How news organizations are leveraging the latest iPad

by Patrick Thornton
Sep 4, 2012 in Miscellaneous

The newest iPad has ushered in a new high-resolution Retina Display that renders text that’s similar to the quality you see in print.

The core of most news apps is the printed word. The coarse typography of the iPad 1 and 2 and other tablets led to less than ideal news experiences because letters and words literally don’t stand out as much on low-resolution displays. But that’s changed with the latest iPad.

News outlets have been updating their apps to take advantage of the new iPad, which features a display with twice the pixel density, 264 PPI. Apple says that pixel density qualifies the 9.7-inch iPad as a Retina Display.

Usability expert Jakob Nielsen said in a phone interview that the new iPad’s display will cause people to use the device more because it’s a more enjoyable user experience, particularly for reading text.

Nielsen highlighted the crispness of typography on the new iPad. He said the higher resolution display impacts both reading speed and eyestrain, two issues that plague other consumer-grade computer monitors. These two issues have also caused people to shy away from reading longer-form content on computers.

“All commercially available computer screens have all had bad typography,” he said. “For the entire history of computers we’ve always suffered under reduced reading speed and increased eyestrain compared to print.”

States of “retina” readiness

News outlets are in various stages of adjusting their apps to the latest iPad and are facing some challenges with larger file sizes and difficult technology revisions. Some news apps aren’t updated at all for the new iPad, while others are completely redone for it. The Daily, a news publication originally created for the iPad, is naturally leading the way when it comes to taking advantage of the higher resolution display on the new iPad.

The Daily iPad app has clean-looking text that uses the native text rendering engine built into iOS. The Daily has also updated photos to look great at this higher resolution.

Greg Clayman, publisher of The Daily, believes that the higher resolution Retina Display on the new iPad will foster more reading.

“It’s just so comfortable to read on the new iPad,” he said via email.

Nielsen agrees with that assessment and believes the new iPad and rival tablets on the horizon with high-pixel density displays will prompt people to read more on tablets.

“The crispness of the typography really impacts both reading speed and eyestrain and the pleasantness of reading,” Nielsen said.

The Daily was a news organization created to produce journalism on the iPad. It would be silly if it weren’t making full use of the latest iPad technology. But what about apps from established news organizations?

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This article first appeared on Poynter Online, IJNet’s partner and the website of the Poynter Institute, a school serving journalism and democracy for more than 35 years. Poynter offers news and training that fits any schedule, with individual coaching, in-person seminars, online courses, webinars and more. The complete article is translated into IJNet’s six other languages with permission.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile