New Apple Tech to Make the Web Look Like Crap

Posted on Friday, May 18th, 2012

The lates from the rumour mill is that Apple is to update the 15″ MacBook Pro in 2012 with the following:

  • a thinner MacBook Air type design
  • removing the optical drive, ethernet port, & Firewire
  • adding USB 3
  • and including the beautiful Apple Retina Display

Sweet! New MacBook, Yah – but Wait…

Thinner, faster, better screen – these are all good things, right, but have you ever looked at a website on a Retina iPad? Text and vector graphics look awesome. Super crisp and clean edges, but raster stuff looks like ass!

Most graphics that have been design for digital are done at 72 dpi and look like shit on a high density display like The New iPad or iPhone 4. This is because the Retina hardware interpolates the lower resolution graphics by adding pixels that do not exist using special algorithms based on the pixels that do exist. Sounds smart huh? Yes and no. Yes, because now the graphic is resized to fit your display without looking like some 8 bit Nintendo garbage and no, because now it looks all fuzzy and shit!

So Why Not Just Design at Higher Resolutions?

Why – I’ll tell you why. Because the internet is slow! Web designers and developers are always trying to optimize their sites to load as fast as possible giving their users the best experience possible.

Having larger graphics ads to the ‘weight’ of a webpages total download size making it take longer to view. Remember the days when website images took long to load and you could see them render from top to bottom. Welcome back to 1998! There is already much debate about how to handle this new problem, but as of now there is no clear answer.

What Does This Mean for the Design Process?

If you’re a designer or work with designers you know that designing for the web has its challenges and restriction. There are limits to things like fonts and sizes. In print design, an 8 point font can still be quite legible, but online this text will probably appear muddy and pixelated. “But when I designed it on my new Retina MacBook it looked fine.” Right, it did look fine. That’s because, like I said above, text looks awesome!

Good designers love to experiment with placement and size, nudging and resizing things all the time. They will push the limits and probably push your buttons (especially if they came from the world of print and are new to designing for web). If it looks good on there monitor, they are going to try and use it.

What does this mean? It means that developers will have to take the time to explain this to designers and have them test all of their designs on an older box to see if their ‘vision’ still looks the way they intended.

To Summarize…

Apple is know for changing the way we do things, so why should digital design be any different? Should Apple not release the Retina display on their laptops, desktops and monitors? Of course they should. If they don’t, someone else will. New gear with better specs equals future thinking awesomeness, and like all new things, it will take time for the rest of the world to catch up. Not much else we can do about it. So if it sounds like I’m complaining about it, I am. Is it the way of the future? It is. Hopefully Apple has some tricks up their sleeve to address this issue.