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MacBook Pro Launch: Perplexing (mondaynote.com)
192 points by chmars on Dec 12, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 178 comments

Apple's support page on USB-C power seems to be a sign that all is not well at Apple.

> https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201700

  You can verify that you're using the correct version of the Apple
  USB-C Charge Cable with your Mac notebook and its USB-C AC Adapter.

  The cable's serial number is printed on its external housing, next
  to the words "Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China."

  • If the first three characters of the serial number are C4M or FL4,
    the cable is for use with the Apple 29W USB-C Power Adapter.
  • If the first three characters of the serial number are DLC or CTC,
    the cable is for use with the Apple 61W or 87W USB-C Power Adapter.
  • If the cable says "Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China"
    but has no serial number, you might be eligible for a replacement USB-C charge cable.
For a company whose brand was for quite some time "It just works" to ask you to read a serial number, printed in gray, in 4 or 6 point font, off a light gray cable is dumbfounding.

Here's a photo of an Apple USB-C charging cable to illustrate what finding the serial number looks like. http://i.imgur.com/ffVLDYl.jpg

The serial number is right below the control key, if you're curious.

I knew the power bricks were different between the 12", 13", and 15", but I had no idea that the completely identical cables were also different and potentially incompatible. This whole transition has been a huge mess so far.

And absolutely needlessly so. You can ship a fully compliant USB-C 3.1 cable for probably 40 cents more than a cheap version. It makes no sense to start a rollout this way, especially from a company like Apple.

> You can ship a fully compliant USB-C 3.1 cable for probably 40 cents more than a cheap version. It makes no sense to start a rollout this way, especially from a company like Apple

You're talking about the company that no longer ships power cables with a little plastic clip to keep them tidy and now sells the extended lead as an extra, both of which have been in every one of their laptop chargers for 15 years+

To be fair, that plastic wind up clip was almost certainly the primary cause of failure in the old power bricks. Anyone who has ever worked as a roadie knows that that's an entirely wrong way to wind a cable.

also, to be fair, I wonder how many of the extensions died in the box.

What about Apple's cables makes them noncompliant?

The charge cable is USB 2.0, I believe. It's not that it's not compliant, it's just intended for charging only.

As someone watching this mess from the sidelines (no intention to buy a computer within a year) I think this annoys me much more than all the other problems reported so far. How can they make a mess out of their own lineup of a newly launched port so much? Inexcusable.

No, that's literally 100% Apple. They could've very easily shipped the higher specced cables for what amounts to a rounding error in the total overall cost. They just chose not to in order to sell more cables. They can now tell people that a cable is "only compatible with model X" - when in reality the 15" pro cable is compatible with all 3.

Exactly this. There is absolutely no technical reason that Apple could not ship one cable that works on all adapters, it would be overkill for some and just right for the high end one and the difference in money would be trivial compared to the support calls from people who can't get the cable to work or it fails while they are using it.

I don't think they sell the 12" MacBook cables stand-alone; I went to the store to get a new one, and they just sell the beefier ones. I personally think the problem is that the 12" MacBook was a test run of USB-C, and the cables they shipped for that ended up not being good enough to handle the needs of the new laptop they didn't ship until a year and a half later.

That's too sensible for an Apple hate thread, sorry.

The inane uninformed rant is more what this comment thread is about.

I suspect that the root is different purchasing agents writing different contracts based on different specs with different manufacturers. Each of which is optimizing locally and perhaps with an eye on their performance review and bonus. Just because nobody calls Apple 'enterprise' doesn't mean it ain't.

IF that's the case, Apple used to have a handle on all that. So IF that's the case, what happened?

I think the fixed point of Apple's design philosophy has become the Apple Store and everything is designed backward from its retail display. The engineering consists of stuffing stuff inside a predetermined case, not designing a case to house a set of components that perform at a predetermined level. That's how the more power hungry model winds up with a smaller battery.

The different SKU's for similar cables is hardly the most illustrative example of Apple's current design process. The MacPro has left and right hand versions of the GPU board in order to provide a dual GPU configuration for the cylinder. Modularity is not a design goal. The "SSD" on the new Macbooks is some chips soldered to the motherboard. Not upgradable, potentially with a limited life.

Honestly, the further Apple goes in this direction the better it segments the market and filters out the less lucrative ones. The most valuable customers are people who will pay more for the touchbar because it's in the Apple store. They'll buy the smaller battery that comes with it for the same reason.

> They can now tell people that a cable is "only compatible with model X" - when in reality the 15" pro cable is compatible with all 3.

Did you read the linked page? That's what it does say. Not the part you "quoted".

USB replaces a huge number of different cables[1].

[1] With a bunch of incompatible and identical looking USB-C cables.

Exactly. In a way it's worse, because at least before you could tell what a cable was compatible with by looking. HDMI, ethernet, USB, all easily distinguishable. And power cables generally worked with the thing they could plug into (not always, but generally. A lower powered Magsafe charger could at least charge a higher powered MacBook, even if it would drain if in use.)

Now we have a mess of incompatible cables AND you can't tell the difference by looking at them.

They should've called USB-C, USB 4, and said "Right, there's one type of USB 4 cable, and it works with everything it can be plugged into."

Even if all USB-C cables were the highest spec and worked with anything USB-C, further multiplexing the port with Thunderbolt 3 adds yet another whole layer of messiness. Not only are Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C cables not interchangeable but there are a whole bunch of interop issues surrounding Thunderbolt 3: http://plugable.com/thunderbolt-3/ gives a good overview.

I have said this in other threads: Herein lies the rub of USB-C: It isn't a universal logical interface, it is a multi-use physical connector. By overloading the port's logical functions you introduce incompatible physical configurations.

What happens if the wrong cable/adapter are combined? I'm just curious as a non-Apple user. I mix-and-match USB-B chargers and cables between my various devices all the time, and never experience a problem (except maybe slower than maximum charging sometimes). I assume the issue here would also simply be sub-optimal charging; but I have heard that some USB-C situations can actually be dangerous to the device since more power logic is in the USB cable ends?

cables are rated for different power and that is signalled by specific resistor values. I'm assuming in this case Apple just cheaped out, to save a few cents, and didn't make them all rated for 3A. Therefore you'd only get slow charging as a side-effect.

