Talking tech since 2003

Opening an iPhone app on any iPad is not a great experience, but that is especially the case if you’re doing so on an iPad 2 or iPad mini — the two tablets in the iPad family that sport 1,024 x 768 display resolutions. That experience looks like it might get a little better, though, as MacRumors is reporting that iOS 7 beta 3 lets your iPad 2 or iPad mini use the Retina assets already packaged into most iPhone apps.

If you open an iPhone app on an iPad today, the visual quality will suffer unless you open it in teeny tiny 1x mode. (Photo credit: ReadWrite)

When you open an iPhone app on an iPad today, your iPad either displays the app in a small window (1x mode) or blows up the pixels to fill more of the iPad’s screen (2x). Enlarging a 480 x 320 app to fill a larger screen with over twice as many pixels results in a lot of pixelation and blur. Using an iPhone app’s “Retina” mode at least uses assets inside the app that are optimized for a 960 x 640 display. So if you open an iPhone app on an iPad 2 or iPad mini running iOS 7, the increased sharpness and clarity should be instantly noticeable.

Is there a downside to this? Perhaps if you enjoy opening your iPhone apps on your iPad in 1x mode. That mode appears to be gone in beta 3 of iOS 7, at least for the iPad 2 and iPad mini. To be honest, I can’t say I’ve ever used 1x mode and I don’t know anyone who has, so maybe Apple thought it would simplify the experience by removing it. The iPad 3 and iPad with Retina, both of which already use Retina assets for iPhone apps, will still have the 1x and 2x toggle.

This change unlocks the same capabilities as RetinaPad, a jailbroken app for the iPad that forced iPhone apps in 2x mode to use Retina assets. That app was a must-have for me, as there are many popular iPhone apps that don’t have iPad counterparts (I’m looking at you, Instagram and Vine). There are many apps that are primarily used on the go, on the iPhone, and I can understand why developers might be hesitant to spend resources creating an iPad-specific experience. Perhaps Apple recognizes that and sees this small change as one that can make the iPad experience a bit better.

If you have the iOS 7 beta installed and you’ve tried this feature out, what do you think? Are iPhone apps better looking or is the difference negligible? If you’re not in the beta, does this feature excite you or not? Drop us a line below with your thoughts.

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