5 questions for Dean Johnson about iPads [INTERVIEW]

Dean Johnson
Dean Johnson is the Executive Creative Director at Brandwidth and author of #1 Design iBook ‘Digital Publishing: The Next Steps’. He is also a valued contributor to a number of design, tech and publishing sites, and consults on all things digital.


Am I right in thinking that you’ve got your hands on the new iPad? What do you think?

It’s a beautiful display and the new camera takes advantage of this. It’s a bit thicker, slightly heavier and a touch warmer.

That’s a fairly dry statement but describes my initial reaction to the launch. I had a similar take on the iPhone 4S and in isolation, both the tablet and the phone are stunning products, but then so were their predecessors.

Revolution tends to be more exciting than evolution and this is an emotional response to what is an essential evolutionary step on the road to iOS for desktop. More on that later.


Do you think it’s worth upgrading from an iPad 2 simply for the retina display?

It’s my job to excite people about mobile technology on a daily basis and for those just taking the plunge into the world of tablets, looking to upgrade from an iPad1 or even seeing the error of their ways having previously purchased a tablet running an alternative OS, this is the ultimate large-screen mobile product available today.

If you’re a serial early-adoptor it will be hard to talk you out of upgrading from an iPad2 to ‘The New iPad’. The first thing you’ll want to do is show everyone how incredible your Retina-optimised apps look and how you’ve now been transformed into Bailey or Tarantino with a digital tea tray. If I was spending my own money, I’d be waiting for the 128GB model as I’ve nearly filled my 64GB iPad2 – before upgrading to Retina apps!


How important is it for developers to retune apps for the new display?

It’s essential if you value quality, discoverability and profitability. The first into the App Store are making a killing as Apple are promoting Retina-enabled titles and they’re looking like default downloads for the millions of new iPad owners.

We have an extensive range of new apps to launch this year, with many featuring incredible photography, illustration and video. We could have launched some earlier this year but we advised clients to restructure their schedules to accommodate the new screen resolution. Many of our projects are also being published as interactive iBooks as this also showcases the new screen. The iBookstore will become more relevant this year as a place to deliver content not readily available via rival ebook stores – ie interactive rather than straight ePub.


And how has the upgrade made it easier for you to create great apps?

A good camera and a beautiful screen encourage users to create their own content and be proud to share it. The screen also allows us to originate stunning visual assets with detail to rival print and vibrancy to exceed it.

The new faster connection speed (initially in the US, our largest market and home to many of our clients) will make streamed content more appealing and help to counter the larger higher-resolution app sizes.


Have you any predictions for what Apple’s next move will be?

Where do I start? Probably not with the Apple flying iCar – that’s coming in 2013 when Apple buys Tesla.

Here’s my neck on the line: Apple releases OSX Mountain Lion on the new iMac Touch, followed by the 7.8in iPad and 128GB 9.7in iPad. These  both seamlessly operate the new iTV flat screen, running the newly designed and built iTunes family with much improved App Store and iBookstore.

If you can’t wait that long, there are a few extra thoughts about future technology and our app case studies in Brandwidth’s interactive Retina iBook ‘Digital Publishing: The Next Steps‘.


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