What is this “HD” business anyway?

Posted in Spritely by Dimitri on April 1, 2010

So many iPhone OS games and apps have taken to postfixing “HD” to their names to represent the iPad. Technically, the iPad isn’t a traditional “HD” resolution (it’s taller but less wide than 720p). But in looking at screen shots today on the newly opened iTunes App Store for iPad, I realized that these apps really do feel HD. High Def and Hugely Different. And that’s not just a comparison to their smaller iPhone brethren, it’s also a comparison to the world’s most frequently used app: websites.

Most websites are cautious: they make sure that they can fit within a width of 800, 900, or 1000 pixels, to insure that they are usable by all screen sizes. The iPad is 1024 pixels wide in portrait, which nearly all of these HD apps fill with their content. Take the New York Times for example:

On the left, the NYT website. On the right, the iPad app for the NYT. The green areas are content.

On the website, 44% of the screen is occupied by the requested content. The rest is ads, navigation, branding, etc. And I’ve even removed the additional space added by the browser’s navigation bar, tabs, and bookmarks.

On the iPad, 88% of the screen is occupied by the requested content. It fills the entire width of the screen and nearly all the way to the top and bottom. A few navigational elements sit on the top, but the screen is essentially showing all content.

HD indeed.


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