One can argue that Apple makes some of the world’s best technology gadgets; mobile computers and accompanying software that set the standard for the state of the art for hundreds of millions of customers. iPad Pro. iPhone 7 Plus. Watch Series 2. The Mac.
Wait. What? The Mac? Really? Much of the entire Mac lineup hasn’t been upgraded in years and this week’s new high end MacBook Pro models did nothing to change the perception that Apple doesn’t really care much about the Mac. Diversification, maybe. Mac? Not so much.
House Of Cards
Instead of cruising around Manhattan looking for a quick bite of lunch I ordered in and settled back to watch Apple’s newest product presentation while getting crumbs on my aging MacBook Pro’s already somewhat littered-with-food keyboard. I mean no disrespect to Apple’s executives or the engineers who put time and effort (and were handsomely paid) into the new MacBook Pro models. They deserve some recognition for inching the bar forward. And inch they did.
First up, CEO Tim Cook hit the stage on what felt like a large garage or a Saturday Night Live studio skit done up to appear like Apple’s famous presentation. It all looked and felt so cramped and paled in significance to the summer’s WWDC keynote presentation and the recent iPhone introduction.
Second, it also appeared as if Tim Cook had devoted all of 12 minutes preparing for the presentation as he was constantly looking down to the teleprompter monitors on the floor. Donald Trump gives better show ‘n tell. The product recap was expected, Apple TV’s new TV app looks interesting but sure won’t change the state of television circa 2016. Instead, everyone was waiting for the new Macs.
We’re still waiting.
Instead of a revamped product line to replace the aging Macs we’ve complained about all year, Apple did the single most obvious thing it could do; nothing more, nothing less. New high end MacBook Pro models with the always standard upgrade of thinner, lighter, faster. Indeed, these new models are notably faster than the already fast models of last year, but the 13-inch MBP model takes up less space than a 13-inch MacBook Air.
Apple’s famed and secretive public relations group has turned itself into the Great Apple Leak Machine of the 21st century and most of the beans regarding the MacBook Pro models were leaked weeks ago. Touch ID. Touch Bar. Thinner, lighter, faster. Oh, and the screen advancements that showed up a year ago in the new iPad Pro line are available in the Mac. Faster graphics, yes, faster storage, yes, but a brighter Retina display with a higher contrast ratio and with P3, 25-percent more colors than standard sRGB. Better sound from better speakers with higher dynamic range, and four Thunderbolt 3 ports, any one of which can be used to power the Mac, but also double up as HDMI, USB, et al. It even supports two Retina 5k displays.
What’s not to like?
Much of the show ‘n tell was devoted to the new Touch Bar with Touch ID built in. Touch ID is cool. Use it to unlock your Mac. That means more security. Use Touch ID to switch users on Macs with more than one account. It automatically recognizes who you are with the Touch ID touch and switches to the correct user account, thanks to a nifty enclave in an Apple designed T-1 chip.
Touch Bar. Think of the functions keys above the Mac’s keyboard as a long, slender touchscreen, with functions that change based upon the app being used at the time. That’s pretty handy but it also means app developers need to upgrade their apps to work with the Touch Bar’s functionality, and Mac users need to note that such touchscreen options are available in only the two high end MacBook Pro models; not the entry level MBP, and not in any other Mac.
It’s as if Apple doesn’t want us to buy iMacs or Mac Pro models any more. The company killed off the 11-inch MacBook Air, too, and didn’t even bother to mention the Mac mini, iMac, or Mac Pro. How about an Apple-branded 5k display to match the iMac? Nope. Instead, Apple’s demonstrated and hyped a new model from LG.
Touch ID is great and long overdue. Touch Bar just seems like a Microsoft Surface commercial waiting to happen. I can just see it now. A graphic designer manipulates the entire Surface display to create an awesome design while a Mac user adjusts the color in Photoshop using Touch Bar.
Those two new high end MacBook Pros have a touch of genius, alright, but just a touch. Nothing more. The rest of the Mac line will need to wait until next year.