The new MacBook Pro shows that Apple is finally becoming serious about developers.
Gone is the gimmicky TouchBar, gone are the four USB-C ports that forced power users to carry a suitcase full of dongles. In their place we get a cornucopia of developer-friendly ports: two USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 2 ports, a redesigned power connector, and a long-awaited HDMI port.
Photographers will rejoice at the surprising and welcome addition of an SDXC card reader, a sign that Apple might be thinking seriously about photography.
The new MagSafe connector is a bit of Apple design genius. The charging cord stays seated securely, but pops right off if you yank on it. No more worries about destroying your $2k laptop just by accidentally kicking a cord.
What hasn't changed: Apple has kept the beautiful Retina display, and storage and memory are the same as before. The new machines will be slightly thicker (to accomodate the USB ports) and 200 grams heavier, but it's not clear how this will affect battery life.
Interestingly, Apple has removed the fingerprint reader and its associated dedicated chip, perhaps assuming that developers would not comfortable with a machine they don't fully control.
The most obvious change is the redesigned keyboard. Removing the Touchbar creates room for a row of physical function buttons and, in a nice touch, an escape key. This isn't a perfect solution: the function buttons map to a confusing series of actions that can send windows flying around the screen with an errant keystroke, and the new physical off switch is too close to the backspace key. But it is certainly a huge step forward, and it will be interesting to see how software developers take advantage of this clever new feature.
Everything about the new machine seems designed for typists. The trackpad has been made smaller, so you're less likely to brush against it with your palm. The keys themselves are much more comfortable to type on, with improved key travel, a softer feel, and more satisfying tactile feedback. You no longer feel like you're tapping on the glass surface of an iPad. And not having a TouchBar means no longer having to look down at your hands all the time.
Despite the many improvements, Apple is actually dropping the price on its flagship 15" MacBook Pro by $400, another sign that they're serious about winning over developers.
The release is an encouraging sign of life at Apple, whose products have not seen significant changes since the company introduced a separate operating system for its laptops in 2019. There's even speculation that Apple may refresh its antiquated Mac Pro and desktop macs, neither of which have been updated since their release in 2022.
Rumors are also swirling that the company will add a headphone jack to its already popular iPhone. The announcement could come as early as this month.