It was really hard for me to watch Apple’s “Hello Again” event today.

Understanding history is important – to a point. But Apple’s obsessive navel gazing in the Mac event today speaks volumes. This is a company with no real vision for what its most creative users actually do with their most advanced machines. So, instead, they look into the past.

And the Mac keynote was full of references to the past. The early 90s PowerBook 100 got a better pitch for its industrial design than the new MacBook Pro. And that’s with good reason: the PowerBook 100 was an historic machine. It was also proof that computer makers (even those named “Apple”) can innovate without necessarily having Steve Jobs at the helm.

Apple also gave us a rambling look at Apple TV – one that felt like it could have been made years ago. It showed us pictures of laptops from past decades. Heck, there was even a post mortem of the industrial design of a 1971 IBM mainframe.

What there wasn’t was any compelling vision for the future of the Mac.

The Mac mini, iMac, and Mac Pro are all left untouched. The iPad Pro, which starts to resemble the capabilities of a Mac, got no mention.

Since the unveiling of the iPad – even the iPhone – the Mac faithful have waited for Apple to apply its innovative vision of touch to computing.

What we’re left with is a disappointing mess. From the company that’s essentially proven to the human race how nice expansive touch screens are, you get a tiny crack of a touch panel along the top of the keyboard.

It’s not necessarily a bad idea – it’s just not necessarily a good one, either. And it’s fraught with problems.

Apple's own Logic Pro doesn't merit a mention (yet).

Apple’s own Logic Pro doesn’t merit a mention (yet).

In apps that don’t support it, it offers little advantage over the existing keys.

For consumers, it’s an added layer of complexity and inconsistency. Even in Apple’s (presumably) tightly-controlled demos, it wasn’t clear what it was even for. It’s a volume control and media keys. Or maybe it’s for sliders for parameters. Or maybe it controls … Word headings? Menu shortcuts?

The reason touch screens work so well is that they don’t have this added layer of abstraction. Whatever’s on the screen, you can touch. Now you’re looking at two screens, two touch input devices (trackpad and Touch Bar), and a keyboard, and you never know where things will be.

You’re going to hear a lot of pro writers tell you that “average” users will like this. I’ll take that bet. I think this is a solution in search of a problem. And consumers don’t always know what they want in advance, but it’s rarely additional complexity.

So this is bad for consumers, but at least they’ll see the Touch Bar as a gimmick on purchase and then ignore it. For pros, it’s actually an insult.

When it comes to pros, I’m even more at a loss.

If you asked video editors if they wanted to do delicate edits via a tiny, imprecise touch strip on a laptop keyboard, of course they’d tell you you were nuts.

Graphics artists would wonder what you were smoking that you thought function keys – even fancy touch function keys – were “expressive.” They’d wonder that even if you weren’t the company making the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro.

I think music is always a good test of how expressive an interface was. And bringing a DJ app onstage – as Apple did with djay – proves how awful this tiny touch strip is. Watching someone DJ with the top of a keyboard was just embarrassing, doubly so from the company that makes the iPad and as recently as this year’s WWDC showed off its ability to be used by blind people.

This would be cool, in other words, if there weren’t touch laptops available. Now, making laptops that fold into tablets and whatnot is problematic, too, as is the infamous “gorilla arm” syndrome. But products like Microsoft’s Surface line are finding intelligent solutions to that.

And it begs the question: why didn’t Apple at the very least find a way to give you a high-speed, low-latency connection between the iPad Pro and the laptop? That’d be far more useful for musicians, video editors, and visual artists than a touch strip on the keyboard would. The popularity of third-party products for doing this is even more evidence.

Okay, so maybe the Touch Bar is just a misstep and the rest of the computer is worth buying. But the problem is, strip away the soon-to-be-talked-about Touch Bar, and what you get isn’t so different from other laptop offerings on the PC side. It’s just more expensive and less configurable.

You need the 15″ MacBook Pro – starting at US$2399 – to get so much as a dedicated GPU. And don’t forget to budget for adapters. Because now you get four Thunderbolt 3 ports and nothing else. That decision might even make some sense, but it’s going to mean remembering a bunch of adapters and adding their cost to the purchase price.

So, if you’re really dedicated to staying on MacOS, you can at least go get an Apple laptop. And maybe you’ll be happy with it.

But it’s telling Apple, out of character, didn’t once mention their competition. That’s because the competition has innovative touch and pen input integrated with the product – so you wouldn’t compare the anemic Touch Bar. The competition is faster, and/or costs less – so those graphs turned to older Apple products and even the poor PowerBook 100 rather than compare to the PC. We didn’t even get a thinner/lighter comparison, because even that ship has sailed.

The added performance is essential, as the industry adds three dimensional content and virtual reality. Integrated chips on anything marked “pro” just doesn’t make sense in the present context.

The Mac made its name because it embraced desktop publishing and graphics when the PC missed the boat. Now, it seems Apple is about to miss next-generation graphics, 3D, and virtual reality. Even if some of those are gimmicks, the fact that we live in a three-dimensional world and have two eyes suggest it’s still an important development.

And that leaves the OS. But Apple has flubbed that, too. Recent OS updates have caused significant audio woes, even as Microsoft – for all their flaws – focus effort on improving their offerings for audio production. Most recently, Apple has made the bizarre decision to try to pressure users into using cloud functionality to automatically off-load files, even though that’s a terrible idea for anyone who does media production for a living. So, what’s the pitch for pros? Siri?

All of this might be tragic, if Apple were the only company innovating. Fortunately, that isn’t true. The Verge said today that Apple’s timing was expertly timed. That’s a little bit like standing with the French at Hougoumont and declaring the battle of Waterloo is about to be expertly timed. Timing, yes. Execution, not so much.

Worth saying, too, is that Microsoft’s clever 3D demos aren’t just a fluke. The company has invested heavily in research, including free-form Bell Labs-style “what-if” experiments. Apple’s innovations have focused on supply chain and engineering. That has worked for a while, but it does little when technologies shift radically, as is happening with 3D.

Microsoft’s innovative announcements this week deserve better than to be squeezed into a story about everything Apple is doing wrong, so I’ll leave that for later.

But suffice to say: Microsoft is embracing touch, 3D, and creativity, and making hardware with new ideas.

Apple this week just isn’t doing any of that. I’m done ranting, but … I hope that Apple comes back.

You know: the one from the past.

Pictured: this idea was tried before, as observed in this tweet.

  • Clif Marsiglio

    Its a computer. If has 4 ports. What you do with it is up to you.

    I have an iPad Pro (and a few others just sitting around the studio now dedicated to specific purposes at they age out) and this seems to be where the innovation is. Honestly? I just want a computer that is MOSTLY a blank slate that I can hook shit into it. I’m already considering this one and applied for a line of credit (sadly, they accepted the application within 30 seconds). It would be a great update to the studio.

    • Leslie

      Agreed,
      What does Microsoft surface studio has on offer?
      Well, it is a beautiful design, it has a touch screen and the additional “round” thingie…
      It also has OUTDATED 4 USB 3 ports, SD card reader and wait for it, network port… lol
      It doesn’t have a single USB C/thunderbolt 3 port and worst of all, it runs on Windows 10 -what a joke…
      Sorry to say, but for the same price point, I’ll take new MacBook Pro without blinking of an eye 😉

      • Clif Marsiglio

        I played with one of these for a few minutes at the Microsoft store last night. Ironically, they had them is stock after announcing them two days ago. Grumble. I don’t know if you can buy one yet, but you certainly could check out the device and even play with the round thing!

        Honestly, if I were a visual artist, I’d be clamoring for one. The action from upright to artist pad was smooth as hell. The pen worked well. The round thing? Very interesting…huge and bulky, but interesting. I couldn’t imaging using it as a musician, but the concept could be adapted for us.

        I’m solely on #teamMac, but damn…it was a nice machine.

        BTW for a desktop, having a network port is nice…I keep an Ethernet dongle on my MacBook at work. So much quicker than sending over huge files in the air…I wish mine had it IN the box like every other mac I’ve ever owned.

