The recent Apple event totally underwhelmed me. As the owner of an aging MacBook Air I was hoping for a “take my goddamn” money product to be launched. Something like the MacBook Air. A retina screen and a decent upgrade would have been enough for me to buy sight unseen. That’s not what we got.
What was released was a laptop with a slightly gimmicky new touch bar and less ports than ever before. They even ditched MagSafe! What was launched was probably the least useable laptop from Apple I’ve seen in a long time.
But is it?
As I’ve scrolled through the alternatives and seriously contemplated switching to Windows, even Linux, I’ve really reflected on how I use my computer. What apps do I use? What features do I need? What do I want from a laptop? Do I need a laptop?
I ditched the desktop PC years ago. Ever since I was no longer required to edit video I’ve been workingon a laptop. Portability trumps everything else. I don’t want or need anything bigger than 13″. I’ve had a 17″ and 15″ MacBook Pros before and at that size they becomes too heavy and cumbersome. I’ve also realised I don’t actually plug much into the laptop. Since getting a retina MacBook Pro I don’t use an external display or keyboard or mouse. Once you get those extra pixels you can’t go back and the all in one simplicity of the well crafted touchpad and keyboard means there’s little reason to add peripherals. The size of the screen doesn’t matter, what matters is no eye strain, no headaches and beautiful crisp images and type. With a decent hub I think I’d be fine for the occasional plugins of SD cards, external hard drives for backup and connect to a projector. Having lived through Apples DisplayPort era I’m used to having a stash of dongles in my laptop bag.
A long time ago Apps mattered a lot, but to be honest the ones I rely on are cross platform, mobile and web based. Apps aren’t going to swing this as much any more.
Web server & Command line
This is where things get tricky. Over the last few years I’ve started to depend on local development for the web and increasingly relying on the power of a unix command line. Need to install an app? Homebrew has you covered. Want to run Ruby or NPN or Vagrant or a whole shit ton of really powerful computing options – it’s easy on a Mac. Copy a command, paste it into the terminal and you’re done. On Windows it’s follow a 12 page document, change the settings in 14 different control panels, sprinkle on some eye of newt and wish on a star and maybe, if the moon is in the right phase it might work. I can’t work like that any more.
I’m no artist
I can’t deny the beauty and appeal of a talented artist making us of the touch interface and stylus of a Microsoft Surface. But lets be honest – I will never produce anything like that. I don’t draw or sketch like that, it doesn’t fit how I work.
One thing that MacOS has over any other rival is simplicity. Despite the complex nature of the device itself, all the living parts and possibilities, Apple have always excelled at keeping the user interaction simple. Having been tech support to my family for sometime I’ve had to try and reason with Windows on many occasions, and it is a stubborn beast. Thing often don’t work, and with no explanation. It’s just a case of “computer says no”. MacOS makes the process of owning and running a computer easy, without sacrificing power and possibilities. Sure there’s an emphasis on aesthetics that can be gimmicky, you may have to surrender some control, but what you have is a highly usable device.
I think I’ve come full circle. Where previously it’s been the hardware that’s made a Mac, my realisations is that it’s actually the OS that matters. The fact that it’s tied so deeply to the hardware is its blessing and curse. I may not be excited about the new MacBooks, but I think I’ll be sticking with them.