Interview

Apple needs to lift the 20MB 3G App Store limit for a Retina resolution iPad 3, says Neon Play's Oli Christie

Apple needs to lift the 20MB 3G App Store limit for a Retina resolution iPad 3, says Neon Play's Oli Christie
While much of the speculation about iPad 3 concerns its physical nature, the fact is that all iOS devices are tightly coupled to the wider Apple ecosystem.

And over time, as the devices become more capable, so they need to be supported by updates to less sexy infrastructure such as app download servers and the like. 

It wa something highlighted when we caught up with Neon Play MD Oli Christie to find out what new tricks he thinks Apple will pull out of the bag at the tablet's unveiling.

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

Oli Christie: Support for 4G internet networks and higher limits on apps that can be downloaded without wifi.

A higher pixel density would also be nice since the iPhone 4 and 4S both have a pixel density over double that of iPad.

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

Full multitasking would be nice.

At the moment only certain tasks can run in the background, such as GPS or music. All other tasks are suspended when you hit the home button.

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?

The A5X would seem to be an upgraded A5 chip, which is dual core, so I'd expect the A5X to be dual core too.

However, it seems likely that the A6 would be quad core, so I would expect a significant technical difference between the two chips especially in terms of parallelism.

Applications which really need to do complex number crunching and multi-threading would perform significantly faster on a quad core.

Since it's almost certain that the iPad 3 will have an increased pixel density - probably 2048x1536 resolution - I'd expect the upgrades to the A5 to be primarily GPU-based rather than CPU.

As such, if the rumoured A5X is a reality, then I think there'll be a big difference between the iPad 3's A5X chip and the future A6.

From a CPU point of view, I think the A5 and A5X will be very similar but to support a higher density screen there'll need to be some large improvements in graphical capability.

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

It certainly seems that in the tablet space, Android is currently iPad's main competitor, and although behind, it seems to be gaining ground.

I expect that due to the plurality of devices and manufacturers there'll continue to be strong growth and Android will gain further ground on account of its ability to provide affordable solutions to a much larger demographic. With Windows 8 seeming to be due for release late in 2012, I doubt it'll get much of a chance to get into the market this year.

While tablet devices are closer ground to Microsoft's PC stronghold, Windows Phone - despite a very strong and well built interface - has done very poorly. Similarly, I think it'll be very difficult for Windows 8 to compete in an already well established tablet space.

If it can make the most of its innovative Metro UI and combine that with the traditional PC Windows success then maybe Windows 8 can draw users from a larger market that haven't opted for an iPad or Android tablet, as well as business users, since Windows is already largely the de facto office OS.

Regardless, I think it's a two horse race between iPad and Android with Windows 8 on tablets as an also ran.

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

In terms of development, I think it'll be a lot more time consuming to create interfaces for universal applications if Apple doubles the screen size.

Supporting both 480x320 and 2048x1536 resolutions is a significant difference.

Double the pixel density means that textures need to hold four times the number of pixels resulting in much higher file sizes. This is especially problematic if applications still need to be less than 20MB for 3G download.

Besides the generalised capability for clear and crisper graphics, two player iPad games will benefit from a higher pixel density where each player has half the screen.
Thanks to Oli 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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