        If I had the money, I’d get my artist girlfriend a surface studio…but then again, I think she likes paper and pen more than glass anyways.

  • Jae

    fit the bill perfectly for me. can’t wait for it to ship. Actually hoping the Touch Bar is pre-configured for Logic (since they said its pre-configured for Garage Band out the box)

    • pinta_vodki

      Yeah, Garageband just got an upgrade. Since it’s the same team, Logic should follow soon.

  • alamilla

    What a well written article Peter.
    I have been championing many of your sentiments for a couple years now and its great to hear that I’m not alone.

    I have to agree that their vision for the professional market seems murky at best.
    The only thing innovative they introduced was Thunderbolt 3 – which hopefully will at least lead to more widespread adoption in future audio interfaces.

    I sold my MBP this year and bought an XPS 15 which integrates beautifully with software such as BitWig.
    Edge to edge 4k touch display, Thunderbolt 3 + legacy ports with upgraded 2 TB SSD, 512Gb NVME SSD, MU-MIMO 802.11ad and 32Gb of RAM.
    Options that are still beyond the scope of the current Apple product line-up and at a fraction of the cost!

    • alamilla

      On the subject of innovative touch interfaces, I’ve just downloaded a demo of Yeco for Ableton and it’s probably the best implementation of touch control I’ve seen thus far for DAWs outside of BitWig.
      Very impressive for those who haven’t discovered it yet!

      • Óskar Sigurðsson

        Nice man, good looking out thanks!

  • wuzzle

    The real problem I have with the new machines is the lack of memory expansion past 16 gig. For a supposed Pro machine, this is pretty limiting when they’re showing it running Maya.

    • Paul

      Totally agree.

    • Migari

      I feel that’s a problem for a very small number of producers, but I don’t see how hard it could be to offer 32gb either. Why does it have to be so overpriced?

  • And Apple struggle through another year to try and get into profit. I do hope they work some magic soon start and generating some sales by making products people want otherwise they will run out of cash.

    • Migari

      You obviously haven’t read the latest fiscal report. Apple shipped 4.9 million Macs last quarter. Of their whole operation they made $11.100.000.000 in net profits, In one quarter.

      According to Cnet https://www.cnet.com/special-reports/does-the-mac-still-matter/ 11% of that is from Macs. That would mean that Apple makes more than $1.000.000.000 in net profits just from Macs. Again, per quarter.

      That’s with old hardware!

      • Yeah, profit is definitely not Apple’s problem…

      • Tom Lowe

        it’s called sarcasm!

        • Migari

          Sarcasm on the internet is like winking on the phone.

  • Matt Hand

    So frustrating… So expensive. What’s kind of funny is that you can’t even plug in an IPHONE OR AN IPAD!!! Seriously considering switching to a Windows machine…

    • JonYo

      You could use one of these:
      http://www.apple.com/shop/product/MK0X2AM/A/usb-c-to-lightning-cable-1-m
      Or using the old USB to lightning cables that come with the iphones and pads, you could ue one of these:
      http://www.apple.com/shop/product/MJ1M2AM/A/usb-c-to-usb-adapter

      But out of the box, yeah, gotta buy some adapter or another, no fun. I chalk it up to just the out of sync-ness between the i-devices and the macs. If everything were a bit more in sync, new iPhones would come with a USB-C to lightning cable in the box. But, the computers that will be connected to a newly purchased iPhone today vary a lot in available ports, so it’s not time to do that yet I guess.

      • Matt Hand

        Yeah, that’s what I mean.I just got an iPhone 7, and it came with a USB cable. So dumb

  • I’m on board with the concern for Apple’s vision of the Mac, but I don’t get the hate for the Touch Bar. It replaces something that was less than ideal (function keys with opaque functionality) with something that uses the same space to do the same thing (at worst) or provide obvious application-specific functionality. I don’t think it’s a revolution, but I absolutely think it’s a positive addition.

    Audio on Windows still isn’t great and I don’t get where you’re seeing Microsoft put effort towards making it better. I was actually quite disappointed by the lack of any bones thrown towards pro audio users at Microsoft’s event yesterday. I’m similarly annoyed by Apple acting like Logic doesn’t exist today.

    • I’m concerned that it’s a UX nightmare – because of no consistent way to use it.

      But of course, if this had happened without additional context, it’d be slightly unfair to rail against it. The problem is, contrasting the Touch Bar with the extensive set of ideas about how 3D and touch would integrate with OS, apps, mobile, and hardware we saw yesterday from Microsoft.

      And it’s the fact that Apple imagines this is the historic development that marks the 25th anniversary of their laptop offerings … all the while offering machines that are more expensive, less powerful, and less configurable than the competition, even as that competition has closed the gap on industrial design.

      Against that backdrop, having the Touch Bar be the thing we’re shown as a selling point is frustrating.

      As I said, pros want to be buying machines with lots of storage and performance and using big, expressive interfaces. And this is emblematic of a company that’s going the opposite way from at least this circle of customers.

      • Paul s

        there’s not really any consistent way to use any touch screen device, no? one can use apple’s iOS API’s for “standard” menus and such, but custom everything is also available, as seen with most games and music apps.

      • blacktrope

        I read your article yesterday evening and felt some relief, that there are other people who felt the same. It is unbelievable how much they lost touch. Your are completely right, how could this happen under the banner of ‘hello again’. I still don’t get it and it feel as if they pissed on their own legacy. It is such an irony that all their ads need a pc to create, still avoiding nvidia, still not having a clue what is needed among content creators and this after all the noise on the internet. It is so telling that they don’t listen. The most ridiculous, innovations of the past, like MagSafe, gone. Haha. A joke. D-D-D-D-DDDD-DJ

    • wuzzle

      They had one shot of Bitwig in one of the videos at the MS event 🙂

      • Chucky

        Oh, Bitwig… the software which looks cool on the surface but it’s completely broken in the audio department. Quite an irony, isn’t it?

    • DPrty

      I don’t know where you get the idea that audio isn’t great on window’s. Plenty of great albums are written on windows. I have seen many people drop Metric Halo because they don’t make windows drivers and there are plenty of examples where windows excels at audio production. Just look at the price and amount of ram you can put in a windows box for one. Also I just tried a Hackintosh ..dual boot so your choice of OS and way upgradable, Logic ran great on it.

    • robleks

      Actually, audio has finally become pretty great in Windows 10. Bitwig takes advantage of this (Ableton does not).

  • I would have hoped for the return of the cheese grater.
    A completely configurable cheese grater with the ability to add multiple hard drives, tons of ram, fast cpu at a good reasonable price point.
    I feel that that’s the kind of machine many audio pros would really want.

    At the moment there is no need for me to upgrade, but there is a real gap in their portfolio exactly where I would be tempted to buy…

    • I think it’s safe to say the Mac Pro is dead. I don’t understand why it’s still on the Mac site after today’s launch.

      • I think that iMac and Mac Pro will get their “fair share” in the next event.

        • yehuda92

          People said the same thing last year…

        • “fair share” = no mention.

      • Never say never…

      • Clif Marsiglio

        Build your own Mac Pro…I have a Hackintosh for my studio and it wasn’t hard to do. However, I still get more use out of my portables.

        That said, I built it from the remains of a cheese grater (I wish there was a kit to get everything to align!) so that I could follow the letter of the license and claim it’s just an upgraded Mac!

        • The thing with those Hackintoshes is that they can be a pain if some OS update shuts them off. I am not a computer geek, nor do I have enough time to spend it on maintaining a difficult computer. I’ve got customers who would rightfully kill me if we missed a deadline due to a hacked computer malfunctioning. The worst thing is that I remember thinking “what if Apple abandos the pro market in the future” when I switched to Apple with the first Intel machines. Oh, they annoy me.

          • Clif Marsiglio

            I have a few things I’d admit with my Hackintosh. First of all, it is firewalled to the point of not being accessible outside of my home network. Second of all, I have it Ghost’d so that if there is trouble, I can reinstall immediately. I have a second drive inside powered off with the image. And third, I RARELY update it.

