The screen resolution shared by the first three iPhones and iPod Touches is expected to be phased out eventually, but in a new note to developers, the company appears to want to move that process along--at least on its digital storefront.
In an e-mail to developers today, republished by The Next Web, Apple notes that it now requires developers to include high-resolution screenshots of their applications when submitting them for approval, something that was previously optional:
When you create or update your apps in iTunes Connect, you must upload screenshots that are high-resolution. We require your screenshots as high-resolution images so that your app is optimized for the Retina display.
The requirements for high-resolution images are 960 x 640, 960 x 600, 640 x 960, or 640 x 920 pixels. Images must be at least 72 dpi, in the RGB color space, and the file must be .jpeg, .jpg, .tif, .tiff, or .png. You can update your screenshot files at any time in iTunes Connect.
While seemingly a minor detail, it's of special note given that Apple continues to sell only one iPhone-sized device with the non-Retina (480 by 320 pixel) display: the iPhone 3GS. It's expected that Apple will continue to sell that device up until it releases a new iPhone model, which if the company's track record is any indication, will be later this year. The same goes for developers, which continue to offer lower resolution versions of apps and games given a large base of potential users with older devices.
So does that mean developers can't produce apps and games for these lower resolution devices? Not quite. Developers can still make versions that work on older devices. It's just that under this new guideline they need to upload the spiffy looking, high-resolution screens when uploading their work for its presence on App Store listings.
One reason for the change, besides nudging developers to optimize their apps for newer devices, could be upcoming changes to App Store listings. As it stands, viewing screenshots on an iPhone or iPod Touch is a limited affair compared with viewing them on an iPad in iTunes on a computer. Perhaps this is a pre-emptive move on Apple's part to give buyers a way to view full-sized screenshots from their device.
The Next Web offers up that another reason could simply be a pre-emptive move by Apple to dress up iPhone-sized screenshots ahead of announcing an iPad 3 that packs a Retina Display of its own. A handful of rumors and reports have suggested just such a device will be unveiled sometime next month, leading to new and first-time iPad buyers eyeballing (and potentially buying) iPhone apps that may not be universal.