While rumors suggest we'll see a new 16.5-inch MacBook Pro this year, a slightly larger size is not enough, if you ask me. Sure, the most recent MacBook Pros have been good-to-great machines, but as a MacBook Pro owner myself — one who's waiting to upgrade an aging 2012 model (which I just saved with a battery repair)— I've still not seen a new MacBook Pro that I'd be excited to buy.
So, if Apple wants to make the MacBook Pro coming in 2019 its best models yet, I've got some demands. Inspired by a list that former macOS reviewer John Siracusa introduced on his podcast, here's the top nine things I want to see on the next MacBook Pro, in decreasing order of importance, with the most necessary change first.
1. A new, reliable keyboard
I would have bought a new MacBook Pro, but I've got trust issues with Apple right now, or rather, I've got my doubts about its keyboard. Yes, if I'm going to invest over $1,000 in a new laptop, I need to believe I'm buying something that will last. If Apple ditches the troubled butterfly switch mechanism-based keys (which have spawned class-action lawsuits (opens in new tab)) that it has used since 2006, I'm going to be ready to hit Buy.
While that's mostly because I'm a writer, and I rely on keys to write both professionally and for myself, I don't think I'm asking for too much. This is a laptop. Its keyboard is what separates it from tablets, and it's the kind of feature that no PC company has a problem executing well, whereas Apple's got repeating keys, keys that stick and space bars that fail.
If Apple can respect this need, and resolve the keyboard problems that users have yelled about for years, I'm willing to trust it. Everything else below is just icing on the cake.
2. More non-Touch Bar options
When I recently took a work trip to cover SXSW, I brought my 15-inch MacBook Pro office laptop with me and found out how easy it is for me to activate the software buttons on that thin OLED screen, since my middle and ring fingers often rest on that row of keys. Unfortunately, if I wanted a MacBook without the touch bar, I'd need to buy the previous-generation 13-inch MacBook Pro, with its now-ancient 7th-gen Intel CPU.
I'm not looking to buy the 15-inch MacBook Pro — flying economy class and trying to use that beast on a small folding tray was a nightmare — but I have to admit I feel for those who need that larger size, since that means they're also stuck with the Touch Bar. And if Apple wants to keep the Touch Bar, it should make it harder to accidentally touch, by adding Force Touch-like clickability.
3. The Return of MagSafe
The responsibility to replicate Apple's most clever design feature, the magnetically attaching MagSafe power adapters, shouldn't fall to a third-party vendor. That's the case here, though, since Griffin's had to create the BreakSafe USB Type-C power cable (opens in new tab), which splits apart when too much tension is applied to the cable. Why is this demand so high on the list? This need can be fixed with an additional purchase, but if Apple builds it into the laptop, many more people will be protected.
Oh, and Apple can put the detachable magnets on the plug side of the cable, to keep its Type-C ports untouched. The reason behind this may be because putting magnets at the MacBook Pro port could interfere with data transfer.
4. At least one USB Type-A port
Sure, the reversible USB Type-C ports are the future of tech accessories, but what's wrong with a little respect for the past? I think I can speak for many when I say that when you're on the go — and why else would you buy a laptop, except for portability — you don't want to bring a multiport USB Type-C dock or hub with you.
But, if you need to use a flash drive or a memory card adapter (more on those below) — the current Type-C-only MacBook Pro has nothing for you, except a demand that you remember to bring a hub. Personally, this issue ticks me off, because I prefer to use Logitech's fantastic MX Master wireless mouse with its USB adapter — and not over Bluetooth — for its instant pairing.
5. Cellular connectivity
How has Apple allowed the PC world to produce laptops with always-on connectivity, while it waits and waits? The company may be waiting for its eventual jump from Intel to ARM-architecture chips, but that hasn't stopped anyone else.
At a moment when the iPad can have a modem, and not everyone's cellular data plan includes tethering, bringing LTE connectivity to the MacBook Pro to make it a more complete machine is only logical. Maybe Apple is waiting for 5G networks to come online, but I want to get online, anywhere, now.
6. SD memory reader
Every time I talk to professional image editors and other media creators about the MacBook Pro, I hear the same lament: "Can't Apple bring back the SD card reader?" For the uninitiated: high-end cameras use ejectable memory cards to store content, and many high-end laptops provide a slot for the SD memory cards, for users to quickly open files for editing. Even a microSD card slot would be welcome.
7. A hardware webcam kill switch
Apple loves to tout its focus on users' privacy, right? And while it continues to batten down the hatches on macOS, there's no reason for the company to not give users an extra way to feel secure.
HP's introduced a kill switch for the Envy 13, Lenovo's been adding built-in webcam covers, and Huawei's hiding the MateBook X Pro's webcam in its keyboard, so it can't see you unless you let it. Apple's certainly creative enough to come up with its own solution for this privacy concern, isn't it?
8. Support for Apple Pencil
This one's near the bottom of my list because it feels very unlikely, as much as I want it. If you didn't know it, macOS and other apps allow you to create signatures by drawing on the touchpad with your finger, but that's unnatural and imprecise.
Also, if Apple plans to bring iPhone and iPad apps to the Mac, it would make sense for its best-in-class stylus to come with those apps. If Apple doesn't want to make a convertible 2-in-1 laptop, adding Apple Pencil support to the touchpad makes a lot of sense.
9. Face ID
I'm not sure what it would take for the MacBook Pro to get a Face ID facial-recognition sensor, but it makes all the sense in the world. Infrared webcams with Windows Hello have already demonstrated the value of such a feature in PC laptops — you just sit down in front of your machine, and it unlocks. It's just that easy. Why is this at number nine? It's safe to say that Apple will be focusing on thinning away its bezels and the thickness of the laptop, and that means the iPhone and iPad's Face ID sensors may not be able to find a big enough home in the next MacBook Pro.
Credit: Laptop Mag