            It works. It is my heavy lifting machine. It is the machine I go to when I need far more power than my laptops will give (or i I need more than 4 inputs!)

            It is rare these days that I do professional work in the creative world, but when I have…it has been my go-to machine. It isn’t an every day machine, but then again, my low end 4-year old MacBook can do what I need for every day sort of work anyways. Then again, so can my iPad Pro. I have far more trouble with my work PC that a team of professionals administer than I do my personal hackintosh that is woefully out of date.

          • FabriciusRex

            All this trouble…. Are you using mac-only software? Why not build a powerfull windows pc and be done with it?

      • IMHO, the Mac Pro was dead from day one…

    • misksound

      I want an updated cheese grater so bad after seeing these new MBPs! I’m still running everything I need on a 13 inch macbook pro from 2012 after upgrading to 16GB of RAM and a decent SSD.

      Apple’s new hardware announcement today, combined with the microsoft surface studio reveal really has me considering how much I care about “macOS” anymore. Think it’s time to build a studio beast and join the PC Master Race.

      I had always hoped Apple wouldn’t die with steve jobs, but unless they get back to that innovation they’ve always done best, they’re gonna turn into nothing more than an over priced phone manufacturer.

    • Migari

      Cheese graters are dead. Get over it.

      That Apple have (seemingly) abandoned the Mac Pro is scandalous though.

    • Vecchiarelli

      I agree about the gap. What I’d like is for Apple to offer a box with iMac specs but without the screen. Perhaps a Mac Mini Pro? I can’t justify spending the money on a Mac Pro and a Mac Mini is underpowered. Running two 27″ Thunderbolt displays from my MacBook Pro isn’t ideal.

  • The accessibility video was a great start. It made me think “we are in for a treat today”. So was the build up with the references to the past, but they built to a very shallow and, perhaps, the most depressing Apple keynote EVER (I literally watched them all). It didn’t bring “nothing” to the table.

    Although I do agree with your thoughts Peter, to be fair to Apple, I always welcome the finest hardware engineering Apple puts into their products (that everybody will follow and copy pronto). The new MacBook Pro’s are a good refreshment, at the end of the day. And that’s probably it. I share your thoughts, once again, on the Touch Bar, fully. Even Microsoft is innovating more on the interfaces. However, I liked the way Photoshop used it already. Perhaps there’s room for improvement and good can come with it. Certainly not DJ-ing. How sad that was!!!

    One last good comment about hardware: to be honest, I think that Thunderbolt 3/USB-C will become the new (and probably only) port we’ll need in the future. It’s blazing fast, universal and very versatile. I welcome that, even though in a period of transition I’d need shitloads of adapters.

    As for the general direction, let’s hope that Apple will change (or revert back, rather). I find it’s falling down a very bad spiral of lavish rhetoric, with abundance of adjectives and lack of truly amazing ideas. I look forward to the day when I can finally exclaim again “just like mamma used to make!”. I truly hope that that will happen soon enough. A few years ago, I made a choice to switch to Apple and the vendorS tie in is so tight that it would be pretty hard to switch to something else. Not to mention the literally thousands and thousands of € I spent over the years, in hardware, software, apps, music et al. If you are asking yourselves: I neither crack nor pirate, hence the hefty amount to get my setup. Am I broke? Horribly yes.

    Otherwise, if Apple will prove less “Apple” in the years to come, without a U-Turn to its magic, (and since I don’t see Windows in my future, ever), I’d rather go back to Linux. Even if that will probably mean that I’d have to ditch everything so far in the bin and switch to Bitwig (or go back to Renoise). As if a black hole hate years of saving, time, energy and resources. Just like that.

  • sacredgeometry

    To be fair I, as a person that uses a computer for nearly ever applicable use from, software development through to 3D animation to data analysis etc

    Was excited to see the practical applications for this and I look forward to using it in the software I write. Saying that there is a layer of abstraction (not sure that is really what you meant) because they have to look at two screens is completely missing the point.

    Its an additional screen. You dont have to look at two its just giving you anther type of input device and that cant be a bad thing. Personally I would have preferred them to keep the fn keys and to just make the track pad a touch screen device instead. The size would have made it more interesting.

    All this said as a professional (software developer at the moment.) the thing that worries me most is the new keyboard.

    Other than that I am a little sad that the shiny apple logo that seemed ubiquitous is now apparently missing.

    • Freeks

      If you really use computer that much then u use external keyboard and screen like rest of us. Most have either lid closed or laptop raised to a stand. It’s very rare to see anyone use laptop keyboard in office.

      I can see the benefit when using laptop on lap.

  • undgnd-tv

    It seems Jony Ive is too busy designing one-off Christmas trees to care about the Mac range any more.
    http://www.macrumors.com/2016/10/26/jony-ives-next-one-of-a-kind-design-project-is-a-christmas-tree/

    The new Microsoft Surface Studio is leaving Apple way behind.
    Even Dell’s offering from 2015, the XPS15 9550 i7 1TBSSD 32GBRAM kicks the MBP’s ass – not to mention the fact you can get one from the Dell outlet occasionally for about £1600!

    • lostmonster

      windows machines are doorstops until they provide a more comprehensive toolset. right now, they still dont.

  • Andy Deitrich

    The Touch Bar is useless if you dock your laptop and use an external keyboard! Weird.

    • Paul s

      yes, already i’m looking forward to the next iMac release, assuming that it will have an external keyboard also with touch bar that anyone can buy. will be missing my cherry clears tho 🙁

    • lostmonster

      didnt even think of this. what a waste.

    • MrK

      Especially in clam-shell mode!

    • normm

      External keyboards will soon have a Touch Bar (though they should certainly have offered one with this release).

  • Paul

    Always was a fan of Apple back in the day. I even worked for then for a while. I was hoping to upgrade my 7 year old MBP, but rather unsure. I ditched their phones years ago for android which I much prefer. I have an iPad Pro purely due to the great music apps. Apple stopped caring about creative pros long ago (I’m also an architect). They just sell stuff for the regular meathead now.

    • jef

      I’m also on Android for about 4 years—when I saw the trainwreck that was iOS 7—and prefer it. As a designer and musician I’ve seriously considered a PC or Surface Book but Logic has me sticking around for the time being. Maybe Ableton is in the future.

  • Ashley Scott

    I, for one welcome our new USB-C/TB3 overlords. Looking forward to buying a freaking $200 dock just to plug in a flashdrive.

  • fredandlunchbox

    You know what would have been compelling? If every key had a screen on the top. It’s time to do away with obscure shortcuts like Cmd+Shift+T, and instead when you press command and shift, the T key changes to say, “New Private Tab.” That would be compelling. That would be forward thinking. That’s the integration I want to see.

  • Dubby Labby

    Pro is for prosumers not for Die Hards Professionals anymore, get over it…

    As for Touchbar is implementing iOS inside macOS line so it’s a middlestep nothing else. Extralarge touchpad points in the same direction.

    They are getting ready the floor for ARM transition to push iOS users to new levels meanwhile macOS users claim for an iPad pro with macOS until collide into the same machine: hybrid (well this macbook pro is very very near)

    About 3D, gaming and so… look to Nintendo and Metal Api. 3D gaming machine for Apple is Atv not a x86. Apple is just waiting their moment after Nintendo Nx and Sony Vr to stole all the good ideas, ditche the bads and revamp as “amazing new” as usual.

    If you still live in x86 platform as Pro, Apple is not the right platform anymore. They finantial numbers are going down and it’s not “forgetting mac” issue, it’s more related to shift into prosumerism and crossing lines (between old paradigm and new). Microsoft try and try but they need better planification and pedagogy in marketing. The usually present which Apple reinvent (surface vs ipad pro) and numbers are numbers.

    Last words: Expect an iOS update which all missing features (or replacement) from macOS appear into iPad pro world. The technology is ready, the ARM macbook air is more than tested… so it’s a matter of time they merge.

