For better or worse (the latter) Apple is seen as something of a guiding light in the tech industry. Anything the company does seems to have that Midas touch that lesser companies seek to emulate in their product portfolio.
Usually, the precedents that Apple sets are good: Touchscreens became usable after the iPhone, all-metal laptops and phones became a thing, fingerprint sensors have replaced passwords and more. In 2016, however, Apple set some precedents that, frankly, scare the life out of me.
R.I.P. headphone jack
Apple’s disaster of a MacBook Pro has somehow managed to push its killing of the headphone jack from our minds. But lest we forget, Apple did kill it.
Citing “courage” for this silly decision, Apple decided that pulling the perfectly functional, completely unobtrusive and absolutely essential headphone jack from the iPhone 7 was a good idea.
Apple only commands about 17 percent of the smartphone market, but if you thought this crime would be limited to the iPhone, you’d be wrong. LeEco and Lenovo pre-emptively pulled the headphone jack from their phones just for the PR. Samsung is also rumoured to kill off the jack in their upcoming Galaxy S8 flagship and I don’t doubt that other manufacturers will soon follow suit.
Lesser names like OnePlus are sensible enough to see the value of the jack, promising never to remove it, but there’s no way to ensure that anyone else will see sense. We’re in for a 3.5mm jack-less future, and only because Apple thinks that a “Taptic engine” is more important than convenience.
Shame on you, Apple.
Welcome to dongle-hell
As mentioned earlier, I think the MacBook Pro is a disaster, and here’s why: Apple removed every, useful port and replaced it with Thunderbolt over USB-C.
Two years hence, such a decision might make sense. Today, the USB-C marketplace is a mess of poorly designed, uncertified products. Worse, you need dongles to connect anything to the new MacBook Pros. Anything.
You want to connect your iPhone? Dongle. Want to connect a hard disk? Dongle. Want to connect an SD card? Dongle. Want to connect a projector? Dongle. Want to connect your TV? Dongle. Want to connect your mouse? Dongle.
That’s not good design. That’s sheer laziness.
When did “Pro” become “mainstream”?
Another quibble I have is that Apple’s redefined who a “pro” is. A pro is a professional. They need the best of the best of the best, a system that works fast and efficiently. What a pro doesn’t need is a mainstream laptop that’s pretending to be a professional one.
Since when did the iPad replace the PC? Why should he settle for a dual-core i5 with a low-end GPU when he can get a powerful Windows laptop for half the price? What’s a video editor got to do with 3-year old hardware? What’s a game developer to do with just 16GB RAM?
You’re living in a different world, Apple.
Size-zero is the only size
In its blind quest to make devices ever thinner and with its newfound “courage”, Apple has thrown all semblance of caution to the winds.
The new MacBook Pro is just as fast as the old one, is thinner and lighter, sells with fewer usable ports, dumps the superb MagSafe connector, has a much smaller battery and is much more expensive.
That’s a rather bizarre combination of features by any measure. And why? To shave 3mm from the thickness of last year’s model? That’s just daft. I’d rather have a larger battery and working USB ports, thank you very much.
In its quest for slimness, Apple has also started soldering down everything in its new laptops. No more upgradeable RAM or even HDD for you. Nothing.
If your disk fails, you replace your motherboard (including CPU and RAM).
The problem is that manufacturers are now falling over themselves to make even thinner, even more compromised products just because they feel they should.
I can’t Esc
The Escape key (Esc) is one of the most essential keys on any keyboard and it doesn’t seem to have occurred to Apple that removing it is a bad idea. It’s like removing the reverse gear on your car and dumping its functionality on a HUD under the speedometer.
It’s perfectly possible to work without that key, as is reversing a car without a dedicated gear position, but it’s not practical.
How long will it be, do you think, before someone decides to do this on a Windows laptop as well? Not long, I think.
Removing the function keys and replacing them with a TouchBar is still more tolerable.
Given the rest of my complaints, this last is a bit petty, I admit, but this is something I’d be fine with on a mainstream product like the MacBook or the MacBook Air, not on the Pro.