Some usb-c cables that don't follow the usb spec can be dangerous (i.e. cheap 3rd party cables) Apple cables wouldn't have a problem with this, they would just charge devices slowly. The only danger occurs when usb cables lie about what they can do (in the physical layer to the host/slave devices)

I am pretty sure you can use the cables that are designed to support the higher wattage chargers on the smaller devices (and that's what I'm doing right now: Apple doesn't even sell the crappier cable the 12" MacBook shipped with a year and a half ago standalone right now, AFAIK).

>For a company whose brand was for quite some time "It just works" to ask you to read a serial number, printed in gray, in 4 or 6 point font, off a light gray cable is dumbfounding.

They had the same kind of support pages since forever, with the same kind of instructions (checking which exactly model mac or router you have, which cable goes where, what video connections your thunderbolt supports, etc). It's for troubleshooting specific conditions, not for everyday consulting. When you get your laptop and your cable in the box, it just works, obviously.

Living in a household with all kinds of Apple devices this is just not how this is going to work out long term. Family members borrow cables, you use one to connect something else while leaving the charger in another room, then you put it back but you mix up all these same looking white cables, and next thing you know your computer isn't charging properly anymore.

Sorry, this is not acceptable. Apple used to sweat these details. If they don't anymore I can as well buy PCs from now on.

>Living in a household with all kinds of Apple devices this is just not how this is going to work out long term. Family members borrow cables, you use one to connect something else while leaving the charger in another room, then you put it back but you mix up all these same looking white cables, and next thing you know your computer isn't charging properly anymore.

Then maybe one could just use the higher ranked cables for everything in the family?

>Sorry, this is not acceptable.

Sounds totally acceptable, and relatively minor. It might be because I'm foreign, but a phrase like "not acceptable" sounds more fit for another country wanting to invade yours, or at least a guest making a pass at your spouse, not whether one can easily re-use cables between devices.

Even if we constrain it to computers, Apple did have its share of "not acceptable" issues (e.g. green cooling goo leaking out of old Mac Pros, display glitches, etc). Those were indeed not acceptable as they actually and actively prevented working with the computer. I don't see mixed cables with other devices as a reason not to accept (which to me would mean "return") a laptop.

Where am I going to get these higher ranked cables for? Why shouldn't I just be able to use the cables which already came with all of our macs?

Just like it's always been with chargers - it still does "just work" but the correctly powered charger will charge much faster, no different to previous MacBooks, iPhones or iPads.

I tried searching for one on my wife's new 13" MBP cable. Holy crap, that took me five minutes to find. If you hadn't given me a rough idea of where to look, never would have found it.

I've had a Mac since 2004. In that time, I had several defective logic boards and several defective displays, and one (slowly, harmlessly) exploding battery. In these cases, I also had to read off a tiny gray serial number off my laptop somewhere, this isn't really new. Hardware fails sometimes, it happens. In my experience, Apple's hardware in the last few years is much more reliable than their hardware a decade ago. Their software quality, on the other hand...

You're talking about returning defective hardware. The OP is talking about determining compatibility on identical-looking hardware.

My 13" ships back tomorrow. Keyboard befitting of a crappy laptop not a premium macbook pro, touchbar located where you hardly ever look (your keyboard), wifi borked on resume from sleep, fit and finish is poor - a disjoint ridge where the bottom panel and the unibody frame fail to meet accurately on the bottom rear, performance is below par regardless of what the reviews + benchmarks claim, intellij is not fast on this laptop.

USB-C wasn't an issue for me personally even though i have tons of electronics dev boards + associated junk i plug in all the time.

I also returned my 13" MBP with Touch Bar. I also experienced issues with WiFi after wake (would not reconnect to my network), but my chief reason for returning it was the abysmal 4-5 hour battery life under light browsing usage.

In its place, I purchased a 2016 13" MBP with the 15W CPU and no Touch Bar. Oddly, its battery has about 11% more capacity than the Touch Bar model [1]. In their battery tests, Ars Technica reported that it lasts about 3 hours longer than the Touch Bar model with 28W CPU [2][3]. Here's hoping I see similar results.

[1] http://www.apple.com/macbook-pro/specs/

[2] https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/touch...

[3] http://arstechnica.com/video/2016/11/the-2016-13-and-15-inch...

How practical for Apple to get out of the WiFi Router business. Now they can blame "third party" routers as the culprit for issues like this.

I've returned mine (15''). First time I've returned an Apple product.

I previously wrote about my issues here [1].

For me, it was a combination of all the bad things: Touch bar (useless, distracting gimmick, no match for physical keys, nearness to keyboard results in inadvertent touches), lack of physical Esc key, meh keyboard (super loud, not enough key travel, annoying arrow keys), and absolutely no improvements over my current Mid-2015 MBP. The only thing I miss is the fingerprint reader.

I'm fine with donglegate, and I had bought all the cables/dongles I needed.

I'm surprised to read about everyone expecting 10 hours of battery life. My Mid-2015 gets 3-4 hours when I'm almost exclusively in Safari + VSCode + Terminal + Slack. Those are energy-hungry apps (especially Slack — only in 2016 would your chat app be the most CPU-intensive app!), and I got the same mileage with the 2016 MBP.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13098257

Yes! Why is the slack app so power hungry??

Because it's not an app. It's Electron aka basically another copy of the Chrome browser running the slack web app

You can use now Slack to XMPP or IRC gateway and use native client for these protocols - as a result power consuption is greatly reduced. A minor problem is that Slack has no idea if you read the message or not (though they should easily fix this with XMPP gateway).


Any suggestions? I've a top of the line macbook and the two things it has the hardest time handling are Chrome and Slack... I think Chrome needs to start thinking more about performance and design.

I recommend switching to Safari. Faster and less resource-hungry.

I recently switched back to using Slack in a pinned tab and I can't recommend it enough. The minor additional inconvenience of getting to it makes it less distracting for me

... a disjoint ridge where the bottom panel ...


I was checking out the new MBP's at the apple store and this was one of the first things I noticed when I picked it up by the sides. There is a huge gap along each bottom towards the side and it feels very sharp there when you pick it up. I could easily see someone getting cut or losing a fingernail. It's very unpleasant to hold there and just feels "wrong".