    Take some perspective and think about it makes sense or not. Hint: the djay performance was the most celebrated even it was the less accurate. Did you see it from the “general public” pov?
    Think different? “Think as us” will better slogan for this new Apple era…

    • Speaking of hybrid: This time, Microsoft is actually that step ahead with their new Surface.

      • lostmonster

        cant carry it around. id love to have it, but it would end up more of a toy than anything. mind you, i have very explicit demands as a professional UX dude (lots of gray squares) but i can get everything creative i want to do all on a mac.

        idk, its GREAT for a select few, but i think ultimately professional creatives are still equally torn.

        • Raz

          You know they sell Surface tablets and laptop convertibles too right?

          • lostmonster

            right, but it’s windows software. no thank you.

  • JonYo

    The touch strip thingy, I guess it’s ok. It feels a bit like Apple’s way to NOT giving us a touch-screen laptop, but trying to appease people that think laptops should all go that way. I’m not a fan of the convertible fold the thing all the way around laptops, and touch screen laptops that are sitting up in the laptop-standard way are an ergonomic problem for me. Reaching far and fiddling with poking the screen is a recipe for bad repetitive stress problems, for me at least, not to mention poking it from afar like that will be much less precise compared to when you’re holding an ipad.

    I do like to poke buttons without having to look at them, and If I can’t quickly do an up/down volume and that sort of thing without looking away from what I’m doing on the screen, then that’s a negative in my book. I’ll hold back full judgment until I try it though, maybe you can touch the volume up/down spot easily without looking? I’m guessing not since the buttons will change as I switch from this app to that app. So, don’t know, but I’m not optimistic about that aspect of usability.

    As for the rest, noooo one can be surprised about the lack of RAM/storage upgradeability, since it’s been going that way for a long time. I don’t like it and I’d gladly have the thing be thicker and heavier to make it upgradeable, but I’ve given up on that changing and stopped worrying about it a few years ago. 4 TB3 ports in the form of USB-C and no other ports, I’m fine with it. In about 2 years everything you buy new peripheral-wise will be that, and you won’t even think about it anymore.

    My current 2012 non-retina 15″ MPB (bought it when retinas first came out specifically because I knew it would be the last HD-upgradeable MBP and I didn’t care about retina) is getting along fine with it’s 3rd-party SSD (samsung 850 pro 1TB, fast as you can hope for with the sata bus you’re stuck with on this model), buuuuuuuut, it might be time to upgrade. Maybe. Not sure. If I do, I STILL don’t get why they price the storage bumps so insanely. No, I don’t want 256 GB, duh, I want the 1TB. 1TB should be standard, then pay more for 2TB. So, if I go for it, it’ll be base model 15″ MBP as far as CPU and GPU, just with the storage bumped to 1TB.

    First thing I’ll do if I get one, turn off the automatically store my stuff in the cloud thing. No thanks, I want my stuff local, always. And I’ll back up to my own HW as well. I’m only going to use cloud stuff for secondary backup and the basic sync stuff, contacts/address book/etc, NEVER for whatever I’m working on, which are usually huge files, as I’m not going to depend on always being on a fast net connection.

    Bigger picture, is it a step back? Ignoring the touch-strip, it’s hardly more than a spec bump. So, it’s more a standing still than a step back to me. I’d say it’s not as cutting edge performance-wise as it SHOULD be, nor is it upgradeable as I’d LIKE it to be, so yeah, not much innovation this time around. It’ll take quite a few more generations of disappointing HW updates that don’t keep up with the non-mac world for me to consider switching away from macOS though, I’m too invested in the OS and mac software titles to jump ship easily.

  • Renaud

    Wow, what a bitter rant. Someone needs a holiday ?
    You know how it goes : typical launch day “this time Apple has really lost it” article, then 1-2 years later, when controversial UX feature has become second nature and is beautifully embraced by all sorts of software and it’s obvious Apple made the right call, that’s when you hope nobody dives too far into your blog history…

    • Dan Murps

      My thoughts exactly. A CDM iPad launch rant springs to mind.

      • Jae

        I was just thinking about that rant.

    • albeesure

      exactly. Skate to the where the puck will be…

    • Philip La Vere

      The touch strip will become second nature? In a world where the full touch screen will shortly be ubiquitous, and unique software interfacing for that little stwip will be a waste of time and money? There’s a gimmick that will go down in history as one of the dumbest things trotted out in an attempt to make people covet a ‘new feature’, or risk looking dated. Can’t wait to chuckle at the first person I see in a Starbucks trying to show one off…

      • vi4m

        No.

  • WestCoastBias79

    This is what happens when a finance guy takes over a tech company and turns it basically into an investment bank that has a technology arm. This cycle is nothing new when the founders and innovators are replaced by the B-School brigade who came up through the sales and finance divisions. Stock price and buybacks trump R&D investment, they rest on their laurels, and the decline begins. It happened to IBM, HP, Digital, Microsoft, and in our little world it happened to Avid, just to name a few examples.

    Microsoft puts an engineer in charge, and all of the sudden they’re innovating again.

    • Gesslr Gesslr

      YOU ARE SO SPOT ON RIGHT ABOUT THIS! Even Jobs said as much years ago when talking about the evolution of MS.

      • dadada

        But who put Tim Cook in place ? Yep, it was Steve Jobs himself

        • Gesslr Gesslr

          Yep. I think Jobs found himself caught short and making the best of the situation. He probably did not believe he was not going to somehow beat the odds. By the time he accepted it, there was no time to do anything different. All speculation obviously.

    • Elekb

      Quite so.

      Not the only reason Microsoft bounced back, but I’m sure having an engineer CEO has helped them to see the bigger picture and plan beyond short term profit.
      Now if only they’d ditch the forced updates and privacy invasion…

      As for IBM, these days it is more of a consulting company than actually a tech company. And it’s all down to shady investors who want quick bucks and have absolutely zero interest in R&D or useful technological breakthroughs.

      There are reasons for these companies losing their status and edge so quickly.
      IBM and Microsoft are perfect examples of what might happen to Apple in a few years’ time.

      Basically, hype kills.

    • albeesure

      I cant believe any of you guys owned a mac prior to having an iphone!
      The company everyone keeps thinking has lost its way is no different to how its always been. I remember G4 and G5 releases with barely a spec bump and still costing tons of money.
      I remember OS X being buggy and unusable for years after release (now everyone expects every software release to be perfect on day one).
      I remember the Mac for years running way below the speed of a $500 dollar pc but costing three times as much.
      ALL UNDER STEVE JOBS.

      Apple have gone for years without innovating or changing lots of their products. In fact, they are a pretty conservative company. They have always been ruthless with anything that deem isn’t working for them or isn’t being used by a large majority of customers. If you dont understand the port changes to usb c or whatever it is, its not that Apple have changed, its just that you dont understand Apple or never knew what the company was about.

      • Raz

        To be fair to them, Apple was hugely hamstrung by IBM and Motorola being very slow to advance the PowerPC processors at the time, both in terms of performance and power usage (I remember all the speculation about the PowerBook G5 that never came to be). Apple was still a lot more innovative both in terms of hardware design and features back then and at least produced annual hardware updates. Now we’re actually lucky if major product lines get updated yearly.

      • Yermom

        Steve Jobs would’ve never had two touch interfaces, two screens, would’ve never ditched the headphone jack, and if he did, he’d have made sure there was a lightning port on the brand new Macbook Pro so that at least you could use the same headphones. Apple’s high water mark in engineering is a pre-Retina Macbook Pro with an optical drive or second SSD, depending on how you hack it, and 2 easily accessible memory slots, user serviceable hard drive, and fairly easily replaceable battery. User serviceability used to look like the price you paid for form factor innovation. Now, as the Apple design and product teams chase their tail over shit like this and create a nest of wires and adaptors that flies in the face of the “It Just Works” ads from the early 2000s, it isn’t simply that things are cyclical. It’s that, while the products delivered had some quirks, they didn’t outwardly scream “here be bad design decisions” quite like they do now. How old is Thunderbolt and how much was it pushed by Apple? Yeah, not a single thunderbolt port or adapter in the box for a brand new Macbook Pro.

