back to article More 'retina' display piccies spied within Mac OS X

Software hackers have been uncovering ultra-high resolution graphics in Apple OS updates for more than a year now, so it comes as no surprise that Ars Technica has found a few more, in the Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Developer Preview. We'd like to add that the beta release of Apple's Messages app, currently available for Lion …


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  1. Toxteth O'Gravy

    One day...

    ...all laptops will be made this way.

    Slogan © 1982 British Leyland

  2. petur

    Why do they still bother with bitmaps

    The icons on my linux desktop are vector graphics, I can have them any size I want and they always look perfect. Why are they still using bitmaps?

    1. bhtooefr

      Re: Why do they still bother with bitmaps

      Worth reading:

      Cliff's notes: At small pixel sizes, pixel-perfect detail is needed. Vector graphics suck at pixel-perfect detail. Also, at small physical (on-screen) sizes, the detail needs to be different to look good (although with sufficiently high density displays, you could implement that with different vector graphics for each size).

      1. petur

        Re: Why do they still bother with bitmaps

        I thought we were talking high-resolution screens.... last time I remember small pixelperfect icons were needed (I called them even 'art') was 5+ years ago, even 10 maybe...

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Why do they still bother with bitmaps

        Okay, that was informative enough. But it seems that that the argument was that Massive fancy icons can't automatically be downsized to small icons whilst remain interpretable

        That doesn't seem to condemn vector graphics... you would just have good small icons and make them bigger if required. Heck, I spend far more time in an application than looking at its eye-candy launch icon.

        1. Marvin the Martian

          "you would just have good small icons and make them bigger if required."


          You would need different images to look best at different sizes. You notice this for example easily if you try to scale a logo down to 16x16 for a favicon on a website: if the original image is quite complicated (many colours, especially gradients, a thin black line around a coloured field like the icon on this post, etc etc) then you may well have to first simplify, then increase the contrast and only then scale the image down --- otherwise it's just a drab mess.

    2. aThingOrTwo

      Re: Why do they still bother with bitmaps

      Maybe because Apple aren't gunning for the ugly, amateur-hour look and feel of the Linux desktop?

  3. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    144DPI, ultra-high resolution graphics ?


    doesn't seem that impressive to me.

    My old, circa 2002 Dull 8500 packed 1920x1200 into a 15.4" screen which clocks in at about 147DPI. Surely they'll need a lot higher density if they are planning to run with anything that can be considered an upgrade on 2002 level tech. That 15.4" screen you mentioned clocks in at about 340DPI, which sounds very nice.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: 144DPI, ultra-high resolution graphics ?

      It's a bit of a fiction; the point is that the nominal 144 DPI graphic is double the nominal 72 DPI that the existing graphics declare. The Mac I'm typing this on now has a widescreen 1440x900 15.4" screen, for a lower-than-2002 110 DPI, but still significantly more than 72. I also make it 220 DPI on the 15.4" in the article (approximately 3396 pixels along the diagonal of 15.4") but whatever.

  4. GettinSadda

    Please let this be true!

    Reg readers are aware that laptop makers have been stuck in a "lets match the worst HD panels and forget progress" mentality for years now. This would start making laptops seriously useful again!

  5. Confused Vorlon

    you can already use these

    mac os already has a HiDPI mode, it just isn't used much

    These guys use it with the iPad as a high dpi second display:

  6. jubtastic1

    Sorry, but no.

    But they're not going to quadruple the graphics on the mac range, "Retina" means the pixels are smaller than one arc minute at normal viewing distance, so a lot of mac kit is already very close to being "retina" displays, just a small bump of 10% will take some of them over the threshold.

    The iPad and iPhone quadrupled for scaling reasons, because the apps and OS are designed for a fixed pixel resolution, mac apps on the other hand have been coded for a wide variety of resolutions and aspect ratios so the scaling issue doesn't apply.

    Retina macs are coming, but they're not going to have ridiculous resolutions, these graphics are simply to make everything more legible.

  7. Christian Berger Silver badge

    I feel oddly reminded of Windows

    Back then you had icons and bitmaps in different formats for different graphics cards. For example an icon might be there in CGA, EGA and VGA versions with different sizes, colour depths and aspect ratios.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: I feel oddly reminded of Windows

      You still do. For XP, MS advised that bitmapped resources (mainly icons, cursors and toolbar buttons) should be provided at 96 and 120 dpi. For Vista, they added 144 and for Win7 they added 192. These correspond to the desktop scaling (100%, 125%, 150% and 200%) offered in Control Panel. I'd be gobsmacked if Mac programming guidelines haven't said much the same thing for the last 10 years.

      It doesn't mean that everyone does, though. I suspect that most Windows apps have 96dpi and nothing else.

  8. The New Turtle

    It seems likely that the majority of laptop/ultrabook manufacturers are about to get wrong-footed over display resolutions. Much as I dislike Apple, they seem to be almost the only company around right now with any idea of how hardware might be developed in the user's favour.

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