I have a 2015 15" MBP and this is not a problem on the 2015. While there is still the same gap, it is much narrower and is barely noticeable to the touch.

Shocking design flaw in the new body.

That's what threw me off as well when I was checking it at Apple Store, it felt very sharp, I often lay and use my laptop on my belly, i am pretty sure I would hate it, and the keyboard also sucks

I sent mine back almost entirely because of the keyboard. Shocked that most of the reviews gave Apple a free pass on that one.

One surprise was how good the speakers were though. Really hard going back to the tinny garbage on most everything else after hearing those.

Perhaps because a keyboard is a personal preference? Most of the reviews have mentioned the new keyboard as a love it or hate it thing. My wife has the new 13" model, and she loves the keyboard. I'm typing this on a spiffy mechanical keyboard. I don't think I could get used to one of the new Macbook Pro keyboards.

Does anyone actually prefer the new style low travel keyboards to the old ones? I'm guessing an extreme minority of users does. I can see indifference or thinking the slimmer profile is a good tradeoff, but not objectively liking the keyboard better. Most of the reviews seem to be an iteration on "well, I got used to it and it's not that bad!"

Who knows. I'm probably just crazy.

I objectively prefer the new keyboard. I've got a light touch and in my opinion any travel beyond what you need to be able to tell you've hit the key is wasted effort.

I've got a laptop keyboard on my desk (https://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-ThinkPad-Compact-Keyboard-Trac...), and would have one of the new macbook keyboards if they made a standalone one.

I much prefer it. I don't see any reason to move my hands further than I need to to get just enough physical feedback. It feels sleeker and more modern too. Large travel just slows me down. I spilled a drink on my Apple wireless keyboard, and now I'm using a pretty standard office-type USB keyboard instead. And I can tell you I'm typing far slower.

Yeah I have been working nearly exclusively on a Retina Macbook since they were released last year. I really love the keyboard on this computer, and I think that the newest iteration of the keyboard is a significant improvement on the Macbook's. I know a couple people who hated it when they first tried it, and still hate it.

In and around my office had a few try it. It seemed to be about 50/50 Love / Hate.

I would say it was pretty predictable depending on how soft/hard the person typed on their current keyboard.

I tried it in the apple store and hated it, but after a week of actual use I like it much more.

Pros: More clicky, almost like a mechanical keyboard with no travel

Cons: I apparently used the raised profile of the keys to align my hands. Without it I find I have to look down once in a while to start typing.

It's fascinating how loud it is, like an old mechanical IBM keyboard; I wonder if that goes away after a few weeks of use. I was working from a coffee shop today, and the clacking sound from the guy sitting 2 meters away from me was super loud, even through my noise-canceling earbuds, with volume turned up high. An entire office with these going on at once must be... interesting.

If that sounds loud, imagine an entire office full of typewriters.

The difference in opinions is interesting. The keyboard (and the speakers) are my favorite aspect of the new mac. I'm a very light typist though.

The speakers are amazing, I have no idea how they managed that

I love the new keyboard, took two days to get used to it. The old one now feels wobbly and squishy.

Out of curiosity, what will you be replacing it with?

Just wondering, when did you place your order?

I ordered a new 2016 Macbook Pro 1 week after the Macbooks released, and my order is still processing with a shipping date of this week. I'm sure it will process, but the idleness (no credit card charges) and lack of emails from Apple has made me think it's in limbo.

One thing you should be aware of -- apparently Apple's 14 day return window begins when you place your order, not when you receive your order. So for pre-orders that took awhile to ship, your return window is probably zero days.

Source: https://twitter.com/kerem/status/808482774298468352

"You have 14 calendar days to return an item from the date you received it."

Source: http://www.apple.com/shop/help/returns_refund

Beyond that, Apple's holiday return policy says:

"Holiday Return Policy

Items purchased at the Apple Online Store that are received between November 10, 2016 and December 25, 2016, may be returned through January 8, 2017. Please note that all other terms and conditions provided in the Apple Online Store Sales and Refunds Policy are still applicable with respect to such items purchased. All purchases made after December 25, 2016 are subject to the Standard Return Policy."

Note that it says received, not ordered. The vast majority of 2016 MacBook Pros were received after November 10th (they started shipping around November 13th IIRC), which means that they can still be returned up until January 8th next year.

Good to know - seem to conflict with what that customer was told.

I think I may be sending back my 15" as well. I was playing Civ VI on battery and managed just over an hour. Regular usage of Chrome, XCode, Slack, Mail netted me about 3 hours with 75% brightness.


It's of note that this post was written by Jean-Louis Gassee, former executive at Apple and creator of BeOS.

I actually really appreciate JLG's tone when reporting on Apple. Given his history with the NeXT-BeOS debacle, I wouldn't expect him to be so charitable. Of course, time heals all wounds and I get the impression JLG is pretty well adjusted, but still.

Man, BeOS was awesome.

BeOS was amazing in its day. Sometimes I wish someone would just throw a lot of money towards Haiku (https://www.haiku-os.org/) so we could get an open-source desktop OS that is entirely focused on desktop from the kernel on up.

I would have said the same thing about OSX a decade ago. I wish someone would throw a lot of money at it. Apple has money but OSX keeps getting worse.

As someone who knows nothing about BeOS, what was awesome about it?

It did scheduling magic to keep the UI responsive and media from skipping even under (at the time) heavy load. This was on single-core processors in the two or low three digits of MHz, mind you, with 128MB of RAM if you were really lucky. The OS itself also seemed to be snappier than its competitors.

Windows on the same machine? MP3 playback would stutter when you hit refresh on a webpage (bearing in mind those were one hell of a lot lighter than the ones today) or any number of other minor actions. Hourglasses constantly.

Linux? Window-smearing-on-drag as far as the eye can see. Even worse media performance than Windows(!), though maybe with some ricing/tweaking it was better.

Macs at the time? Oh god. I don't know how they got a reputation for being more stable than contemporary Windows machines. Fewer system crashed maybe, but apps crashed constantly. Multitasking performance mediocre. Disk swap all over the place.

