Why is the iPad unable to run iPhone 4 apps at native resolution?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by rmanke, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. rmanke macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2008
    Now that the iPad is able to run iOS 4.2, just like the iPhone 4, why isn't there the ability to run iPhone 4 apps designed for the retina display at their native resolution (640x960?) on the iPad?

    This HAS to look better than pixel doubling the 320x480 display apps!

    I don't see any technical reason they couldn't just run them at the iPhone 4 resolution. Or is Apple preventing that so that people are urged to design specifically for the iPad?
  2. Kauai macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2010
    If you want to jailbreak your iPad there is an application called Fullforce that will force iPhone apps to play at full resolution. And it isn't nearly as grainy cause it's intelligent resizing compared to just 'magnifying' the image.
  3. dgree03 macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2009
    I dont know, but with android, you can build scaling into the app so that it doesnt matter whether the screen is 480x320 or 1280x960 it will look the same.

    I dont see why iOS doesnt have that api built in.
  4. spinedoc77 macrumors G3


    Jun 11, 2009
    My experience with full force is less than optimal. Every once in a while it works, but more often it either doesn't work at all, or works incompletely, ie: certain screens/menus don't work making the program not useable.

    I've always wondered the reason for this also, I have to assume it's some deep dark conspiracy so developers can make their "ipad" versions and charge again for the same app.
  5. seamuskrat macrumors 6502a


    Feb 17, 2003
    New Jersey USA
    Alas, the screen pixels don't line up perfectly between all the devices, so what we get is a best fits all common solution. It retains backwards compatability and allows for new development.

    That said, many devs do update to a universal for free. Many don't. In my case I had a few that were very easy updates and I released as free. I had one graphically rich app and since I also tweaked some UI and features in the ipad it was a separate app.

    In the case of a game liek Angry Birds or The Creeps, they work to upscale and make it smooth justifies the development cost.

    I think it is critical to the platform that developers do not abandon their apps and maintain them and are able to keep them as universal as possible. I myself use many apps that have never had an update. It is sad.

    The bottom line is the marketplace will dictate if a free iPad app update or a paid one is the best solution.
  6. Piggie macrumors G3


    Feb 23, 2010
    I thought we already knew this:

    Apple has deliberately blocked it from working.

    And for once I'm actually happy they have.

    Before you think I've gone crazy let me explain the reason I think Apple have done this and the reason I'm happy they have.

    I think they are worried that if iPhone4 apps ran at their full res on the iPad they would almost fill the screen. Which on the face of it you might say good.

    But, and this is the key point:

    You would start finding some/many app developers would then not even bother bringing out an iPad version as the iPhone4 version was good enough as it was virtually full screen.

    So we'd end up with less apps properly written for the iPad itself.

    Apple don't want this, and I don't want it either.

    So whilst, yes, it's annoying and some apps would look great. I think in the longer term it would do more harm than good to the iPad specific library of apps.
  7. Don Kosak macrumors 6502a

    Don Kosak

    Mar 12, 2010
    Hilo, Hawaii
    Sorry for the long answer. There are two parts to your question. I'll talk about Universal Apps first:

    The iOS API is resolution independent, and it is possible to write applications that adapt to any screen resolution. The developer needs to add generally a small amount of code to make an App "Universal".

    That said, most UI's built in the SDK's Interface Builder are resolution and device specific. (i.e.: built for iPad or iPhone.) This is generally done on purpose, as you don't want the same user interface on an iPad as you have on a phone.

    As you start adding advanced UI elements like "split views", "popovers", etc to your iPad user interface, you need to add code to handle the UI differences.

    Coding in iOS is a bit like Ruby on Rails where the framework is based on a Model-View-Controller design pattern. Once your UI changes significantly, you end up writing a View/Controller for iPhone, and a View/Controller for iPad.

    It's not so much that the resolution is different, it's that the big screen allows for a different approach to the user interface.

    Okay -- so what if you have an iPhone 4 App running at 640x960 and you just want to display that in a 768x1024 iPad?

    At first it seems simple, just create a ~60 pixel black border around the app and center it. That's doable, and Apple could have done it in iOS 4.x. (They may still decide to do it.) The problem is with the whole resolution independent nature of the API. Apps running on iPhone 4 / iPod Touch 4 screens have a much higher pixel per "point" than iPad or iPhone. A point is an arbitrary distance measurement used by iOS. When you take this approach, most of the graphic UI elements are overblown and look ugly.

    I think this cosmetic issue is the reason Apple decided not to support a 1-1 mapping of iPhone 4's 640x960 resolution to iPad. It wants to push developers to create a Universal App.

    As I said in the first part of this post, the Universal part is pretty easy. The real work comes in when you start doing a new, custom UI for iPad.
  8. Crosbie macrumors 6502a


    May 26, 2010
    Brighton, UK
    Don, whilst I agree with your general point about Apple seeking to encourage developers to make iPad specific apps, I think the UI-size issues have been allowed anyway with pixel doubling. (Which I rarely use, for the reasons you describe. I'm surprised Apple allowed it.).

    I thought iPhone-4-resolution displays might replace pixel doubling as a compromise position. I'd welcome it for some apps.
  9. Piggie macrumors G3


    Feb 23, 2010
    I just wish more iPhone Apps would be written for the iPad

    Not being a Developer I don't know how hard it is to do an iPad version of an iPhone app.

    If the code is the same, then I would have imagined in the change in the UI, redoing some graphics and positions of controls which may be all that's needed quite often?
  10. kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    When people make comments like "iOS apps look more polished", I think they often mean that some app graphics look better at times because they're optimized for one resolution only, whereas Android apps are much more resolution independent.

    And yet all the Android apps I have, look great whether on a tiny 480x320 phone screen, or on a 1024x600 tablet. They certainly look a helluva lot better than using that awful pixel-doubler mode on the iPad.
  11. anjinha macrumors 604


    Oct 21, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    This is just my opinion but I think the reason why Apple doesn't allow iPhone 4 apps to run on the iPad at full resolution is so developers don't get lazy. I bet that a lot of developers wouldn't bother with an actual iPad optimized app if people could just run iPhone 4 apps full size, so we'd have a bunch of half-assed iPad apps instead of a lot of the awesome iPad apps we have now.
  12. rmanke thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 18, 2008
    Thanks for the great responses! I think I understand better now why apple isn't supporting retina apps on the iPad.

    It still bothers me that some of my iPhone apps get updated to support the retina display, yet still don't have an iPad version. Is it that much more work?

    It's sad some iPhone apps look better on the iPhone 4 than he iPad.

Share This Page