Updates: October 28, 29, 30, 31, November 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 22, 27, December 2, 5, 12, 13, 27, January 2, 5, 5, 9, 11, 13, 22, February 2, 19, March 15, 17, 21, 22, 28, April 3, 5, 6, 12.
I was really disappointed with today’s Apple event. It seems like Apple has either lost its way, that it has lost touch with what (some of) its customers want, or that it simply doesn’t care about those customers. Developers are a captive audience, and creative professionals can switch to Windows, I guess. Apple no longer considers them core.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with what Apple announced. I like Thunderbolt 3. The display looks good. I’m not crazy about Touch Bar, but it does seem potentially useful. The problem is that the MacBook Pro is not a true Pro notebook.
My Retina MacBook Pro is almost 4.5 years old. I’ve been wanting to upgrade it for a while and was planning to do so today. After seeing what was announced, I’m no longer sure that I want a MacBook Pro as my main computer. Unfortunately, the current iMac and Mac Pro don’t seem like good choices, either. I wish that Apple were still licensing the operating system to clone manufacturers, who might make the sort of machine I want to buy. And not neglect whole sections of the product line.
The new MacBook Pro has a premium price for a Mac that’s still limited to 16 GB of RAM, has CPU performance that is likely lackluster because Apple didn’t talk about it in the keynote, and apparently doesn’t have such a great GPU, either. Apple prioritized thinness and lightness, which I care about hardly at all. I would rather have better performance, a good keyboard, more storage, a larger display, more ports so I don’t have to carry dongles, an SD card slot, etc. Double the weight and half the battery life would be fine with me. I’m not saying Apple shouldn’t make thin and light notebooks, but why do they all have to be that way?
Shara Tibken and Connie Guglielmo:
Marketing chief Phil Schiller, software engineering lead Craig Federighi and top designer Jony Ive explained, in exclusive interviews earlier this week, why the Mac matters. Since they say it’s so important to Apple, we asked them why it took four years, four months and 16 days to deliver what they call a “milestone” and a “big step forward” for its top-of-the-line laptops.
“The calendar isn’t what drives any of the decisions,” Schiller says[…] “We didn’t want to just create a speed bump on the MacBook Pro,” he says. “In our view this is a big, big step forward. It is a new system architecture, and it allows us to then create many things to come, things that we can’t envision yet.”
Even Cook questioned why anyone would buy a personal computer instead of an iPad Pro, saying in an interview last year [links added], “Why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?” Cook didn’t answer our question about that.
It has seemed clear for a while that the CEO doesn’t really understand the Mac, or simply doesn’t like it that much, and that’s a problem for those of us who do.
Apple was famous for their ecosystem integration. But out of the box you can’t plug a new iPhone into a new MacBook Pro. Absurd.
Even Apple Support aren’t getting it.
Despite most of us not buying it for years, it’s worth noting that the last upgradeable Mac laptop went away today.
With an SSD capacity range of 256 gigs to 2 TBs it would still be much more reasonable if Apple added upgrades after purchase.
Peter Kirn (via Michael Yacavone):
It was really hard for me to watch Apple’s “Hello Again” event today.
Understanding history is important – to a point. But Apple’s obsessive naval gazing in the Mac event today speaks volumes. This is a company with no real vision for what its most creative users actually do with their most advanced machines. So, instead, they look into the past.
The competition is faster, and/or costs less – so those graphs turned to older Apple products and even the poor PowerBook 100 rather than compare to the PC. We didn’t even get a thinner/lighter comparison, because even that ship has sailed.
The Mac made its name because it embraced desktop publishing and graphics when the PC missed the boat. Now, it seems Apple is about to miss next-generation graphics, 3D, and virtual reality. Even if some of those are gimmicks, the fact that we live in a three-dimensional world and have two eyes suggest it’s still an important development.
Previously: Apple Said to Plan First Pro Laptop Overhaul in Four Years.
Update (2016-10-28): Felix Schwarz:
Here’s how the 15" #MacBookPro 2016 component specs compare to the 2012 model.
Reminder: The current Mac Pro page brags about the performance with Aperture, a program that Apple retired 2+ years ago.
Don’t expect to do much gaming on your shiny new MacBook Pro.
“All MacBook Pros now use ‘onboard SSDs’ a la the MacBook” If your logic board dies your data dies with it. Backup your new MacBook people.
Owen Williams (Hacker News):
Apple spent the entire event comparing itself to its own past, rather than showing us the future, and even then painted a very clear picture: it has no idea who the Mac is for.
On stage Thursday, Schiller said that the MacBook Pro’s keyboard was a second-generation version of the MacBook keyboard and featured design changes to give it more movement feel. As someone who is not a fan of the very small amount of keyboard travel on the MacBook keyboard, I noted the phrasing. He didn’t say the keys moved more, just that they felt better.
Well, it’s my sad duty to report that the MacBook Pro keyboard has the same key travel as the MacBook. Apple says the stainless steel dome switch beneath each key has been honed to give you a more responsive feel, but to me it feels just like the MacBook’s keyboard.
Because Apple’s website lets you compare only two laptops at a time, here’s a spreadsheet of MacBook specs.
I wouldn’t call the new MBP GPU options competitive with mid-range.
The days of the sub $1,000 Mac are done. I thought the Air would stick around for another generation because of this price tier, but then I thought about it more carefully. Low-cost PCs make almost no sense anymore.
After watching yesterday’s Apple Event and reading around a bit at the reactions, I’ve become concerned for the future of the Mac, at least in the hands of the current leadership at Apple.
I can’t help but feel Apple has decided the core audience of their Unix-based powerhouse OS is the latte-sipping children in campus coffee shops and anything at all about their systems that appeals to anyone else is just something to be removed in the path to a sheet of paper with nothing but content. Frankly, it’s that total disconnect between what computer users want and what mobile users want that has me worried about the Mac. The source of my fear — after much contemplation — is that the same people that design the Mac are designing the iOS devices, and that’s a horrible situation for both platforms.
Update (2016-10-29): Brent Simmons:
Except — and this part shouldn’t be underestimated — many of these Mac developers are here because Macs are the computer for creative professionals and artists. That’s what attracted us to Macs in the first place.
It’s more than a niche. It’s our identity as Mac developers: we write apps for people who make things. But what if the Surface Studio takes over as the computer for people who make things? And what if we could bring over some of our investment (such as learning Swift) with us?
If you’re holding out for an Apple-branded 4K or 5K standalone display, you should probably stop waiting. Apple is reportedly out of the standalone display business for good, according to The Verge’s Nilay Patel.
Apple’s new MacBook Pro family is universally more expensive than the one it’s replacing: the supposedly entry-level MBP, lacking a Touch Bar, starts at $1,499. To get a Touch Bar, the least you’d need to spend is $1,799, and if you want to go beyond 13 inches, the 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,399. Upgrade the processor and graphics, opt for 2TB of storage, and you’ll reach the incredible heights of $4,299.
Apple’s new MacBook Pro has created quite a stir in the Mac community, with many developers and creative professionals expressing outrage and frustration that Apple has seemingly created a Pro machine that is decidedly underwhelming and watered down.
Apple pissing off the pro community is an especially interesting dynamic because, as many seasoned Mac observers can attest, Apple managed to survive some of its darker days in the early to mid 90s precisely because the Mac was the computer of choice for a wide swath of creative professionals.
David Owens II:
To me, Thursday’s event signaled one thing for me, and maybe I’m completely wrong, but the Mac is officially over.
Apple, the MacBook Pro is not a pro-level computer. It’s simply not.
You want to see what a pro-level laptop looks like? Look at the Razer lineup. They are crushing it on terms of performance and style in hardware design.
As a long-time Mac user, today’s event left me with more questions than answers about the Mac’s future. And what’s more telling is just how out of touch Apple is with their own user-base, at least when it comes to desktops and laptops.
As far as I’m concerned, Apple is completely out of touch with my segment (call it UNIX-centric pros, if you will), so I’m going to seriously rethink my options over the next couple of weeks.
I actually use and rely upon that top row too much to feel comfortable with the idea of a touch bar.
Apple’s desktop Mac lineup is headed for the graveyard. Dead. Done. Over.
Why do I believe this? Because of the unstated implications of what Apple announced (and didn’t announce) at its media event yesterday.
Apple no longer makes anything I care to buy. Flat statement. Sad to admit after nearly 30 years of buying their products but true. Apple could care less what its customers think or say or want, it seems.
Did Apple build a truck? Do they even care about trucks any more?
I think the quick answer is no.
He bought a Lenovo with 24 GB of RAM for $850.
The new trackpad is 2 times larger than the trackpad on the previous MacBook Pro for the 15-inch machine. It’s slightly less than 2x larger for the 13-inch. Other than the increased size this is the same Force Touch trackpad that has been shipping on MacBook Pros since last year.
Sadly, this change spells the end of MagSafe on Apple’s MacBook Pro line. No longer are MacBooks safe from people tripping over power cords while they are charging.
The people at Apple no longer have a clue what is desirable in a computer. At this, Apple is now incompetent. Tim Cook thinks everyone should just use an iPad. Out of touch with the reality of what core traditional Mac users is an understatement: yes iPhone and iPad are popular. Which is precisely why computers should distinguish themselves as computers. Not iPad-like stripped down gimmicks. It’s called market differentiation. Instead Apple pursues convergence.
I think the next few years will be awkward and actual real-world use of MacBooks will look more like the lone airport electrical outlet than the sleek design in the Apple presentations. The price of a dock will seem too expensive and many people will opt for a death by a thousand dongles. But, I think this is a transitional period leading to a much better future.
I can’t remember the last Apple event where I came away actually quite annoyed, but there it was.
The inference was Apple’s new MacBook Pro broadly replaces the MacBook Air, and yet the former is considerably more expensive. The new MacBook Pro – impressive though it is – also happens to be spendy for even professional users.
An entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar costs $1,799, a full $500 more than previous-generation models, and 15-inch models start at $2,399. Schiller says Apple cares about price, but has to design for experience rather than cost.
I’m not complaining about the new MacBook Pros. They look incredibly powerful, ridiculously thin, and have amazing displays. But they are very spendy right now, and that’s an especially hard pill to swallow when the Mac seems to receive less attention than it used to.
While there is no new MacBook Air available for purchase, Apple is continuing to offer the 13-inch MacBook Air models that were last updated in 2015. […] At $999, the MacBook Air is $500 cheaper than the new entry-level MacBook Pro and $300 cheaper than the entry-level Retina MacBook.
