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10 Thoughts: MacBook Pro (Late 2016)


‘Pro’cessing my thoughts about Apple’s newest


It has taken me 8 days to properly form my opinion about the new MacBook Pros that Apple announced at their (probably) last event in their old 1, Infinite loop headquarters. Out of all the Apple events I have stayed up at night for (every event since June 2010), I remember being the most underwhelmed this time when the event ended. Other than it being half an hour shorter than the usual 2-hour runtime of an Apple event, I wasn’t at all enamoured by the MacBook Pros announced. After almost 4 years of Apple not paying too much attention to Macs, I, along with other technology enthusiasts, was hoping for a more substantial refresh to the entirety of Apple’s Mac lineup (that ‘Hello Again’ tagline seemed to signify the same). That wasn’t the case though as the Macs that I had my eyes on (the Mac Mini, iMac and MacBook Air – technically, there was a refresh awaiting my beloved MacBook Air, death) weren’t focussed on at all and Apple spent most of its time during the event hyping up the redesigned MacBook Pros. After Microsoft’s announcement of the Surface Studio, Apple’s new MacBook Pros seemed tame in comparison and that (and the fact that Apple removed all ports from their new notebooks) led to a lot of furore. I have been reading up on almost everything that has been written about Apple and the new MacBooks for the last eight days and have let everything sink in before I form my opinion. I think I have a pretty clear idea about what I think about these MacBook Pros.

  • Firstly, a moment of silence for the MacBook Air, my favourite Mac. This is the Mac which I always aimed to buy since I got to know about it. I bought it last year and so far, my experience has been absolutely awesome. Apple discontinued it last week. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t keeping it around. The 13-inch MacBook Air is still around and there is a new MacBook Air in town too, just that it’ll now be called MacBook Pro (I assume this is so that Apple can simplify their product lines. The MacBook is for people who want the most portable notebook and the MacBook Pro is for, you guessed it, the pros. I totally called this happening in January, BTW.).
  • That’s the MacBook Pro I’m interested in talking about. The 13-inch model without the Touch Bar. And, according to me, for anyone wanting to replace their MacBook Air, it is a great upgrade. Compared to a MacBook Air, it has a retina display, stereo speakers, a thinner body and way more powerful internals. And there is, of course, the ‘Pro’ price. It sells for $1499 (INR 1,00,000).
  • For everyone going on and on about the MacBooks having become costlier and unaffordable for people who need them for casual use, the iPad Pro is the new entry level Mac. An iPad Pro with a Smart Keyboard costs something around what a MacBook Air costs and based on what I have read and heard, it is a great computer/tablet for casual users.
  • In fact, I think I’ll not be buying a Mac anymore. When I need to replace my MacBook Air (which will be in 2018, I think), I’m sure that iOS will be powerful enough and iPad Pros will be mature enough to handle everything that I throw at my MacBook Air right now (writing, reading, web browsing, etc.).
  • So, ya, down the line, Apple’s portable computers’ product line is going to be really simple. iPads for the most casual users, iPad Pros for the more pro casual users, MacBooks for people who want macOS in the most compact package possible and MacBook Pros for the actual pros.
  • That said, getting there is going to take some time, especially with the ‘ports’ situation and the friction it is causing for Apple. USB-C, of course, is the future, but, till we get there, people are going to have to use dongles (a word I can’t ever say without wincing). That’s what the hullabaloo has been about in the last few days. Professionals need all kinds of ports and Apple removed them. And this has been worse for Apple this year because they removed the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 too and all this is making them seem like a company who doesn’t care about the convenience of their customers in their want to create the thinnest devices possible.
  • The Touch Bar is being billed by Apple as a ‘next-big-thing’ type innovation. Personally, I’m not sure. I don’t want to judge it until I see it in action for a while and see a few useful use-cases for it. This is 3D Touch all over again and I’m hoping that, like 3D Touch, the Touch Bar proves itself to be useful and not just innovation for the sake of it.
  • There’s also this argument that Apple should go touchscreen with their Macs. I don’t agree with that. Just because Microsoft has gone touchscreen with their PCs doesn’t mean that Apple should do that too. Microsoft revamped Windows with Windows 8 to make it more suited for touchscreens. macOS isn’t (and from the looks of it, will never be) touchscreen-friendly. Apple has iOS for that. If it makes you feel any better, consider the iPad Pro the touchscreen Mac you want so badly. Touchscreens are useful to only a small portion of users (artists and illustrators, largely) and the iPad Pros, with their Apple Pencils, are better suited for them than MacBooks, as it is.
  • What I was the most disappointed about last week was the lack of news around updating the Mac Mini and iMacs. Mac Minis are the real budget Macs and if I do move to an iPad Pro as my primary computer, I’d like to have a Mac Mini hooked to a 27-inch screen for stuff which requires a desktop OS and a bigger screen. Also, iMacs are another class of Macs which professionals find very useful and use a lot.
  • It seemed to me that Apple doesn’t care about desktop anymore. But Phil Schiller, in an interview this week, said that they do care. Let’s see if that’s true. Hopefully, we hear some more news on the Mac front, sooner than later.

Overall, I think that the new MacBook Pros are steps in the right direction by Apple and are probably the best laptops you can buy (by paying the Apple tax, of course). The pre-orders seem to confirm the same. That said, I feel that there is a lot more that Apple needs to do on the Mac front. Let’s see how that goes..

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