Thoughts on the new MacBook

On removing ports

The removal of all ports is bold – just like the removal of optical drives and ethernet ports in the original MacBook Air, and the removal of floppy drives and serial ports in previous desktops. This change seems even more extreme.

I’m personally not ready for the removal of all these ports. I need wired audio for my best headphones, USB or an SD card reader for my digital camera (whose wireless capabilities are clunky), and up until recently a USB Yubikey for 2-factor authentication. Switching away from those is possible but too burdensome given the costs of new equipment and the effort of changing my routine. Moreover, most of the wireless alternatives that Apple prescribes are proprietary, like AirPlay and AirDrop, and I hesitate to become even more locked into the Apple ecosystem.

Force Touch

The new Force Touch trackpad clicking is intriguing. I imagine that the primary reason for the change is to have a thinner, lighter trackpad component by removing the mechanical click. Any actual improvement to the user experience of the trackpad is secondary, and possibly even a compromise. But it seems pretty well thought through, given that they added new haptic feedback functionality to make up for the lack of mechanical click. Since this is available already on new MacBook Pros, I’ll probably swing by the Apple Store soon and give it a try.

A testing ground for iPhone changes?

It’s striking that Apple removed an audio port from the MacBook before attempting to remove it from the iPhone, which is even more starved for port real estate. I wonder if they’re testing how well this change is received by consumers before attempting to remove an audio port from iPhones, which would be much riskier. Given that they now ship wired earbuds with every iPhone, they’d have to ship some form of Bluetooth earbuds instead, possibly Beats-branded.

Similarly, I wonder if Force Touch is coming to iPhones – haptic feedback would be an excellent addition to the iPhone’s touchscreen interface, but it makes sense that Apple would test it out on a smaller, less risky platform first to figure out how to perfect and scale the technology and port it to touchscreens.