Many years ago, I had an 11" MacBook Air. The tapered one. Bought it literally on a whim, accepting whatever model the store had available right then and there (4 GB RAM and 128 GB SSD), and took it home, happy as a kid with a shiny new toy.
I loved it, and ended up using it for many years. It went places, because it was so small and light. My best Mac-buddy ever, and that with 30+ years of owning Macs.
Then came the iPad with its Retina display, and I simply couldn’t bear the sight of a 1366x768 pixel screen that much longer. So I eventually switched over to a 15" Macbook Pro. Larger and heavier, but also much more real estate on that gorgeous Retina screen.
That was over 5 years ago. Last year, to help out a friend, I sold that laptop, and decided to get a 13" MacBook Pro with a fancy “Touch Bar”. Not as high-end, a slower CPU, less RAM, and a smaller SSD, because I really don’t need that much performance at my fingertips - there’s always a much faster Linux server somewhere to get heavy-duty stuff done (I use the laptop for software development, not multimedia editing).
The key feature was the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and its seamless integration with 1Password. Same as on the iPad, and this tempation ended up being irresistible.
How I regret this …
Sure, Touch ID is great, really great. But the Touch Bar is a disaster. The escape key is not a key, it’s a spot on the left side of the Touch Bar. There’s no tactile feedback. Even half a year later, I still keep touching it by accident, which generally means it will cancel whatever command I was in the process of typing in. Not only that, but it conditions me to hover above the Touch Bar, which means that every other keyboard becomes a major nuisance - I keep forgetting to actually press DOWN when I want to escape.
If only that were all. The keyboard on this model is a 2nd generation “Butterfly” type keyboard. That means that the key travel is very limited. I’m fine with that, even while touch typing. But these keys are LOUD !!! - It’s not like those old clickety-clack style full-travel keys, but the noise they make when hitting the end of their travel is just awful. Clunk, clunk, clunk. It’s infuritating.
The other inconvenience, but one I’ve accepted from the outset, is that this laptop only has USB-C jacks (4 of them). The price of progress, I suppose. It’s doable, since I have a couple of different adapters from eBay to cover all my use cases. And hopefully, one day it’ll be the new normal (as long as that lasts).
So now I’m stuck with a laptop which I find worse than everything I’ve owned and used in the past 10 years. Sure: it’s (very) pretty and it’s (very) light. But I hate it.
The worst part of it is that there’s no improvement in sight. It does not look like Apple is considering a substantial keyboard change. And if anything, Touch ID is likely to be on the way out, to be replaced with Face ID, which I would prefer to never adopt. As for the Touch Bar? Turns out, that’s just a gimmick I couldn’t care less about. As are the changes in the last 5 iterations of macOS itself (“Dark Mode” as THE main feature of a major new release? gimme a break …). If you don’t use iCloud, none of the new releases add value.
The main reason for me to stick to a Mac, is now its operating system (as it was already five years ago), and the investment in apps and muscle memory I have in this ecosystem. As far as those apps and that muscle memory goes, let me just say that I’m gradually reducing my dependency on both.
One day, it’s not going to take much to get me to abandon the Mac. The straw will break.
Update - There’s light at the end of the touchbar/keyboard tunnel
- a new MacBook Air?
Update #2 - More light
- though I doubt I’ll go there (having switched to a Mac Mini) …