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MacBook line-up refresh!


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MacBook line-up refresh!
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chucker
 
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2019-07-09, 12:17

Now, some thoughts:
  • Critically, we finally have a MacBook line-up again that mostly makes sense. The 13-inch size is still a bit overcrowded, and the MacBook Pros start with an oddball model, but it's way better than before. The Air is both the lighter and the lower-end option, and there is no more 12-inch MacBook that really should've been called a MacBook Air, nor a 13-inch without Touch Bar that was quite different for no obvious reason yet still called a Pro. (The low-end MacBook Pro is still a bit of an oddball, having just two Thunderbolt ports and a rather slow CPU, but it's now at least a little bit closer to the other two.) Until yesterday, it was really hard to figure out why all these options existed; today, that's become a lot easier.
  • This means any MacBook now has Touch ID (neither the 12-inch MacBook nor even more oddly the low-end 13-inch MacBook Pro used to!). They should've done that in 2016, but, hey, great!
  • Likewise, the terrible 480p webcam from the 12-inch MacBook is gone. Good.
  • Lower starting prices and reduced upgrades are good. The MacBook Pros are still expensive as hell, though. I thought in 2016 that these prices would eventually go down; they have not.
  • These should all start at 256 GB SSD. In fact, the 12-inch MacBook used to (another oddity compared to the Air). Maybe this doesn't matter as much with people moving to cloud storage or having external disks, though.
  • I have yet to see reports on whether this new new new we really fixed it pinky promise keyboards also have reliability problems. They've only been in the wild for two months, though.

This is mostly a good update. A good ol'-fashioned speedbump which, for a few years, we saw too few of.

There are still nits to pick — for instance, why does the MacBook Air have Bluetooth 4.2 instead of 5.0? Why does the low-end MacBook Pro lack Hey Siri when the MacBook Air has it? Why has the iPad Pro had ProMotion for two years, and not a single Mac does today?
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709
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2019-07-09, 15:13

I hadn't seen that this morning – kinda interesting in a weird 'Apple always overcharges for this sort of thing and when prices drop I wonder if something is wrong in the company because I can't take good news at face value' sort of way. Could RAM prices be next? That would truly signal to me that the Four Horseman were afoot.

Maybe we'll see a 16" now that the line is cleaned up a bit.

So it goes.
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Kraetos
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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2019-07-09, 15:17

Jony is barely out the door and they're killing his MacBook!

The MacBook One was always a bizarre machine though, so this isn't really a surprise. Apple should have just kept the 11" MacBook Air and given both Airs a retina display, rather than introduce the MacBook One.

These are nice, small spec-bump and product lineup clarifying updates, but it's great to see this larger trend of Apple caring about the Mac again.

Sadly, being a technology pundit is truly never having to say you’re sorry. You can be wrong for years and never lose your job.—The Macalope
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chucker
 
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2019-07-09, 15:33

Quote:
Originally Posted by 709 View Post
I hadn't seen that this morning – kinda interesting in a weird 'Apple always overcharges for this sort of thing and when prices drop I wonder if something is wrong in the company because I can't take good news at face value' sort of way. Could RAM prices be next?
Hopefully. The Mac to replace my aging late-2013 would be at least $2,999 at current pricing (15-inch MBP, 32 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD). Really, I should be going to 1 TB, and at least that's starting to become conceivable? But $400 for 32 GB RAM is… painful. And another three-five years of of 16 GB RAM is basically out of the question.

The "oh and by the way, despite the price tag, the keyboard reliability is unclear" is just the cherry on top of that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 709 View Post
Maybe we'll see a 16" now that the line is cleaned up a bit.
I hope so!

But I don't think so. Maybe if they only do a slight speed bump, but a newer Intel generation would have to wait until Comet Lake-H in Q2 next year, so it doesn't seem very plausible Apple would upgrade before that.
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chucker
 
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2019-07-09, 15:34

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraetos View Post
Apple should have just kept the 11" MacBook Air and given both Airs a retina display, rather than introduce the MacBook One.
I was kind of hoping they'd just re-brand it as the 12-inch MacBook Air. I guess the market just really wasn't there, and it made little sense in the line-up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraetos View Post
These are nice, small spec-bump and product lineup clarifying updates, but it's great to see this larger trend of Apple caring about the Mac again.
Yes!
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turtle
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2019-07-09, 15:43

I'm just mad that Rose Gold isn't available because my wife really wants one in that color. Pretty much anything in that color for that matter.

I am glad to see the lineup get a cleanup though. I was actually having a hard time thinking through what model I might get her and now it's much easier. She really is at the bottom end of usage...mostly. I mean, a Chromebook could be enough for her until she opens Photos. Then she actually uses some computing power.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
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kscherer
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2019-07-09, 15:49

Maybe the 12" MacBook dropped to make room for the first Ax-based thing to be announced this fall?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

Maybe the 16" MacBook Pro will be Ax-based?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

I'm glad to see the MacBook drop from the lineup. Also glad the 2017 (2012?) MacBook Air drop as well. Two systems that made no sense. The 13" MacBook Pro also makes more sense now, although I am curious to see what kind of performance specs a quad-core 1.4GHz i5 w/HT has. That little sucker might become the best value in the lineup.

Boise State! … Boise State! … Boise State!
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chucker
 
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2019-07-09, 16:14

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
Maybe the 16" MacBook Pro will be Ax-based?
If they do that I SWEAR TO GOD SOMEONE WILL SUFFER

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
The 13" MacBook Pro also makes more sense now, although I am curious to see what kind of performance specs a quad-core 1.4GHz i5 w/HT has. That little sucker might become the best value in the lineup.
The short answer seems to be: honestly not that much faster.

Much longer answer:

Hard to say. My current speculation is that it's an unannounced Whiskey Lake-U part that has lower clock rate than existing parts, but adds a beefier GPU instead.

Going by roughly comparable Geekbench scores, that would sadly mean that it's slightly slower to the two-years-old CPU at single-core (new ~3860 vs. old 4341), and only 21% faster at multi-core (new 10948 vs. old 9084), despite twice the core count, mainly because it's going down from 2.3 GHz to 1.4 GHz. Turbo Boost seems to be better on these, though. Also, built-in Spectre/Meltdown mitigation.

Really, if you want performance improvements, you need to wait until later in the year (and that seems optimistic) for Ice Lake to ship in volume.
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PKIDelirium
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2019-07-09, 16:55

Phew, no more of that three-notebook-line nonsense.

When I first saw the 16" MBP talk, I guessed in my head that it would just replace the 15" by having less bezel. We'll see what happens there.

Early '09 Mac mini (El Capitan), iPhone 7 (iOS 12.3), iPad Air 2 (iOS 12.3), Mid '10 MacBook Unibody (High Sierra), Mid '05 14" iBook G4 (Tiger)
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kscherer
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2019-07-09, 17:21

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
Really, if you want performance improvements, you need to wait until later in the year (and that seems optimistic) for Ice Lake to ship in volume.
I make the statement more based on value for the customer. The previous non-Touch Bar model was a poor value next to a 2018 MacBook Air. Gaining the Touch Bar and Touch ID adds some value, but there is still the "big difference" between a MacBook Pro and a MacBook Air. Not sure those first two things are worth $200, although I suspect they will sell a lot of computers.

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Bryson
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2019-07-09, 17:23

I feel afraid to say it out loud, but:

I'm still running everything on a 2015 13" MBP. If I can just eke out a few more months, I might get to skip the whole Butterfly keyboard thing altogether.....
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kscherer
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2019-07-09, 17:36

It's possible that the "16" MB Pro" rumored to be on the way will have a different keyboard design. However, rumors floating signaled a new MacBook Air was on the way in the fall that had a scissor keyboard. Today's announcement seems to put that rumor to rest. It is highly doubtful that Apple would announce another new MB Air 3 months after this refresh. Although Apple has released new systems 6 months apart, the development cycle for current systems does not need to support that. A new keyboard will require an entirely new chassis, which means a full redesign. That is unlikely so close together.

I can see a new chassis being introduced on a new high-end system, though. Just not on a refreshed thing so close.

