"We'll roll them out one product at a time," said former Macworld contributor Rob Griffiths, now at app-maker Many Tricks. His company offers 10 different desktop apps, which complicates the process. "The logistics of doing them all at once are overwhelming," Griffiths said.
Developers said they welcome Retina. "High-resolution is pretty awesome, and I can't wait for it to be in every machine," said Flying Meat's Gus Mueller, who has released upgraded versions of Acorn (Macworld rated 3 out of 5 mice) and VoodooPad (Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice).
Upgrading to a Retina display, however, involves more than plugging in a few simple bits of code.
"The challenges vary in supporting the Retina display from title-to-title, including slow-down at higher resolutions, UI changes needed to support the higher resolutions, and overall implementation of the higher resolution in games where it doesn't exist," Aspyr spokesperson Elizabeth Howard said via email. "Each scenario requires differing development support."
Realmac's Nik Fletcher pointed to several challenges he faces in upgrading offerings like RapidWeaver (Macworld rated 4.5 out of 5 mice). "One is working with pixel-based media (images) and ensuring that it displays accurately and translates across pixel densities," he said. "The other being that Retina-enabled Macs can obviously have non-Retina-enabled displays attached. so you need to also ensure that the UI updates when dragging between Retina and non-Retina displays."
It isn't simple
Another challenge: Developers are juggling other updates as well.
"Ideally, I would love to roll out a single update with all the graphics Retina-ready in one go, but given that Mountain Lion is out in the next couple of weeks, and we are unlikely to have all the toolbar icons completed by then, it will probably be done over a couple of updates," said Literature & Latte's Keith Blount, developer of the Scrivener writing program (Macworld rated 4.5 out of 5 mice). "We expect to be completely Retina-ready within the next month or so, though."
That makes for a hectic development process.
"I remember back in the day when Apple would announce something at WWDC and a company would have several months to figure out a strategy and prepare their apps for updating," said Michael Wray, president of Mariner Software. "Today, while developers do get informed, it's a hell of a lot quicker turnaround that's expectedboth by Apple and the public."
Not every developer is sure of the benefit. "Certainly we like having better-looking apps, and users like that too, but it's unlikely to actually generate more sales the way adding new features do," said Paul Kafasis of Rogue Amoeba. "Apple's moved the goalposts for everyone, and we've all got to play catch-up. That's definitely challenging."
But other developers say the challenge comes with some upside.