Possible iPad 3 glitch: Hi-res apps may hit 3G download limits

A 20MB file size limit imposed by Apple for 3G downloads could spell trouble for apps designed to exploit the tablet's higher-resolution screen.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
Will a Retina Display iPad create trouble for certain apps?
Will a Retina Display iPad create trouble for certain apps? Apple

The high-resolution "retina display" expected on the next iPad should make users happy--but may present challenges for developers.

As detailed today by The Next Web, the higher resolution display will increase the pixel count and size of graphics used in iPad apps designed for the new screen.

With some apps doubling in size, developers may bump into an Apple-imposed limitation that prevents the download of apps larger than 20 megabytes over 3G. Downloading over a Wi-Fi connection would still be an option, but users who need an app with no Wi-Fi available would be out of luck.

The restriction would pose more of a problem for apps that include both iPhone and iPad versions, since iPhone users are more likely to download an app on the go. Apps with a dedicated iPhone version obviously wouldn't be affected. And apps geared just for the iPad would be safe, at least among tablet users who have only Wi-Fi.

Sales could go down for many app developers if all iPad users were restricted to downloading their programs via Wi-Fi, TNW noted.

If a high-resolution iPad does debut next week, Apple has the option to bump up the 3G download limit.

But data cited by TNW noted that the limit would need to be upped by around 273 percent, putting it close to 60 MB.

A 2,048-by-1,536-pixel Retina Display has long been a rumored feature for the next iPad. And the tablet's potential name may be a further clue. Part listings leaked by case makers revealed that the next iPad could actually be dubbed the iPad HD, according to Gizmodo.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment. But we should know more at Apple's press event on March 7.