I’ve read a couple of interesting articles about the future of images on the web.
There are two image problems that need solving in our multi-dimensional device landscape: bandwidth and art direction.
Firstly – the bandwidth problem is easy to understand: an smartphone user roaming on a throttled 3G line doesn’t want to swallow high-res retina images intended for a 27″ retina screen.
Secondly – art-direction. This problem relates to how an automatically resized image is not always going to be the best fit for the device/layout that it’s being served to. A hero image on that smartphone may look better if it’s a detail crop of the full image served to a large desktop monitor.
However, there is more work to implement this new element; extra mark-up to include and design-informed crops to be made. Hence resistance from developers who had come to the conclusion that responsive images are there to make their lives easier – one image to rule them all if you like.
Perhaps this new normal is currently only suited to properly curated hero images with the help of a decent CMS. But be warned – the humble <img> tag is metamorphosing.