesture did what. Removing the Home button is the same type of thinking that lead to the sale of those labels for your keyboard that helped users remember what their function keys did in a specific application.

But, Jonathan Geller has been told by a source that Apple will be removing the Home button from the iPad and iPhone at some point in the future.

From Geller’s report on Boy Genius Report:

Apple employees are already testing iPads and iPhones with no home buttons on the Apple campus, and it’s possible we will see this new change materialize with the next-generation iPad and iPhone devices set to launch this year.

The most obvious problem with this is with one handed-operation. It’s not much of a problem on the iPad, most users probably use their iPad with both hands, but I use my iPhone with one hand more often then I do with two. How would you do a five-finger pinch with the same hand your holding the device with?

As much as we all like to talk about how much Steve Jobs hates buttons, he’s no dummy. The Home button isn’t going anywhere for a while. There would be too many problems arising from it’s removal. I’m not saying it’ll never happen but this year might be a bit too early for such a change.

Next is the addition of AirPlay support in third-party applications. Developers will be able to build AirPlay support into their apps and I’m incredibly excited about that. I have a feeling developers are going to bring AirPlay support to their applications rather quickly and AirPlay will turn into the Apple TV App Store we’ve been hoping for.

The new beta also bring back the hardware rotation lock for the iPad. If you were upset about Apple’s decision to change the switches functionality, iOS 4.3 will bring the ability to decide whether the switch is for mute or locking rotation.

Personal hotspot has been added to all iPhones in iOS 4.3. I haven’t installed 4.3 on my iPhone but if AT&T ever decides to give tethering away for free, I’ll get a lot of use out of the personal hotspot feature. My friends and family spend most weekends camping over the summer and it would be great if I could connect my iPad or MacBook to the internet through my iPhone for the periods of downtime at the campground.

But iOS 4.3 (just like every other iOS beta) has some hidden signs of devices and features to come, including the iPad 2 camera app, support for the OpenCL-capable SGX543 GPU, Find My Friends, camera effects, and identifiers for new iPhone and iPad models. The only one of these that intrigues me is Find My Friends, which would presumably be a Foursquare-like social network for iPhone users.

iOS 4.3 beta 1 is a pretty rock solid release. I’ve been using it all day and have only experienced one hiccup that occurred when I quickly jumped between applications with the four-finger swipe. Boy Genius Report has what they claim to be the iOS 4.3 beta 1 change log and the list of known issues is quite short. I have no knowledge of 4.3’s public release date, but I would venture to guess it’ll be in the next few weeks.

New Link Post Format

I have considered adding a Daring Fireball-style linked list feature to Initial Charge for months now. But, just didn’t have the technical know-how to build it myself and couldn’t find the right WordPress plugin to do it. That is until Ben Brooks wrote about his setup for The Brooks Review which included a link to the Daring Fireball-Style Linked List plugin he was using on his site.

It took a lot of work yesterday but I finally have it all configured and integrated into the design of this site. Standard articles will continue to appear exactly the same as they always have, but will now include a “●” in front of the title in the RSS feed. The real change is the format of my shorter pieces that will now link to an external site from the title. These link post items can be distinguished from standard articles by the “→” to the right of the title and the “●” next to the date. Clicking on the title will take you to the primary source and clicking on the date will take you to the item’s permalink on Initial Charge.

These link post items will also look different in the RSS feed. Clicking on the title will take you to the external source and a “●” will be included at the end of each post that will take you to it’s permalink on Initial Charge.

This may not sound like a big change, but what it will result in is a more active website with a much more valuable RSS feed. And, although I have always linked to my sources, the source link will be much more prominent than before. I hope everyone will be as happy with these changes as I am. And, if you have any comments about the new format — good, bad, or otherwise — you can direct your emails to comments@initialcharge.net or mention me on Twitter @initialcharge.