Quite a few people have been commenting on Apple’s use of ‘hello again’ as the tagline for tomorrow’s MacBook event. ‘Hello’ featured twice in the launch of the original Macintosh back in 1984: it was displayed on the screen in ‘handwriting’ to show off the graphics capabilities of the machine, and of course the Macintosh famously introduced itself by speaking the words ‘Hello, I’m Macintosh. It sure is great to get out of that bag.’
It was 14 years later before Apple again referenced the greeting, when the first iMac – the colorful cube variety – displayed ‘hello (again)’ on the screen. That was the machine credited with turning around Apple’s fortunes just a year after the company had to be bailed-out by Microsoft. The ‘industry-altering success of the candy-colored iMacs’ as Forbes put it.
So it’s no surprise that Apple’s use of ‘hello again’ as the tagline for tomorrow’s event is being taken as evidence that the company thinks it’s going to be showing us something pretty special …
The MacBook Pro models we see tomorrow will certainly be special in one way: they will be the first models designed without input from Steve Jobs.
While Steve tragically passed away in October 2011, he would have been intimately involved in the design of the first MacBook Pro with Retina display launched eight months later in June 2012. Since then, we’ve seen a few small innovations – like Force Touch – but the MacBook Pro you can buy today is essentially the one Steve helped design. The one we will see unveiled tomorrow will be the first one created by a post-Steve Apple.
There’s one thing we can’t say ‘would never have happened in Steve’s day’: the non-upgradability of modern MacBooks. I’m not keen on it myself, but I have accepted that the typical Mac buyer these days wouldn’t dream of cracking open the casing and performing a DIY upgrade. Bear in mind that Woz wanted the original Macintosh to be user-upgradeable via expansion cards while Steve was so keen on keeping users out that he insisted on the use of special tamper-proof screws. So this is a Steve-sanctioned approach.
We can expect the MacBook Pro models to go even further down the route pioneered by the 12-inch MacBook. A smaller footprint and thinner case, probably making the SSD part of the logic board and no longer user-upgradable.
Last time the ‘hello (again)’ tagline was used, it was in a Mac that dropped one industry-standard feature – the floppy disk drive – and adopted what was then the very latest tech: the USB-A port. We can expect similar this time. We’ll be waving goodbye to USB-A ports and saying hello to USB-C ones. MagSafe will be gone, along with standalone Thunderbolt ports – though the connectivity will remain thanks to integration into USB-C.
The headphone socket may or may not remain. Clearly Apple could not use the same space argument it made for the iPhone 7, so personally I suspect it will stay for one more generation, but I don’t consider that a certainty. Perhaps Apple will be courageous.
We’ll be seeing at least two new technical innovations. The first is that Magic Toolbar we’ve all been talking about for months. I said back in June that I hoped that dynamic content would make it more than a gimmick, and the latest evidence suggests that this will indeed be the case.
The Magic Toolbar has not overly impressed some commenters on the site, but my view is that we need to view it in the same light as the touch-sensitive Home button on the iPhone 7: just the first step in a new direction. In this case, a step toward dynamically-assigned hardware keys.
We also got confirmation (if any were needed) that the new MacBook Pro will support Touch ID. This is something many of us have been waiting for ever since Touch ID was introduced on the iPhone 5s. It’s one of those very small things that makes a big difference to those who hop on and off their machines all day, either in the office or while mobile – and we’ve already seen that it will support online Apple Pay purchases on the Mac.
The leaked images found may be just placeholders, but assuming it’s an accurate representation of the design, there’s one thing I love and one thing that disappoints me.
I love the fact that the keyboard spans almost the full width of the machine, with those lovely-looking slim speakers down the edges. But those bezels …
They don’t look much smaller than current-generation machines, which I think is very disappointing from a design standpoint. While there may be limited practical benefit to ultra-thin bezels, and they do pose a challenge for the webcam, they are one of the things that most transform the look of a device. Check out some of the latest televisions and monitors to see just how great ultra-thin bezels look.
I’m not a fan of Dell (long story to do with a disastrous custom-build machine many years ago), but the new Dell XPS range – above – does show just how thin a bezel is possible in today’s laptop. I’d love to see something like this in a MacBook. For one more day, at least, I can cling to my placeholder-image theory …
Do the new features add up to enough to justify the use of the ‘hello again’ tagline? I’m not sure that they do. I’m hoping that Apple has a ‘one more thing’ surprise up its sleeve when it shows off the new machines tomorrow.
Either way, though, as someone who has clung to my 17-inch MacBook Pro for more than four years, it will be time for me to accept the time has come to move on – and to say ‘hello again’ to a brand new MacBook Pro.
Zac recently outlined the reasons that this will be the machine to buy. Will you be joining us? Last time we asked, two-thirds of you were planning to buy one of the new MacBook Pro machines. We’ll take your temperature again now, and compare with your plans after you’ve seen what Apple has to offer.