        • albeesure

          They haven’t got two touch interfaces. They have a replacement for a section of the keyboard that not many people use. What’s the big deal? It’s the same as all those volume control sections on those old of laptops form years ago except this is dynamic. We are seeing touch strips on audio gear all the time (Ableton push, traktor etc..)

          And your talking about the same Steve jobs who spent years changing the screws on iPods to stop people changing the hard drives!!

          The same Steve jobs who removed the cd rom drive from the MacBook Air and sold a separate drive or made you link to some other drive on your main mac. And you think some USB-c dongle is awkward?

          We have audio professionals who think nothing of patching modular cables, patchbays and wires all over the studio yet are freaking out over some adaptors!

          The machine has 4 thunderbolt 3 ports. 4!!! You can drive anything from those potentially and will be future proof for the next 10yrs. Which will safeguard your purchase for ever.

          People just like to moan before they’ve even used anything. Always saying Steve this, steve that. When the reality is Cook had been practically ruining the company through ALL THE SUCCESS. All the growth of apple has had cook practically running the show. Steve was half dead for ages.

          But people have short memories and remember what they want to remember. But apple haven’t really changed at all. Same high prices. Same incremental updates. Same under powered machines. Same dongles. Same changing of ports.

          That’s apple..

      • WestCoastBias79

        I made the switch to Apple when Jaguar came out. I started in electronic music in the late 90’s, and Windows 98 and XP (we’ll ignore that ME existed) was better than OS9 for production in my opinion. On OS9, you still had to deal with extensions, OMS for MIDI, and a bunch of other crap that was no better than Windows. However, with OSX, specifically 10.2.5 when it was sorted, all that went away. I knew I was getting a technically slower computer than I could build with a PC, but it simply worked. My first Mirror Door Dual G4 was not only slow, but it sounded like a B-29 taking off, yet OSX was so superior and so much more stable, with sorted connectivity, it was worth it. Agreed that it wasn’t always roses, but if you followed the rules by not updating until your peripherals and software gave you the green light, and it was usually in the order of weeks until that happened, you had a rock solid system.

        That’s no longer the case. Not only are you now paying out the behind for a non expandable slower machine, you don’t even get a stable OS for audio anymore, and updates take months. I’ve found myself doing what I used to do with my studio PC’s of basically freezing them in time and not letting them see the internet once I have them working. I’m still on Mavericks because of all the horror I’ve seen friends and colleagues go through when they updated. I look at the Surface Studio the way I used to look at Macs.

        • alvareo

          I must’ve missed something, what happened with audio in macOS?

          • Elekb

            Nothing catastrophic, but there have been stability issues since macOS 10.9, which got worse with 10.11. – audio dropouts, driver issues and even occasional system crashes. Although still not very common, these kinds of issues are now a reality, while they used to be very rare with previous versions of macOS.

          • alvareo

            I had no idea. That’s sad to hear, I always heard how good Macs were for audio just out-of-the-box. Does Windows not have these issues or is it worse?

          • Elekb

            The way I see it, they still are excellent out-of-the box, better than most Windows or Linux based PC’s – *IF* your third party device manufacturers have managed to create drivers that don’t clash with the latest macOS update that just came out 5 minutes ago.

            The thing is there were very little driver issues with macOS and system crashes just 4 or 5 years ago, and now they’ve multiplied – plus Apple is not very transparent when it comes to resolving driver / software issues, and usually throw the ball back to third party manufacturers / software houses.

            Windows always had stability issues, particularly as far as drivers are concerned (Core Audio still beats ASIO), but since Windows 7 it’s gotten much better performance-wise and I’ve had a lot less crashes.

            I use both systems and the performance / stability gap between macOS and Windows is nowadays much smaller.
            5 years ago, if you wanted to play live music with a computer, I’d say go for Apple. Nowadays, I also don’t hesitate to recommend a high-end Sony Vaio, Toshiba or Asus machine, if you’re not willing to shell out 2500$ plus for a Mac.

      • JohnDoey

        No, this is wrong.

        From 2001–2010 (10 years) you got PowerBook G4 (prototype of all 21st century notebooks,) Mac OS X, first 64-bit PC in 2003, iPod, Intel Macs, iPhone, iPad. And even though Mac OS had stagnated in the 1990’s, you could install a 6–12 month old version of Mac OS X during the 2000’s and have the most stable PC in the world. Macs were updated every 8 months like clockwork. And that was during a time that we called “the comeback.”

        From 2011–2016 (5 years) Apple was the richest and most famous company in the world and we got Apple Pencil that works with some iPads and no Macs, an Apple Watch that even its biggest fans will tell you shipped way too early and way too complicated, they fired the software chief and put a coat of paint on all the software and destroyed usability, and the software now comes so fast that there is never a stable version. Macs go years without updates. There is no tablet Mac, no configurable pro notebook, and the Mac Pro is a mysterious joke. MacBook Pro (2010) continued to outsell MacBook Pro (2012) for *years* after the latter shipped.

        The $500 PC was never a match for the $1000 Mac in the 2000’s, and iPad in 2010 murdered the $500 PC. But now we have Touch Bar, which is a $500 component that is inarguably more expensive and less useful than a multitouch screen and Apple Pencil support for a platform where the most popular apps barely use the keyboard and pens have been used for over 20 years.

        In the 2000’s, Apple always saved me money compared to other vendors in my graphic arts business, but today Apple is saying to graphic artists: do not buy a $2000 Microsoft graphics tablet that has a Windows 10 PC in it and just start working with one device in your lap on a plane or anywhere — instead, buy a $1500 Wacom graphics tablet and a $2300 MacBook Pro for a setup that is literally 4x the size and weight and *requires a desk*.

        No, 2001–2010 was not a bug-free or mistake-free Panacea, but to suggest it is the same as now is absurd and wrong.

        • albeesure

          Utter rubbish. You complain about Apple Watch being unusable and launched too early. How about OS X v1 then? Completely unusable for anything for about 2 yrs until 10.2. Even then it had so many things missing. So many issues. Lots of people stayed on OS 9 for ages or used Rosetta.

          In fact it was Apple cutting off support for Rosetta that finally pushed everyone over to OS X. And that is exactly what Apple do and are doing now. Pushing people into the future because all people do is moan about change.

          It’s why google chrome automatically updates. To stop moaners from holding on to the past with every opportunity.

          This situation is exactly the same as all the moral panics over Apple in the last 5 yrs. antenna gate, maps, OS 7, iCloud, headphone jack etc..

          Every single moral out rage blown out of proportion by a minority of users who think their single issue with whatever change it is trumps the majority of silent happy users. It’s rubbish.

          If you seriously think that MS making an all in one windows machine somehow changes what windows actually is and has been for decades, your crazy.

          Only on the net would people complain so hard about a 20 quid dongle on a 2500 machine .. I mean really? And then complain when this company gives you 4 thunderbolt USB C ports that you can DO ANYTHING WITH! And see that as backward? I mean seriously? You want innovation but you want your old comfy slippers as well?

          I can’t wait for all these people so used to macs to go out and buy these huge Alienware beasts with fans that drown out everything. Trying to record songs with their u87’s while it sounds like a planes taking off. Worrying whether the virus scanners kicked in …

          No thanks. I’m staying with Apple. I’ve switche before and it’s just a false economy.

          • TheLogicGateKeeper

            Could not agree with you more. The fact that the Macbook Pro ’16 is even being compared to the Surface Studio is ludicrous. The Surface is a direct competitor to the iMac; and its failed. Its less bang for more buck.

            In 6 months time you will all be dongle free, everything will be shipped with USB C connection and Microsoft will be playing catch up again.

            I’ve just watched the “Beautiful” Surface Studio advert. The first thing that struck me was Microsoft have for some reason made a very big deal about what looks to be a very complicated and fudged together hinge system that i can’t help but feel was copied from the Asus ET2301 that came out 3 years ago… But yeah, innovation.