According to the document, while all of the ports on the 15-inch MacBook Pro and the 13-inch MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar offer full Thunderbolt 3 performance, only two of the four ports on the 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar support Thunderbolt 3 at full performance.
Michael B. Johnson:
Very disappointed with the state of Mac hardware. No good excuses left.
For me it’s not about the laptops, it’s about the Mac lineup. Mac Pro doesn’t have Thunderbolt 3 or vaguely current GPUs. Infuriating.
They are NOT complemented by performant desktop Macs, therefore they serve as pro desktops, which they are clearly NOT.
You’re about to enter a world of confusion thanks to those new “USB-C” ports. See, that simple-looking port hides a world of complexity, and the (thankful) backward-compatibility uses different kinds of cables for different tasks. Shoppers have to be very careful to buy exactly the right cable for their devices!
The core issue with USB-C is confusion: Not every USB-C cable, port, device, and power supply will be compatible, and there are many different combinations to consider.
If you’re not careful, you can neuter or even damage your devices by using the wrong cable. Seriously: Using the wrong cable can damage your machine! This should not be possible, but there it is.
As a technology observer and enthusiast, I like the new MacBook Pros a lot.
At the same time, I’m getting tired of this obsession with lighter/thinner at each design iteration. Professionals are more interested in sheer performance, in machines that can be upgraded and expanded down the road. Why can’t Apple leave the light & thin to the consumer line of notebooks, and offer pro notebooks that follow a more ‘function over form’ approach? What once was a clear distinction between ‘consumer’ and ‘pro’ machine, has now become something more like ‘regular’ versus ‘deluxe’ machines. Nowadays, a professional computer shouldn’t be constrained by a maximum of 16 GB of RAM. I know a few people who are barely comfortable with 32. Considering the non-trivial investment when you purchase one at its maximum tech specs, these MacBook Pros are supposed to last a few years.
Those complaining about Apple’s current Mac lineup are not haters, they’re lovers. They’ve spent 10+ years and 5+ figures on Macs.
These aren’t Luddites who simply hate change. These are people who already had blank checks written to Apple but had to tear up the checks.
The table below summarizes various options for using existing displays, card readers, Thunderbolt 2 devices, USB devices, etcetera on the late 2016 MacBook Pro (the 13" and 15" models both have the same type of ports, 4 ports for the 15" model, 2 ports for the 13" model).
16GB RAM limits on a $3200 laptop is bewildering to me. If the strategy here is to kill off the Mac brand, while focusing only on the iPhone, then I think they are well on their way.
I no longer believe the design team at Apple is innovating to make the best product experience, rather they’re deep in “pure math” territory, exploring the boundaries of innovation itself. I feel like this can go one of two ways. One of these is a future where Apple is a pillar of the desktop and laptop community, one of these is a future where the Mac is both expensive and underperforms.
I’ve been waiting few months for yesterday’s MacBook upgrade and I’m dissatisfied, as most of you. I read many comments about alternatives and one of recurring favorite is Dell XPS Developer Edition. Could I ask you about your experience with this model?
Brian Benchoff (via Hacker News):
In the past, I have defended people who choose MacBooks as their laptop of choice. A MacBook is a business-class laptop, and of course carries a higher price tag. However, Apple’s latest hardware release was underwhelming and overpriced. If you’re looking for a new laptop, you would do well to consider other brands. To that end, here’s a buyer’s guide to ThinkPads, currently the second most popular laptop I’ve seen with the dev/hacker/code cracker crowd.
Steven Levy (via Hacker News):
This week had the rare circumstance of two aged-but-still-sprightly competitors unveiling products on successive days. On Wednesday, Microsoft— formerly the heavyweight champion of the personal computer world on the basis of its software—actually introduced its first desktop computer. The Surface Studio is the result of an epically long transfer of Microsoft’s surface technology from research project, to bar room gaming device, to tablet, to desktop. It features a ginormous 28-inch touch-screen and an ingenious dial for precision zooming and menu-selecting. It’s also got a sheen of design haughtiness once unheard of in the precincts of Windows-land. The cheapest version is $3,000.
A day later, Apple ended the long wait for laptop users yearning for an upgrade by unveiling a new line of MacBook Pros. With the exception of a novel feature called the Touch Bar — a multi-touch strip above the keyboard that Disney-fies what function keys used to do — these new machines were pretty predictable iterations of how Apple does generations these days: thinner, faster, and more expensive.
In 2016 I do not want to charge, carry, and maintain two devices just because there are two important interaction models, each of which is better suited to some tasks and circumstances than the other.
In many respects this is reminiscent of how it felt in 2005 and 2006 to carry a cell phone and an iPod everywhere you go.
Apple’s failure to announce a solution to this problem right now is not terribly concerning on its own. But presenting the new MacBook Pro and Touch Bar as a truly revolutionary announcement, cast in a historical light, coming at the end of an extremely long dry spell falls flat.
Chuq Von Rospach:
There’s a huge amount of criticism of Apple coming out online after this event. And there’s a lot to criticize Apple about, unfortunately, because while they updated these laptops, they didn’t even mention the rest of the Mac product line, and the huge questions about where Apple sees this line going over the next few years weren’t even acknowledged, much less addressed.
What is Apple’s long-term strategy for pro apps? To be honest, Final Cut seems like a prosumer app that is used by pros, not a pro app that’s used by prosumers. What’s the future of Logic? they’ve killed Aperture, is it next? Am I going to be pushed to Premiere and Audition in the next two years?
Where are the updates to the desktop line? Where are the developer-class macs? And what about users who need high hardware with larger memory configurations? These new laptops all max out at 16Gb which is fine for, I’d wager, 95% of users, but for that other 5%? Is Apple really suggesting they head off to Microsoft instead?
Update (2016-10-30): Milen Dzhumerov (Hacker News):
From where I’m standing, Apple are redefining (shrinking) their target audience for the Mac platform. If you feel left out by the latest updates and the neglect on the desktop, it’s simple as Apple deciding not to serve your segment’s needs. I know that it can feel quite personal to Mac devotees, like me, but it’s simply business and strategy.
This one-size approach has fundamental flaws because we haven’t reached the stage where the tradeoffs are acceptable to high-demanding professionals. Almost every choice we make in this life is all about tradeoffs: it’s the same in hardware engineering. For example, making laptops thinner and lighter means sacrificing performance that you wouldn’t if you did not have those constraints.
The counterargument that I’ll make is that if you lose the professionals, you’ll lose a significant chunk of innovation and content that keeps consumers in the Apple ecosystem. Those professionals are content creators and if they use Macs at work, they’re more likely to use Macs at home and create for Apple platforms. Professionals are influencers and affect the computing choices of their immediate family & friends.
Apple appears to be offering the highest end Polaris 11 part available: the Radeon 460. This is a huge improvement over previous generations where Apple tended to only use the middle end of AMD’s mobile offerings. But while AMD has improved their performance compared to their previous generation, they’ve failed to take the performance crown from Nvidia. Nvidia’s low end professional notebook GPU, the GTX 1060m, is still almost twice as fast as the Radeon 460.
The issue with the new Macbook Pro is it ignores everything professionals have been asking for, while adding things that they didn’t. Unnecessarily making the laptop thinner prevents them from using a mobile GPU like Nvidia’s 1080m, which offers nearly four times the performance of the Radeon 460.
Apple also ignored almost the full list of what pros were looking for in a new Macbook Pro: features like upgradable storage, higher resolution displays, more RAM, external graphics expansion… Apple is pushing this laptop as a 4k editing professional notebook, but hasn’t even equipped it with a 4k display.
The monitor not being Apple branded means it is no longer Apple supported. When you buy an Apple branded monitor with a Mac, it’s covered under the same warranty as your Mac. If your Mac had three year AppleCare, your monitor was covered for three years too. And your monitor was serviced at the same local stores your Mac was serviced at.
I guess Apple thinks of the MBP15 as a mortifyingly-huge portable device, doesn’t realize its customers think of it as desktop that travels.
The sad thing about all this, is just how unnecessary it feels. It wold not take much for Apple to delight hardcore Mac users.
Apple didn’t launch a crappy product, they launched devices which still are the best option on the market. Which still have top notch industrial design. Which still have the best operating system. Which still have the best third party apps on any desktop platform. Which are still the best option for most people in the world. And frankly, if you can’t see that, then you need to go buy a non-Mac laptop and see for yourself how bad it truly is.
Tim Bray (Hacker News):
Apple thinks thin-and-light is more important than well-equipped-and-powerful.
My best bet is to buy a future Mac that’s aimed at people like me. Which requires that Apple wants to build one; they don’t at the moment, but maybe they will again before this box I’m typing on runs out of gas.
It’s not just about their removing the startup chime, or expansiblity. It’s about the honest reviews, the way marketing has taken over and the realization that the Mac, the foundation of what became Apple’s empire and still the only platform people can develop on for iOS, is effectively neglected, and that whatever Apple needs to do to try to regain their Pro user base, the new MacBooks are not it — or, at least, definitely not enough.
The killer feature of the late 2016 Apple MacBook Pro may be its wide-gamut display, the best ever offered by Apple, and perhaps the best in any laptop—to be seen.
The #1 disappointment with the late 2016 Apple MacBook Pro is its 16GB memory limit, which inherently places a performance limitation on professional usage.
exploding_m1 (via Tony Arnold):
So, a lot of people have been disappointed at the lack of a 32gb option.
Apple’s statement is true, but lacks detail.
The true reason behind the lack of 32gb or ddr4 is intel. Skylake does not support LPDDR4 (LP for low power) ram. Kabylake is set to include support, but only for the U category of chips. So no LPDDR4 support for mobile until 2018 I think.
Meh, the ThinkPad P50 and P70 pack a Xeon processor, 64 GB of ECC memory and a Quadro graphics card. So do the zbook from HP.
The Razer Blade comes with a Skylake i7 6700HQ and DDR4.
Update (2016-10-31): Maciej Ceglowski (as Benjamin Button):
Everything about the new machine seems designed for typists. The trackpad has been made smaller, so you’re less likely to brush against it with your palm. The keys themselves are much more comfortable to type on, with improved key travel, a softer feel, and more satisfying tactile feedback. You no longer feel like you’re tapping on the glass surface of an iPad. And not having a TouchBar means no longer having to look down at your hands all the time.
Despite the many improvements, Apple is actually dropping the price on its flagship 15" MacBook Pro by $400, another sign that they’re serious about winning over developers.
