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Developers and creative pros are blasting Apple’s new MacBook Pro

Updated Oct 28th, 2016 1:35PM EDT
MacBook Pro 2016 Specs
Image: Apple Inc.

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Apple’s new MacBook Pro has created quite a stir in the Mac community, with many developers and creative professionals expressing outrage and frustration that Apple has seemingly created a Pro machine that is decidedly underwhelming and watered down.

Apple pissing off the pro community is an especially interesting dynamic because, as many seasoned Mac observers can attest, Apple managed to survive some of its darker days in the early to mid 90s precisely because the Mac was the computer of choice for a wide swath of creative professionals.

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In the wake of Apple’s MacBook Pro event yesterday, there’s been a growing consternation that Apple’s new MacBook Pro — a machine that hasn’t meaningfully been updated in years — is nothing short of a disappointment and proof positive that Apple a) has no concrete vision for the future of the Mac and b) has no qualms about leaving its more ardent supporters behind.

Michael Tsai, for example, writes:

I was really disappointed with today’s Apple event. It seems like Apple has either lost its way, that it has lost touch with what (some of) its customers want, or that it simply doesn’t care about those customers. Developers are a captive audience, and creative professionals can switch to Windows, I guess. Apple no longer considers them core.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with what Apple announced. I like Thunderbolt 3. The display looks good. I’m not crazy about Touch Bar, but it does seem potentially useful. The problem is that the MacBook Pro is not a true Pro notebook.

The new MacBook Pro has a premium price for a Mac that’s still limited to 16 GB of RAM, has CPU performance that is likely lackluster because Apple didn’t talk about it in the keynote, and apparently doesn’t have such a great GPU, either. Apple prioritized thinness and lightness, which I care about hardly at all. I would rather have better performance, a good keyboard, more storage, a larger display, more ports so I don’t have to carry dongles, an SD card slot, etc. Double the weight and half the battery life would be fine with me.

I’m not sure that anyone really wants ‘double the weight and half the battery life’ but Tsai’s overarching complaints are not entirely without merit. If anything, they’re quite common.

Peter Kim, meanwhile, opines that Apple has no idea what it’s doing in the Mac space:

Understanding history is important – to a point. But Apple’s obsessive naval 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.

Kim also goes into detail explaining why he thinks Apple’s ballyhooed new Touch Bar isn’t as innovative as it’s being credited for.

And all this doesn’t even touch on Apple’s ongoing neglect of other Mac products such as the Mac Pro and the venerable iMac.

In a tweet that’s equally as funny as it is sad, Brian Stucki points out:

Meanwhile, Alexey Semeney over at the DevTeamSpace Blog doesn’t mince words, writing that Apple’s new MacBook Pro is not a laptop for developers anymore.

Aside from the removal of physical function keys and the escape key (not the biggest deal in my opinion), Semeney raises a number of other issues that are in fact compelling, such as no improvements to RAM and the device’s processor.

The 2016 MacBook Pro ships with RAM and processor specs that are nearly identical to the 2010 model. Deja vu?

At least it feels like that, because the MacBook Pro has had options of up to 16 GB of RAM since 2010. The only difference now is that you pay for the update.

The MacBook Pro had options with 2.4 gigahertz dual-core processors back in 2010. Anything new in 2016? Not really, well… nope.

Of course, this song and dance is nothing new. Apple has a long and storied history of catering to the masses over any particular subset of users. The only difference is that this time around, Apple seems to have pissed off its most loyal supporters.

All that said, the success of Apple’s new MacBook Pro line will hinge entirely on how users take to the device’s new Touch Bar, especially with no compelling improvements to CPU and the like.

Not surprisingly, Twitter is littered with comments and observations like this.

There are also no shortage of longtime Mac users now wondering if their next notebook will, in fact, be a Mac.

And adding insult to injury, some now argue that Microsoft is now has become more creative-friendly than Apple.

Blake Lowry of Pixel Rants notes:

Now Microsoft showed off it’s new computing device, precisely aimed at artists, designers, and photographers. Their new Surface Studio is the holy grail for for creatives, like myself. I’ve long wanted a computer to completely replace a drafting or drawing table. The Surface Studio is a no compromise machine for people that are setting out to create things. From it’s massive 28″ touch screen, low angle adjustment. palm rejection, high color output, over 4k screen, and insane specs, it’s gives you everything a creative wants. Oh, not to forget about the cool input the Dial allows.

The new MacBook Pro, by contrast, looks to be targeting consumers and prosumers as opposed to full-on professionals. I can’t think of an excuse an artist would make to choose a MacBook Pro over a Surface Studio, well except price and portability, and even then there’s a really good argument to be made about the new Surface Book. But we’re talking about no-compromise tools for professionals. I envision art departments with rows of the Studio. Just walk up to it like a drawing table and get busy. It’s a remarkable time to be a creative.

Apple meanwhile claims that the new MacBook Pro will be great for creatives, but only time will tell if that is indeed the truth or if it’s nothing more than Apple ad-speak.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.