Redesigned MacBook, Everything Has Changed!

Today was the Apple Show as I have come to call these noon Central Time events. Apple issued the invitation, the media looked into their tea leaves and we finally got to see the big secret.

Apple Watch? Yawn…

Obviously today’s big story was Apple Watch. That’s all I have to say about the watch. Boring…

Redesigned Apple MacBook? Sweet!!!

I find the new MacBook much more interesting to my business, being in the business of toting around a MacBook (MacBook Pro in my case). Much has been made of the removal of all plugs but one SUPER USB port. That’s my term, it’s officially called the USB-C plug. Think of it like a Thunderbolt port that can mimic even more things than Thunderbolt could. People who were already upset about Apple’s port removal in the earlier Retina models are apoplectic with this latest culling of the port herd.

I could be one of those people. I primarily work in the production side of the design world. I am the technical guy who should be able to get the images off the camera, the processed images loaded up to the server and retrieve files from archived media. I know my way around all the plugs used on Macs since the giant SCSI plugs of olden days.

I am a nerd, if you need proof, read on

That doesn’t mean I like all of them. My modus operandi is to standardize on the best tech on offer at any stage of the Mac’s development: It was once SCSI, then FireWire, Thunderbolt and now USB-C. I like to let the old ones roll off. Yeah, I’ll keep the adapters in my bag so I can connect these devices. But I like that Apple is going for the one port to rule them all philosophy. A chameleon port that can be USB, DisplayPort, Ethernet, etc. depending on the task at hand. A philosophy begun with Thunderbolt on the Retina MacBook Pros. Perhaps most important is that USB-C can be no port at all most of the time, because 90% of the time 99% of users don’t plug into anything except perhaps power at their desks. I made up that statistic, but in my career spanning multiple in-house and freelance gigs I’ve found this to be generally true since the laptop took over the lion’s share of users computing. Even for me. And I’m a power user by most people’s definition.

Obviously this 12 inch MacBook is the vanguard of a new design direction, and being the 2nd smallest Mac currently made, it understandably has the fewest ports. It is not a power user’s Mac by a long shot. I see the larger, more powerful MacBook Pros having a couple of these USB-C plugs built in while eliminating most, if not all, other plugs in their chassis.

Where will we plug all the things?

Displays will pick up a lot of the slack. Now that the LCD panel components are mostly commodity parts for all but the most high-end devices, the better displays will begin to become port multipliers (or docks, if you prefer) to differentiate from the low end, like a Thunderbolt Display of today. One USB-C plug will supply the MacBook with power, while also carrying high-speed data in both directions: Wired Ethernet, Thunderbolt disks, USB accessories, multiple displays. All these data plugs would be hosted on the display. Apple has been tip-toeing in this direction for years, but they have now built the low-power MacBooks that can be charged with DC from a souped-up data plug and the port virtualization technology to mimic just about any other port needed with minimal silicon. Apple’s been designing the silicon for adapting Thunderbolt into Ethernet, FireWire, HDMI, etc. for a few years now.

Thunderbolt Display

This will seem old school in a few months: Wall power, MagSafe Power & Thunderbolt. Apple’s next display will likely sport just one combo data/Mac power cable and one power cord to the wall.

Once this is the New Way, I’ll tote a bunch of adapters for old gear in my bag for a couple years. With time they will fall off the radar and everything will be wired with USB-C if it needs to be wired or will use wireless Bluetooth and WiFi if doesn’t need to be wired. Eventually those legacy adapters will leave my bag and start collecting dust in my closet.

That day can’t come soon enough!