Something you may have noticed while playing with your new iPad is that many iPhone apps now look much better when expanded to fill the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen. You’ve always been able to run iPhone apps on the iPad in their shruken, non-Retina resolution. Tapping the little ’2x’ button would instantly make the app expand to fill the display. An unfortunate side effect was that enlarged iPhone apps on the iPad looked pretty awful.
Thanks to the new iPad’s stunning 2048×1536 Retina display, iPhone apps now look much better when zoomed in on the tablet’s shiny screen.
Our own John Brownlee highlighted the change in his iPad review:
One surprising thing about the Retina display is that even apps without native iPad versions look incredible. Except for the keyboard and aspect ratio, they look almost native now: they have a less blocky, less pixellated look that makes iPhone apps without a native iPad version or universal binary much less of an annoyance than they were before. In fact, if not for the crappy iPhone virtual keyboard, they’d almost be acceptable to use.
Other sites like MacRumors and TouchArcade have also noticed the improvement today. This is the first time Apple has used the 960×640 Retina resolution of an iPhone app on the iPad instead of the 480×320 resolution of older iPhones. Previously, jailbreakers with an original iPad or iPad 2 could use a Cydia tweak called RetinaPad to enable the Retina version of an iPhone app when zoomed in. Many wondered how RetinaPad worked its magic before, and it turns out that the tweak simply bypassed a silly restriction Apple had placed on non-native iPad apps in the past.
We tested several popular iPhone apps on the new iPad to see the new resolution scaling in action. Most iPhone apps look pretty good on the new iPad now, but don’t expect to see the full glory of the iPad’s incredible Retina display when running an iPhone-only binary.
All Retina iPhone apps should now look much better on the new iPad. If you’ve been waiting for your favorite iPhone app to get an iPad update, be comforted that you can still run it as is without a ton of pixelation. Thanks, Apple!