BeOS? Buttery smooth UI and MP3 playback while running the Teapot 3D demo and browsing the web, all at the same time. It was awesome, and had the Unixy bits coupled with a good and consistent UI that we wouldn't see again until OSX. Faster booting than the competition. Neat extras like a built in web server (Poorman, IIRC) that could be run with a few clicks, too. I think BeOS was known for having an unusually pleasant and sane API in addition to performing so well, though I never wrote any software for it personally.

> This was on single-core processors in the two or low three digits of MHz, mind you, with 128MB of RAM if you were really lucky.

Actually, BeOS ran at first on proprietary hardware (BeBox), which featured dual or quad PowerPCs, and it was initially designed to make use of the multiple processors. Only later it got ported for Intel platform where single-processor was more common, but it was meant to shine on multi-processor boards.

I had it running on a powerPC mac clone (Power computing machine) 200 mhz. Ran great but the lack of software made it hard.

In historical context as Apple's internal OS upgrade program failed, and they bought Next Computer instead of Be (rumored to be an option). The rest is history..

"Power Computing, cognizant of (Apple CEO) Amelio’s attitude toward the clones, attempted to avoid keeping all its eggs in Apple’s basket. It began to actively support Jean Louis Gassée’s BeOS. Be’s first public demonstrations were on Power 120’s (upgraded versions of the Power 80), and Power Computing began selling machines outfitted with BeOS out of the box, thus bypassing Apple’s 7.25% royalty." from: http://lowendmac.com/2014/power-computing-fighting-back-for-...

Yeah, but I only ever ran it on Intel (mostly a Pentium 166mhz--luxury, I know!), and that's the best way to compare its performance to other consumer operating systems at the time anyway. Never had the pleasure to use a BeBox.

We used to say: BeOS combined the UI of Macintosh, the stability of Unix, and the Minesweeper of Windows.

It had good multi-threading and good I/O scheduling (the thing most OSes neglect only to "discover" that one low-priority process can flood the I/O subsystem, grinding everything to a halt). The GUI toolkit was multi-threaded; the only other one I know of is Win32 but hardly anyone takes advantage of it.

Less awesomely it used a C++ API which had huge fragile-base-class problems.

They tried to do the custom hardware thing and it went just about as well as NeXT, Amiga, etc. It was probably too late for Be to make it the day they started but by the time the ported to x86 it was already over.

We only have two historical examples but they both follow the same overall trend: Windows ate the desktop, Mac hoarded the scraps, everyone else died. Mobile repeated the pattern: iOS eats the profits, Android eats almost everything else, and there is no room in the ecosystem for a significant third competitor. At this point it's the technology equivalent of a gravity problem... there is room for two but anyone else gets ejected from the system.

It was incredibly responsive, more so than current products with 10x the power.

What I remember in the past is, using the same Windows hardware, my friend played several multi media (video) files without performance degradation

The author calls Craig Federighi "Hair Force One". I'm wondering if it's a loving nickname or maybe JLG is mocking Federighi... God knows there are plenty of reasons to mock Apple's senior VP of emojis.

> Federighi likes to mock his thick, blown-out coiffure, referring to himself sometimes as "Hair Force One."


Am I the only one here who is happy with the new Macbook? I find the speed incredible - the keyboard feels much more "natural". The touchbar saves me a lot of time. Downsides are that it's not supported yet in lot of important applications I use (Slack, Atom). I'm not bothered at all by the USB-C ports. USB dongles are on sale for 2€ on Amazon/ebay and work properly. Besides that I have nearly no more external devices I have to attach (except external HD sometimes but even those are Wifi connected nowadays). + not a real benefit but the design of the MBP is amazing and a real eye catcher again. For me this is a shitstorm for nothing.

No. I am wondering the exact same thing. The MBP bash on reddit/HN seems like a cry for easy karma. I love everything about the new MBP and even have good battery life with it!

Off the cuff social theory, FWIW (not too much, but interesting to consider more generally): My guess is that the real issue and discussion is a subtext, that Apple has lost its cache, and that people are testing and exploring the shape and boundaries of the new social dynamic/norm around Apple.

How far has their social position slipped? If I say X will I get a strong response, or is it going too and will it receive a negative response, or does it go not far enough and will it seem bland and be ignored.

It's like gossip - or it is actually gossip. It's the currency (or securities market) of social status.

I used to follow a sports team where the head coach and one chief assistant were beloved. I said that if they don't play well then the other chief assistant is in trouble, because he had little reputation with the fans and would be blamed by process of elimination, whether or not it was his fault. Sure enough, despite undeniable, simple evidence that his area of responsibility was performing well (points are a very easy metric), he got the blame and then the shaft.

If Jobs was still around, unconventional decisions would be seen much more positively; Cook and Apple no longer have that cache and now their position will be tested until their new social position is established.

I can only speak for myself, but I dont really buy it. As early as two years ago I was super excited to buy the retina iMac, and my perception of the company then was about the same as it is now. I think this new generation of products has just had too many issues, and apple gets judged more harshly because the tight lockdown of their ecosystem makes moving harder. If dell came out with a bad laptop I can go buy an HP, but if apple comes out with a bad laptop I have to switch all my software.

Tight lockdown of their ecosystem should make it easier not harder. A more open company, such as Microsoft, would have customers that use all sorts of compatible devices and accessories to worry about. One could argue Apple has it easy. Most people use their devices in predictable configuration.

I think the OP's usage of "harder" was about the consumer situation if the company screws up and not the challenge for the company.

My opinion of Apple is about the same as it was two years ago. My confidence in that opinion is much solidified. The ship is tilting, the fruit rotting.

And Apple charges high prices. Being nickel and dimed for connector cables is one thing if you buy a $500 Dell. When you buy a 15 inch laptop that starts at $2400 (with a never upgradeable, tiny 256G hard drive) pre tax, pre service plan, expectations are higher.

My solution was to buy the last gen mid 2015 mbp.

Apple is always beleaguered. Apple has always had hardware issues and software issues from time to time. Apple has always had the occasional product mis-step. Have people forgotten the G4 Cube? The white plastic MacBook? The 17" MBP GPU recall? What about iCloud CoreData? MobileMe? The iTunes installer bug that nuked your home directory?

