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Will Apple's Retina Display Macs Ruin Web Design

2 MINUTE READ | May 18, 2012

Will Apple's Retina Display Macs Ruin Web Design

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Chris Alvares, Head of Technology

Chris Alvares has written this article. More details coming soon.

News broke out earlier this week about Apple’s Macbook pro, Macbook Air and iMacs gaining a retina display this summer, most likley with WWDC. At first I was excited about the news, it was about time that 3D was kicked out, and the true next real big advancement in Monitor and TV technology came about. Then I thought back to when the iPhone 4 was announced, and I got chills.

When Apple released the iPhone 4 with a retina display, and a super high resolution, they converted the default measurement of iOS from Pixels to Points. This made it super easy for native app developers to keep using the old iPhone measurements, with the device scaling up to the new resolution automatically. It was however, created problems for web developers who were building mobile sites. Before, they would only have to put an image src with the image, but now, they have to check the user agent string or use custom CSS/JS, see if the current device is a retina display, and then display a high quality image.

That was ok at the time because mobile sites were still in a baby stage, and web developers could write that code as they developed the mobile site. However, now, with the new Retina Display Macs, a real big problem comes into play. How does Apple handle Pixels vs Points.

I think Apple will keep it inline with iOS, and change the default measurement for applications to points. This would require no change for developers, other than to update their images with a high resolution version for Mac OS X to use. However, with the web, this still creates blurry images. When I first viewed Google on my iPhone 4, the logo looked pixelated, and a bit blurry. With Apple’s Retina Display Macs, that blurriness becomes a problem for the entire web.

Retina Display Images Vs Standard Images

Difference Between Retina Images and Standard Images

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Applications that were built long ago will now have to pay more development and artists dollars to upgrade their code and images on the website to be retina display ready. Display Media will have to create two versions of ads, one for retina displays, and one without, and when you are talking about creating hundreds of banners, advertising agencies will now have to double that.

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