Apple patent application details plans for Retina-ready resolution-independent OS X

“Apple’s behind-the-scenes work to upgrade its OS X operating system for future high-resolution Retina display Macs has been detailed in a new patent filing,” Neil Hughes reports for AppleInsider.

“The application, published this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is entitled ‘User-Interface Design,'” Hughes reports. “Apple re-filed the continuation with the USPTO this January, along with previous related filings that date back to 2004.”

Hughes reports, “Last week, AppleInsider was first to reveal that Apple has continued to make behind-the-scenes improvements to OS X that will allow Macs with high-resolution Retina displays to show higher quality images. Evidence of this came in a new, larger TextEdit icon file, which contains new Retina display-caliber 1,204-by-1,024-pixel icons. In a manner similar to what is described in Apple’s patent application published by the USPTO this week, the icon files contain a number of images designed to be displayed by the operating system at various screen resolutions. The new higher-resolution icons could be utilized by a Retina display Mac with an ultra-high resolution screen.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. In case anyone from Apple is lurking:
    When will you fix the issue where USB connected scanners using OS X’s Image Capture disappear as a device after a period of inactivity?

    This issue has existed from at least Snow Leopard on and maybe Leopard before that. It happens on a wide range of Apple HW.

    Before you get busy with the eye candy, fix the important stuff. Scanning would kind of be high on the list for many.

    1. Oh puhlease dude why do you try to pretend that you are anything besides an apple hating troll, who looks up obscure problems on user forums and then attempts to parade them as actual mainstream problems.

      Give it a rest. The only people who are buying your silly little dribbles are the other apple haters on their forum (who, coincidentally, are also posting from their parents basement)

      And really more to the point, it’s a pretty sad commentary your life that you have the time and the inclination to constantly post FUD on a news site for products from a company who you seem to carry an unnatural hatred for.
      Time for you to do some mirror gazing I think.

      1. Apple haters own Macs and have since shortly after launch & own and have owned Apple stock, right?

        You are a Fanboi. Any criticism of Apple pushes all your hot buttons. The problem is real. Get a life.

        1. I think you have me confused with someone else. Have not been using Apple hardware ’till long after OSX (I run a post production studio)

          However you are closer to truth your second assertion, I don’t suffer fools gladly. You can confirm that with any in my employ 😉

      2. He’s actually an evil communist pig trying to scan some new propaganda posters to print them out at larger sizes.

        Also he hates children and America.

    2. Not to worry my friend, Apple will update the icon on the error dialog so that it is retina compatible at 1,204×1,024 resolution.

      You won’t lose any detail in the error message after you upgrade 😉

    3. These are Apple made scanners using Apples Capture software?

      Sounds to me a 3rd party issue. Both a hardware and software problem from the manufacture of your scanner – not Apple.

      What happens with the manufactures software?

      If say, you have a Cannon scanner why are you not using Cannons software? Is it outdated and unable to run in OSX so you opt for Capture instead. If this is the case, really, do you expect Apple to comply and function perfectly to all possible 3rd party devices?

      1. Image Capture is built into OS X and supports any TWAIN device. The scanner is a Canon LiDE series and is current. This problem exists on various hardware with scanners similarly configured as Apple designed it to.

        The problem is essentially that OS X loses USB powered devices when idle after some period. Unplug and reattach and all is well. It’s not a Canon or other issue- it’s an OS X power management issue. My USB powered MIDI controller does not have this issue, but obviously does not use Image Capture.

        My larger point was that OS X has plenty of these kind of issues that go unresolved even as they trumpet hundreds of new ‘features’. Apple needs to fix what is already in existence before extending the platform. The way they clowned around with iTools- iCloud is ridiculous- Apple could have done better abd should have.

      1. The point is Apple is neglecting proper functioning of it’s software as it chases iOS to the detriment of everything else.

        1. @progressive… That is certainly correct!

