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    Sober Thoughts on the New MacBook Pro

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    Amit Srivatsa
    Amit Srivatsa Oct 31, 2016

    Apple’s new range of MacBook Pro got all the updates we’d expected — they are faster, thinner, and lighter; the screens are sharper, the batteries last longer, and the trackpad is bigger. They’ve also got a feature we’d anticipated — the OLED Touch Bar and integrated Touch ID sensor.

    As usual, the launch event was full of superlatives about how this the “bestest” of computers ever created. In the glitz and glamour of the event, everything looked wonderful and pretty. Now, however, with the dust settling down, we’re finally able to see clearly. So here’s a sober take on the new MacBook Pros

    Is it really an upgrade?

    Sure, the spec sheet has improved. Yes, the new MacBook Pros are thinner and lighter and more efficient than the MacBook Air. But that by itself doesn’t mean it’s an upgrade.

    For me, an upgrade is when I am able to get more done on the newer machines. And in all honesty, I don’t see that happening.

    The OLED Touch Bar is great, but at the end of the day, it’s little more than a gimmick. There’s nothing substantial to be gained from having it — except a big hole in my pocket.

    As someone who uses Photoshop, I can tell you this – no designer would want to use that Bar just to change the opacity or switch the brush colors; keyboard shortcuts are more than capable of doing all these tasks just as easily and, perhaps, more quickly.

    And having spoken to friends who are in the music mixing industry, the feedback I’ve gotten is that no self-respecting DJ will ever use the Touch Bar to mix at his club. The art of mixing songs is way more complicated than the nifty bunch of features the Touch Bar can accommodate.

    What about day to day users? What do they gain from these additions? Not very much. I don’t see what value addition I enjoy if the Bar gives me control of the volume or emojis! In short, there’s no significant way in which the Touch Bar can enhance your day to day use of the Mac.

    Is it really “Pro”?

    The MacBook Pro became famous for one reason alone — it was the best laptop in the market at that time, and it let creative professionals do their job wonderfully. With the new MacBooks, however, Apple might have lost their way.

    Previously, there was a marked difference between the Pro and non-Pro MacBooks, both in appearance and performance. In the current lineup, that difference is has been whittled down to the presence of a Touch Bar. And like we told you earlier, that strip of OLED display isn’t of much use to professionals anyway.

    The machines by themselves are not geared to support the latest in design and innovation industry — high-density 3D, ultra-sharp 4K, and most importantly, virtual reality.

    It can be safely said that the new MacBooks are not really “pro”?

    I get the feeling that Apple’s target group has shifted from creative professionals to amateur teenagers who sit all day in cafes and will buy anything Apple throws at them. While there’s nothing wrong in that –  there’s a lot of money in that market segment, after all – I do confess to being disappointed. I’d expected better from Apple.

    Microsoft’s new killing machine…

    As Apple loses its grip on creative professionals, Microsoft is weaving web around them — like R Ashwin in Test Match. Over the past couple of years, Microsoft has been sending out feelers of innovation and new design elements. It has been setting us up, waiting for the right moment to throw that knuckleball, or perhaps that doosra, and trap us dead in front of wickets.

    And that’s exactly what it has done with the new Surface Studio. It has taken us all by surprise and clean bowled us!

    And why not! Have you seen that thing?

    While Apple was poking around at the idea of integrating a touch screen — and ended up giving us an excuse of a Touch Bar — Microsoft went all out and gave us a humongous 27’’ fully multi-touch, sharp-as-pixie-dust screen. And it added a “Knob” to it. You know, just in case 10 fingers weren’t enough to use all that touch real-estate! Oh! And you can use a stylus!!

    The really hard questions…

    For a company that prides itself in the ecosystem it provides, the new MacBook Pro seems to have lost touch with reality. There are a lot of questions they raise when it comes to compatibility with other Apple devices, which are brilliantly summed up by Owen Williams on Medium

    • At the iPhone event in September, Apple told the world that headphone jacks were dead because wireless headphones are superior — so why is there a headphone jack on the Mac?
    • Why can’t you plug the Lightning headphones that come with the iPhone 7 into the new Mac?
    • Why doesn’t the iPhone come with the right cable for the new MacBook Pro? 
    • Why did Apple highlight how great the Touch Bar is for Messaging, but didn’t even port most of the new iMessage features to macOS properly?
    • Do I have to carry two pairs of headphones now?
    • How do I charge my Lightning cable mouse from my Mac? And how do I connect my iPhone to my Mac?
    • Why remove the HDMI port, a standard that’s still incredibly popular for plugging into TVs?
    • Why remove the SD card, a popular slot for… creatives using cameras?

    The answer to all these is “connectors”. Lots and lots and lots of connectors…So now, this is what Apple’s “courage” looks like:

     (via twitter)

    For a company that swears to live by the terms of simplicity, this is an awful mess it has gotten itself into.

    In conclusion, the new MacBook is a big disappointment, and it’s hardly even a “Pro”. Apple took four long years to update the Mac, and even after that, it’s not the visionary product that Apple was once famous for.

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