            I am counting down the days until the first customer takes their Surface back because the hinge has weakened and can no longer support the screen. And a note to the author about one of many flaws in your article, when it comes to Djing, pretty much the whole of Pioneers range of decks and controllers have a touch strip for moving through a song.

            With all due respect to you guys hating on apple at the minute, there is probably a reason Tim Cooke is sat at the helm of Apple and you’re all sat around complaining about a future proofed Macbook.

            If you can’t see where apple is trying to take the Macbook range then more fool you. I have no doubt that there will at some point be a touchscreen iMac, and seperate Apple Displays. However, if you make a Macbook touchscreen; all of a sudden you have a chassis that is going to become redundant and a Macbook that has become an iPad. Apple are clearly warming us into the idea of a full touch screen keyboard first. You never know, at that point they may even do away with the QWERTY keyboard altogether for a responsive keyboard designed to adapt to the customers operating needs and that… just works.

          • Elekb

            “pushing people into the future because all people do is moan about change.”

            Bollocks.

            The new unveiled Apple computers have slower graphics capabilities compared with the competition.

            A completely useless eye candy touchstrip has been added to justify price hikes.

            And the four ports you are ranting about are compatible only with a few Thunderbolt and USB 3.1 devices, which automatically excludes not only most external audio interfaces used by the nerdy audiophile minority , but also many other standard compliant USB devices used by the “happy majority” you refer to – whoever the hell those people may be.

            http://cdm.link/2016/10/the-new-macbook-pro-will-work-with-your-gear-if-you-add-adapters/

            Personally I’m surrounded with people (both audio and video professionals and office workers and gamers) who are not willing to shell out hundreds of dollars/euros/quids for the privilege of using their external devices and phones in overpriced computers constricted by artificial walled gardens.

            This isn’t “progress”. It’s planned obsolescence aimed at forcing users to buy new proprietary technology whose benefits *might* be reaped in the future (I’m still waiting for all those affordable high-speed Thunderbolt / USB 3 devices and audio interfaces and hard drives that were supposedly going to flood the market).

            Also, in case you haven’t noticed – macOS is currently becoming more unstable with each iteration. And many videoa artists and musicians and producers I’ve come in contact with have switched to Windows – which at the moment is mainly plagued with privacy and forced updates issues, but is much more stable than it was in the past, as well as reliable and backwards compatible whenever updates occur – i.e., users are not left out in the cold and are not forced to spend their incomes in equipment they didn’t actually need.

            So yeah, I would not call Apple’s move “pushing things forward”.

  • itchy

    everyone loves to poop all over apple. they have made so much cool stuff. we have def gone a bit spoiled. and that touch bar could def be a cool audio scrubber or ableton track selector , transport, lets not knock it until it moves around the earth a bit

  • Paul s

    “most advanced yet acceptable” – this is what apple does. i don’t think they’ve really ever “disrupted” anything. so… not sure why anyone really expects them to be real innovation leaders.

    they come in with their version of something newish that already exists to capture the “growth” segment of a product life cycle (iPod, watch), or add incremental features to keep any current products from moving into full-on decline. this seems perfectly in line with that strategy.

  • Jim B-Reay

    I’m thinking the touch bar is a pretty elegant solution to having SOME degree of visual feedback and touch control, without having your screen covered with smeary fingerprints. I swear, my iPad is just a mess by the end of the day – and yes it’s fun to reach up and touch a control, but if the context controls are done well, I’ll have a full screen to view and touch control without the smudges.

    I guess I may be the target market here.

    • jacques

      Hi Jim I used to be a “no smudge freak” on my laptops, but I have to admit i got over that… turns out the oleophobic coatings keep it pretty clean, and one swipe with a dry cloth brings it perfectly clean again. I use the active stylus a lot also which leaves no smudges.

  • Jacques

    This research was done last year, shows maybe Apple has a point: “Survey Shows Tim Cook Probably Right About 2-in-1 Apple Hybrids”

    Summary is that “Tim Cook may be right: maybe Apple customers are not really looking for a converged Mac and iPad, but they are clearly interested in buying a hybrid device of some kind….”

    Personally, I don’t see what the problem is with just slapping a beautiful touchscreen on a macbook… if you don’t want to use it, DISABLE IT and you have a normal macbook!

  • tomi

    nobody thinks about a stepseq? a generic midi controller for cc’s? slidable pitchbend while playing notes with the internal keyboard? a jog-dial? two-finger-surround-control?
    a friend of mine owns a toshiba-book which folds to a touchscreen – nice, but a gui thats too tiny even for a 15″ – what should do with it? having ableton on the screen and no extra gear but a multitouch bar is something. and everybody is talking about sd-card slots and memory.
    my macbookPro is 5 years old and still works fine with current music sofware. but sure “i need” a faster machine or otherwise i’m forced to buy windows-crap.

    • Peter Norton

      Nobody is forcing you to buy “Windows Crap”… just continue to use your 10 times more expensive “Apple Crap”…. and be socially accepted. Hahaha

      • lostmonster

        More expensive, and reliable, and more functional*, and etc.

  • mlarh

    wow did peter kirn just write a mildly critical review of a product? nice!! hats off to peter for being brave! more of this

  • ippocardio

    naval gazing – love this expression !
    The new MacBook is not meant to be used for VR or 3D creation – actually I believe that we still are some years away from a decent VR implementation in any platform and MacOS suck on 3D creation.
    It is a light, powerful tool for a specific target group. Web dev, photography, 2D artists, IOS and MacOS programming, video editing, writing, other.
    Touch features on laptops screens suck in general and the touch panel thing is not so interesting either. Overall I like the new laptop, it’s expensive but good tools cost.

    • Lindon Parker

      ” I believe that we still are some years away from a decent VR implementation in any platform”

      Actually…..

      We got a HoloLens at work this week, and yes there is a long list of things that need to get MUCH better in it, BUT…..
      it. is. awesome. Spectacularly good. Its expensive but its technically near ready for consumer purchase. So “years away”? Before Monday i would have agreed with you, now.. not so much.

      • ippocardio

        I choose to view Hololens as a Microsoft experiment that costs £2,700 to play with, not as a platform, but I respect your POV. My POV is that when a similar or better experience will be available in a comfortable form factor, targeting a large demographic, there will be a platform to discuss about. Kind regards.

  • Neil

    Nice pic of the new Cambridge Z88 in the header there.

  • Sleepystevo

    It is navel gazing, not naval gazing (the aquatic version of Trainspotting I’m sure)

    I am sorry to be that person
    :-/

  • TJ

    Waterloo. Ouch.

  • It’s weird Apple is still focussing on their old MacBook Pro concept. Tests have proven that iPhone 7 (iOS) runs javascript faster than any currently available MacBook Pro. Only the iMac 5K is way faster.

    Check https://m.signalvnoise.com/program-to-where-the-performance-puck-is-going-to-be-not-where-it-has-been-2e1c89bac058#.ig1ps5lfm

  • Korhan Erel

    this is exactly why I am working on a performance setup based on an Organelle and an iPad. I am tired of dealing with computers in the traditional sense and particulary with Apple’s annual OS updates that break more things for us than fixing them.

    There is definitely more innovation, flexibility, and tactility in the world of guitar pedals and hardware synths, I think.

  • Simon O Wright

    The worst thing is – any ‘pro’ if they can’t have a desktop would want to have a large screen to work on – and what’s a major thing people do with their laptops when they connect them to a screen?

    Shut the lid. Clamshell them. So the function bar is now useless.

    At least they should have offered the function bar on an external keyboard.

  • lala

    Multilingual quick type on a mac keyboard and people here go booo?

  • Well put Peter !

  • AS

    “If you asked video editors if they wanted to do delicate edits via a tiny, imprecise touch strip on a laptop keyboard, of course they’d tell you you were nuts.”
    I think there’s nothing left to say.

  • Elekb

    ‘Nuff said.

    Not only has Apple given up catering to serious professionals, it is also becoming a sort of phone sales unicorn company.

  • Mark Kunoff

    Once again, you’ve hit the nail on the head Peter.