David Owens II:
Now, the MacBook Pro is not everything I want in a laptop. It is most certainly not everything that I want in a desktop computer. But, when the dust settles, it’s still a Mac. With all of the warts that macOS has, with all of the mind boggling decisions that Apple makes with some of their products at time, is there really any other platform I’d rather be using?
See also: Hacker News.
The level of pushback from the MacBook Pro event is staggering. I sure hope someone at Apple who can make a difference is paying attention.
Chuq Von Rospach (tweet, Hacker News):
Under the assumption that there are updated desktops coming after the first of the year, I think it would have made sense to mention that, just so users waiting for them can stop feeling abandoned. It doesn’t require a lot of disclosure, but I think it was time for at least some.
I’ve come to the belief that the trash can Mac pro, the “Can’t Innovate my Ass” machine, is a product mistake of the “20th Century Anniversary Macintosh” caliber. It was a technological marvel, it was a stunning design, and it was a terrible piece of hardware for it’s primary audiences because of limited upgradability and component flexibility — and then Apple compounded that by not having good upgrade plans in place to refresh it since the design it created wouldn’t let its users do it for themselves.
The fact is, the Mac product line itself is becoming a niche product, because the days of the personal computer have started the shift back to where computers will be a hobby for the nerd and for the mainstream user, devices which use computers to enable tasks are starting to replace them: that includes tablets, but also gaming consoles and whatever it is that will ultimately take ownership of the living room.
The minute the argument dismisses concerns by urging people to use their VT-100 if upset, it’s gone Godwin AFAIC.
What I actually want, though, is a powerful desktop Mac that can compile my apps really, really fast.
Here are some quick benchmarks for my $700 Lenovo Y700 vs. the $1500 “low-end” MacBook Pro I talked about Friday […] Remember, for $850, you’ve got 24 gigs of RAM and 128 Gigs of SSD (plus a terabyte of spinning platter storage) on that Lenovo.
Apple has always been a premium brand and its loyal customers have embraced it. But this premium price was paid for a whole product that worked well out of the box and was well integrated into Apple’s ecosystem. Today this increase in price stands in a stark contrast to the decrease in software quality in the last years and the product design issues I discussed.
Roman Loyola (via Kirk McElhearn):
If you’re planning to buy a new MacBook Pro, make sure you set aside a considerable amount of cash for the adapters you need. Apple doesn’t include any in the box, except for a power adapter.
And it doesn’t include the cable from the power brick to the wall.
I don’t fall on the Apple-is-doomed spectrum (hell, we’ve been through enough of that), but this does seem like an unusual move for the company.
Robert Cringely (via Hacker News):
This very durability presents a problem for Apple that they’ve tried to deal with by eventually stopping software support for older machines. That’s why the Mac Minis of my kids now run Ubuntu. Old Macs get handed down or sold on Craigslist and that’s a problem for Apple, but not nearly as big a problem as the fact that pretty much everyone who wants a smart phone now has one.
Yes, Apple has a problem — a problem most other companies would love to have: customers like the products too much so the market is becoming saturated.
Peter Sphilio (via Hacker News):
Why do some car and motorcycle companies have the courage to devote significant resources to racing?
The reason Apple should spend money on creating and marketing true professional hardware is the very same reason for which car and motorcycle companies devote significant resources to racing; because it provides them with credibility. When motor companies race, they are affirming their ability to create the very best possible product, the one that no other group can challenge.
Brian Fagioli (via Slashdot, Hacker News):
While you might expect some of these disappointed Apple loyalists to turn to a Windows machine -- and I’m sure some will -- some are turning to an unexpected alternative -- Linux. You see, immediately after the Apple Keynote, famed Ubuntu laptop and desktop seller, System76, saw a huge jump in traffic from people looking to buy its machines.
Overall, it’s a dramatic shift from where Apple and Microsoft used to be. Microsoft is now appealing directly to creative professionals with hardware, and software innovations. Apple is introducing solid, workhorse devices that lack the magic of previous updates. Even the “birth” videos reflected a difference in how these machines are going to be sold. Microsoft’s felt more Apple-y than Apple’s this time around.
It wasn’t long ago I’d watch an Apple keynote and dream of all the new things I’d be able to do. This week, though, I’m dreaming about the Surface Studio.
Ben Slaney (via Greg Koenig):
The Federal Aviation Administration has capped the maximum allowable size of laptop batteries on flights to 100 watt-hours. That explains why Apple’s 2015 pro model contains precisely a 99.5 watt-hour battery. Although the recent MBP release only contains a 76 watt-hour battery, due to the fact that there is no low-power RAM available in greater than 16GB capacities for Intel’s latest mobile CPU it can be argued that Apple are still working within that 100 watt-hour ceiling, and that they are using the best components that they can given that ceiling.
Seems like this is where USB-C battery packs could come in handy. Apple makes an external iPhone battery pack, and it isn’t pretty, but apparently it works very well.
I don’t care about lighter or thinner. I care about performance, storage, reliability.
A rift. A schism. We are witnessing it. I believe anyway.
The second paragraph above shows the difference. In the first paragraph, Cook is questioning why anyone would buy a (Windows/Linux) PC. In the second, he’s saying many people don’t even need a notebook or desktop, period, implicitly including Mac notebooks and desktops.
It’s not clear to me that Cook has always used “PC” to mean non-Mac. In any case, the second paragraph expresses pretty much the same sentiment and clearly includes Macs, and Cook declined to elaborate when interviewed a year later about the MacBook Pro.
John Gruber (tweet):
Rather astounding how much backlash last week’s event has generated. I can’t recall an Apple event that generated such a negative reaction from hard-core Mac users.
I’m looking forward to his longer piece.
The argument against this design is that it’s backwards — that for MacBooks targeting pro users, Apple should start with high performance specs and then build a machine that supports things like 32 GB of RAM. If they had done that, they’d have wound up with thicker, heavier designs. Many actual pro users would be delighted by that.
Apple simply places a higher priority on thinness and lightness than performance-hungry pro users do.
Typically when Apple makes big changes to their products they explain them. Lately Apple hasn’t been doing that.
Why is 1 port better than 2? Why is USB-C better than MagSafe? Why is a keyboard that is tolerated at best now standard?
Update (2016-11-01): Dave Mark:
Apple did a superlative job with the MacBook Pro reveal. The Touch Bar itself is a thing of beauty, but Apple prepared well here, bringing a variety of apps to the stage to put the Touch Bar through its paces, to show how this Touch Bar makes possible a brand new way of interacting with your computer. This is so much more than what I expected, so much more than programmable soft keys.
Lots to absorb, lots to read, but so far, sounds like Apple has a real winner here.
If this were simply a bunch of curmudgeonly complaints, we’d have skipped the post entirely. But there are a lot of fair complaints in this list, insights that are worth paying attention to.
See also: MBP Prices Over Time.
In conversation over two years ago, we converged on an assumption: Apple and Microsoft will taper off their investments in pro hardware and software while they chase bigger, easier money in the consumer and enterprise spaces. History being known to repeat itself, we saw a moment on the horizon not unlike the one in which NeXT and Be emerged. We figured there were some instructive lessons from the histories of those upstarts. We wondered if the right team could move pro computing forward today, and by measures beyond small increments.
Apple will only see an exodus of pro users if it turns out they’ve shipped a machine that truly can’t meet the needs – the actual working limits – of their customers. Armchair grumbles about misfeatures, memory limits, and the wrong ports aren’t the same as being totally unable to do your job because your tools have utterly failed you. I don’t think that’s where most pro users are today, but some are starting to recognize that today’s professional computing tools aren’t likely to carry us forward into new ways of working.
Lucas Mearian (via Mike Rundle):
Apple, a company that has led the laptop industry in its use of PCIe solid-state drives (SSDs), again upped the ante in performance with its latest refresh of the MacBook Pro, which may be the highest performing stock system on the market.
Manton Reece (tweet):
I might have doubts about the Mac product line, but overall I like the new MacBooks. The outrage seems overblown.
I tend to agree. As I said at the top, these new MacBook Pros are not what I was looking for, and I have concerns about the Mac product line, but the level of outrage is way beyond what I expected when writing this post.
I suspect many of those annoyed about the event are in my position: the fact that the Touch Bar is interesting just makes it more annoying that Apple just announced a line of computers that I can’t really use.
For a developer work machine, 16GB is the uncomfortable minimum requirement. It does not cover the needs of a developer’s average workday without us making some compromises in our workflow and productivity.
But that’s not most MacBook Pro users. Most MacBook Pro users will do just fine with 16 GB of RAM (in fact, most will do just fine with the 13-inch models’ default configuration of 8 GB). For most MacBook Pro users, Apple is right to prioritize battery life over the maximum RAM configuration.
This might make people who want such things even angrier (than if they were technical limitations), but they’re both deliberate design choices.
Update (2016-11-02): John Martellaro:
By discussing the MacBook Pro only, Apple seemed to be saying, “We never intended, nor do we need, to talk about anything else.” Unsatisfying.
Evidently, we are to take Apple’s silence on other Mac matters as a statement of steadfast indifference.
Finally, the feeling we all at TMO got during this presentation is that Apple just doesn’t see a future in powerful desktop Macs. If you are a technical or creative professional, a MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar is going to be your thing. If that doesn’t do the trick, there’s little recourse available in the rest of the product line. You’ll need to turn elsewhere.
If Apple had introduced a new MacBook Air last week, the company wouldn’t be facing down a mob of angry creative professionals. It might not have Apple software developers questioning whether the company has lost its way.
Because the new MacBook Pro basically is a MacBook Air -- the most impressive Air ever made.
Apple chose to market a thinner Pro instead of a faster Air, even though they’re basically the same thing. And that’s not lost on Apple -- it was Apple marketing VP Phil Schiller who suggested the 13-inch MacBook Pro (the one without the Touch Bar) was designed for MacBook Air buyers.
“We are the company that stands for the builders, the makers, the creators.” Sounds like a thing Apple might say, no? But those are the words of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella -- the guy who just ate Apple’s lunch.
Here’s the truth: Apple’s new MacBook Pro isn’t for pros. Not all of them, anyhow.
Chuq Von Rospach (tweet):
Apple did a great job of introducing two new trees while ignoring the forest dying of drought around us.
The more I think about it, the more I think that sums up my discomfort with the announcements this week.
In 1997, Steve introduced his new philosophy for what products should have using this grid. 20 years later, we’re now trying to make sense of the Mac product line and we seem confused, so I decided to sit down and try to sort it out a bit. So here we are, the New Grid.
