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Apple’s Phil Schiller reveals secret Retina MacBook features in wide-ranging interview

Retina MacBook Secret Design Features

In a rare interview, Apple’s Phil Schiller shared more details about the Retina MacBook, including secret features that Apple has never really talked about. On its face, this seems a little strange.

Sure, Apple talks about its products with the media all the time by promoting them before or around launch. Earlier this year, for example, Apple gave multiple news sites and publications access to the Apple Watch before it hit stores and it also talked extensively about Apple Music.

But it’s definitely strange to see Apple pitch the Retina MacBook during an interview — the device was released this past March, after all — rather than focus on the recently launched iPhone 6s and Apple TV or the upcoming iPad Pro. Is it possible that Apple, maybe for the first time in years, is actually afraid of a MacBook rival, Microsoft’s Surface Book?

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Earlier this week, the Surface Book went up for sales in stores, with customers lining up in front of Microsoft retail locations around the country. On Tuesday, Apple reported financial results for the fourth quarter of its fiscal year 2015, revealing stellar results for the MacBook.

So the MacBook, Microsoft’s newest obsession, is doing fine. But Mashable’s extensive interview with Schiller focuses on Apple’s high attention to design details by bringing the Retina MacBook to the forefront rather than any other of Apple’s more recent products.

That’s not to say the MacBook isn’t a technical marvel, because, let’s face it, it definitely is.

One of the features Mashable says others have missed is the “speaktenna,” a piece that acts both as a speaker and as an antenna. The black strip along the back edge of the MacBook speakers is a “never-before tired combination of speakers and antennas for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.”

“We realized we could not create a great antennae and a great speaker because we’d be compromising,” vice president of Mac and iPad engineering John Ternus said. “Both of those elements need space. Antenna elements are small, but they need cavity; they need space to resonate.”

The interview with Schiller also reveals other details about the MacBook, such as the special battery design meant to maximize battery size without compromising on design and weight. In fact, the MacBook also has a deeper level of terracing cutouts in the body that aren’t for more battery power but to cut down on system weight.

The logic board is smaller than anything Apple has done before on a Mac, 67% smaller than the one found in the 11-inch MacBook Air and it’s also the densest that Apple has ever made for a laptop.

When it comes to parts fitting together, Apple revealed each Retina MacBook might be unique, as it uses laser and robotics technology to fit perfectly different parts that might have certain differences that might be imperceptible to the human eye.

“I placed the edge of one finger on the [MacBook’s] base to hold it in place and started to lift the lid,” Mashable writes. “Ternus told me to stop holding the bottom and just lift the top. I did as I was told and noted how the bottom did not move as opened the MacBook. Ternus said that it’s no accident.”

According to Apple’s exec, “every single unit gets measured on line for force required to open it, and we actually adjust every single unit.”

And yes, the MacBook has just one port, a risk Apple gladly took. “We found that the best thing we could do is push boundaries beyond what’s expected, beyond what’s comfortable sometimes,” Schiller said. “It’s a little counterintuitive to people, that doing what people don’t expect, ends up being what people do expect. But that is true of Mac.”

When it comes to competing devices, Schiller wasn’t shy to say that he doesn’t believe 2-in-1 computers, such as the Surface Book that became a hit with consumers, will be popular choices for buyers.

“There certainly are more offerings today, more people trying to create a market. But based on all the data that I’ve been able to see, it is still incredibly small and niche and may not be growing to anything significant. Time will tell,” Schiller said about hybrid laptops, without actually naming Microsoft’s new products.

The exec also said that Apple’s share in the PC business is at an all-time high in the USA, perhaps even higher than what estimates say. According to him, 25% of computers are Macs, which is significantly higher than the 13% estimate reported by the IDC late last year.

“There are endless numbers of stats out there, you can quote any of them to tell any story, but the number that closest reflects what we all experience and see as we travel around is actually a U.S. market share approaching 25 percent,” the exec said. “That closer reflects what we see when we go to the airport, when we go to the coffee shop when we go to schools. You increasingly are seeing more Macs than PCs.”

Mashable’s full interview with Apple, which also looks at the way Apple teams work together on new products and its upcoming spaceship campus, is available at the source link.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.