    A touch *strip*? Really? All this says to me is Apple is purposely holding back to
    increase profit over the long haul.

    I’ve been a mac fanboy for so long now, but have you seen the new Surface Studio? Irony is, the ad for Surface Studio is almost a 1-to-1 copy of Apple’s marketing look and feel. But hey, this is looking really amazing and I might [*shudder*] venture to the dark side.

    Surface Studio promo – https://youtu.be/BzMLA8YIgG0

    • Mark Kunoff

      Sorry – I know were talking about laptops, but c’mon Apple!

    • Migari

      It’s so intentional it’s not even funny.
      Phil Schiller (Apple)
      “We did spend a great deal of time looking at this a number of years ago
      and came to the conclusion that to make the best personal computer, you
      can’t try to turn MacOS into an iPhone,” Schiller said. “Conversely,
      you can’t turn iOS into a Mac…. So each one is best at what they’re
      meant to be — and we take what makes sense to add from each, but without
      fundamentally changing them so they’re compromised.”
      http://bgr.com/2016/10/28/surface-studio-microsoft-apple-imac-touch-ios/

  • pinta_vodki

    Oh, Peter. Fist you bemoan a lack commitment form Apple. Then they make an event where they said a hundred times they’re making machines for film, photo and audio professionals (with corresponding demos even), and you’re still grumpy.

    As for the Touch Bar – it’s contextual interface, like iPhone or iPad. And there’s Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines for it, so at least some consistency is guaranteed. Personally I see lots of potential here: using it for quick fader adjustments in DAWs; as a continuous pitch strip; colour selection in Photoshop demo seemed very nice. Heck, even if you think that DJ on stage seemed laughable, drumming on a touchscreen is much more intuitive and lag-free than doing the same on a keyboard. If you’re on the go and without any peripherals, that thing is gonna be HUGE help.

    • bonch

      The HIG is short and simply issues a few guidelines for the kinds of buttons to put there, but the fundamental problems with the touch bar remain. It seems silly to pursue this as a touch input solution when we already have iPhones and iPads that could function as better secondary input devices.

      • lostmonster

        some dont want to purchase a $200 peripheral to move sliders easier.

        • bonch

          But they’ll buy a more expensive Macbook Pro?

          • lostmonster

            that’s my criticism of your claim – professionals you’re talking about wouldn’t think of purchasing an ipad as a tertiary interface for their workstation. they expect comprehensive usability within one system.

            addons and such are great, but that purchase is in addition to other features, not touchbar features alone.

            but you might be right tbh – im a UX person and im considering purchasing an ipad mini for a.) reading stuff and b.) quadro.me

          • lostmonster

            i may have just disproved my own case 😛

  • Brandon Briones

    “It was really hard for me to watch Apple’s “Hello Again” event today.” — LOL

    A bit of a drama bomb with this article … are you short selling AAPL? There is 1 single artist in the electronic community I have seen use a surface.. and he uses it with a Macbook still .. what is going on in this article? Laptops are not tablets.. Apple has continued to refine its laptop line up with even more high speed interconnects. That is the story here. Mac’s are outfitted with NVMe based storage and more high speed interconnects than anything else on market in a laptop form factor. This is critical for digital media production. Apple still continues to lead the market by looking forward not backwards. Apple understands what will be needed to acquire, store and edit the data of the future.. and you are chiding them because they do not offer a fourth way to hook up an iPad to an Macbook?!?!??!

  • Taylor

    It seems hard to deny that the discoverable and contextual Touch Bar is an improvement over function keys.

    • True. But Peter’s point about user experience issues to be expected isn’t far stretched either. I work in software development and have seen so much UX crap like you wouldn’t believe. And here, if not done right (which I believe is very easy to achieve, unfortunately) it could easily do more harm than benefit. Sure, the odd emoji or iTunes start/stop buttons, flipping through photos in – well – Photos etc. is a no brainer. But integrating it in a really useful, non-disruptive way in “pro” applications takes *a lot* more effort to do properly.

  • Funny, how things changed since your last major write up about the MBP:
    http://cdm.link/2014/08/apple-macbook-refresh-makes-13-retina-great-sweet-spot-music/

  • I’m still rocking’ my 2011 macbook Pro 15”.
    I’m not having problems or anything and it still seems brand new but I would like to upgrade at some point soon. But I have no interest in the whole touch strip thing. I find it gimmicky and agree with the author when he says its a solution looking for a problem.
    It’s just stupid and point;ess. Like, stick a tiny touchscreen on just because we can and for no real reason.

  • albeesure

    I dont know why its so hard to understand where Apple are going.
    There manifesto is simply:
    1. Tweaking and under the hood changes are bad for users
    2. Cables are bad
    3. Moving parts are bad
    4. Unique configuration is bad

    In that way, Apple has always been “anti-pro”, if you think as “pro” being all of the above.

    The reason Apple has been considered by Pro’s historically is not because they position themselves as a company for pro’s, rather that pro’s realise that they make the best products because of the above manifesto!

    So pro’s have ran to Apple to save them from PC hell.
    PC’s jack of all trades, configure to you die approach is what makes them bad for pro’s in the long run. It leads to lower rates of innovation and change, more crashes, incompatible hardware issues, viruses.. etc.. because the pc approach is to keep everything around from decades ago to support 1 or 2 use cases. Thats why IT departments love Microsoft, but no one else really does.

    If you are thinking about where the puck will be, the reason for the lack or ports in both the cheaper Macbook and the new usb-c direction is that, realistically, in 5 yrs time, should any peripheral be connected directly to your machine?

    We have bluetooth midi, blu tooth with w1 chips (which I hope are low latency or are getting there). Wifi etc.. why are we plugging anything in? We have cloud storage, in some countries we have upload speeds that are so fast your main hard disk might as well be in the cloud!

    Intel chips aren’t getting that much more powerful so what everyone is working on is offloading the jobs on a machine to the cloud to run jobs in parallel and speed things up that way. All of this means that the form factor of a laptop needs less connection, better intuitive inputs (i.e. touch bar, touch pad), be lighter, quieter etc.. which is what we have with this new laptop.

    Apple are also working on continuity, or the continuous client. The idea that its what your working on thats important not the device. So I open a document on my phone and then on my macbook I should be able to continue editing that document with all the extra input facilities I get with my laptop etc..
    All that means consistency and standardisation in what resources the document has access to. So having your track refer to a USB drive for drum samples plugged into your laptop is not a great idea when you want to view that file on your ipad. Hence why they want you to use the cloud for all data so that you files are viewable and editable anywhere from any device. Apple are PUSHING this move deliberately because they believe its is the utopia. But “pro” people want to turn Apple into Microsoft and hold that move back. Its just all backwards thinking really.

    I don’t think Apple is changing. I just think you have misunderstood the company you have followed. You have never understood their reason for doing things, and its always been the same reasons. Even under Steve Jobs. Cook isn’t much different.

  • rodrigocayo

    The light bulb has been created only once and i don’t know why people are mortified to see another innovation. Major innovations take a long time and doesn’t happens so often.

  • lala

    Haha, the longer I think about this I get a feeling Peter is living to long in Germany now.
    The German approach is I don’t need that,
    The American approach is what can I do with it.
    My 2 cents

    • My approach is “What can I do with that Surface Studio?”
      😉

      Looks more fun than the Touch Bar.

  • Frikandel_Kroket

    I’m no so sure Apple isn’t on to something here, or edging toward something.

    The mouse and QWERTY keyboard are aging as input devices. I still prefer the mouse, but a lot of people swear by their track pads – particularly Apple’s with multi-touch.

    Up until now, every software developer has forced their User Interface into QWERTY/Mouse/Trackpad format. We wind up with shift click, right click, click and drag, ctrl+X, Shift+Alt+X, etc. The result is it takes time and effort to learn short cuts and hot keys, key combinations to do basic tasks.

