Apple shows some love for photo and video pros

The new MacBook with Retina Display sounds like a yummy upgrade, but what does it mean for your software applications?

The new MacBook with Retina Display has a lot of the ports imaging pros need. Yay! James Martin/CNET

As a replacement for the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro that a lot of pro video and photo editors use, the MacBook Pro with Retina Display may sound mighty tasty. Faster innards, with a high-resolution, high-contrast 15.4-inch display and all the essential ports -- as long as you're willing to possibly have to waste one of the two essential Thunderbolt ports with dongles for FireWire and Ethernet -- at a lighter 4.5 pounds is a potentially winning combination if you've been schlepping around one of the older, heavier models. On the downside, still a glossy screen, though Apple claims less glare. Unfortunately, reflectivity is as much an issue as glare.

During the WWDC announcement, SVP Phil Schiller made a point of stating that applications like Aperture and Photoshopare now will soon be "ready" for use with the new hardware. What does that mean? When I asked Adobe Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty about Lightroom's status via Twitter, he replied, "We're working on it. No ETA but it does require some effort and additional interface artwork."

As far as I can tell, Retina-readiness means creating a new set of higher-resolution icons; basically, every piece of the interface that's bitmapped instead of vector has to be tweaked for the display. But since applications like Photoshop and Aperture are designed to deal with bitmaps with as much resolution-independence as possible, I don't think they require any really substantive updates simply to run -- just to look good.

What I am curious about is whether the display will require any special support from color-calibration software -- I doubt it, but I'm waiting to hear back from X-Rite on that one.

Update, 12:01 p.m. PT: Another response from Hogarty, "It's more than just interface updates given how we work with pixels, previews, etc. for performance gains." Something I hadn't considered: photo and video applications eke out performance enhancements by using lower-resolution versions of subsets of images, pregenerating thumbnails, and so on. Now they'll have to generate higher-resolution thumbnails and image subsets for you to work with on a higher-resolution display, which will possibly erode some of the performance gains they've made.

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