March 11, 2012, 8:37 AM —
The new iPad's Retina display is its flagship feature; by all accounts from reporters who attended the third-generation iPad's unveiling this week, its 2048-by-1536 pixel display looks exquisite in person, with crisp text and vivid color saturation. But the much improved screen may severely limit how you use the tablet.
That's because in order to take advantage of that display, apps need to generate new versions of their graphical assets. The new iPad sports four times as many pixels as its predecessors, so for Retina display support, apps need new images that are twice as wide and twice as tall as before. The physically larger images, of course, wind up as larger files in terms of megabytes, too. And that's going to become a problem pretty quickly given that you can't upgrade your iPad's hard drive. It's unfortunate that Apple didn't double the new iPad's storage space options to 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB to better accommodate the larger app sizes endemic to Retina-ready apps.
How big is big?
Let's look at some of Apple's own iPad apps to see whether fretting about how Retina iPad graphics affect file size is a waste of energy. It's not a perfect comparison, since Apple also added some features to the apps it updated with Retina compatibility, but it's still informative: