The ARM MacBook that will (never?) come

Apple Inc. is designing a new chip for future Mac laptops that would take on more of the functionality currently handled by Intel Corp. processors, according to people familiar with the matter.

The new report comes from Bloomberg, and there we can find  (not much) information about the codenamed T310, an ARM chip that would be the next Apple’s step on that theoretical path to abandon Intel chips some day.

The T310 could be used to enable a new low-power mode on Apple’s MacBooks, but it’s not exactly clear if the chip will in fact replace the Intel chip on every front in that scenario, or will limit itself to certain low-power tasks. Apple has already integrated a T1 ARM chip to manage the Touch Bar, and the new one could be use for a “Power Nap” mode that:

allows Mac laptops to retrieve e-mails, install software updates, and synchronize calendar appointments with the display shut and not in use

This is interesting in its own right, and would mean that that ARM chip is indeed capable of running macOS apps that (again, this is relevant) are theoretically coded on an x86 instruction code, not an ARM one. I wonder if there is some kind of emulation here, or those apps have two binaries to run in either processor when needed.

Both scenarios are interesting, and could lead to that future in which the ARM MacBook will, indeed, come. It seems that will take more time than we thought it would, though.

Source: Apple Said to Work on Mac Chip That Would Lessen Intel Role – Bloomberg

No one gets the MacBook Pro, and you probably won’t either

The MacBook Pro reviews are coming. Not the ones about the base model, but the ones that finally analyze the model with Touch Bar, that invention that according to Apple is the future of those computers. Well, not many seem to think likewise.

In fact, most of the reviews are just a confirmation of what people thought of these machines after being launched a few weeks ago. On ReCode Walt Mossberg has been unsusally crude with Apple, something that is really surprising:

The new 13-inch MacBooks — even the base model without the Touch Bar — are costly. And they may make pro users unhappy. But, for everyday Mac lovers — users of the Air or maybe the older low-end Pro — they are now your only thin, modern option with a full-fledged processor. The Touch Bar has potential, but it’s not magic. The battery isn’t likely to deliver on Apple’s claims. You can’t count on liking the keyboard. But, if you’re a Mac devotee ready to move past the Air — not back to a lower-powered MacBook — this is what Apple is offering. Take it or leave it.

There you go. It’s Apple’s way or the highway.

Same thing on The Verge. These guys have tested both the 13 and the 15 inch models, and the former has been rated with a 7.6. That’s the lowest score I’ve seen on an Apple product since The Verge was born five years ago. The two final sentences are again conclusive:

I have little doubt that in a couple years, the technology Apple has been waiting for will arrive and this vision, or something closer to it, will be complete. Apple just released this machine too soon, or was too aggressive in the decisions it made.

That future is almost certainly out there. But it’s not in this machine. Not yet.

In both cases they talk about the #donglelife problem: you better buy adapters and dongles for all those non-USB-C peripherals you got around, but they also claim the battery is underwhelming. The Touch ID, though, is a nice addition.

Engadget is on that line too: they don’t seem to understand this MacBook Pro and the reasons why Apple has decided to go this route:

As I said, there’s ultimately a lot to like about the new MacBook Pro. But it’s designed for someone who I’m not sure exists outside Apple’s fantasies of how professionals use computers. The MacBook Pro I want to see is built around real people’s work habits. I still recommend it, and I imagine many of you who have been waiting patiently will indeed buy this. But I’d enjoy it more if it were designed for people like us.

There are lots of other reviews, but from what I’ve read they are all (with a few exceptions) almost the same. Nobody seems to get the MacBook Pro, and maybe it’s our fault. Maybe we don’t understand it because we aren’t looking beyond our current devices or our current workflow.

Maybe Apple has just got ahead of its time like it did with other products. Or maybe not. Maybe the MacBook Pro is a big failure everybody is trying to understand and accept because it’s coming from Apple, so it has to be thenextbigthing.

I assume the latter.

I do think that some of the ports we’re using right now have to dissapear sometime in the future, but not so soon and in such a radical way. I really thing the Touch Bar isn’t going to stay with us for much too long.

At least, it will have to evolve and be something that proves that changing our way to work is really worthy. The current Touch Bar doesn’t do that.

This is not looking good Apple. Not at all.

Apple, dongles and Macbook Pro

Phil Schiller, november 2:

We are proud to tell you that so far our online store has had more orders for the new MacBook Pro than any other pro notebook before

Apple, november 4:

Apple is cutting prices for all of its USB-C adapters following a week of complaints about the MacBook Pro’s inconvenient port situation.

Something doesn’t sound right here. If the demand were so high, why cutting prices?

Will the Touch Bar save the MacBook Pro?

The new MacBook Pro is (again) what we expected after months of rumors: lighter, smaller, faster. And more expensive, of course. The main argument here is the shiny new Touch Bar, a customizable touch OLED display that supposedly allow users to access certain application functions faster and easier than through traditional keyboard shortcuts or mouse control.

I tend to consider the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro as an analogy to the 3D Touch support on the iPhone: something that looks nice on a demo, but that won’t be as revolutionary as it seems in real life.

3D Touch hasn’t been mentioned much by Apple in the latest months, and the problem with the Touch Bar is similar: developers have to enable that support specifically for MacBook Pro owners, who will be just a small part of the Mac user base. I wonder if that would be interesting enough for them given the effort that that kind of support could put to the task.

I found much more compelling the fact that the new MacBook Pro is lighter, faster and better connected. I miss the MagSafe, sure, but charging through USB-C isn’t a bad choice either.

The arrival of the butterfly mechanism to the keyboard is intriguing —although the result in the MacBook has been painful for some users— but the giant Force Touch trackpad is indeed interesting.

Oh, and we still have 3.5mm connectors on the MacBook Pros. Thank god.

Surface Book vs. MacBook Pro: on apples and oranges

The reviews are there, and there are more and more coming, but PC World has tried to make the same comparison that Microsoft talked about in the launch event.

Of course comparing one machine to another is a little bit unfair, but every comparison is that. The MacBook Pro (13 inch, Core i5-5752U) is slightly faster than the Surface Book (Intel Core i5 -6300U ) on CPU-related tests, but 1) that’s a comparison between a 28W and 14W TDP chips and 2) these are chips from different generations.

And then there’s the comparison between an integrated GPU (Intel HD 6100 on the MacBook) and a discrete GPU (supposedly, a special version of a GTX 940M on the Surface Book). And the result is pretty clear. Which confirms again that the comparison is unfair. In any case:

The Surface Book’s premium price is what a premium is about. You can’t get discrete graphics in any MacBook Pro, but you can on the Surface Book. And the payoff is clear.

True.

Update (10/23/2015): another comparison, not that realistic either. I can’t understand how a tech reviewer can’t understand the difference between processors. Comparing machines by their price can really give us some surprises. Processors on both machines are absolutely different, (dual core Core i7-6600U with a 15W TDP on the SB vs a quad-core Core i7-4870HQ with a 47W TDP). Of course the MacBook crushes the Surface Book. C’mon.

Source: Surface Book vs. MacBook Pro: It isn’t twice as fast. It’s three times as fast | PCWorld