I’m a photographer, so the lack of an SD card slot stinks. The personality is leaving. The upgrade path is non-existent. Maybe the only saving grace is that Macs still run macOS, still the best operating system out there.
And it could be that I would be just fine owning one of the new MacBook Pros. It’s just that right now I’m in the market for a new iMac, and those options aren’t all that appealing either. If/when an iMac update comes, do I see things getting better or worse?
Worse. That’s what makes me nervous.
But the problem is Apple themselves is marketing the Macbook Pro as a desktop replacement.
Apple just gave me the computer I’ve been waiting ~3+ years for. No, really.
I’m breaking my 4-year upgrade cycle early because Apple just shipped my unicorn. The beauty of the Retina 27" 5k iMac when I’m at my desk, the convenience of a rMBP the rest of the time.
As it stands, there is a hidden extra cost of $200 or more if you’re like me and want to attach a USB3 SSD, USB3 card reader, Thunderbolt device, external display, etc. That’s about a 5% to 7% hidden cost increase. OWC has USB-C to USB adapter cables for about $9.99 so at least there is a low cost option for that common use case. Which brings the point to it: why isn’t there at least one token USB-C to USB adapter in the Apple box?
Ben Lovejoy (Hacker News):
I haven’t ever seen any stats, but my guess would be that the vast majority of MacBook owners never connect anything other than power to their machine. For those that do, mostly it will be just one or two USB devices, like a USB key and external drive.
All joking aside, I do worry, reading my Twitter timeline over the past few days, that some people actually believe Apple makes decisions based on what the executives personally want, rather than what data tells them is viable.
Phil Schiller (Slashdot, MacRumors):
We’re steadfast in our belief that there are fundamentally two different products to make for customers and they’re both important. There’s iPhone and iPad which are single pieces of glass, they’re direct-manipulation, multi-touch and tend towards full-screen applications. […] Then there’s the Mac experience, dominated by our notebooks and that’s about indirect manipulation and cursors and menus.
These are pro machines. If it was just about headphones then it doesn’t need to be there, we believe that wireless is a great solution for headphones. But many users have setups with studio monitors, amps, and other pro audio gear that do not have wireless solutions and need the 3.5mm jack.
There has certainly been a lot of passionate dialogue and debate about the new MacBook Pro! Many things have impressed people about it, and some have caused some controversy. I hope everyone gets a chance to try it for themselves and see how great the MacBook Pro is. It is a really big step forward and an example of how much we continue to invest in the Mac. We love the Mac and are as committed to it, in both desktops and notebooks, as we ever have been.
And we are proud to tell you that so far our online store has had more orders for the new MacBook Pro than any other pro notebook before. So there certainly are a lot of people as excited as we are about it.
When you sit all but idle for 4+ years in the pro laptop space, and then finally produce a gorgeous laptop, one would hope for strong sales.
From my perspective, Phil Schiller’s perspective on card readers is that of someone who has a dim understanding of the pro photography market, namely that the vast majority of cameras sold today (even pro cameras) have SDXC card slots (my pro Canon, Nikon, Sony, Sigma, Leica cameras all do so I rarely use CF cards any more). Schiller’s lame rationalization might be accepted by the ignorant.
Unusual for Apple to defend design decisions like this. Problem is most people who transfer pictures want that SD.
First, the SD card doesn’t have to stick out. Every camera that I’ve used has a sprung locking mechanism to keep the card snugly in its slot. Something like that might be really elegant on a MacBook Pro, and would help prevent removing the card without ejecting it.
As far as wireless transfer is concerned, it’s just not fast or reliable enough, especially for cameras producing 40-plus megabyte RAW images.
The difference between light-load and heavy-load battery life is staggering.
I have actually lost sleep since the announcement. I keep going over in my mind alternate hardware, but the fact is that macOS (OS X) is the single best operating system for developers today. I am generalizing "developers". For any embedded development, or HDL stuff, OS X will not be a nice experience. But for web or mobile development (which I anticipate is quite larger than development that could not be done in OS X), it’s just better. Things work. If the don’t, there is a massive support system in place and worst case scenario you can drive <1hr to an Apple store and let them take care of it. Sure, there are edge cases there as well, but compared to the ultrabook you bought from Costco or any distribution of linux, you have much more support available. I do love my macbook pro (glass trackpad, backlit keyboard, good display), but I absolutely must have macOS. At this point my only hope is that a new distribution of Linux evolves that can seriously compete and works flawlessly on off the shelf hardware (such as the Dell XPS), but we’re not there yet. Elementary OS looks promising. Perhaps developers would fork Darwin completely and make a macOS competitor.
The negative reaction is not because the new MBP is terrible when viewed in a vacuum, it is because people who would like (or actually need) more powerful hardware than the one-size-fits-all approach that seems to be Apple’s current course are no longer catered to, or so it seems.
Personally, I don’t really care about the touch bar one way or another, but what I do care about is that I would like to have one machine I can do all my work on, which involves a wider range of things one a daily basis than is typical (e.g. video/image editing, GPU powered number crunching, coding, and sitting in moving vehicles plugged into a bunch of stuff). In the past few years, the 15" MBP has been the machine to do it all, but in it’s newest incarnation(s) I am no longer sure it would still be the best tool. It seems like gimmicks are added, but useful extras are stripped away. Maybe it’s just in the uncanny valley of progress with USB-C, but for the moment the way they went about it all or nothing seems like a major inconvenience, with all the “legacy” hardware I need to attach. And there’s minor things like removing the power brick’s cord.
Marco Arment (tweet, 2):
Having four USB-C ports is awesome.
Having only four USB-C ports is going to hurt the versatility requirement of pro gear, because there’s a very real chance that you won’t have the right dongle when you need it.
This is going to happen a lot, because even though USB-C is the future, it’s definitely not the present.
But this is not how Apple thinks about transitions like this. They design for the future, and in doing so, they bring the future here faster. In the alternate universe where the new MacBook Pros ship with one USB-A port, the transition to ubiquitous USB-C peripherals and cables will happen at least a little slower.
Where the company and I don’t see eye-to-eye, though, is with the keyboard. The new MacBook Pro features a second-generation version of the butterfly-style keys introduced in the MacBook. I’m extremely hesitant to switch to this type of keyboard. Granted, I haven’t spent too much time with it, but the limited key travel felt terrible to me. And that’s setting aside the decreased distance between keys which makes it more difficult to know where my fingers were without looking.
But Apple has me overlooking the mediocre keyboard with the inclusion of a giant trackpad and the Touch Bar — the most noteworthy feature in these new machines.
Tim Cook uses “PC” to mean “anyone’s PC”.
I know Jobs didn’t. Cook always has. Used to sound incongruous when he did it, but now that Windows is sort of a lesser beast, it makes some sense to stop with the Mac/PC dichotomy.
But it’s hard not to see a shift in Apple’s thinking. While its price is certainly commensurate with its predecessors, the new MacBook Pro isn’t your standard professional notebook. Rather, the latest flagship portables from Cupertino are more in line with the iPad Pro than the MacBook Pros they replace, and it could signal major changes ahead for the rest of the lineup.
The Butterfly 2.0 keys are indeed updated! Check this sweet MacBook/MacBook Pro (with function keys) rollover!
John Gruber (tweet):
I know a lot of people — DF readers, developer friends — who are deeply worried that Apple is sunsetting the Mac. […] But I would hold up as proof of Apple’s commitment to the Mac two things: the annual update cycle of the OS and the MacBook lineup. (Personally, I would prefer if they slowed down on major updates to MacOS and updated hardware more frequently with minor speed bumps.)
Call me an old-school Mac curmudgeon all you like, but I think a single regular USB port in the new MBP wouldn’t have hurt.
The fact that one needs an adapter to even plug a common USB pendrive is ridiculous.
When using the MBP at home, you can tolerate various adapters, but on the go it’s just annoying.
Update (2016-11-03): See also: MacRumors.
Mike Wuerthele (via Keir Thomas):
Additionally, the system profiler’s report on the 13-inch MacBook Pro has no listing for S/PDIF Optical Digital Audio Output, while the 2012 and 2015 Retina MacBook Pro models do.
AppleInsider contacted Apple about the matter, and was told that the feature was removed due to a lack of customers using the functionality. Additionally, we were told that “plenty of USB-C zero-latency professional peripherals are available now, or coming very soon” featuring optical audio out connectivity.
This is right after Schiller’s statement (above) that Apple left the headphone jack on the MacBook Pro because of its uses for pro audio.
I was able to try the MacBook Escape today at the Apple Store Maine Mall. (The models with Touch Bar will not be in stock, even as demo units, for about a month.) I find the “second generation” keyboard noticeably better than the MacBook One’s. I don’t like feel or the arrow key layout, but I think it would probably be tolerable for me, given that I mostly use an external keyboard. On the other hand, older MacBook Pro keyboard is probably the best that Apple has ever shipped in a notebook, and the MacBook One’s is probably the worst.
My primary use case for the SD card slot is for a Time Machine drive while traveling. Hotel network connections are too slow for Internet backup, and the SD cards are compact enough that I can leave them inserted while loading and unloading the MacBook Pro from my bag. Even if a dongle weren’t required, a USB drive just wouldn’t work as well here. It would not fit in my laptop sleeve, and I would have to unmount it before disconnecting it.
Update (2016-11-04): Accidental Tech Podcast makes a lot of interesting points, particularly about what it means that Apple is getting out of the external display business.
The summary for potential late 2016 MacBook Pro owners is that all current USB-C devices, cables, and adapters will work when plugged into a MacBook Pro’s Thunderbolt 3 ports. However, Thunderbolt 3-specific devices won’t work with computers and other devices like the 12-inch MacBook whose USB-C ports are less capable.
Greg Barbosa (MacRumors):
After a battery of tests with their current lineup of USB-C and Thunderbolt products, Plugable learned that Apple’s newest MacBook Pros may not be compatible with currently available Thunderbolt 3 devices. This issue seems to specifically stem from the use of Texas Instruments controller chips in the Thunderbolt 3 devices. If true, this means that has Apple potentially shut out early adopters of the new technology.
To me the neglected part discussed was the touch pads. Why are they so big? I don’t think Apple gave a good reason at the Event and no one else has really explained them well. If you look at them they’re the size of a large iPhone. I think there’s something to that.
