iPad3 new iPad is out and brings a beautiful, tight packed new retina screen with a resolution of 2048×1536 pixels. There are two big questions about the performance and visual experience of digital magazines on that new screen and about the increase of filesize for the new, bigger assets.
In short: every magazine or app that is not optimized for retina display that uses graphics that don’t scale (like images or rasterized text) looks worse compared to the old iPads. Nearly everything (except live text) looks pixelated, even though the physical screen size stays the same (there is math behind it).
Details from WIRED magazine. Don’t get bothered by the size, these are 100% screenshots and the type looks like this on the new screen.
This pixelation happens because til today most digital magazines (not only the ones made with DPS) use flattened text and static images to present the layout to you, and they are rendered for screens of 1024 pixels.
A solution to this are appropriate sized assets or live text like in HTML or PDF. When using the Digital Publishing Suite in InDesign you are facing two workflow options: creating everything at native 2048pixels or use PDF as folio format. The best solution lies in a combination.
Sadly, the answer to that is not so easy.
Document size: You can choose between a document size of 1024×768 or 2048×1536.
Folio size: When creating a new folio, you pick the target size, you can choose 1024×768 or 2048×1536 here as well. Folios only appear on their respective devices.
When uploading an InDesign document into a folio, there is some magic happening: The folio producer tools will rescale and optimize some of your assets, according to the size of your folio.
A solution to address both screen sizes: Creating renditions. Adobe recommends publishers using multi folio viewers to create renditions of their layout: one at the size of 1024 and one at 2048. the viewer will pick the right rendition upon downloading. There is a guide from Colin Fleming on how to best conquer this approach (thanks to Haeme, for pointing out.) For different scenarios check also Bob’s very detailed iPad3 predictions here.
But sometimes renditions aren’t possible, like in single folio apps, or you are just too lazy to design everything twice to support retina resolution.
See how each combination of InDesign document size and folio size are rendered on both the old iPads and the new iPad in the chart above.
We learn a few things here:
- When using PNG format (like before), only folios at the size of 2048px are looking nice on the new iPad. These folios will most likely crash on the iPad1, because they need a lot of power to get scaled down.
- Using PDF format, folios at 1024px (like before) are looking nice on the new iPad, because the text will be rendered during display. However, assets like image sequences and scrollable frames are still rendered for old displays and look pixelated on the new iPad. However, this approach serves the best compatibility and performance (old iPads are less likely to crash). (orange color)
- The most beautiful results will bring a 2048px folio in PDF format. You can keep your document size at 1024px, the folio producer tools will do the resampling for you. Assets look georgeous on the new iPad if they are supplied in the double size in the layout. (red color) However, my old iPad1 was having some trouble displaying the folios and crashed occasionally.
- It is not necessary to create your InDesign document at 2048px size or scale them up to that size. It is hard to scale margins and the baseline grid in InDesign, so you might end up with unexpected results. The folio producer tools are doing a good job in scaling content up or down.
These overlays will not be scaled down during upload:
- Image sequence
- Pan & Zoom
- Scrollable Frames
On another note I totally recommend to Test, Test, Test and Test again to see how your design and workflow adapts to the new screen. Use with caution. Especially because PDF folios have minor differences to PNG folios.
The other big question is: How does the new screen size affect the download size of folios. It is not easy to predict on file sizes of digital magazines, because that depends mainly on the assets you use, the folio format you chose and the types of articles (focusing on text or images) and if there are any videos blowing everything up.
Here are my findings from a test folio with a few articles from my DONE magazine, to give a tendency. All Folios are created from the same 1024px documents.
- 1024×768px, PNG format: 16 MB
- 1024×768px, PDF format: 6 MB
- 2048x1536px, PNG format: 64 MB
- 2048x1536px, PDF format: 16 MB