New MacBook Rumors

January 18, 2021

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg with some good news for MacBook fans coming later this year:

A major change to the new computers will be how they charge. Over the past five years, Apple has relied on USB-C ports for both power and data transfer on its laptops, making them compatible with other manufacturers’ chargers. But the company is now bringing back MagSafe, the magnetic power adapter that means any accidental yanking of the power cable would simply detach it from the laptop rather than pull down the entire computer. It was a favorite feature of the company’s portable PC lineup that was first introduced in 2006 and most recently revived for its latest lineup of iPhones.

MagSafe was one of the coolest innovations in the industry. Prior to MagSafe we all had a moment, whether for a computer or a video game console, where we experienced someone tripping over a cord and pulling a device off a table. MagSafe was one of those features that when you saw it, it was completely obvious. A hallmark of great Apple design. I understand the desire to remove it in favor of uniform ports that all can charge, but it always felt like a step backwards. I’d be super excited about its return.

In developing its next set of Mac laptops, Apple has also tested versions that remove the Touch Bar from its laptop keyboards. The Touch Bar, introduced as part of the last MacBook Pro redesign in 2016, turns the keyboard’s top row from function keys into a touchscreen strip that can display a variety of information and a changing set of controls to adapt to apps and tasks. Some professional users have said they found that control scheme less convenient than physical keys.

The Touch Bar on the other hand, is one of my least favorite features. It adds zero value for me and makes my everyday computer life harder. Instead of feeling around for a key and being able to hit it directly, I now have to look down at the Touch Bar to hit the correct button. And that’s if the Touch Bar is active. If it has fallen asleep you first have to tap the Touch Bar to make it visible, then tap again on the area where the button is. This would be a welcome change as well.

Raymond Wong, writing in a delightfully designed post on Input, agrees:

Apple is going to return to the very features it removed five years ago? That is seismic. Apple hates to admit any wrongdoing. But with Ive long gone and Schiller no longer leading marketing, Apple no longer has these old balls and chains weighing it down.

He also mentions the SD card slot, which would be a very welcome improvement to have back as well. I don’t see it happening, but sure would be nice.