Some people use a MacBook Pro primarily as a desktop machine that they want to be able to occasionally move around easily. These people aren’t as concerned with battery life or weight. They’d rather have more ports than battery life. A different (much larger) group of people primarily want a powerful machine that they can run extended times on battery power and easily carry with them. For most of the life of the MacBook Pro the laptop met both these needs with only a few compromises. At least relative to the choices available at the time. Partially due to Intel’s own product lines this just isn’t true anymore.
Next year’s CannonLake chips from Intel will help this problem a lot. They’ll significantly increase the amount of memory available. However I suspect the days of the MacBook Pro being able to meet both needs are gone. While this “transportable” market is small I don’t think it is negligible. It would be nice were Apple to simply take the old MacBook Pro form factor, drop the DP, power port, and one USB-A port and replace them with USB-C/TB3 ports. Leave the rest of the ports the same, put in a powerful Nvidea mobile GPU, have bigger fans, put in the top Intel chip, ignore the weight and be satisfied with battery life more akin to what the 2009 MacBook Pro had. There is a group of Apple fans who would love this device.
It’s a convenient narrative to group together both the migration away from USB-A and the one away from 3.5mm headphones. There are important differences, though.
Jason Snell (Hacker News):
Regardless, the Mac Pro has not been updated in an unconscionably long time. The current Mac Pro, which you can still buy, is three years old. It hasn’t been updated once. The Mac Pro may not sell many units at all—and truth be told, even two years ago the 5K iMac was arguably a better Mac than the Mac Pro—but it’s also symbolic. It represents some part of Apple’s commitment to its professional user base, a small but enthusiastic group that includes developers and other highly technical folks. And users of the MacBook Pro had to look on and wonder if Apple’s commitment to them was wavering, too.
The danger for Apple is how many people are on those margins, and how influential those people are. If the company has miscalculated, it may cede users that keep the Mac platform strong, and that could slow the Mac’s momentum when compared to the PC industry at large.
A larger danger for Apple, I think, is affordability. The move to Retina has dramatically increased the price of all of Apple’s laptops. The 13-inch MacBook Air is still kicking around at $999, but the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, by all rights the proper successor to the 13-inch Air, costs $500 more. A product line that once began at $899 now begins (leaving the Air aside for a moment) at $1299. I’m not sure what solves this one other than time, but it’s an issue.
Despite Apple introducing new 2016 MacBook Pro’s last week, I just ordered at 2015 model. Yes, the one that was last updated a year and a half ago. I spent a considerable amount of time looking at the new lineup and thinking through how I intend to use the machine. Ultimately I concluded that in addition to costing several hundreds more, the new models simply offer me less utility than the 2015 models.
A huge part of my workflow requires that I use a USB security token, and I use USB flash drives a fair amount. I’m not a huge klutz, but I was looking forward to the MagSafe connector. I connect to projectors and large LCDs on a fairly regular basis, so an HDMI port is very useful for me. The thought of having to use dongles all of the time doesn’t appeal to me.
Update (2016-11-05): Jacob Kastrenakes (Hacker News, MacRumors):
Apple is cutting prices for all of its USB-C adapters following a week of complaints about the MacBook Pro’s inconvenient port situation.
It’s a sign that Apple recognizes these dongles are a hassle, and it seems to hope that reducing the prices on them will lessen the pain of this transition. Starting immediately, all of Apple’s USB-C adapters and some of its USB-C cables will have their prices cut by $6 to $20[…]
I think Apple wants to counter the notion that moving to all USB-C is a money grab — that they did it to make money selling adapters.
Before the 2013 Mac Pro, Apple hadn’t upgraded the Mac Pro in three years (and Apple’s neglect of Final Cut Pro 7 didn’t help.) I with video pros at the time and the panic was already setting in. A two year gap, like the one from 2006 to 2008, was digestible. But at three years you start to wonder if the Mac Pro was going to be updated at all. And if you don’t think the Mac Pro is going to be updated, for the good of your business, you’re going to start looking at the Adobe Suite and Windows workstations, and start that transition as early as possible.
When Apple released the 2013 Mac Pro it never calmed the pro community. The 2013 Mac Pro a risky proposition for businesses because it was slower than Windows hardware, which translates to dollars on the bottom line. A job that takes twice as long to render costs twice as much. And that just continued to feed the narrative that investing in the Apple platform was a risky proposition. And then three years later Apple still hasn’t shipped an upgrade, continuing the tailspin in pro’s confidence of Apple.
Marco Arment (tweet, Hacker News):
It’s looking increasingly likely that there will never be another Mac Pro. Here’s why that would be a shame.
Pros wouldn’t be as angry about the limitations of the new MacBook Pro line if there was an alternative that solved their needs. The Mac Pro sweeps up countless edge cases with one product at the top of the line — the only downside is cost, but many pros would rather spend money than compromise on their needs.
Just as the Mac’s power lets iOS be simpler, a healthy Mac Pro frees up the rest of the Mac lineup to make more aggressive progress.
Arment is way too positive on the Mac Pro’s thermal design. Recently I worked on an application where we had about a dozen Mac Pros doing heavy video encoding workloads. Four of these computers started having GPU overheating issues, and turns out that this is a common occurrence on the 2013 Mac Pro. Apple has been quietly replacing units over the years (searching for the specific console error message reveals that it’s common among Mac Pro owners).
My theory is that the Mac Pro hasn’t seen an update because Apple knows that its current thermal design is a lemon, and they don’t really want to sell any more of these because the replacement rate is so high.
Craig Hockenberry (tweet):
Licensing just the operating system was a disaster for Apple. Professional customers don’t have the time to build and maintain their own Hackintoshes. Any partnership to build Mac hardware would need to be structured so that it benefits Apple, the partner, and customer alike.
Just like IBM and their clients have benefitted from Lenovo.
Did you see Louis Rossmann’s YT review? Some USB-C devices kill internet and make the mouse laggy on the new MBP 13in non-Touch Bar.
Update (2016-11-06): Jeff Carlson:
But like a lot of people, I didn’t order one right away. The 16 GB RAM limit was the first thing to make me pause; my current machine is maxed out at 8 GB and I often hit that ceiling when I’m editing photos and running many applications in the background.
I still bought one. As I was deliberating, I wrote up the following list of reasons this MacBook Pro, at this time, is the new computer for me. Let me reinforce that this is my situation; I’m not trying to be universal or tell you what to buy. But I thought that posting my thought process might help other people who are also weighing many of the same questions.
As someone who had tuned into the event with the singular goal of getting to know more about Apple’s plans for the Mac Mini and iMac, I was left with a very sour taste in my mouth by the time the event ended. Phil, or Tim, should’ve made at least a passing mention to the MacBook Pro’s desktop brethren and told us to hang in there.
Jason Snell (Hacker News):
And what I like is more travel than these keyboards offer. That said, I want to allay the fears of people who think these keyboards don’t do the job: They do. I find the lack of response in the keys unpleasant, but I can still type at full speed and accuracy when I use it. (I do keep hitting the wrong arrow keys, though. I’m still not a fan of the full-sized left and right arrow keys sharing space with half-height up and down arrows.)
In any event, if you like the MacBook keyboard, you’ll liked this one even more. If you disliked the MacBook keyboard, you may find this one to be an improvement—but it’s a progression of that keyboard, not a replacement.
That’s where Griffin’s BreakSafe comes in. It brings MagSafe-like tech to USB-C connections, but there are a few things you should note before running out and purchasing one…
See also: Glenn Fleishman (in 2015).
Update (2016-11-07): Fred McCann:
I think a lot of the anger in the community has more to do with the lack of Mac hardware in general than these specific laptops, but there are some real problems.
You can pin this on Intel as the kinds of Kaby Lake chips Apple wants aren’t yet available, but the release cycle of MacBook Pros is ultimately on Apple. I know people (myself included) who were waiting for a quad-core latest generation Intel chip in the 2015 MacBook Pro which never came. Apple is charging premium prices for products that will be not entirely outdated, but certainly behind the curve in a short amount of time.
The old value proposition was you’d invest in as much hardware as you could afford and upgrade later. Apple’s current offerings are already expensive, and outfitting a machine that will go the expected distance is even more so. The combination of limited and expensive options for memory and storage dramatically alters the value proposition of the MacBook Pro over the lifetime of the computer.
I’ve been thinking for a long time that of course Apple is “soon” going to reboot the Mac Pro. Now I’m starting to worry they’re not. They don’t have to, but they really should. Make it fast, make it quiet, and make it easy to keep updating with CPU and GPU speed bumps every year or so.
256GB base in a Pro laptop is silly. So is demanding an additional $200 to get it to 512 where it should be (at very least).
Update (2016-11-08): John Gruber:
This isn’t a new comment. This was posted 4 years ago, in response to the last major MacBook Pro redesign. Déjà vu.
David Owens II:
Is the point that Apple continues to push sub-pro hardware to us and we continue to buy it because there’s no better alternative?
These are Apple’s premium laptops, its deluxe devices, but not in any meaningful way computers tailored for the pros. A MacBook Pro is now simply what you buy if you’re in the Apple ecosystem and have a higher budget and expectations than the MacBook can fulfill.
The Mac community finds the specs underwhelming, even on the 15-inch model, which uses power-sipping AMD Radeon graphics instead of the world-conquering Nvidia Pascal chips.
My hope is that Apple has a new, upgradeable Mac Pro in the works. My worry is that they don’t.
Out of respect, I think Apple should give their pro users an olive branch here. If the Mac Pro is going to stick around, then the company should have an answer to Marco’s complaints. If there is something in the pipeline, the company should tip its hand a little. I can’t imagine sales of the Mac Pro are good anymore, so I don’t this would be a big hit on the bottom line.
See also: Upgrade.
Sam Mallery has a contrary perspective on MagSafe (tweet).
Jonathan Zdziarski (via John Gruber):
I fired up a bunch of apps and projects (more than I’d ever work on at one time) in every app I could possibly think of on my MacBook Pro. These included apps you’d find professional photographers, designers, software engineers, penetration testers, reverse engineers, and other types running – and I ran them all at once, and switched between them, making “professionally-type-stuff” happen as I go.
The result? I ran out of things to do before I ever ran out of RAM. I only ever made it to 14.5GB before the system decided to start paging out, so I didn’t even have the change to burn up all that delicious RAM.
I found this surprising because on a normal day I run fewer apps than that and yet frequently see lots of page outs. On Sunday I rebooted, did some light work (no Xcode, VMware, or Lightroom) and by early evening had 17 GB of swap. And when I do use those apps, it sounds like I work with smaller photo files than he does, and usually only one virtual machine at a time.