          The Finder is a self-destructive mess in Lion. The networking in [OS X version not yet to be mentioned] continues to be the buggy bane of the OS. Cute new features! But the fundamentals are falling apart, presumably through patches on patches. Lazy LAZY LAZY!

          Come on Apple! Building on a crumbling foundation means everything above is going to suffer. Not good! Fix the fundamentals please.

  2. There are resolution dependent OS’s still? I use linux, OS X, and Windows…Once the correct driver is loaded the video card and monitor can go to whatever resolution they desire.
    Something is wrong with the report…..

    just my $0.02

    1. Resolution independence refers to elements such as the menu bars. As it is now in the resolution dependent OS X, when you add more pixels to the display the “hard-coded” OS elements begin to “shrink”.
      Resolution independence means you can dynamically adjust all of the interface elements without anything looking pixelated or blurry.

      1. Unfortunately that is ABSOLUTELY NOT what resolution independence is. That is scaling resolution at a limited number of step to attempt to account for higher pixel densities.

        Resolution is simply this:
        Draw a 10.000 inch circle on the screen some randomly chosen “Application X” that takes full advantage of the graphics capabilities of the OS. (The diameter of the circle on the screen at the time of drawing is *exactly* 10 inches as measured by putting a ruler up to the screen.)
        Save and close that file.
        Disconnect that monitor.
        Connect a different monitor with a different pixel density. (Both the first and second monitors are fully supported by the OS.)
        Open the file in “Application Y” that 100% supports the file format of the original file and supports all the graphics capabilities of the OS.
        What then shows on screen is a circle that is *EXACTLY* 10 inches in diameter when you put a ruler up to that screen. It is not 9.97 inches. It is not 10.03 inches. It is exactly 10.000 inches.

        That is true resolution independence. It does not matter what the pixel density of the screen is at all. It does not matter what application is involved. Objects are always the same size as intended no matter what the pixel density of any compatible screen is.

        What you are referring to is a set of fixed sized objects (e.g., 512×512 and 640×640 and 768×768 and 1024×1024 and …) that the OS switches between depending upon the pixel density. That is scaling to *approximately* fit the pixel density of the screen. Under this scheme even vector graphics scale by fixed or integer values. They don’t scale to the exact scaling factors of the screens involved.

        That is not resolution independence… that is just waking up and trying to accommodate higher resolutions so that items are still practical to use and see at higher pixel densities. Virtually every major OS since the turn of the century has had some variation of this accommodation.

        There have been rumors of “resolution independence” for many years. I’m not sure we’ll even see it this decade!

    2. independent vs dependant

      Sorry, but the article title states resolution-independant OSX.

      OSX is a graphical user interface a GUI… so the entire visuals elements of OSX will me beautiful at any setting. While you zoom in on the DESKTOP with CONTROL + SCROLL – the icons and text will appear pixelated. But with independence graphics and a retina screen “This Shall Never Happen Again” once this change is made. The UI will be more like VECTORS… no matter what you scale up the EDGES and TEXT will be crisp and sharp without pixilation.

    3. However, say in this new environment you are to ZOOM in to SAFARI, the text shall remain beautiful, but the ads and graphics on a webpage will PIXELATE since they are not part of the UI – not part of OSX.

  3. Resolution independence should be Apple’s ultimate goal for a future version of the Mac’s OS (may not be called “X” by that time).

    Current Mac’s DO have resolution independence is a VERY limited way. A 27-inch iMac with a 2560×1440 display can be set to use 1920×1080 (and other “non-native” resolutions), to make things appear larger on the screen. However, the available settings are very incremental. And with current pixel sizes, the native resolution still looks best (although 1920×1080 on a 27-inch iMac screen looks pretty good).

