Stab in the eye


The iPad display is so good that it shows, like no device before it, just how crummy most images on the web are.

For those that didn’t know already, let this serve as fair warning: mobile network operators that transcode (downgrade) images “to enhance the user experience” are going to look even more ridiculous on the resolutionary display of the new iPad. If an average website image looks crummy, just imagine how outrageously poor an image that’s been actively downsampled is going to look.

I find it deeply objectionable that we can pay for a service only to have that service actively downgraded – with no option to opt-out – all in the name of “improving the experience”. Network operators: it’s time to stop this mess. Ship the bits and stop being dicks.

See also Vodafone UK is abusing its position.

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5 Responses to Stab in the eye

  1. niq says:

    Some time ago (2004) I developed a filter that downsamples web data, including images, for use in a proxy operated by or for mobile networks.

    Even back then we were sensitive to different device capabilities. Mobile devices send a capabilities header that determines the performance of the filter. No header, no filtering (and hence no acceleration). Extending the principle of regular HTTP content negotiation – as in Accept-Encoding for compression of text.

    Fix your ipad’s browser to advertise it’s capabilities, and all will be well. Except congestion on your network.

    • Andrew says:

      Nice in theory, Niq!

      In practice, even the most common and well-behaved mobiles end up getting served downsampled garbage. And if you have other devices tethered to your mobile, well, they get served garbage too.

      These days the network operators downsample for you wholesale, with little or no regard to device capabilities. And there’s no way to turn it off. And it’s not about congestion – you get the same miserable downsampled experience 24/7.