Boise State! … Boise State! … Boise State!
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Kraetos
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2019-07-09, 20:24

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
I was kind of hoping they'd just re-brand it as the 12-inch MacBook Air. I guess the market just really wasn't there, and it made little sense in the line-up.
The rumored edge-to-edge screens will give all the MacBooks a "free" inch on the display, so I wouldn't be surprised if we get 12" and 14" edge-to-edge Airs, and 14" and 16" edge-to-edge Pros.

Sadly, being a technology pundit is truly never having to say you’re sorry. You can be wrong for years and never lose your job.—The Macalope
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turtle
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Formerly turtle2472
 
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2019-07-09, 22:10

Less bezel will certainly make similarly sized machine hold bigger screens. Not all bad of a concept either. I was looking at my MBP thinking about it after reading this comment and realizing it really doesn't need to be that big of a bezel. Nor does the iMac need such a bezel and chin. I'd happily jump on a 16" MPB because I really miss my long in the tooth 17" MBP.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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PKIDelirium
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2019-07-10, 02:02

Can we whack the “iPad” now, maybe bumping the entry price of the Air down by $50 or something to make the iPad line make sense too?

Notebook: One consumer line and one pro line, check.
iMac: One consumer line and one pro line, check.
Headless: One consumer line and one pro line, check.

iPad: Confusion in the mainstream part of the line. Ideally, consumer side has one standard and one mini size, and pro side stays like it is now. Support for both Pencil generations across the board would be nice too, since right now it’s basically a “does your iPad have a Touch ID home button? Gen 1 Pencil. If not, Gen 2” situation.

Some think the iPod Touch should be killed off, but I like keeping it around. It would be nice if it actually, you know, had Touch ID added, but I guess they have a surplus of OG home buttons to use up.

Early '09 Mac mini (El Capitan), iPhone 7 (iOS 12.3), iPad Air 2 (iOS 12.3), Mid '10 MacBook Unibody (High Sierra), Mid '05 14" iBook G4 (Tiger)
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chucker
 
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2019-07-10, 04:31

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
I make the statement more based on value for the customer. The previous non-Touch Bar model was a poor value next to a 2018 MacBook Air.
Well, yes and no.

It (bizarrely — and it appears temporarily) lacked some features like Touch ID, but its CPU was better (especially at multi-core), as was its GPU.

But… it had a really odd place in the line-up. Like PKIDelirium said, I'm glad the confused line-up is done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
Gaining the Touch Bar and Touch ID adds some value,
The Air has Touch ID, mind you. Which was crazy. You upgrade from the Air to the Pro and lose Touch ID?

(To be fair, that discrepancy only existed for less than a year.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
but there is still the "big difference" between a MacBook Pro and a MacBook Air. Not sure those first two things are worth $200, although I suspect they will sell a lot of computers.
It'll be interesting to see the new benchmarks, especially seeing that this CPU part is unannounced.

Once again, a picture emerges where, depending on how you look at it, either Intel screwed Apple, or Apple unduly had high expectations from Intel. They expected Iris Pro to continue on the 45W H-series (nope), the 5W Y-series path for the 12-inch MacBook to be viable (nope), the 15W U-series to have Iris Plus (missed two entire generations! and is apparently only now coming back), and of course more generally for Intel to reach 10nm, which would've helped with a lot of the previous assumptions.

As much as I'm wary of the speculated ARM move, I can't really blame Apple for keeping its options open.

(And while AMD Ryzen is interesting on the desktop and server, it doesn't seem to scale that well to mobile.)
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chucker
 
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2019-07-10, 04:32

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraetos View Post
The rumored edge-to-edge screens will give all the MacBooks a "free" inch on the display, so I wouldn't be surprised if we get 12" and 14" edge-to-edge Airs, and 14" and 16" edge-to-edge Pros.
Something like that, yup.

