Apple will update its MacBook laptops with new screen sizes this fall, according to a new report. I'm hoping the update will include a few other improvements that would make the laptops even better.
First, the news: Taiwanese news site Economic Daily News said on Wednesday that Apple would unveil a 16-inch MacBook Pro, the first ever in the MacBook lineup of that size. For years, the company sold a 17-inch MacBook Pro before it discontinued the model in 2012 in favor of 13- and 15-inch models.
Additionally, Apple, which hasn't discussed its plans, will introduce an updated 13-inch MacBook Pro and a new MacBook Air, according to the article.
In my view, a bigger screen size and minor improvements to the specs won't be enough. Many users have criticized MacBooks for their aging designs, underwhelming computing power compared to Windows alternatives, and defects, like a troubled keyboard that makes typing difficult.
Fixing those will require more substantial improvements. Below, I outline five of the most critical ones.
Offer a True Design Refresh
Apple MacBook Pros have had the same basic aluminum design for years. Yes, it has more recently jazzed things up with new colors and slimmer designs, but it's not enough.
In this year's new MacBook Pros, it would be nice to see Apple use other materials, like the ceramic that it's used in Apple Watch. New materials would create better-looking devices and, in the case of ceramic, a more refined look and feel.
It would also be nice to see move the MacBook Pro ahead with a hybrid-like design that would allow users to rotate the screen, like many popular Windows-based notebooks. Hybrids are the most popular Windows notebook category because consumers like being able to use them in different ways while doing everything from watching a movie to creating documents. The move would also pave the way for a touchscreen-equipped MacBook Pro, a feature consumers have wanted for years and something that could make it easier for developers to port their apps from the iPad or iPhone to the Mac.
The time has come for Apple to rethink its MacBook Pro design.
Get Touch Bar Right
Apple's Touch Bar, which the company unveiled in the 2016 MacBook Pro, is a touchscreen above the device's keyboard that gives users easier access to a variety of features in Mac software. But over the last few years, few app developers have used it.
Apple must fix the Touch Bar in its 2019 MacBook Pros. But it can only do that if the Touch Bar is bigger, gives users more ways to chose what items to display and how, and attracts more app developers.
If Apple can't get that right, it's time to remove the Touch Bar.
Fix the Keyboard Problem
Apple's Butterfly keyboard, which uses a wing-like design to register key strokes, is a mess. For years, users have complained about sticking and malfunctioning keys. Even Apple has acknowledged the problem, apologized, and offered free fixes.
In its 2019 MacBooks, Apple needs to ditch the Butterfly design and move to a technology that works far more effectively. TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said earlier this month that Apple could replace the Butterfly with an alternative called Scissor Switch. It's the same technology Apple used before it unveiled the Butterfly, using a scissor-like motion to register key presses.
Here's hoping Apple goes back in time this fall.
Bring on Face ID
Apple's Face ID has been available in iPhones since the iPhone X's release in 2017. The feature replaced Apple's Touch ID fingerprint scanner for a more reliable—and faster—facial scanner in Face ID. But so far, Apple has only included Touch ID in Macs. Apple's 2019 MacBooks need Face ID.
Adding Face ID to the MacBooks would help Apple keep pace with Windows PC makers that use Microsoft's Hello facial scanner for verifying identities. And if Apple's argument that Face ID is more secure than Touch ID and harder for hackers to fool, it would make sense for the company to add it to its laptops.
Add Apple Pencil Support
Apple Pencil has been a popular iPad accessory that lets users digitally write on the screen, annotate documents, and draw. But it's only available on iPads.
Apple should expand Apple Pencil's compatibility to this year's upcoming Macs and let users use the stylus to write on the MacBook's screen. It's a common feature in Windows-based machines, and it should be on MacBooks.
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