iOS 7 uses Retina assets of iPhone-only apps on non-Retina iPad

BY Jason

Published 10 Jul 2013

When Apple launched the iPad in 2010, it allowed users to install iPhone apps (due to the limited iPad apps available at that time), which could be used in 2x mode, using the pixel doubling technique.

While it was a good strategy adopted by Apple at that time to give users access to a larger number of iPhone apps from day one, it had a downside. The pixel doubling resulted in jagged text and blurry images.

Ryan Petrich had released a nifty little jailbreak tweak called RetinaPad to fix this problem when iPhone 4 with Retina Display was launched. It used Retina assets of apps designed for the iPhone with Retina Display on the iPad instead of the default non-Retina iPhone assets, offering a better user experience.

When Apple launched the iPad with Retina Display last year, it used the same trick of using Retina assets of apps designed for the iPhone. However, Apple continued to use non-Retina iPhone versions of the apps for the non-Retina iPads. This will change in iOS 7.

iOS 7 beta 3 which was seeded yesterday, uses the Retina assets of the iPhone-only apps to improve the 2x mode even on non-Retina devices. Interestingly, users have noticed that Apple doesn’t even provide the 1x/2x toggle on non-Retina devices such as the iPad mini and iPad 2.


It runs the Retina ready iPhone apps (960×640) on non-Retina devices like the iPad mini (1024×768 display). To understand the difference, check out the side-by-side comparison of the screenshots from the Apple Store app running on the iPad mini in 2x mode on iOS 6 (left) and the Retina ready version of the app running on the iPad mini on iOS 7 (right). As you can see, since iOS 7 uses the Retina graphics, it is a lot sharper and offers a much better user experience.


This may sound confusing, and isn’t such a big deal these days as developers usually launch universal apps that are designed for the iPhone and iPad, but it is good to know that Apple cares about the minutest of details.