Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ipad Mini Pixel Reservations

Here's a "Not programming." post. Might draw some readers, perhaps...

I have an idea, which at least sounds plausible inside my head; and publishing it here would allow me to say 'you read it here first'  tomorrow. Or next year, or whenever the idea gets hardwared.

It's about a simple way to be able to keep the size of the iPad screen in the iPad Mini, but be able to cut off upwards of an inch on the physical size of the device, and still solve the holding problem. What you do is simple: cover the whole area in pixels. Then, using the touch sensors that come with those pixels on a touch screen, it's trivial to detect where the device is being held, and move the displayed image to the non-obstructed area.

The drawback is the cost of those extra pixels. But the cost of screens go down with time, so the price might be the same as the original size screen, one year later.

And, you get some extra pixels. For Apple, those pixels might not be very useful, since part of their success is finding the Right Size, and then standardize on that screen size. So most apps may not be able to make use of the extra pixels.

There is of course the possibility of scaling. But scaling at these ratios may produce ugly artifacts, and even the high pixel density of a Retina screen may not be enough to counter these effects. Worth trying, though. Maybe scaling up to the extra pixels might work. But not keeping the same pixel count and scaling down to move the display area to a non-occluded area. I think it depends heavily on the specific graphics displayed by different applications; it could work for many apps, but not so well for some other.

Without scaling, what might these extra pixels be used for? Well, screen-size-aware applications could of course make good use of them. Or they could be used for notifications that don't intrude on the pixel area of the running application.

And how about this: I'm too lazy right now to calculate it, but the 16:9 ratio might be achievable. Then there is at least a use for the wide extra pixels. But to get there, maybe too much area has to be added in the tallness direction. On the other hand (no pun intended), when showing movies, you usually don't need to hold it, but you can prop it up in a stand or something. Or you can hold in at the lower long edge side. So you can use the extra pixels on both sides.

So that could make for a slighty odd-looking alternative: a less wide iPad, but same tallness. But the world would get used to it pretty quickly. And copy it.

Well, there you have it: pixel reservations. Would be fun to see it realized.

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