New iPad means 3x bigger, high-res publications

Will high-definition iPad pages mean bigger downloads for customers?

The world of iPad publishing has just got bigger, with publishers considering how they are going to design their iPad editions to take advantage of the New iPad's 2,056 x 1,546 pixel screen. But will the current range of iPad publishing suites be able to accommodate the high-resolution screen of the New iPad, and will these high-definition pages mean bigger downloads for customers?

We asked Aquafadas, the company behind the Digital Publishing System (on which App Studio for QuarkXPress is built) for their insights. Aquafadas Digital Publishing System is a plug-in that allows publishers to design apps for the iPad in both QuarkXPress and InDesign.

To summarise the exchange with Aquafadas General Manager Rainer Heckmann (in full below), Apps created using the Aquafadas Digital Publishing System will look "exactly the same" on the New iPad as they do on the previous generations. However, Aquafadas does intend to release an update "within the next few weeks" what will support the Retina display of the New iPad.

It will be possible for customers to "re-generate their apps and publications" using the new release of AVE AppFactory. AVE AppFactory is Aquafadas' solution that lets publishers generate Newsstand-compatible apps including full subscription support.

In order to update their current apps, according to Aquafadas, publishers can add high-res versions of the graphical elements to the app, and generate it again using AVE AppFactory. The new version will replace the old app in the App Store.

However, it will be necessary that two versions of the app are contained inside the app, Aquafadas's Heckmann explained: "In order to provide high-resolution graphical elements for the new iPad, and at the same time ensuring apps run perfectly well on iPad 1 and 2, new apps and updated apps created with Aquafadas' Digital Publishing System will contain both resources, small renditions for older iPads, and high-resolution renditions for the new iPad."

It is not strictly necessary to create a high-res version of the app for the New iPad, according to Heckmann: "Publications created with Aquafadas' InDesign plugins consist of both pixel-based and vector-based content. Text, unless it was converted into an image, is always vector-based in Aquafadas' Digital Publishing System. That means that text in existing publications looks perfectly sharp on iPad 1 and 2, and it does not need to be modified at all to look even sharper on the new iPad, and even at high zoom levels."

As for other content, such as images and videos, this is pixel-based, and therefore: "Images and videos in existing apps will look exactly the same as they look on iPad 1 and 2 on the new iPad, because each pixel of an image or video will be displayed by four pixels of the retina display, and show the same sharpness as on the 1,024 by 768 displays," claims Heckmann.

Should publishers decide to design a version for the New iPad, the app size will increase due to larger image and video sizes. Heckmann explained: "Images can now be four times larger, and videos are larger as well. For example, if the images used in an existing publication would add up to 50 megabytes, and if all images would be replaced by images optimized for the new iPad, the publication's size would increase by 150 megabytes - 50 megabytes of images would be replaced by 200 megabytes."

According to Heckmann, in order to ensure that content if of high enough quality to support the Retina display publishers need to "use higher resolution images, up to 2,048 by 1,536," and videos that are intended to be viewed full-screen, "should be used in 1080p HD format".

Despite this, "we expect to see increases of 1.5 to 3 times the size of current apps and publications," claimed Heckmann.

The complete interview follows below:

Macworld: "Can you produce New iPad-resolution magazine apps using Aquafadas's Digital Publishing solution?"

Aquafadas: "Apps created with the current version of Aquafadas' Digital Publishing System will run fine on the new iPad, and will look exactly the same as they look on iPad 1 and 2. So there is no immediate need to change or update existing apps and content for the new iPad.

Macworld: "Will you be issuing an update to the Digital Publishing System to take advantage of the new iPad?"

Aquafadas: "We plan to release an update to our Digital Publishing System within the next few weeks that will support the new iPad's retina display. In order to make use of the retina display we recommend our customers re-generate their apps and publications as soon as the next release of Aquafadas' AVE AppFactory and InDesign plugins are available."

Macworld: "How will Aquafadas deliver New iPad and iPad/iPad 2 versions of the same title to different devices?"