    I see true resolution independence as the user having some type of “slider” control to SMOOTHLY adjust how large or small things appear on the screen, to ANY level (within a range that is considered reasonable). It would be like what you can do now with the Dock, applied to the entire user interface. When the pixels become tiny enough, the “native resolution” will become irrelevant (from the user’s perspective); once individual pixels are indistinguishable to the human eye at normal viewing distance (“Retina”), ANY display setting will look BETTER than current displays using the native resolution.

    (But that’s not happening with Mountain Lion…)

    In the interim (starting with Mountain Lion), I think Apple will use the HiDPI (double resolution) mode, where the GUI elements (such as the Menu Bar) stay the same size as now but graphics (such as images, videos, and icons) are displayed at double resolution. It’s basically how iOS currently handles the Retina Display on the iPhone 4/4S and new iPad without a complete overhaul of the OS. But that’s not “resolution independence”; HiDPI mode is sort of a stopgap measure.

    HiDPI mode will be supported on new Macs with double-resolution displays. And once TRUE resolution independence arrives in the Mac’s OS, those Macs will be ready for it.

    1. Close.

      Think of it this way…
      If an application tells the OS to draw an object as 2cm x 2cm on the screen then the OS will display it as 2cm x 2cm no matter what screen is connected (so long as the OS supports that screen).

      If the user does not want the OS to draw it at 100% size but instead at 75% size the user can input that scaling into the system and the object will be exactly 1.5cm x 1.5 cm — independent of the pixel density on *any* compatible screen.

      A slider that lets the user further scale the representation on screen from the application’s native “100%” to any user definable percentage (78.7931% anyone?) would just be an added bonus!

      1. Okay, would this be correct to say.

        Resolution independence to the OS is a constant crisp resolution no matter what the setting is the graphics will not pixelate or appear changed by quality appearances – be that enlarged or stretched – the intended graphics HOLD TRUE and constant even after adjusting to a desired resolution.

        As in zooming in on your iMac desktop the graphics will not appear pixelated but seem more like that of the nature of a vector.

        There was an older application in competition long ago with Photoshop. That built proxies on the fly so no matter what resolution you painted in the final rendering was always mapped at the highest.

    2. I’m excited.
      Briefly ken1w – we had some discussions on this before.
      I had been dreaming of something like a scalable vector like graphic UI. And again ken1w is far more knowledgeable on these things then I am. Yet it seems that the trend and thoughts have finally come to fruit on this for Apple I guess. Not in ML 10.8… yet it shall come to Mac – I can’t wait to see it.

  4. This is an old 2004 patent. Unless someone can show me what’s actually changed in the patent going back to 2007 (at least), that would support anything to do with retina, please do so. Sometimes a claim is updated that is minor to make it a continuation patent. But I’d love to see the big change that would directly link it to retina.

  5. How to divide humanity:
    1: can conceive of the idea of a grid of pixels.
    2: can conceive of the idea of a vector.
    cave person vs evolved hominid.
    Case closed.

  6. Yep sounds like Apple, who apparently spend more on patents than R&D ? why dont we copyright scaling Os’s after all nobodys patented that before ? and before you accuse me of being a hater, I’ve been using apple since the Apple II. Bitmap icons at 1024 x 1024 seems highly expensive file size wise, I think I’d prefer vectors at that size, dependant of course on which has the smaller file size, no doubt apple won’t be efficient about it. But Apple dont mind making your hardware unnecessarily redundant, ((take my early intel Quad core Mac pro not running ML) which I can get to boot ML if I hack it with chameleon ?)). We were promised resolution independence two os’s ago, I’ll believe it when I see it. If the menu bar doesn’t scale, and things dont scale harmoniously together it wont cut the mustard for me. Im beginning to lose faith that they can ever fix all the bugs in OS X. Lion and Mountain Lion were both nighmare upgrades for someone who does Tech support for a living & caused me immense grief in collaborative work environments, OS X is turning into the OS where all the fixes are either in the command line, arcane hidden preferences or out of the users control. I think they need to start afresh with a new hardcore GUI based operating system, its feeling too obviously like unix re-skinned.

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