On Graphics: An Open Letter to iPad Devs

Check. Check. Is this thing on? Hello everyone. If you’re a developer of iPad applications, then today, I’m talking to you. More specifically, the one’s who shouldn’t snooze through today’s address are the iPad game developers, but what I want to talk about applies to a wide range of apps.

I come to you today with a problem that I’ve been putting a great deal of thought into over the last few months. You see, I’m what the tech world might call a “dinosaur.” I got my iPad (the original iPad) around Christmas time the year it came out. This was, if you don’t recall, only months before the iPad 2 was released. I’ve watched as the new iPads and the apps developed for them have gotten better, and I can’t help but feel like I’m being left in the dust – specifically, regarding graphics.

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Don’t Forget About Us

Now, I know that technology advances, and things become obsolete before they even arrive at my doorstep. But we all know what it’s like being Apple users, right? A new version of each product is released every year, and it becomes quite costly to keep up with the newest model of every device. I applaud Apple for always thinking of the next big thing, but for those of us still using outdated devices, we need to watch out for each other.

I am specifically addressing graphics today because it tends to be the one area in which each subsequent iPad release improves the most. And while some apps that are less graphics-intensive may run a bit sluggishly on older devices, some of the cutting edge games become nearly unusable on my first generation iPad.

It became most noticeable to me while playing Motorbike HD many months ago.

It became most noticeable to me while playing Motorbike HD many months ago.

A Proposed Solution

Graphics settings. Now I’ve disclosed on this site in the past my lack of iOS development chops, so I may be unable to grasp how big of a job implementing a feature like that would be. But all of my favorite computer games have deep and complex graphics settings menus so that you tailor the strain on your computer for the components inside. Given that Apple isn’t likely to be supporting more than two models of iPad at any given time, I would think that a graphics settings menu on an iPad would only have to consist of a single toggle switch.

To the iPad developers out there: would this be unnecessarily difficult to employ?

Final Thoughts

The recent release of the “new iPad” may make all of this irrelevant to me and all of the other prehistoric iPad users (and I fully accept that, being two models behind now, it’s probably time for me to upgrade), but it’s not unreasonable to expect Apple to continue offering an older generation iPad concurrently with the newest one. I realize that the temptation to jump at the new hardware and use up all of it’s juicy power designing the latest and greatest games and apps is tempting (and indeed, you should!), but keep in mind the users of older devices, the trailers and the stragglers. We want to use your apps and play your games, too.

Graphics intensive games like Mass Effect Infiltrator can even struggle slightly on the new iPad.

It’s particularly worrisome to me, because I don’t want to miss out on one single app because of the graphics capabilities on my device. And how am I going to tell all of our readers here about your great app if I can’t use it?

And what about you, dear readers? We have run polls on the site before, so I know that at least some of you are still rocking the original iPad. What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you find that some apps are simply out of the question when considering what to run?