Why the new Macbook Pro Retina matters

Most of the time, a new upgrade cycle doesn’t change the world. The specs are bumped up a bit, maybe a new feature or a little design change. Then sometimes, a completely new device comes along, that changes everything. Like the iPad or the iPhone. And then there is the combination of the two. A rare incident where a, at first glance, seemingly small upgrade has a big impact on the overall experience of a product.

And that’s exactly what happened with the Macbook Pro Retina.

I can remember the first time I used an HP iPaq, maybe around 2000. A shitty device with as little as 64MB memory, which was completly erased, if the battery ran dry. All I could really use it for, was reading stuff I put on it at home and managing my appointments. Then HP issued a small update, that let me pair the iPaq with my mobile phone via bluetooth.

And what a difference that made.

Now, all of a sudden, this stupid device became so incredible useful. I could get my e-mail and „use the internet“ anywhere. My whole understanding of „online“ changed. Now it wasn’t something I did, at a certain place at a certain time anymore . „Going Online“ became „being online“. That was a fundamental change.

And so is the Macbook Pro Retina. It is a redefinition, of not just the screen, but the whole user experience of a PC. When you look at a Macbook, you instantly see how important the screen is. There is just not much else. The design is clean, it’s incredibly thin and light, despite being unbelievably powerful. There is almost nothing the screen can hide behind.

And because of this, there is almost nothing between you and the software. The device becomes the application. One piece of software at a time. This is great news for thoughtfully designed software. It just gets better on these Macbooks. And it’s also good news for badly designed, inhumane software. Not for the maker, but for the rest of the world. People will realize how crappy this software really is, and hopefully, stop using it.

All these things are great and important, but have so far nothing to do with the increased resolution of the retina display.

The 4-times higher resolution makes content way easier to read. Looking at pictures reveals details, you’ve never seen before.

And that is nothing else than „getting out of the way“. The screen gets out of your way, to give you a much more lifelike experience. It is hard to describe, but once you saw it, you will know what I mean.

But what does this mean for you, as a creator of software or websites? Do you need to „update“ your content? Absolutely not. If all you do is „update“, then just stick with what you have now. What you need to do is: rethinking everything.

Let me give you an example:

Icons and other placeholders play a huge role in most websites and applications. Just updating, means higher resolution icons, that are nice to look at. But they can be so much more. Why not give the user actual information in these placeholders? The retina display can do that.

Look at every single detail, as small as it may seem to you. And you know why? Because the user will too. People will look at their screen from insanely small distances. And that’s a good thing! This „pixel-peeping“ gets them involved with your software, your website. Do the same. Get upset about a gradient or line-width. OCD all over the place.

And when is a good time to do this? Now. Now is a good time.

It’s obvious, that only a few people have a retina-display at their hands right now. But I guess, that no one, not even the simplest of minds, will deny that this is the future. So get a head start, as long as you can.

If you wait until there’s a „big enough-userbase“, you are stupid enough to work at Microsoft. Go ahead, send them your resume.

Even more stupid: waiting until your clients or users ask for it.

They won’t.