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Apple's Messages beta hints at high-res Macs with Retina Displays

The newly released beta of Messages for OS X contains support for double-pixel resolutions, offering more evidence that Apple is working on high-resolution Retina Displays for future Mac hardware.

Digging through some of the resources from the Messages beta, MacRumors discovered that a number of graphics included with the software are available in two resolutions: regular, and double. The images are contained in multi-part TIFF files, and are labeled with the "@2x" distinction.

The "@2x" modifier first appeared in iOS, when Apple introduced its Retina Display branding on the iPhone 4. To simplify the transition to a higher resolution screen, Apple simply doubled the resolution of the iPhone display from 320 by 480 pixels to 640 by 960.

The Messages beta was released on Thursday and is meant to serve as a hint of what Apple will offer later this summer, when it launches its next major operating system update, OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. But the inclusion of double-resolution images suggests that the software also offers a hint at Apple's plans for the Mac lineup in 2012.

AppleInsider detailed last week how Apple plans to radically redesign its MacBook Pro lineup in 2012, with new models that will be more like the company's hot selling MacBook Air. It's possible that those models could also feature high-resolution Retina Displays.

Rumors of MacBook Pros sporting Retina Displays are not new, with one report in December claiming that Apple was working on a new notebook model with a 2,880-by-1,800-pixel display to launch in 2012. And earlier this month, upgraded high-DPI user interface elements were discovered in the current build of Lion, OS X 10.7.3.

Apple is also expected to bring the Retina Display branding to its third-generation iPad, which is expected to launch next month. The company is rumored to be planning a media event for March 7 to unveil its next touchscreen tablet.