There is a super-serious case of rose-tinted glasses going on here. I think you're right - this is just the herd trying to decide which new opinion to coalesce around.

iCloud Photo Library works and works reliably for me every day. Apple Maps has much higher resolution satellite photos of SF than Google Maps and its transit directions are superior, giving specific exit numbers. The new MBP has a wicket fast storage subsystem, something that will make far more difference to far more people than a hypothetical 32GB of RAM.

I don't buy the doom and gloom.

"I live in San Francisco and I have no problems at all with my Macs" sounds like an explanation of all the problems with the Mac.

And a +1 here. Would just add that we also need to look at the offer of product lines that Apple provides to better understand their decisions.

Also, IMO, people are becoming more and more desensitised, always expecting big leaps in innovation and specs and not noticing the small steps, cornerstones of the vision Apple has for its user's experience.

I don't buy the doom and gloom.

Agreed. Even as someone rather disappointed with the new MBPs, I don't think for a second that this will have slightest effect on Apple's long term health.

I guess that's the sign I've been in the IT business too long.

I meant, of course, that they've exhausted their cache of cachet. <ahem>

> Apple has lost its cache,

Maybe they have cached their cachet.

The intensity 16GB RAM limit complaints really surprised me. I don't remember such complaints about the 2015 model lacking a 32GB option. We've been stuck at 16GB on the MacBook Pro for years now.

Did something happen in the last year that made everyone demand 32GB?

The opposite; nothing happened for many years and people kind of accepted that the "new" models were just slight refreshes to the existing 16GB-limited line.

But when Apple finally introduced a brand new generation, and it was still limited to 16 GB, that really set everybody off.

> Did something happen in the last year that made everyone demand 32GB?

Yes, RAM-wise applications become more bloated due to containers, VMs, and the (ab)use of JS-based applications or 'apps'.

Take into account I am typing this on a MBP from 2010, 6 years old, which shipped with 4 GB RAM which I was able to upgrade easily to 8 GB RAM, with a 256 GB SSD which I put in myself after updating from a 512 GB 5400 RPM HDD.

By some (certainly not everyone) MBPs are bought to be an investment of several years, yet MBPs are no longer 'pimpable'. You can't upgrade their internals anymore. So what happens? People buy them with higher specs than they need. Which means a bigger or quicker SSD, and bigger or quicker RAM.

Which brings me to the following point: the MBP used to be a relatively bulky laptop/notebook, but a beast. A compact, less powerful version was the Macbook Air which as the name suggests was also lighter. At best, it has shifted. At worst, this is no longer the case. Because the MBP is designed to be light itself.

Finally, the battery. If it is already bad with 5 hours out of the box, this can be improved perhaps via software. Who knows? That is the risk of buying. You don't wanna take that risk. A product as expensive as this one needs to have high uptime out of the box. Plus, the battery will degrade over time as well, and Apple products haven't been known to have easily replaceable battery (compare to Dell XPS).

Now, the problem with all of the above points is that they're all made so that the MBP -supposedly the powerhorse of notebooks/laptops of Apple- is smaller and weights less. Whereas they had the Macbook Air line for that purpose before. It just doesn't make sense from a customer PoV to pay more for less!

You see, those who'd like to buy a device for years to come don't mind the USB-C debacle that much. Because in x years, it'll be everywhere (lets assume x=2 for the sake of argument, while the device is being used for 5 years and even if the device isn't used for 5 years it has resale value!).

I have a 2011 MacBook Pro 15". It has two hard drives in it including a SATA III SSD, and 16G RAM. It's still running strong.

I can't imagine why Apple has not been able to improve on the computer's specifications for serious professional engineer use in five years. The CPU increase and GPU increase is unimpressive. (Why no quad core in 13"?) Retina is fantastic, but not a substitute for proper amounts of memory. The only major improvement is the awesome bandwidth of the 1T SSD in the new models.

I use the F-keys extensively in my workflow. I could barely even reliably hit the ESC key at the Apple Store when testing vi. The keyboard was also atrocious, but I would probably adjust if it had F-keys.

The bottom line is this is just not a useful laptop for me. Super sad, cause I would have liked a top-of-the-line computer. I am going to get an Alienware 13R3 or Razer Blade instead. Sorry, Apple, you've taken too long to put out a reasonable professional laptop.

I get more than 5 hours on my MBP 15". Battery issues are unfounded on my device. Have you used one and tested it yourself? If so, return it to the store and get new one.

I think the problem of the RAM is mostly because the things are soldered and non upgradable. And while 16GB may be definitely enough today, that "may" change in the future.

When I bought my Macbook Pro in 2011 it came with 4GB RAM and at that time it was suffice but through the years I did upgrade it. The RAM and SSD upgrade makes that I still use my machine till today. The fact that you can use a Macbook Pro for years makes it a bit sweeter to swallow the bitter price pill. With the "limited" 16GB RAM I'm not sure that will be also the case here.

Although it's at the point I simply can't afford it anymore. While it's nice to show off all the accessibility options for people with disabilities or health problems, the irony is that because of my disability (which has a big influence on my income) the apple ecosphere is becoming just to expensive.

From the explanations offered about why 16GB is the limit it's probably a good thing. If there was DIMMs someone would go out and buy 2 16GB SODIMMs and find out their MacBook Pro doesn't boot, behaves strangely, or just doesn't use the entire available ram.

My Macs last me 4-5 years.

The idea that 16GB will be sufficient 2 years from now is not believable to me.

As good as the MBP might be, if you don't need a new laptop right now, it's just not a good buy. The worst part is that it cannot be upgraded.

Did something happen in the last year that made everyone demand 32GB?

It became available. No one was demanding 16 or 4 or 1 or 0.1 GB of RAM either before the option became available.

Personally I find that for everything I do either "4 GB or RAM is plenty" or "16 GB of RAM is barely enough". If I'm buying a laptop for only the first category of work, then the MBP is way too expensive for me (esp. since I'd also have to buy a second computer), and if I'm buying a laptop to handle both categories of work then it's under-powered.

My memory usage under Sierra and El Capitan really went up to the point a 4gb Mac is painful to non-usable. Not sure the cause, but what could be upgrade got upgraded and what couldn't (MacBook Air) got retired.

>Did something happen in the last year that made everyone demand 32GB?

Yeah, microservice hype. Now you need a lot of RAM to open all those services to develop on local.

Me personally I could care less about the extra memory, but what I really wanted was a quad core in a 13" form factor

Judging from Apple’s focus on silent, 10-hour-battery-life laptops, you’ll see quad-core CPUs in Apple 13" laptops only when the chip’s TDP drops to 15 W.

In my opinion, it is sad that Apple changed the meaning of its Pro label from “professionals” to “consumers with lots of money”. As another commenter once said, replace “Pro” with “Deluxe” in your head, e.g. MacBook Deluxe, and suddenly it all makes sense. The machines trade potential increases in performance for increases in thinness.

16GB SODIMMs. Actually it was about this time last year that they started to become available.

More precisely, 8Gbit DDR4 which is beginning to reach crossover now. There is also 8Gbit DDR3 that is less popular (and I think only made by Micron and Intelligent Memory), but Broadwell supports it for example.

I have a unibody aluminum model MacBook (not Pro) from late 2008 that still chugs along. I had to replace the battery twice in its lifetime via an Apple support store. I also replaced the harddisk myself to put in a SSD.

It's been incredibly reliable as a consumer laptop (dev work is on a desktop). I have had zero incentive to upgrade, except the difficulty of finding chargers whose cables don't fray. This was before the magnetic attachments.

I've finally been entertaining about getting another laptop/tablet for consumer non-dev use, and none of the options I'm considering are Apple.

Your comment seemed absolutely bonkers to me until I thought: what if I could still use my 2015 macbook pro in 2023 and be happy. That would be awesome, though unlikely since nothing on my laptop is user servicable.

I own a 2012 Zenbook and I have nearly zero incentive to replace it. ("Nearly zero" because it could use a RAM upgrade for Minecraft, but I can get by with the 4 GB that I have.) I can easily see myself using it another four years if it lasts that long.

Have you tried replacing the batteries yourself? A cheap battery I got off of eBay for a 2012 model registered over 100% of the stock battery capacity for at least six months. It looks like they only run $30 for your model.

To make the charging cables more durable you might try liquid electrical tape[1] which you can find at almost every hardware store. The trick to making this custom cable boot adhere the best is painting all the way around the cable and connector back to where you started before it sets. That way the material bonds to itself rather than only the cord and connector.

[1] - http://www.gardnerbender.com/en/ltw-400

Not the parent, but personally, when it comes to extremely volatile and explosive components that go directly on top of my most vital regions, I think it's best to focus my money-saving efforts elsewhere.

A shop wanted to replace my mid-2011 MacBook Air battery for $250. Found the battery on Amazon, including the star screwdrivers, for $60. Glad I didn't totally write off the DIY route with Apple repairs.

Consider a model from 2013 or so. I've had very good results from a 13" MBP made that year; given later releases, it's looking more and more like that might've been Apple's high-water mark in computer hardware.

> except the difficulty of finding chargers whose cables don't fray.

Yup. Those charger cables are such shit. They keep working since just the insulation frays, but I have to use more and more electrical tape to keep them covered.

> I've finally been entertaining about getting another laptop/tablet for consumer non-dev use, and none of the options I'm considering are Apple.

On the tablet front, unless something's changed while I wasn't looking, you might want to consider Apple over Android. Android devices going from well-charged to dead while you're not using them gets really old really fast if you're used to iOS' nearly-miraculous levels of battery use while idle.

I should tell that to my iPad Pro 9. It can sit in my backpack for three or four day and go from 95% to 50%...

I have an ipad for the exact same reason as Ashark. I liked my android tablet just fine for reading except when I'd leave it in my backpack for a weekend, pull it out, and it would be nearly dead.

My two year old ipad air 2 still holds a charge for a month if I don't use it. I'd take your ipad back to the store and ask for a replacement. Oh, and uninstall fb.

That's a good point. I might try disabling FB background updates first, as the less nuclear option! :)

Yeesh. That's almost Android-bad. Last time I was developing for them iPads'd go most of a month and still have useful charge, provided they weren't a cellular model.

I don't understand why the author thinks that people aren't allowed to complain about RAM limitations at the launch, and instead expects them to wait the 2-3 weeks before the items ship and then use certain software on them long enough for usage patterns to come through. If 16GB ram isn't enough for you now, it's utter nonsense that "maybe Photoshop will run just fine on 16GB on the new hardware".

I would also have made a bigger point of Apple not having enough USB dongles to supply their 'new, modern' laptops. It's a pretty big complaint to level against the "so what, it's one dongle" apologists, if you can't get one in the first place.

I am curious about how the morale within the Mac group must be. In an alternate universe the last iPhone would have ditched Lightning for USB-C, and Skylake MacBook Pros similar to the ones just released ones would have come out two or three quarters ago instead.

While it's okay if not everyone at Apple is interested in the MacBook Pros, the people designing them have to be disheartened by the reactions. Decisions to put off this release for so long seems like it must have been a strategic one made outside of the group which probably wanted to ship a Skylake MacBook Pro a long time ago.

Imagine (over-)simplified analysis that showed customers keeping their machines for an average of three years, or four product generations that were each about three quarters long. If Apple changed the time between generations to six quarters, then they would have retooling costs for only two cohorts of customers rather than four, and it would also get economies of scale similar to having twice as many customers buying each release.

Now imagine that suitable Kaby Lake CPUs with Iris graphics turned out to much further off in the future than originally expected, and Apple ended up deciding they had to release a Skylake MacBook Pro rather than being able to skip the microarchitecture.

So they do, but it's later than it might have been, and there end up being some issues that make it seem like it was designed and released quickly rather than like it had been refined even more than usual. And, on top of it all, the difficult, but ultimately beneficial, transition to all USB-C everywhere ends up being needlessly antagonizing to customers due to a cheap decision not to toss free legacy adapters and free USB-C/Lighting cables in the box of every new MacBook Pro.

As a somewhat unrelated aside, as a Logic Pro user I thought it was odd to read Logic described as "memory hungry". For my small projects (16-32 tracks) logic uses just under 1G. For me it's Logic's CPU hunger that turns my MBP into a noisy space heater that I'd like to see tamed, although it's actually somewhat nice when recording in my car in winter.