I can type on both just fine, but I’m not a fan of this style—every time I had to switch back to my MacBook Air for a few minutes, its old keyboard felt better immediately. With the MacBook Pro’s new keyboard, I find myself typing extra hard, like my brain isn’t convinced the keys are even going to go down unless I really pound them. For what it’s worth, I don’t have this problem with Apple’s wireless Smart Keyboard.
Putting it to the test in Geekbench 4.0.1, this stock, entry-level MacBook Pro racked up a score of 3765 in the single-core CPU test, and 7316 in the multicore test, both at 64-bit. But that single-core score is just 1 percent better than the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro from early 2015 (2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with 8GB of RAM), and the multicore score is better by 4 percent.
Looks like I’m six for six! (except the key travel did change, but ehhh I’ll get used to it.) Also, one of my “dream big” requests was for a bigger trackpad with Pencil support, so I guess you could even say I got six and a half of my wishes.
When Apple made Mac Pro an appliance, like iPad and MacBook Air before it, Apple took on the responsibility for keeping it updated. If I can no longer upgrade the graphics, RAM, or drives, it’s their job to do it for me, consistently and reliably, or to over-communicate why the roadmap might be longer.
I didn’t buy the rev A modern Mac Pro, but I fully intended to buy the rev B. It just never came. Not a year later, not two years later, and now not three years later. It might come next spring but no one outside Apple really knows for sure. And that creates an incredible amount of stress and anxiety in the community. Stress and anxiety they don’t deserve.
Update (2016-11-09): Aaron L’Heureux:
I want to talk to some of the FUD that has led to a number of complaints, but first there are certainly a few areas where Apple could have done better and helped curb some of the unrest.
In order to prove that this future is the right future, Apple and third parties need to knock the functionality of the Touch Bar out of the park. I’m not worried about the decision for all USB-C. I think we will find in the coming years that the all USB-C lifestyle will reduce peripheral complexity and make life actually easier. But for now, we’re in that transition phase.
Macs were never cheap, but I think at this price point, Apple has raised the bar to a price point that just can’t be justified by many people, myself included.
Update (2016-11-10): Jason Snell:
It’s not quite a price hike, but it’s an elimination of the least expensive option. And combined with the price hikes internationally due to the stronger dollar, it’s got a lot of people crying foul.
This makes me wonder: To what degree are Retina Macs more expensive because the Retina display (and the increased graphics power required to drive them) adds to the cost of making the device, and to what degree is it a feature differentiator that Apple feels it can use as a way to get people to spend more money?
Update (2016-11-11): Benjamin Mayo:
Windows manufacturers don’t seem to have a problem selling laptops with ‘Retina’ resolution displays far below the Air’s $999 retail price. They may not be as good as the new MacBook Pro or iMac displays but they are leaps and beyonds ahead of what the Air has.
hot2 is unable to get the new MacBook Pro to work with Linux (via Hacker News).
Update (2016-11-12): John Gordon:
Retina is for the young.
Update (2016-11-13): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.
Update (2016-11-14): John Gruber:
Most common question about Touch Bar: does the blank spot to the left of Esc work as a touch target. Answer: half of it does.
There really is a lot of good stuff here. But for every smart use of the Touch Bar, there’s another that’s too complicated or entirely meaningless. Often they’re even within the same app, all present on the Touch Bar at once.
The difference between a menu opening left or right or up or down may seem slight, but the effect is very disorienting. There were times I felt lost in the Touch Bar, unable to return to the screen I wanted.
Having those menu options exposed so clearly can be helpful at times — I’m bad at finding formulas in Keynote, for instance, and the Touch Bar makes them easy to access — but mostly it’s not. These apps don’t need more menus; they need better context for people just starting out in them, and a streamlined way for experienced users to get stuff done.
“While editing in Final Cut, I used the Touch Bar exactly zero times,” Nielsen says. “When I tried to intentionally use the Touch Bar, I felt like a kid learning how to type again. I had to keep looking down at the bar instead of looking at the images I was actually trying to edit. That could get better with time, but it seems harder since there aren’t any actual keys for my fingers to find if I was just editing along not looking at my hands.”
Brian X. Chen:
The Touch Bar is a breeze to get the hang of, but I didn’t find it helpful in streamlining tasks. If you open the Photos app, for example, the Touch Bar displays thumbnails of photos in your library, and you can tap one to select a photo to edit. That’s neat, but why not just select the photo on your laptop screen? When using the Safari browser, you can use the Touch Bar to select a different browser tab — but using keyboard shortcuts (Command+1 to choose the first tab, for instance) is quicker.
In speed tests run with the app Geekbench 4, the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s computer processor was only 10 percent to 17 percent faster than the 15-inch model released in 2012. Yet the graphics processor, which is crucial for heavy computing tasks, in the new MacBook Pro is about twice as fast as the one in the older model, and the storage drives are much faster, too.
Every ten clicks or so, the MacBook Pro’s trackpad would simply “miss” one of my clicks. This is something I haven’t experienced on my desktop Magic Trackpad, which clicks reliably. At first I thought I was interfering with the trackpad somehow, perhaps inadvertently touching my shirt to the bottom edge or laying my palm onto the surface. But it wasn’t any of those, so far as I could tell. Whatever the reason, it’s not fun to have your laptop miss clicks. It slows everything down. I hope this is a bug in the software that Apple can address in an update, because it’s a real bummer. The old hinge-style trackpad on my MacBook Air might not be fancy, but it never let me down.
The potential unlocked by all of it is enormous.
But they’ve got graphics that, while they can run dual 5K displays at the high end, can’t run VR or the highest end games. They’ve got a 16 GB memory limit that, while mitigated by compression and SSD speed, won’t prove enough for the most demanding professionals. They’ve got Touch Bar and Touch ID but not a touch screen, and there’s no option for anything but Apple’s incredibly flat, incredibly divisive new keyboard. And they’re priced at a significant premium.
What this means to you will depend entirely on your personal preferences and professional requirements. For some, the new MacBook Pro will be absolute, heart-crushing deal breakers. For others, like me, they’ll be absolutely terrific and once again deliver on the future, right now, today.
The biggest surprise in my tests was just how inconsistent the Touch Bar Pro’s battery life was. I have tested hundreds of laptops over the years and Macs have almost always excelled at meeting or beating their promised battery lives, both in my longtime battery test regime, and in typical daily use. But the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar wasn’t as reliably consistent as previous Macs.
Alas, although I wrote this whole column on a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, I couldn’t use this predictive text feature because I was writing in Google Docs running in a Safari tab. That’s right: while text entry in any number of web pages works with the Touch Bar, it fails with one of the world’s most widely used web apps.
I know that having 16GB RAM is a concern for some people, but you could never put more than 16GB RAM in a MacBook Pro, so I don’t get the problem. Pros and other customers have been successfully using these computers for years. Just because it takes more RAM to use a Windows machine effectively, that doesn’t mean the same thing for a Mac. You have to look at the entire picture, hardware, software, system software, and memory optimizations.
It’s simple: I’ve been hitting the limit for years, and I’m tired of not being able to do certain things at once, of having to keep rebooting my Mac when performance grinds to a halt. And if you look at what I do, I don’t even think I’m that much of a pro.
There are adapters that will allow you to plug in everything you need. […] I know that’s another source of frustration for users, but it will only be a frustration until the devices we use come with USB-C by default.
There is no adapter that can provide the internal secondary storage that the SD slot could.
Was setting up my new MacBook Pro when I realized that its L key doesn’t work consistently. Pressing it doesn’t always produce a letter.
See also: 9to5Mac, MacRumors.
Update (2016-11-15): Joe Rossignol:
These are the first MacBook Pro models to ship with non-removable SSDs, following in the footsteps of the 12-inch MacBook.
If that’s right, and I’m a little surprised to see it, the $2400 entry-level 15" MacBook Pro has exactly the same processor my $850 Lenovo Y700 has. […] Wow. I got 15" MacBook Pro internals over half a year earlier for a third of the price.
Incidentally, this also helps explain why Apple went with AMD’s Polaris-based GPUs instead of Nvidia’s generally faster Pascal-based GPUs. Power consumption aside—the laptop version of the GTX 1060, Nvidia’s slowest Pascal-based laptop chip, has an 85W TDP where the MacBook Pro’s AMD GPUs are all 35W—Nvidia’s cards support a maximum of four displays. And while Nvidia’s GPUs support DisplayPort 1.3, the Thunderbolt 3 controller and most monitors only support 1.2.
Even if you’re upgrading from a 2013 model, the speed increases here aren’t amazing. The equivalent 2015 model had a CPU that was about 100MHz faster, which just about wipes out the modest architectural improvements that Skylake brings to the table. It’s better if you’re coming from a 2011 or 2012 model, though still not earth-shattering—if you’re desperate for a CPU upgrade, make sure the new Pro you buy has a faster-clocked CPU than your old one. That’s going to make more of a difference than the improved CPU architecture will.
Here’s a video from Louis Rossman comparing his old MacBook Pro keyboard to the brand new one. I think the new one is definitely louder.
John Gruber (tweet):
I find less key travel to be less pleasant while typing. […] And here’s the mixed bag part: the new MacBook Pro key switches do have a premium feel to them. I now can’t stop noticing how much the key caps on my old MacBook Pro jiggle around when I’m just resting my fingers on the keys. The new keys don’t do that. It feels like a premium keyboard — just one with incredibly short key travel, alas. […] The keyboard change I’m having the most trouble with is the arrow key arrangement.
Even leaving aside the “trip over the cable accidentally scenario”, MagSafe is great on a daily basis just because it’s so effortless to connect. It feels like a cable that connects itself.
There’s much griping about these machines now, just like there was much griping about the original Air then, but these are exactly the MacBooks I want Apple to be making — ones that show that the company is putting very hard work into every aspect of them.
Of course, the original MacBook Air didn’t replace the other models, so you had a choice.
Apple has been pushing faster and faster solid-state storage in its notebooks for some generations now, and the new MacBook Pro line-up is no exception. Benchmark speeds were pretty consistent across all three models in QuickBench 4.0, hitting a hefty 2,909.2 MB/sec read and 1,571.2 MB/sec write at their fastest. Yes, Apple charges a fair amount to climb up through its SSD storage, but you can’t argue with the performance.
Update (2016-11-18): As I feared, the DYMO label printer doesn’t work with the new MacBook Pros because it requires a direct connection to a USB-A port.