Aquafadas: "There are two parts to consider, the actual app, and the publication, such as a book or a magazine issue.

"An app uses graphical elements, such as background images and buttons, in its user interface. These graphical elements need to be optimized for the iPad's screen resolution. Graphical elements optimized for iPad 1 and 2 work on the new iPad, and look the same as they look on the current iPads. But the Retina display is all about a better and sharper representation, not only of content, but also of the user interface. In order to provide high-resolution graphical elements for the new iPad, and at the same time ensuring apps run perfectly well on iPad 1 and 2, new apps and updated apps created with Aquafadas' Digital Publishing System will contain both resources, small renditions for older iPads, and high-resolution renditions for the new iPad.

"The next release of AVE AppFactory supports both iPad 1 and 2 as well as the new iPad. Users can just update their current apps by adding the high-res versions of the graphical elements to the app, generate it again in AVE AppFactory, and replace the old app in the App Store. In the process of resubmitting the app, they can supply higher resolution versions of their app's screenshots on the App Store.

"Publications created with Aquafadas' InDesign plugins consist of both pixel-based and vector-based content. Text, unless it was converted into an image, is always vector-based in Aquafadas' Digital Publishing System. That means that text in existing publications looks perfectly sharp on iPad 1 and 2, and it does not need to be modified at all to look even sharper on the new iPad, and even at high zoom levels. Other content, images and videos in particular, is pixel-based. Images and videos of existing apps will look exactly the same as they look on iPad 1 and 2 on the new iPad, because each pixel of an image or video will be displayed by four pixels of the Retina display, and show the same sharpness as on the 1,024 by 768 displays.

"Our users just continue to use Aquafadas' InDesign plugins for content creation as they always did, with one difference: Images with higher resolutions (up to 2,048 by 1,536, if they should be viewable full-screen) should be used in order to provide tack-sharp images. Videos should have a higher resolution as well, and if videos are intended to be viewed full-screen, they actually should be used in the highest available resolution, in 1080p HD.

"Existing content can be easily republished by opening it again and then replacing images and videos.

"The next release of Aquafadas' InDesign plugins will take care of the rest. To ensure optimal quality on all iPads, our InDesign plugins will export two content files instead of one. One file will be optimized for iPad 1 and 2, the other for the new iPad.

"We will also update AVEPublishing.com to ensure the right content file will be delivered to an iPad. If a content file will be requested for download from an iPad 1 or 2, the lower-res version will be loaded onto the iPad, and a high-res version will be delivered to new iPads."

Macworld: "On average, how much extra space will a publication take up when working at the new resolution?"

Aquafadas: "That mainly depends on how many images and videos are used in a publication. Generally publication size will go up, because images can now be four times larger, and videos are larger as well. For example, if the images used in an existing publication would add up to 50 megabytes, and if all images would be replaced by images optimized for the new iPad, the publication's size would increase by 150 megabytes - 50 megabytes of images would be replaced by 200 megabytes.

"The size of an app itself will also increase slightly, because graphical elements in an app's user interface will increase in size by four times.

"For example, books with a lot of text and few images and videos will only increase in size a bit, while magazines with many images and videos may become significantly larger.

"Since not all content is pixel-based, and vector based content will stay at the same size, we expect the average increase of app and publication sizes to be less than factor 4, and expect to see increases of 1.5 to 3 times the size of current apps and publications."

Macworld: "What are the considerations designers need to be aware of when producing digital magazines for the new iPad?"

Aquafadas: "Not much changes for designers in the use of Aquafadas' Digital Publishing System.

"They need to make sure the content is of high enough quality to support the retina display, which means the use of higher resolution images, up to 2,048 by 1,536.

"Videos should have a higher resolution as well, and if videos are intended to be viewed full-screen, they should be used in 1080p HD format.

"Nothing changes in a designer's typographic work, because text, unless it was converted into an image, is always vector-based in Aquafadas' Digital Publishing System, and will look perfectly sharp on all iPads, even at high zoom levels."

Read what Quark has to say about designing for the new iPad here.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Karen Haslam

Macworld U.K.

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