Pages 3.0: The problem with the lack of sub-pixel anti-aliasing is that we have to live (and work) with it todayPosted by Pierre Igot in: Anti-Aliasing Hall of Shame, Pages
December 4th, 2007 • 4:31 pm
Like John Gruber, I agree with Sven S.-Porst that sub-pixel anti-aliasing is essentially a temporary hack and that it will become unnecessary (and undesirable) when the resolution of our LCD screens is high enough that text rendered with standard (greyscale) anti-aliasing looks great, and not too “thin” as it does today.
The problem is that, apart from the iPhone (which John Gruber says has 160 dpi), most LCD screens used by Apple users today do not have such a high resolution.
My worry is therefore that, because of some future hardware improvements that will eventually make sub-pixel anti-aliasing irrelevant, Apple is simply not bothering to implement sub-pixel anti-aliasing consistently across all its applications today.
The problem is particularly crucial in an application such as Pages. It is, after all, a word processor (and page layout) application, which means that it is an application where people are staring at text all day long.
Is it really acceptable that sub-pixel anti-aliasing is not supported in Pages today because, say, five years from now, many Mac users will be able to use LCD screens whose resolution is high enough to make sub-pixel anti-aliasing irrelevant? Do we really have to live (and work) with this flaw on a daily basis for years while waiting for our hardware to catch up?
Unfortunately, Apple’s track record with the software/hardware disconnect in recent years suggests that the answer is “yes.” I still remember trying to use early versions of Mac OS X on a G4 and observing the scandalously high amount of CPU power that was purely and simply wasted on useless eye-candy, to the point that the whole work environment was slower than it could and should have been. Did Apple ever eliminate or streamline the eye-candy? Of course not. They just forced us to live with it for years, with the huge amount of time wasted associated with it, until the hardware was fast enough to make the waste of CPU power largely irrelevant.
I suspect that they are going to do the same here. Which means that, yes, we are going to have to live (and work) without sub-pixel anti-aliasing in iWork applications until our LCD screens have a resolution that is good enough to make it irrelevant. That is years of having to stare at subpar text rendering.