Actually, now looking back at some older versions it was never really that good… I thought the iPad zoom issue was new, but it seems like it’s been there for a while (I should use an iPad more).
The problem with the scale on the iPad right now is simply that the desktop layout doesn’t get narrow enough to properly fit the 768px width of the display in portrait mode, so to see the full width you’re actually viewing it at less than 1.0 scale… which is why I can’t fix the phone displays by setting the scale for all devices to 1.0
The layout can and should be more fluid in the areas where it makes sense. The bulk of the layout here is text… so, the topic-list titles, topic-post body/gutters… The topic-list does have a few basic breakpoints right now, but it really it should adjust up and down from mobile with fluidly somewhat similar to what The Boston Globe does. It’s a simple layout without many complications. There’d be no viewport questions at that point because in theory it would adjust to anything.
I’m going to take a look at the topic-list page tonight and actually get in functional there. It should be pretty simple (posts themselves are a bit trickier). I’ve put it off on my list for months now as an “enhancement” but I didn’t realize that there was some general broken-ness.