Interview

Faster chip, more memory, Retina resolution - I want to feel iPad 3's raw power says ustwo's mills

Faster chip, more memory, Retina resolution - I want to feel iPad 3's raw power says ustwo's mills
Before Apple got into the mobile phone business, most commentators predicted a two way tussle between Windows Mobile and BlackBerry in the US, with Symbian holding court in the rest of the world.

Fast forward four years, and one's a legacy platform and the other two are playing catch up.

The lesson to learn is the mobile market has the potential to throw up some serious surprises.

While iPhone's larger cousin looks even more immovable at the top of the tablet tree, ustwo's CHIEF WONKA (aka mills™) thinks Apple's oldest rival could stand the best chance at giving iPad 3 a run for its money.

We caught up with mills™ to find out why the next round of the tablet wars is getting him excited.

Pocket Gamer: From a developer's perspective, what's the least you're expecting from iPad 3?

Mills™: We're hoping for an upgraded graphics processor that can handle more advanced pixel shaders, more memory - especially if the rumours of 4x denser pixels are true - as well the same screen ratio as the previous versions to avoid 'fr-app-mentation'.

Also, a GPU that can handle the retina display is a must because I want to feel raw power, unlike on the original iPad and iPhone 4.

If there's a major change to the screen resolution, we would hope that Apple adapts its App Store download system so that resource packs can be separated out per device.

If you were making the decisions, what's the one wildcard feature you'd include?

An extreme and totally unlikely wildcard for me would be something like gamepad support.

I'd love to see an Apple-designed gamepad, although I’m not expecting anything gaming-related until Mountain Lion and its Game Center update. 

The beefing up of graphics and processor could be a more realistic wildcard feature, supported by a serious app to showcase the capabilities of the iPad 3. I'd like to see an app that’s perceived to be resource-heavy that no one would expect to run on an iPad.

Obviously there’s the more standard stuff that everyone’s predicting, like retina display, even better battery life, 4G and LTE support, Siri, 3D maps and a better camera.

The latest suggestion is iPad 3 will come with an 'A5X' chip, rather than A6. Given we know nothing about either, is this likely to make any practical difference?

It’s always difficult to say for certain as, obviously, it won’t be slower, but it might not be light years faster than the current generation either.

The ARM architecture it’s based on is probably more interesting than the naming of the chip.

From an app developer's perspective, I think we're expecting no practical difference, but who knows ... for games it could be very significant. Also, it's likely it will benefit developers taking advantage of processor-specific optimisations or making more computation heavy apps.

Where do you think iPad 3's competition is likely to come from?

Windows 8 in form factors such as the Asus Transformer could be very interesting. If Microsoft can make Windows 8 a great experience across Metro and desktop, then it could be on to a winner.

If Windows 8-enabled native apps can run on tablets and phones, too, it would be big.

That would lead to porting of games onto Windows Phones, and therefore boost the Metro ecosystem. Microsoft would also need to open a NDK to make it easier for developers to port their code over from other platforms.

What do you think iPad 3 will do for games on the App Store, and mobile gaming in general?

I think the iPad 3 will continue to build on its predecessor's success.

We'll see more full feature games as people embrace iPads rather than more traditional gaming devices. iPad 2 is already powerful enough to run really resource intensive games – just check out Infinity Blade 2.

The combination of Mountain Lion with Game Center and iPad 3 will have some impact, as it allows one game to be played across different devices but without a reduction in performance between them.

Better game performance will also close the gap between consoles, but so far I think AirPlay is too laggy to actually replace a console with an iPad and TV setup.

Retina display is a much bigger deal for iPad than it is iPhone as, with most 3D games, retina resolution is hard to distinguish on an iPhone's screen.

On iPad, you'll be able to see it and truly experience it from a developer's perspective, although the quality bar and production costs will need to be raised.

And, it goes without saying that Whale Trail will look even more horny on the new device.
Thanks to mills™ for his time.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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