Does QuarkXPress and App Studio support Apple’s new Retina screen?

QuarkXPress product manager Dan Logan wrote up a truly helpful explanation of what you need to know about Apple’s new iPad 3 “Retina Display” when creating apps from QuarkXPress and App Studio. You can see the original here, but I’ve also copied it below.

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App Studio and the iPad 3 Retina Screen

A lot of people have been asking recently: does Quark App Studio support Apple’s new Retina screen? For anyone who hasn’t heard the news, the screen on the new iPad has a much higher resolution; four times the number of pixels on the iPad 2 to be exact. That’s 2,048 x 1,536 pixels!

The question is, do App Studio issues take advantage of all of that resolution? The answer is mostly yes. Although it depends on the exact AVE format you use, how you configured your output settings, and what version of App Studio Factory you built your app with. The good news is that the AVE format is largely based around PDF, which makes it a good candidate for resolution-independent output. Here are the details:

  • All information here applies only to apps created in App Studio Factory 1.4 or higher. Apps created in earlier versions will render on iPad 3 identically to iPad 2.
  • If you’re using the AVE-Mag format (most users) then by default all vector objects including text, imported vector formats like EPS and PDF, or native QuarkXPress vector objects like lines and Bézier boxes, will all render at Retina quality. The only exception is thumbnail previews which will remain at the iPad 2 quality.
  • With default output options in AVE-Mag format, imported raster images will continue to output and render at iPad 2 quality. If you want to optimize images for Retina output you can create a new PDF Output Style with 144 ppi in the “Downsample To” field on the Compression tab, then select that PDF Style on the Rendering tab of the AVE Output Options dialog (the easiest way is to duplicate the “Default PDF Style for AVE” and just change those two values). The side-effect of doing this is that your AVE file size will increase and that will affect download speeds even for iPad 1 and 2 users. iPad 1 and 2 will also take a small but noticeable quality hit in rendering those images (they will be slightly softer than they would be if output using default settings).
  • If you’re using the AVE-Doc format (few are) then the initial rendering is done using raster-based previews; it’s not until the reader zooms that the PDF is displayed. Therefore, default output will show iPad 2 quality unless the reader zooms, then Retina quality will be shown; however, if you want to force Retina quality on initial page display, you can output AVE-Doc with the “Include Page Previews” option unchecked in the AVE Output Options dialog. The side-effect of this is that when the reader turns the page they will initially get low-quality rendering until the device “catches up” and renders the PDF. This effect will be more pronounced on older iPad models.
  • In the New Project dialog you should select “iPad (1024 x 768)” even if you’re creating for Retina screens (It’s the aspect ratio that’s important here, not the actual resolution).
  • Keep in mind that if you’re using Slideshows and you want them at the highest possible quality in full screen mode then you need to setup the source (image or QuarkXPress Layout) with enough resolution.

We’re working to improve the situation so that the publishing portal can reference two different AVE files, one for iPad 1/2 and one for Retina-based iPads, then the portal would detect which version is asking for the issue file and serve up the correct one. However this change is still being tested and I can’t guarantee when it will get released. In the meantime you should make your own call on whether to optimize your files for Retina.

Dan Logan
Product Manager, QuarkXPress