Today marks the end of an era for me. I have stopped using Apple computers for my personal computing.
The first computer I ever used was an old Quadra, and I’ve owned a MacBook Pro since I was a freshman in college, 2009 to be exact. I saved up graduation money to by it, it was right after Snow Leopard came out. I used that machine all throughout school, it went through 2 hard drives, a RAM upgrade, a bent screen corner, I put it through hell. MacBook Pros from that era were a tank, before soldered RAM, SSDs, it was amazing.
When I took my first position with my current company, I received a 15″ 2013 MacBook Pro, and that quickly became my main machine, both for work and personal uses. The bigger screen and thinner size were welcome, and I found myself picking up my 2009 MBP less and less, but I was still using OS X daily.
Fast forward to my move to San Francisco, a year later, a departed employee at the company was using a (1st-gen) gold Retina MacBook when he left, and I was left with it upon his departure. It was interesting, I had deployed him this machine when they first came out, so I was familiar with it, but I hadn’t used it for and extended period of time for quite a while. The honeymoon period came to an end very quickly with that machine.
Now that I was taking the bus, walking or biking to work every day, the ability to leave my 15″ MBP at the office, and carry a much smaller machine in my backpack was welcome. But I soon found out that machine wasn’t good for much. I applaud the engineering behind that computer, a layered battery, the force touch trackpad, the butterfly switches in the keyboard, all marvelous engineering, but in my opinion, (at least for keyboard and trackpad) not to nice to use.
The keyboard has no travel, I know that’s the point, but I want to KNOW I’m typing, I’m a touch typist, and I need some sort of feedback from my keys. Feedback that the butterfly switches don’t give me. The trackpad feels like a click, but it’s just a little….off. I prefer the non Force-Touch trackpad on my 2013 MBP to the new trackpads. It seems like Apple’s obsession with thin and light is at a cost. And it is so….slow. I can’t have email and a browser open without it starting to bog down, typing an email I found quickly that my cursor was 10-15 characters behind where I currently was typing. (Now I have not used one, but I have heard that the second gen version of this machine is much better)
My work MacBook Pro is almost 4 years old, it has 8GB of RAM, as Technology Manager, I need a higher spec’d machine, so I waited. WWDC? Nothing (as expected, it’s software not hardware), iPhone event? Bye bye headphone jack. Then this small little event was announced for October, and after touting the adoption rate of iOS 10, some weird backwards Apple TV stuff, (TV app? Why not just make that the main interface?) and looking at Tim Cook’s emails, that is, photos people have emailed him, we got to what I’ve been waiting years for.
And I was bored. Let’s go down the list;
Bigger trackpad? That’s nice, can I use the Apple pencil on it? No? OK, well that’s still neat I guess.
Still has a headphone jack? What was that about “courage” that the iPhone 7 event was all about?
No USB-A Ports? Only 4 Three USB-C shaped Thunderbolt 3 ports? THERE IT IS THERE’S THE COURAGE.
At this point, I’m left trying to figure out what exactly makes this machine a Pro laptop? Apple, did you watch Microsoft’s event the day before? No? That’s right, because Tim Cook is so out of touch with reality that he sees no need to own a computer anymore when you can own an iPad Pro. Right.
I have researchers that use SD cards every day to transfer photos, audio and video, but Phil Schiller says that most new cameras have wireless transfer, so that problem is solved right?
No USB A ports? What happened to “universal”…isn’t that what the U in USB stands for? I understand that the Thunderbolt 3 port is USB-C shaped, but to have no USB A ports? (Not that I think Apple would have left one behind, they’re mostly all or nothing). So now I have an iPhone I can’t plug in, flash drives and external Hard Drives I can’t plug in, nowhere to put a memory card. So all those Thunderbolt 2 adapters I have just became useless, time to drop another $200 on new adapters.
Now. Touchbar. The touchbar is cool, OLED, retina, contextual. I like it. But it’s not what I wanted. I wasn’t surprised when they announced it, it leaked months ago. But all I wanted to walk away from this event with was a 32GB MacBook Pro with a current gen processor. But again, thin and light huh?
So at this point I turned the keynote off, I didn’t care about software demos, use of the touchbar or anything like that, Apple let me down. I like being able to unlock my computer with a fingerprint, but I have an Apple Watch, I already unlock that way. Apple Pay on my laptop? Nice to have, not necessary. I’d already started going downhill with OS X use with the last few announcements, Siri on the Mac? Siri is garbage on the iPhone and iPad, you have fundamental issues to fix before I want her/him on my laptop.
Over the last few months, I have been moving away from the Apple computers I use at the office, and leaving them just for work. I have migrated all personal data off of them, and as I’ve mentioned before, I have a Lenovo N22 and a year or two old Acer Aspire v3. The Lenovo is perfect for travel, and the Acer being 15″, stays home for heavy computing and gaming, the i5, Nvidia 840M and 16GB of RAM do a decent job with the types of games I like to play.
So now that I have my work and play machines, I think I’m set for a while. And I think that the play machines, for the foreseeable future, won’t be Macs. My Lenovo runs Windows 10, and the Acer is a dual boot with Debian and Windows 10, and you know what? I’m ok with that. I never got much into iOS development, but the Python and Front-End work I can do are perfectly acceptable on a PC. And when these machines reach end of life, I think a Surface Pro, or maybe Surface Book are in the cards.
I’m sorry Apple, I stand by my previous statements that you don’t really know who the Mac line is for, nor do you know what to do with it. Raising the price on the Mac Pro & Mac Mini on the European Apple Store website? (I understand prices were raised due to the economic climate, but raising the price on two machines that haven’t seen an update in years?) We also won’t mention that the Mac Pro webpage still touts the performance of Aperture 3, which was discontinued in 2014. I think this touchbar is a step towards the blurring of the line between iOS and MacOS, and that is not something that I want to be a part of, I use(d) MacOS/OS X for a reason, and iOS for another. And while I still use my iPhone, I have little faith in Apple’s vision for the Mac.
My friends have already welcomed me to the basement-dwelling Linux world, and the Windows PC Master Race. We’ll see what the future holds, for now…how do I convince work to buy me a new Surface when the whole office uses Mac?