Mac OS X Lion HiDPI support bringing Retina Display to the desktop?

From everything Apple told us about the developer release of Mac OS X Lion yesterday, we were already excited. The AirDrop instant sharing tool promises the sort of straightforward simplicity we've grown to expect from the company, and the various usability tweaks carried over from iOS should see the platform become an interesting hybrid of sorts. Still, there's more to be revealed under the hood; MacRumors has learnt that the long-anticipated "Resolution Independence" has made it into OS X Lion, paving the way for ultra-high-resolution Retina Display style screens on MacBook Pro and Cinema Displays.

In Lion, they're described as "HiDPI display modes", and they basically work in the same way as the high-DPI graphics on the iPhone 4 and latest-gen iPod touch. Graphics will be twice as detailed, but intended for double-resolution panels: they'd be the same size on a 2880 x 1800 MacBook Pro screen as on a 1440 x 900 version, but have twice the number of pixels and so be smoother, more information-dense and generally more beautiful.

Now, software support for HiDPI display modes is the first step, but it will take high resolution panels for notebooks and desktops to actually deliver those graphics to the end-user. That might take some time, at least if we want them to be affordable. Still, with Apple rumored to have invested $3.9bn in displays for its various product lines, it looks like the company is taking high-resolution graphics very seriously.