    Now, a touch screen is great when it’s flat on table or at an angle like a drafting table (think Surface Studio), but it’s lousy for straight out in front of you. Now imagine this. Just like the iOS touch screen UI, the input device (or at least the virtual buttons on the graphic user interface) change for the app. We don’t have that with laptops at the moment, only on the iOS devices – iPad Pro being the mother of those.

    Now, on the laptop or a MacBook screen – remove the QWERTY keyboard and track pad and replace it with a touch screen so that software developers can completely customize their input device (at least graphically) for the Application they are developing. That’s pretty drastic change. How quickly could software developers adjust to this change in interface? It would be time consuming no doubt, but the end results could be amazing.

    What’s the first step? Develop the hardware and the API (that’s software speak for how software components should interact – in this case when creating a graphic user interface) to get developers started. Enter the Touch Bar.

    http://core1.staticworld.net/images/article/2016/10/dj-touchbar-100690022-large.jpg

    It’s not a whole bloody keyboard replacement, but here developer’s – this is how you write for the new hardware.

    Now – not everyone loves typing on a touch screen – so Apple recently bought an Australian firm that uses eInk technology to change the labeling of every key on a QWERTY keyboard instantly. Which allows for language changes most obviously – but also for software developers to change the name of keys specifically for their software input needs. https://sonderdesign.com

    http://i13.photobucket.com/albums/a284/pichosterforme/SonderKeyboard.gif

    Now take these two technologies and pair them. And I think you have something very compelling here. Also eInk isn’t the only solution here, it’s probably just very cost effective. A clear QWERTY layout can be backlit with a screen for perhaps greater effect in the right light conditions. We’ll have to wait for 2017-2018 to see how this plays out.

  • Sutjahjo Ngaserin

    Isn’t the #TouchBar a direct copy of the January 2014 #Lenovo #X1Carbon #Adaptive Function Keyboard ?

  • Delta

    Professional music users don’t really need a touch bar. We need high performance at a reasonably fair price. Today we get to pay $500 more for the same relative mobile performance we were purchasing 4 years ago. Software demands increase Apple, remember? Skylake certainly offers a boost, but not enough to change the price profile of the entire MBP lineup. Welcome to the new Apple– an Apple where performance has given way to ‘lifestyle thin’.

    Once upon a time Apple aggressively courted the creative professional segment– which in turn, drew in the average consumer. Now we have an entirely different environment. We have an overpriced consumer lineup burdened by dongles, stale trashcans, and a touchbar (what about my iPad Pro offering expanded functionality here?) being marketed to users wanting ‘the new shiny’. Sadly, most of these people should be working on base tier Macbooks. Coffee shop credibility aside…

    Creative professionals, the people that persevered through the OS9/OSX transition, the painful PowerPC/Intel transition, and the daily limits imposed by consumer-grade hardware are left on the outside looking in. There was a time when profit margin gave way to practicality, to ease of use, and dare I say decisions that took customer loyalty in the name of innovation into account. Apple used to be a lifestyle company with performance chops. How did those gold Apple Watches do for you Apple? Hmm…

    The pricing and features of the new Macbook Pro demonstrate that Apple is almost completely out of touch. Maybe this world exists in the million-dollar yacht segment– but one thing is true. This world is not the reality that working professionals live in.

    In spite of the hardware, the OS is still legitimately useful. Tim Cook, you won’t be seeing another dime from me on the professional computing front. I will use Apple hardware as the commodity that it is– for my iPhone and iPad in much smaller doses…until I settle on more progressive replacements

    In the meantime, Hackintosh, here I come.

  • Sparky Williams

    The most disappointing release of Apple hardware since the Performa line. I’ve been using Macs since the SE and I was ready to pull the trigger on a new MBP. Nope. Not happening. Apple is now located at the intersection of hubris and clueless.

  • Tony Scharf

    Bottom line: Tim Cook has no vision. None. Zero. He’s turning Apple into the next HP. Good luck with that.

  • JohnDoey

    If the MacBook Pro had a touchscreen, couldn’t the Touch Bar be implemented at the bottom of the screen and be *more* ergonomic? You could still reach it without taking your hands off the keyboard, and you would be able to see it better.

    I’m a graphic artist and DJ. I have an iPad, iPhone, and a 2010 MacBook Pro that is basically a desktop computer because it is useless to me without either a graphics tablet or a DJ surface plugged in, all sitting on a desk. So the one feature I want in a new Mac is the iPad Pro -style multitouch screen and Apple Pencil support. That would be like my MacBook Pro disappearing into my graphics tablet — much better than a thinner MacBook Pro. That is what is happening today in graphics, but the Mac is not participating.

    I would love to only use an iPad Pro like a friend of mine does, but the apps I get paid to use all run on the Mac. I talked to those developers and none are coming to iPad Pro from Mac because there is no money in iPad apps.

    I definitely feel insulted by Touch Strip in the way you describe. I have 20 years of pen Mac computing and plugging in MIDI gear to a Mac to get around the lack of touchscreen. To be 10 years into multitouch and still using workarounds!? I hate it. That is why I resolved in 2010 not to buy any more mouse-based systems — to just keep hot-rodding the 2010 Mac until 2013 or 2014 when I thought MacPad would debut. Instead, now in 2017, there is only Surface to go with my iPads. Don’t want to use Windows, but the mouse is even worse and more antique than Windows.

    • Well, as someone who sits in front of a MacPro eight hours a day and goes home to a PC every night, I can tell you are crazy if you’d rather be on Mac. Since we upgraded to Sierra a few months ago, we have all had to change our workflows dramatically to deal with all the things we can no longer do. Meanwhile, with Windows I have made even more drastic changes to my workflow to accommodate all the new and wonderful ways of doing things the last couple of versions of Windows have opened up to me. Windows 10 makes Sierra feel a full generation out of date and I know I could be more productive at work on my dual-core Win10 laptop than I am on my eight-core Xeon MacPro at work.

  • John Billington

    I really love this post and I think you are right about this new batch of laptops and the iPhone 7 launch and the headphone fiasco etc. that apple has lost its way while Microsoft is gaining. I have a macbook at home that I use pretty much exclusively for Ableton but have a new SurfaceBook Pro at work and have grown accustomed to the touch screen. I think Ableton and other DAWs could do a lot with their next generation by supporting a touch interface alternative to the keyboard / mouse / controller inputs they are limited to on a mac. Even beyond Session View there’s a bunch of touch screen functions I would love like Clip view manipulation.

    That said, I’m nervous about moving my DAW workflow to windows because of the traditional flakiness of device inputs and conflicts and sound routing in windows. It’s just always been less reliable and less flexible on a PC than a Mac. My windows laptop is also a bit less stable. I think if Windows can become more reliable and play nicely with more devices more people will be willing to switch.

    • You have nothing to fear. My band has been getting up on stage with nothing but a PC and two MIDI controllers for a more than a decade and we’ve never had any problems. We even took a desktop PC on our world tour in 2005, using whatever monitors we could scrounge for each show. If rehearsals don’t give you total confidence in your equipment, buy something else that does.

  • fredfjohnsen

    God. Back to the  bashing… Got any more insightful reviews of synth cakes & pillows?

  • Freedy Frank

    After 20 YRS with Macs as soon as iFones came out the Mac computers OS is a bloated RAM PIG and Programs have successfully degraded more and more and more into clunky Cryptic Garbage – pages without question. It needs an SSD just to keep up. Even the Finder is now childlike in functionality. The macs here R Now ALL Gone and Replaced with Windows 7 Pro IT is 1000 Times Superior for an optimized non gesturing OS. Windows 7 Pro is EVERYTHING that the Mac OS Wishes It could BE !! U can put folders in app open dialogs and copy Paths – something Mac OS is STILL clueless about – just 4 starters 2 mention a few things. AND U can BUY a USED SFF Quad Core pc Computer with 4 Gigs of RAM for Under $100 BUX which is as fast or faster than anything they sell for $1,500.00 to $6,000.00. AND IF U put Linux into one of those boxes it’s ANOTHER 4 X Faster than any bloated mac os. A Mac hasn’t run that slick since OS 9.2 which they Fully optimized and then completely abandoned. Totally Dumb.