It's a pro app that has amassed hundreds of features over a two decade period. People use it for different things. You can exhaust resources more quickly if use a bunch of cutting edge plug-ins, or sync your project to video, or record a dozen tracks at the same time, etc.

The DAW itself is usually highly optimized. What eats the CPU: synths and effects (because your CPU is not a dedicated DSP). What eats the RAM: Samplers (by GiBs).

This- I have tried to strike a balance by using software efx, external dsp (Apollo 8 duo) and some hardware/ mic'Ed instruments so that I'm "load balancing" my music making. (Ok I admit it's just gear lust). I have a late 2014 with the 512 ssd and I notice a lot of peaking in hd activity during and for a few seconds after recording. It's somewhat related to latency but still more than I expect. Anyone else see this?

As a musician, this post turned me on a bit.

I have been on a MBP since they were introduced. This was the first time I wanted to upgrade my laptop and switched away from Apple. The lack of ports coupled with consumer complaints and lack of anything innovative drove me away. I would have never guessed I would have ever left Mac after so many years of a good user experience.

What did you switch to?

I switched to a Razer Blade Stealth. I'm not a gamer and I've never used a Razer product, but I like this laptop. I had to ditch Windows, running Debian.

Interesting, as hardware-wise that is the closest to a non-apple air that I can find.

Does anyone have any links to someone running Linux on a razor blade stealth as their daily driver?

MBP Retina, 13", 2015: 12.35" x 8.62" x .71" -- 3.48 lbs

Air: 12.8" x 8.94" x .68" -- 2.96 lbs

RB Stealth: 12.6" x 8.1" x .52" -- 2.84 lbs

I bought the late 2016 edition, i7 kaby lake, 16GB RAM, 256GB M.2 PCIe, 12.5" IPS touch QHD (2560 x 1440 px). It really does run well and I'm using it as a daily driver.

Have you been able to get good hardware support? Trackpad, function keys, etc. Can you sleep and restore?

Not OP, but I fixed sleep and restore on an HP Elitebook yesterday by installing the Nvidia display driver, the nouveau driver seemed to be what was stopping it from waking. That has been my experience with every PC with a dedicated GPU.

For what it's worth, the Razer Blade Stealth does not have a dedicated GPU, just a regular integrated Intel HD 620 like many other Kaby Lake ultrabooks.

The Razer Blade (regular, non-Stealth) is the model with the dedicated GPU.

I've been seriously considering picking up the fully loaded model with the desktop 1080 GPU, but I'll want to dual-boot windows 10 and some variant of debian for gaming and to experiment with machine learning, respectively. I'm afraid I'll end up spending several weeks trying to get everything set up correctly and then hit some dead end after it's too late to return it. It's the same price as the new MBP but the specs are crazy[1].


Edit: Looks like there are some resources around the webs:



I bought mine from the Microsoft store. I've heard Razer's support is not the best and returning products to them is not the most pleasant experience.

I've found that the Arch Linux Wiki is a pretty good resource for all of the Razer Blade laptops.

I installed xf86-input-synaptics to support the trackpad a little better. Touchscreen works. Sleep works.

The best resource I found for this laptop and linux was actually on the Arch Linux wiki:


The author spends $2000 on a laptop but can't wait 30 days for it to arrive so he spends $2800 on another laptop and says he'll just give the other one to his wife when it arrives. He also buys a $600 monitor and it doesn't work properly and so he returns it an vows to buy the $1000 model when it becomes available.

I don't know what to make of that exactly.

He was an early exec at Apple, and he founded Be and BeOS. I think we can allow him to be a bit out of the ordinary when it comes to his computing. :)

It doesn't make doubling down on something with in burns you any less strange.

> A knowledgeable individual tells me that [the battery problem in the 2016 15" MBP] is probably a curable software problem.

I'm experiencing the same battery life problems reported by JLG. Activity Monitor doesn't report anything unusual, so I suspect the CPU is not the culprit. When I reported the problem to Apple Support, they asked me to run sysdiagnose and send them the output.

Apple cranks out a new beta of MacOS 10.12.2 every week or so, and I install them immediately because of the possibility of a software fix.

I recall that the first Retina MacBook Pro (mid-2012) had some problems too, so I'm not too surprised about this. I plan to be patient and see how responsive Apple is to the fast battery drain issue. I'm very happy with the machine otherwise.

Would have loved to get a new MBP but Apple seems content to ignore the reason people buy their laptops. Now I'm waiting for the new iMacs instead, losing portability but hopefully getting more for the money.

I got a new MacBookPro 13" without the touchbar. It's a good device.

The only strange thing is it has only two USB-C ports and an analog audio ports. One of the USB-C ports is used for the power adapter, so one port left.

Why do so many "critical" stories about Apple products come across like ads for Apple stuff? Even this piece starts with a run down of features even though it's not relevant to the main point being made.

This guy speaks like he used to introduce Apple's products or something. Come on dude, this stuff ain't easy! Try introducing successors to the Mac. That was some genius work right there ;-)

So now mbp folk feel about apple the same way thinkpad old folk feel about lenovo.

There's a huge market opening here. We may see the rise of a third hardware giant just yet.

I think Google would be in a prime position. If they'd release a killer Chromebook Pro geared for developers I think people would eat it up. There's millions of developers world wide, with none of the big companies really catering for them anymore - more than enough for a decent computer market.

It's a matter of resources - Apple has limited resources and history of execution glitches even when they aren't stretched out. With the continuous strain to find the next new thing, put out an iPhone release every year, improve iOS and also dabble in cars - even though these sound like separate things different teams should be able to do, the integration aspect and company culture makes it very hard for Apple.

It is very logical that Apple will dump or merge some product categories sooner rather than later. There's little chance macOS will be made touch friendly and with little resources to keep the Mac updated (see Mac Pro) it just makes sense for them to sell the iPad Pro somewhat like Microsoft does for Surface line - lower cost model without physical keyboard and a Macbook like one that shares the same SoC and runs the same iOS. Get XCode running on it and that solves the problem of iOS App Developers. Make the Pro version of iOS little less restrictive and add better multitasking and that helps the regular iPad line as well. Much easier than redoing macOS for touch.