Update (2016-11-22): Chuq Von Rospach:
If you are a photographer or someone for whom superior color is an important feature, the new screen on these laptops will blow you away. I’m so impressed and it hasn’t gotten a lot of chatter in the discussions since the event, but the results I’m seeing are just, um, eye opening.
On the negatives, I have to say the Caldigit USB-C dock is okay but not quite to good, much less great (but check back in in 3 months to see if that’s resolved or if I replace), and the loudness of the keyboard surprised me, in that it actually was so loud I cared about it. It’s not a keyboard I would ever use while recording any audio unless I had no alternatives.
We could argue for a while about price, but… I have no problem with it. I’m not surprised Apple couldn’t get a retina-enabled device under $1000, and I’m not surprised these cost a bit more given the technology being shoved in them. Yes, you can get windows PC boxes for less, but then you have a Windows PC box. If that’s okay for you, then you have my blessing. I’m a Mac user, no interest in changing. I think the days of exploding performance with retreating prices is over for the industry in general, but not something we’ve all come to grips with yet. Welcome to mature becoming declining markets.
The 2016 MacBook Pro does not have the chops for larger Photoshop tasks. Moreover the performance of the fastest-possible 2016 MacBook Pro is scarcely faster than the 2013 model for in-memory work. This 2016 MacBook Pro is not an upgrade in terms of getting work done in Photoshop. It is a ‘dud’ upgrade. You are buying Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C ports (and incompatibility), a faster SSD and nicer screen.
Adam C. Engst:
Andy Ihnatko hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that despite the different names, the MacBook, the MacBook Air, and the MacBook Pro are all really just variants on the MacBook Air concept. They’re thin, light, and relatively expensive for what they offer in terms of performance and connectivity. That’s fine, but not everyone wants the smallest and lightest Mac laptop. For some, price is paramount, and for others, performance matters most.
A more compelling line of Mac laptops might look like this[…] The core problem is that Apple no longer seems to understand how Mac users choose their machines.
The prime directive of an engineering company is to provide products that solve users’ problems. It’s all about helping users achieve their goals with the least amount of wasted time and effort. That used to describe Apple to a T.
Nowadays, Apple is ignoring the desires of many Mac users and focusing on making gorgeous objects that are possible purely because of the company’s leadership in advanced manufacturing techniques.
Update (2016-11-27): David Owens II:
It seems clear that the future Apple wants is not the future that I want for it. That’s ok. But maybe that just means it’s time for me to move on too. If four of the five solutions above I need to satisfy in the near future simply cannot be an Apple product, it might finally make sense to go back to having my workstation not be one anymore too. After all, a Mac is really only needed for the code signing and App Store submission process these days anyway.
It certainly looks like extensive tradeoffs have been made to fit the computer into the ever-smaller case, trading power for aesthetics as modern Apple is wont to do. The big point everyone’s been arguing is whether a 16GB RAM limit is sufficient for a “pro” machine? As I noted on Twitter the other day, I burn about half that with a typical iOS developer stack[…]
And will the performance hold up? Because the thing is, I don’t just develop. I also do video work. And video isn’t just about editing. […]It doesn’t inspire confidence that The Verge’s MacBook Pro review says that even the high-end model “starts lagging pretty seriously” when editing a non-trivial 4K project.
These choices suck, and I’m mad at Apple for leaving me in the lurch like this when I’m shopping for my fourteenth goddamn Mac.
Now, almost 5 years later, my machine fully utilizes that 16GB of RAM.
Given what these new machines cost, I expect to be using it for several years. I anticipate that 2-3 years from now, 16GB RAM is going to feel very cramped. At that point, the only option will be a new machine.
Adam Geitgey (Hacker News):
Yes, it’s probably too expensive and more RAM is better than less RAM. But everyone posting complaints without actually using a MBP for a few weeks is missing out on all the clever things you can do because it is built on USB-C. Over the past week or two with a new MacBook Pro (15in, 2.9ghz, TouchBar), I’ve been constantly surprised with how USB-C makes new things possible. It’s a kind of a hacker’s dream.
The new charging block that comes with the MBP looks exactly the same as any traditional MBP charger[…]
If only that were so. It’s missing the cord coiler and the wall extension.
The Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt adapter did NOT work to drive the display. Unplugging and replugging and rebooting several times failed to ever detect the display.
Update (2016-12-02): Lloyd Chambers on a Lightroom import test:
It is pathetic that the 2016 MacBook Pro runs at 2.9 GHz and with a 4.5X faster SSD, and the 2013 model runs at 2.6 GHz and yet the 2013 MacBook Pro wins.
Update (2016-12-05): Lloyd Chambers:
While testing the 2016 MacBook Pro, a consistent pattern of declining performance was observed. For example, with 10 iterations of of the Photoshop sharpening test, the 2016 MacBook Pro declined in performance by 23%. No such decline was seen on the iMac 5K or 2013 Mac Pro.
A subset of users who purchased a new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar claim to be experiencing shorter than expected battery life.
Update (2016-12-12): Jean-Louis Gassée (Hacker News):
With both the RAM limitation and “donglegate” we see self-inflicted wounds, a puzzling lack of storytelling by a company that has a long history of controlling the narrative. Apple was forced to react with labored explanations and admission-of-guilt price cuts days after the late October launch. Experienced Apple executives violated a cardinal rule of selling: Don’t let the customer discover the problem. No product is perfect, so tell it all, tell it now, and tell it yourself. If you don’t, your customers — and your competition — will tell it for you.
And what of the delivery promise? The product you could “Order Now” was nowhere to be seen in the Apple Stores for at least two weeks. The two-to-three week delivery schedule soon stretched to four-to-five weeks. (my own order of a fully-loaded 13” MacBook Pro was scheduled for a January 4th store pickup). The MacBook Pros without a Touch Bar were immediately available, so the speculation, sensible for once, is that there have been manufacturing or supply chain difficulties with the new device. For a company that excels at Supply Chain Management this is a surprising glitch (and we’re witnessing it again with the constantly delayed AirPods).
He’s also seeing much worse battery life than on his 2015 MacBook Pro.
I don’t understand why the author thinks that people aren’t allowed to complain about RAM limitations at the launch, and instead expects them to wait the 2-3 weeks before the items ship and then use certain software on them long enough for usage patterns to come through. If 16GB ram isn’t enough for you now, it’s utter nonsense that “maybe Photoshop will run just fine on 16GB on the new hardware”.
I would also have made a bigger point of Apple not having enough USB dongles to supply their ‘new, modern’ laptops. It’s a pretty big complaint to level against the “so what, it’s one dongle” apologists, if you can’t get one in the first place.
Update (2016-12-13): Josh Ginter:
This doesn’t take into account palm rejection. I mean, it works when you’re typing. But, say your left hand is resting on the keyboard while you are interacting with the trackpad with your right hand. If you rest your palm on the corner of the trackpad, every click turns into a second click. Or scrolling actions turn into zooming actions. This isn’t prevalent, but it does happen. And when it happens, it’s annoying.
There’s no worse feeling than thinking you hit a button, but then realize you didn’t. Or, thinking you didn’t hit the button, but actually did.
In short, the new MacBook Pro is underwhelming in the performance department. To the extent that some users have found their year-old 15” MacBook Pros to outperform the newest generation.
Apple decided to shave 25% of the battery’s capacity in the new 15” MacBook Pro, allowing for a thinner and lighter chassis. It appears Apple’s thought process centered around more efficient processors making up for the drop in battery capacity. From what I’ve experienced, this just isn’t the case.
Update (2016-12-27): Pier Bover (via Hacker News):
After waiting for a few years to upgrade my MBP and being really disappointed with the 2016 models I ended up getting a 15" 2015 model.
I couldn’t care less about a thinner machine or a gigantic trackpad. Apple sacrificed too much to solve a problem that wasn’t there and introduced drastic changes that IMO don’t make much sense.
What we want is to have a powerful machine we can carry with us to different sets and offices (and even in transit on planes or trains), and plug in while we’re there. So, limiting to 16GB for battery life is very frustrating, since you can’t update these machines later; You’re stuck with a likely insufficient amount of memory.
The worst performance from the new MacBook Pro was surprisingly from the internal SSD. Working on a Premiere project off internal media, encoding to H.264 right back to that internal media, the export time for our sample project on both the 2013 and 2016 were identical at 2:35.
Resolve showed even better results, with a render that the 2013 machine took 4:48 to accomplish flying out of the 2016 machine in 2:28. Shots that would play at 2-3fps (full resolution) on the 2013 machine would play consistently at 6fps on the new machine.
There are countless times when, as a professional or a human being, you want to change your volume quickly. Muscle memory is a huge part of how we interact with machines, and instead of the muscle memory of just hitting the volume button, you now have to find it on a screen, which requires looking down. It takes extra time just when you don’t have it, and it worsens the experience. Especially since the Touch Bar often goes to sleep, so instead of just hitting the button once and getting instant feedback, you have to repeatedly touch it to wake it up before you get to adjust volume. […] This is a frustration not just with volume, but also with brightness.
The Trackpad is larger, and the feel of the touch is quite different. When first taken out of the box, the click and drag basically didn’t work, and while it has improved, we aren’t sure if it was a matter of breaking it in or learning to use it. The “click” itself feels like it takes more work (no matter how you set it in the preferences), but any kind of click and drag is so difficult as to be nearly impossible. Whenever switching back to the oMBP it was a tremendous relief to work on a functional trackpad again.
The P3 color space was part of it pitch to sell this upgrade, and they have even talked about how the tight integration with Final Cut X means that now FCP-X has wide gamut support enabled and a complete DCI-P3 workflow. Unfortunately, the results of our tests were that it’s just not accurate enough to be calling itself P3.
Fuji vs. Fuji (via Michael Yacavone):
Out of the box, the Power/Touch ID button felt fairly loose to me, and had some side to side play. It would almost stick to my finger when using Touch ID, and “click” back into place. It felt awful and cheap.
Moments after leaving the Apple Store, the Genius called to inform me of one more option. This issue is so common that Apple has an official “2016 MacBook Pro shim kit” for the Power button. The Genius said he’s never actually done it before, wasn’t sure of the success rate, and it would take 3-5 business days to complete. Again though, I don’t think I should be looking at having a repair done to a brand new expensive computer that would have meant cracking it open, especially not within the return policy.
This has got to be the one of the worst times for photographers and creative professionals to buy Apple computers. As a fan for so many years, it really just makes me kind of sad there’s no “right” option for me, as far as I’m concerned. Hopefully things will turn around.