(Not sure about edge-to-edge. A notch in the menu bar?)
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chucker
 
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2019-07-10, 04:34

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
It's possible that the "16" MB Pro" rumored to be on the way will have a different keyboard design. However, rumors floating signaled a new MacBook Air was on the way in the fall that had a scissor keyboard. Today's announcement seems to put that rumor to rest. It is highly doubtful that Apple would announce another new MB Air 3 months after this refresh. Although Apple has released new systems 6 months apart, the development cycle for current systems does not need to support that. A new keyboard will require an entirely new chassis, which means a full redesign. That is unlikely so close together.

I can see a new chassis being introduced on a new high-end system, though. Just not on a refreshed thing so close.
Going by Intel's roadmap, I don't see either happening.

The 16-inch Pro could really only offer a speedbump, CPU-wise. The next nice upgrade, Comet Lake-H, isn't scheduled until Q2. (And no, it still won't be 10nm.)

As for the Air, yup.

Which is kind of interesting, because Ice Lake-Y is launching just a few months from now. My guess: Apple isn't that confident Intel can deliver it at scale, so they chickened out and went with the much safer 14nm option.
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chucker
 
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2019-07-10, 04:37

Quote:
Originally Posted by PKIDelirium View Post
iPad: Confusion in the mainstream part of the line. Ideally, consumer side has one standard and one mini size, and pro side stays like it is now. Support for both Pencil generations across the board would be nice too, since right now it’s basically a “does your iPad have a Touch ID home button? Gen 1 Pencil. If not, Gen 2” situation.
The Pencil situation is stupid, yes. I think they screwed up on the branding. Don't call it "the all-new Pencil" when you introduce models, half a year later, that only support the old one!
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zippy
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2019-07-10, 11:15

This is good timing for me. We have been waiting for the back-to-school promo before getting my son his graduation present. I appreciate being able to get extra storage now at a reasonable price. That said, if I had been given a choice, I think I would rather have seen the RAM prices drop. You can always add external storage, but external RAM will never be a thing.

Do you know where children get all of their energy? - They suck it right out of their parents!
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kscherer
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2019-07-10, 14:44

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
Well, yes and no.

…but its CPU was better…
For the customer looking for a computer in this price range, "better" is only on paper. We're talking internet, email, Word. The customer is gaining nothing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
The Air has Touch ID, mind you.
Yeah, I know. But value is dependent on implementation, and Touch ID still leaves a bit to be desired. One touch should get you into the computer, and from then on the computer should know who is using it. You shouldn't have to "log in" every time you click an admin button. I feel the same way about Apple ID authentication. Shouldn't the damn system know you've already logged in?

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turtle
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2019-07-10, 14:56

The flaw to that is the time you step away from your system for any reason and someone else gets physical access to it. One time authentication for the entire session is a horrible idea. I can see a 15 minute window though. I would set mine to be immediate, but for people in cases like you can I understand why you wouldn't want to log in that frequently.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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chucker
 
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2019-07-10, 15:12

I've always found it odd that macOS defaults to leaving sudo sessions open for five minutes, but not doing the same for its authorization framework (which might as well be a GUI for sudo*). It's a weird inconsistency that has been there since the 10.0 days (and I assume Rhapsody before that?).

Maybe they didn't want to change it for sudo for fear of breaking compatibility with shell scripts that assume sudo lasts for a while?

*) That is roughly how it works in Ubuntu.
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kscherer
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2019-07-10, 15:41

Quote:
Originally Posted by turtle View Post
The flaw to that is the time you step away from your system for any reason and someone else gets physical access to it. One time authentication for the entire session is a horrible idea. I can see a 15 minute window though. I would set mine to be immediate, but for people in cases like you can I understand why you wouldn't want to log in that frequently.
Well, yeah, I'm not really talking about "permanent login". However, when I sit down to my system and login, I shouldn't then also have to immediately login to System Preferences, then iTunes, then the App Store, then the iBooks Store, etc. Seriously, that is the way it currently works. Every single one of these apps requires a separate login. I've just logged in with my admin password, and my Apple ID. Within 30 seconds, I shouldn't have to type these in again, or even use my fingerprint. Same thing on iPhone. Once in 30 seconds is enough for crying out loud! Face ID to log in, then 30 seconds later Face ID to purchase an App, then 30 seconds later to purchase a song, then …

It's a broken system that isn't very well thought out. I think Apple is thinking to post-apocolyptic, here.