It also solves the margin and control issues for Apple. One OS, shared CPU/SoC, no need to do Mac and macOS development anymore and that frees up a ton of resources. It's just too good for Apple to not do it. And if they could solve the problem of pesky "pros" wanting to control their hardware and OS better by slowly making the Mac more and more inconvenient/unattractive - they are going to do it.

> Apple has limited resources

Well come on now. Apple is one of the richest company in the world and has a tiny tiny product line to care about. They have skipped a whole year of refresh on their entire Mac Line so they can focus on those 3 laptops. They also dropped their network equipment division and outsourced their monitor division to LG which must have freed some resource people or money.

This MBP release is catastrophic, even by Apple "don't buy iteration 1" standards. There is no excuse for the indeed poor story telling.

The Mac line is secondary business does not work either when they fucked up similarly the iPhone release. Promising that the world has moved from the headphone jack yet failing to deliver any headphone several months after the events, despite owning a whole business dedicated to that.

2016 is a miserable year for Apple. Hopefully that just an off year and they are preparing a unforgivable 2017, or it is just one of those crisis large companies goes through.

I don't think I made it clear that my main point was that Apple isn't going to invest in the Mac much longer for control and margins issue along with their Post-PC agenda.

It's not very hard to imagine having resource issues when you're trying to do something that is under constant scrutiny and higher standards and you're also doing a bunch of other things while still trying to find the next big thing - I stand by my point on that one, but more so I wanted to allude that it is just too convenient for Apple to not pay much attention to the Mac.

> Hopefully [2016] just an off year and they are preparing a unforgivable 2017

I assume you mean "unforgetable"? :)

Aww, I read it 10 times thinking "there is something weird", but my mind was completely convinced unforgivable meant unforgettable.

> Apple has limited resources

I keep seeing this written in various places and I don't understand it. Apple aren't short of a dollar and they haven't been short of a dollar for a good long time. How is it that they can find themselves with "limited resources"? What does that actually mean?

It's just an old refrain that Jobs used as a mantra, back when Apple was indeed short on cash. It gets burned into customers' brains as a catch-all excuse whenever they ask "Why don't you do <perfectly logical thing> ?" "well, y'now, we have limited resources."

This was fine up to and including the first couple of iPhone releases; now it really sounds like bog-standard corporate weaselwords. Apple just built a space-age campus as big as a town, could run a small country for years with all the money stashed offshore, and keeps raking in cash from their ecosystem and content services. If they don't do X is simply because either they don't want to, or they are not good enough at doing it.

> Apple just built a space-age campus as big as a town

Wonder how much director time was spent signing off the minutiae of that project VS these so called Pro laptops and the touchbar as a concept over the past 2 years.

Yep. Mac Pro, AirPort, and monitors are canceled but check out that spaceship, art book, and Christmas tree!

For example, every revision of every product has to be signed off by Jony Ive.

How how have you come to know this?

Software projects at least don't scale linearly, doubling your 3 man team doesn't double output. It's not a stretch to say that having 10x money and manpower won't scale your engineering project that far, and may even hurt it as you add managerial layers and politics.

That seems like an answer to a different question. All of Apple's output is not a single engineering project.

It's an analogy. All of apple's output is maybe 10 products so even if apple had perfect vertical organization (which they don't, they have a functional organization around tech layers), they're still already putting thousands of people on a product. There are diminishing returns to packing more people in.

I don't question that, to quote yourself "There are diminishing returns to packing more people in". I do question that this, or their organizational structure explain their execution in recent years.

> and also dabble in cars

Nice they get to dabble in cars so a handful of SV/SF CEOs can drive around in a space black siri powered car in a few years. What a worthwhile endeavour.

Meanwhile the tool I use all day every day at my job is getting worse and worse and the tipping point where PC maintenance and dealing with Windows is starting to look very inviting to gain access to that raw computing power their platform is failing to provide.

"Apple" and "limited resources" does not go together.

I meant human resources - there's not a ton of Engineering/Product Management talent sitting around even if Apple has a ton of money to pay for it.

If they did have unlimited resources you would have seen more attention to Mac product lineup and they wouldn't have gotten rid of the Airport unit after not updating it for a while.

I find it very, very hard to believe that a company with two hundred billion dollars in cash would have a problem hiring any amount of people at any level. Everyone has a price.

In other words, if you need to hire super engineers at a staggering million bucks a year, well, didn't Apple make 45B last year? That's enough for 45 000 such super people while I bet a few dozens would make big changes.

This works "normally"... however apple is not normal. There is a borderline ridiculous level of control being exercised by the design team. Jobs was Ive's boss, he set boundaries and goals. Cook is empowering Ive to set design direction and as gifted as he is... apple is not an "art" company, it makes products for use. As much as Ive waxes on about Dieter Rams he can't hope to avoid screwing it up eventually because he lacks balance... unless Cook or Apple shorten his leash, Ive will be the cause of Apple's slow decline into its death, built on a road strewn with arguably beautiful objects.

That's fine. It is not a problem of limited resources then, and instead a problem of Apple management. There was an article last week about how the management style of Apple is breaking down at scale.


As much as I'd like to blame Ive for the delays, it's not that simple. If his sign off is required for every new iteration of Apple hardware, that's one thing. But updating existing products doesn't require a redesign each update. Replacing a GPU, or a CPU doesn't require Yoda like insight into perfection. If Apple isn't updating the Mac line frequently enough, it's because they're choosing not to.

Regardless of cash, does Apple have the reputation to hire and attract the best? I am assuming so.

With the recent missteps, maybe you're right. It seems like they currently don't have enough talent to steer such a huge ship.

Is lack of talent the only reason to discontinue a product? My money is on the more general concept of focus, and specifically focusing on the future. This is not a new thing, Apple has always operated this way, so it's totally in character now as it was during the Jobs era.

I definitely believe Apple has a plan far beyond what we are privvy to, and that that plan is focused on the long-term. But that said I'm skeptical of Apple's to deliver on the next big thing. Amazon and Google are the ones on the cutting edge of cloud services which I believe are shaping the next sea change, and Apple is playing catchup. I'm definitely biased, but I feel like nerfing the Mac and shrinking it's accessory line could lead to a reverse halo effect where all the influencers leave, and before Apple knows what happened their App Store ecosystem dries up and all the cool stuff is now happening somewhere else.

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