Update (2017-01-02): Joel Spolsky:
Bought new MacBook Pro. One of the keys didn’t work unless you really whacked it. Spent 4 weeks waiting for a replacement from Apple
On the replacement, another key is broken... it sometimes presses itself. Basically impossible to type correctly on this machine
Also. After a few weeks with the “touchbar”, it is worse than the function keys it replaced in every respect. worst apple purchase ever
I simply couldn’t type accurately on the 13 MBP because of the over-sensitive trackpad and Touch Bar – which I constantly engaged with an errant palm graze or finger overshooting the keyboard. It’s distracting as hell to be typing away into a note, doc or email and suddenly “click” on the window of a background app and switching contexts. Then I’d have to figure out what I was doing, where my window went, switch back to it, and try to pick up where I left off.
Accidental and sudden context switches are productivity killers and at the end of the day, I need my MacBook to be a productivity machine, not a productivity killer.
Update (2017-01-05): Felix Schwarz (tweet):
I’ve since spent several weeks with the new MacBook Pro as my main work machine. Here’s what I learnt and observed — and why I eventually decided to return it.
The new MacBook Pro saves me only barely noticeable 1.6 seconds for the most frequently performed action (incremental builds) while full builds are too rare as that the 21.7% performance gain on those would be significant enough. I’d be surprised if it’d save me a minute per day.
The question if 16 GB of RAM leaves enough breathing room for the next four years must still be raised, though.
In my case, the answer turned out to be no: my typical usage today already saturates 16 GB to the point that macOS usually indicates a swap usage of 2 GB and more.
But in practice, the absence of any haptic confirmation was a major issue: more than a few times, I found myself immediately question if I had hit the right spot or if my touch was properly recognized whenever there was no immediate response from the currently used app (hello Xcode!).
It’s not about dongles, it’s not about function keys turning into buttons on a Touch Bar, it’s about this: for years, you could honestly say that the MacBook Pro kept up reasonably with, and sometimes defined, the high end of the market. It got a high-resolution display along with an OS that could competently support it, it had built-in, fast solid-state storage, competent discrete graphics, a workable complement of I/O and lots of memory.
In the absence of something that will let people do what they just can’t do on other platforms, it is now required to keep up just to stand still, to provide what alternatives do, lest you get left behind. In most aspects they still do, but they are clearly slipping. In category after category, Apple is making tradeoffs that a large part of its audience simply don’t agree with, and sooner or later, it will result in them leaving.
The capabilities of the hardware Apple puts out now does not advance the state of computing one bit. It merely packages it in a smaller package. I’m all for miniaturization, I’m all for progress, I’m even all for maintaining the current MacBook – what I’m not for is being told to stop solving the problems I still need to solve, because our priorities shifted. If you’re going to be selling “trucks”, they’d better still be trucks.
The ability to provide a platform that makes it possible to do things you did not even know you wanted has been replaced with not even being able to provide a platform that makes it possible to do the things you need to do, and it is entirely due to Apple’s infatuation with the role it has sometimes played; its recent obsession with trying to capture the elusive light in a bottle with every single thing it does, as if the mere belief that “only Apple can do that” made it so.
Duncan Davidson (tweet):
TouchID is the big deal about the new Touch Bar. I use huge passwords and every opprotunity to skip typing them is a bonus. Even if I hated the rest of the Touch Bar, I’d still be in for this.
The color gamut on the 15" display is gorgeous. The photographer in me loves it.
It’s a worthy laptop. If you need a new MacBook Pro, then get it. If you don’t — and you might not as even three and four year old MacBook Pros are still adequate performers—then don’t get it. Use the money on something else. Economics 101.
Update (2017-01-09): Daniel Singer:
How to upgrade your Mac in three easy steps!
Update (2017-01-11): Jeff Geerling (via Milen Dzhumerov):
After two weeks of use, I returned my 2016 13" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and bought one with Function Keys instead. Read on for detailed Battery stress tests, performance tests, and an exploration of how Apple’s botched this year’s Pro lineup.
Update (2017-01-13): Chris CIa:
Don’t know about the Consumer Reports testing issue. WHat I do know is that I returned not one but TWO MacBook Pro 2016’s because i could not get more than 3 1/2 hours of battery life from either. As a person on airplanes nearly every week that was unacceptable. Instead I keep using my MacBook Pro 2015 which provides nearly triple the battery power I experienced. I’ve owned about 20 MacBook Pro’s over the past 20+ years so I love them and am not an Apple basher. Something else must be a factor.
Update (2017-01-22): David Owens II:
So… it’s with great hesitation that I pulled the trigger and re-purchased the 15″ Mac Book Pro with Touch Bar. It is simply the best option given the choices, and I’m tired of waiting.
Update (2017-02-02): David Pogue:
Apple made its new trackpad huge, and I can’t figure out why. What does that get you?
What it gets me is accidental clicks, caused by my left thumb as it hovers while I type. My cursor or insertion point suddenly pops into the wrong place or the wrong window.
I’ve solved the problem by taping a piece of cardboard to the trackpad, in essence shrinking it. Real classy.
Update (2017-02-19): Joel Spolsky:
Sorry Apple. After 10 years loyalty, this latest MBPro with useless touchbar and unreliable keyboard was last straw. Switched to Dell XPS13
Update (2017-03-15): Marco Arment:
A few months in, and I still hate the new MBP keyboard.
And as much work as I’m sure it was, I think I hate the Touch Bar, too.
Hardware buttons for the things in the top row. Esc, volume, media, brightness, etc. And no accidental input when my finger brushes them.
Update (2017-03-17): Trey Ratcliff (via Michael Yacavone):
I converted to Apple over 5 years ago when it was clear to me Apple made the best products for creative professionals. I loved Apple and became a hardcore fanboy. I was all-in. Now, I’m switching back to PCs. The new line of MacBook Pros are not-that-awesome. Apple has always been a company that makes beautiful, well-designed products (and still does), but they’ve started to put an emphasis on sleek design form over professional function.
But I’m here to tell you that there is a solution that can give you an actual escape key, in nearly the position you expect to have it. It’s called the International English keyboard. If you make sure to order your new MacBook Pro with the International English keyboard option, you will get an extra key which will make all the difference.
Update (2017-03-21): David Owens II:
I still regret buying this MacBook Pro TB Edition... TB is still both useless and buggy, keyboard stinks, and screen rez too low.
Update (2017-03-22): Brad Frost (tweet):
The Touchbar is atrocious. It hasn’t provided any real value for me, and it’s extremely glitchy.
The battery life is really bad. They say “Up to 10 hours of battery life” but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten anywhere near half that.
So so so many bugs. This is the glitchiest computer I’ve ever owned. I don’t know if it’s hardware related, software related, or some combination of the two. As I’m writing this, my audio won’t work. “Internal speakers” doesn’t show up at all as an available Output Device option. Fun! Last night when visiting my family I tried to play my mom an MP4 video from vacation. QuickTime wouldn’t play it. I downloaded VLC and it played just fine. I attended a workshop, and my computer simply wouldn’t start up (!). It just sat there with a black screen and showed no sign of life (they did away with the MagSafe power cord that has a little power charging indicator).
My robovac recently pulled the MacBook off the table and broke the dongle off in the usb-c port. I miss Magsafe.
Update (2017-03-28): Steve Streeting (via Roustem Karimov):
I’m sure there are those who say the Touch Bar is useful but truth is, removing a key I use all the time and charging me hundreds of pounds extra for the ‘privilege’ of a mini Apple Watch to replace it feels like a “F*** You”.
Unfortunately in the last couple of weeks my 2013 MacBook Pro has started occasionally kernel panicking with a RAM failure, and the “T” key has phases where it decides to either not work, or randomly generate keystrokes. […] Given how robust Apple hardware used to feel, this sucks pretty hard. Almost nothing is fixable in these machines any more; both the RAM and the keyboard are incorporated into the logic board, making it uneconomical to repair. 😭
Ultimately though, I can’t afford to blow a vastly inflated sum of money on something that I don’t like much (MBP 2016), is out of date (iMac 2015), which will become unfixable after 3 years (having lost my previous faith in its longevity), and which is no longer fits my changing work environment best. It’s really sad, but I cannot ignore the logical argument any longer, even if emotionally I’d love to carry on with macOS.
Update (2017-04-03): Michael Lopp (via Marco Arment):
The Touch Bar buttons fail my definition in a couple of ways. I’m going to give it partial credit for the perceptible boundary because, yes, you can look at the bar and see the buttons. However, try the close your eyes test and turn up the volume on your MacBook Pro. How’s your brightness looking? Did Siri say hi?
In the history of keyboards, I have never been as inept as I’ve been with the Touch Bar keyboard. I’ve been finishing this piece for the last hour and I’ve been keeping track of the number of times I’ve accidentally hit a Touch Bar button, and that number is nine. The total number for this article is likely 5x the number.
After multiple weeks of usage, I can’t see how a developer or a writer would choose the Mac Book Pro.
Wish we could swap one of those “Thousand No’s” they used on the Mac Pro update for the Touch Bar.
Steven Troughton-Smith (via John Gruber):
Just out of interest, with @marcoarment in mind, does anybody actually like the Touch Bar of the new MacBook Pro?
tbh i was on the fence about it until mine shut off in the middle of my work day; cannot say my function keys ever did that
Update (2017-04-05): M.G. Siegler:
I’ve had the machine for months at this point and I almost never use the Touch Bar for anything beyond what I would use the old function keys for — tweaking the brightness and volume, etc — and the default settings on the Touch Bar actually make that harder to do (though you can change them).
The customized Touch Bar bits are completely underwhelming. This is true both in first-party Apple apps like Safari and for third-party apps that did the work to integrate functionality. I almost never use any of these things.
Update (2017-04-06): Thom Holwerda (via Marco Arment):
Well, after the announcement of the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, orders for refurbished “old” MacBook Pros supposedly went through the roof, and after the initial batch of reviews came out, they shot up even higher. This response to the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar took Apple completely by surprise.
As Apple announced, we’ll be getting a new Mac Pro and an iMac Pro as a result. In addition, Apple is said to be exploring additional Retina MacBook Pro models without the Touch Bar[…]
Update (2017-04-12): Zac Hall (via Dan Masters, Hacker News):
Apple has fallen to fifth place in a Laptop Mag survey of the best and worst current laptop brands after previously taking the top spot for several years. Factors like premium price points and limited port options contribute to Apple’s overall drop in the results, although Apple’s quality tech support is a redeeming factor, the survey says.
While the survey considers Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models introduced last fall, it also channels common complaints that some had about the new machines.