When there is a new iPhone to announce, Apple invites the world. When there’s a spec bump for the iPad, then we’re all off to Chicago with lots of pomp and ceremony. When the geekerati need to hear about changes to the operating system code, the tickets need to be raffled away to be fair.
But the update to the MacBook Pro machines? Apple’s approach tells you exactly where the Mac family sits in Tim Cook’s friends list. No dry ice moments, no proclamations from on high about courage, no teasing ‘one more thing’. Just a quiet and simple page on the newsroom section of the Apple website with some bullet points and inline images. No flashy layouts, no big speech, no rallying of the troops or exciting demos.
It’s not like Apple has built its very own theatre for launch events like this…
Neither is this just a specs bump upgrade to keep things ticking over, although the majority of any gains will come from the move to Intel’s 8th-generation i5 and i7 processors, and the optional increase to 32 GB of RAM and 4 TB of solid state storage (although when you add up those options, you get the eye watering sticker price of $6699. Plus tax.
What technology has been added is, as those closely following the evolution of the Mac family will realise, is passed down from the iOS roadmap. Samuel Gibbs at The Guardian.
Aside from more power, the updated machines also gain the True Tone colour control system from Apple’s iPads, which uses light sensors to adjust the colour temperature of the display to best match the light in your environment.
It’s at this point I went to Apple’s YouTube channel so I could embed Apple’s promotional video of the new MacBook Pro… help me out here, where is it?
But it’s also a moment where Apple could have advanced the MacBook Pro’s technological footprint. Instead of matching or exceeding the competition. But Tim Cook and his team have not delivered.
Forbes’ Jason Evangelho toes the bump up to Intel’s eighth generation platform but points out that the screen technology is still dated and does not take advantage of any modern techniques:
Seriously, Apple. Dell introduced its InfinityEdge display on the XPS 13 more than three years ago. It sent my hardware lust into overdrive because it just looks amazing and provides an impossibly beautiful display experience inside a smaller chassis… It’s just puzzling to me that nearly 4 years ago Dell was outclassing Apple’s MacBook Air in display tech, and now other laptop manufacturers are pretty much treating ultra-thin bezels as the standard going forward.
It’s not just the screen that has remained frozen. The rest of the design, from the styling to the peripherals has marked time. For all the critical feedback generated, Apple has changed… not much. Mashable’s Pete Pachel:
Apple has done practically nothing to address the major concerns about the current MacBook Pro design that debuted in October 2016. There’s still a questionably practical Touch Bar in place of the function row. The laptop still relies solely on four USB-C ports and a headphone jack for connectivity.
And there’s another knock-on effect highlighted by Chris Mills at BGR. Apple has removed the 2015 edition of the MacBook Pro. That means the Pro family no longer has a machine with the prolific USB-A ports, HDMI ports, SD card slots, or the beloved Mac keyboard:
Most importantly for the loyalists, the 2015 MacBook Pro was the last model to feature Apple’s traditional keyboard design before the move to the “butterfly” keyboard. The more complicated new mechanism, which can be found on all of Apple’s current-gen MacBooks, has never quite felt the same as Apple’s original keyboards, with the perception of less clickiness and a touch less travel. Of course, there’s also the fact that the newer butterfly keyboards have had serious reliability problems. Dust or a single grain of sand getting underneath a key can break it, and Apple has had to launch a four-year free replacement program after so many people reported issues.
How much care and attention has Apple put into launching the updated MacBook Pro machines compared to the rest of its current product line? How proud is it of the hardware which kept the company alive? Is the hardware genuinely a leap forward or a minimum vial upgrade?
Exactly. If Apple isn’t going to pay anything more than lip service to the MacBook pro, why should you?