Head over to the Apple website, and there’s one word which seems to crop up more than any other – ‘retina’. Once just a fancy name for the super-high pixel density screen of the iPhone 4, it is now a feature which is slowly making its way into the rest of their product line.
Along with the current iPhone 4S (soon to be superseded), the high resolution screen technology can be found in the latest iPad and the impressive – albeit incredibly expensive – top-of-the-range MacBook Pro.
Apple quickly introduced the ability to include high-resolution imagery in their developer APIs for the iOS operating system which runs on both the iPhone and iPad. This serves native iOS developers well, enabling them to release apps which make the most of the devices’ screens. But what about everyone else?
It’s an unavoidable truth that, when using these devices to browse the web, most websites aren’t geared up for such high resolution screens. As a result, photos, logos and sometimes text look blurry and poorly defined. This is an extra hurdle for web designers and one which needs to be taken seriously, as it isn’t just Apple who are leading the super-screen revolution.
There are, according to Fuchs, many ways to ease the burden of readying websites for retina displays, often avoiding the need to write extra lines of CSS or including additional versions of every image. With clever use of compression, site performance should also be unaffected, he says.
Quite apart from the obvious aesthetic benefit sharp photos and graphics lend to websites, a focus on high res web content also carries other benefits, most notably improvements in site accessibility and far better print quality.
Fuchs suggests that ‘within a few years’ all screens will be ‘retina’, like it or not. And, while it’s one opinion amongst thousands, it is certainly something which needs to be monitored closely with more and more high definition devices hitting the market.