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turtle
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2019-07-10, 15:43

Yeah, you'd think it would be worked out with SSO and AppleID. Especially if you use/link your AppleID to your account on the Mac/Phone. Maybe that's part of the fixes that will be felt with 10.15?

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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chucker
 
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2019-07-10, 15:43

Quote:
Originally Posted by kscherer View Post
Well, yeah, I'm not really talking about "permanent login". However, when I sit down to my system and login, I shouldn't then also have to immediately login to System Preferences, then iTunes, then the App Store, then the iBooks Store, etc. Seriously, that is the way it currently works. Every single one of these apps requires a separate login. I've just logged in with my admin password, and my Apple ID. Within 30 seconds, I shouldn't have to type these in again, or even use my fingerprint. Same thing on iPhone. Once in 30 seconds is enough for crying out loud! Face ID to log in, then 30 seconds later Face ID to purchase an App, then 30 seconds later to purchase a song, then …

It's a broken system that isn't very well thought out. I think Apple is thinking to post-apocolyptic, here.
How often do you run into this scenario, though? You only need to log into System Preferences for security-critical preferences. Any prankster colleague can turn on Dark Mode with pink accent on your machine.

And surely you just leave iTunes, App Store, Books logged in?

What I find far more concerning are those global, modal alerts in iOS that ask for your Apple ID but don't tell you anything about which app is asking or why. That's not great.
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kscherer
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2019-07-10, 16:41

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
How often do you run into this scenario, though?
Honestly? Every day. Whenever we do data transfers! And, yes, I know this seems like a special case, but the system asks you to validate your Apple ID when the new account is created. Then it asks again when you accept the included apps, and then again to update those apps, and again after that to authenticate iTunes. And then, if Apple ID needs any additional crap, a 5th time! All in the space of 5 minutes. Even in a special use case, that is a broken system.

There need only be one Apple ID login in this case: When the setup assistant asks us to log in! And that's it. The system should just populate all the apps for a certain time period. Whether that is 15 minutes or something else I don't care.

Same thing happens whenever a software update is done on a Mac.

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chucker
 
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2019-07-11, 12:19

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucker View Post
The short answer seems to be: honestly not that much faster.

Much longer answer:

Hard to say. My current speculation is that it's an unannounced Whiskey Lake-U part that has lower clock rate than existing parts, but adds a beefier GPU instead.

Going by roughly comparable Geekbench scores, that would sadly mean that it's slightly slower to the two-years-old CPU at single-core (new ~3860 vs. old 4341), and only 21% faster at multi-core (new 10948 vs. old 9084), despite twice the core count, mainly because it's going down from 2.3 GHz to 1.4 GHz. Turbo Boost seems to be better on these, though. Also, built-in Spectre/Meltdown mitigation.

Really, if you want performance improvements, you need to wait until later in the year (and that seems optimistic) for Ice Lake to ship in volume.
Turns out that as usual, Intel's inconsistent as all hell.

Correct assumptions:
  • The CPU wasn't previously announced. It is now in Intel's ARK.
  • It's a 15W part.

Incorrect assumptions:
  • According to Intel, it's Coffee Lake, not Whiskey Lake. Which is odd because Coffee Lake doesn't have any other 15W parts.
  • That also makes it an eighth-generation (not ninth) product, despite having just launched. Whatever that even means at this point. It does have Bluetooth 5.0, like Whiskey Lake.
  • Weird marketing aside, this is really mostly* good news: rather than my estimated 11% slower at single-core, it's 7% faster (it scores 4,639 on average). And rather than 21% faster at multi-core, it's 83% faster (16,665 score)!

That means the processor swap makes a lot more sense now.

*) Assuming there aren't weird gotchas as a result of this not being Whiskey Lake. Doesn't seem like it, though.
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kscherer
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2019-07-11, 13:43

Yeah, I just saw the initial performance scores and they make me happy. This price range needs some separation from the MacBook Air, and so does the "Pro" name. Even at 1.4GHz, that little sucker has some guts! Glad to see it. It won't be a hard sell from an Air.

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