In ExtraBITS this week, developer Marco Arment offers some suggestions for how Apple could improve the MacBook Pro, and Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reveals the messy development history of Apple’s forthcoming HomePod.
Marco Arment: How Apple Could Fix the MacBook Pro — Developer Marco Arment has some ideas for how Apple could restore the current MacBook Pro to the glory of the 2015 model. If nothing else, Arment suggests that Apple return to scissor key switches, since the butterfly switches in the current keyboards are disliked by many, unreliable, and expensive to repair. He also proposes removing the Touch Bar, a return to “inverted-T” arrow keys, more ports to reduce dongle dependency, better and more affordable first-party USB-C hubs, and chargers that bring back the charging LED and cable management arms. We agree with Arment, though it’s impossible to know if Apple is open to hearing and responding to such criticisms from the community.
Why the HomePod Faces an Uphill Battle — Apple has officially delayed the HomePod until next year, and many reports indicate that, unlike the standalone Amazon Echo, it will depend on a connected iPhone for most of its smarts. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has gathered the inside story: the HomePod has been in development for over five years, was originally conceived of as a modern iPod Hi-Fi, and its designers were blindsided by the Amazon Echo. But despite the Echo’s success, Apple focused on sound quality and not voice assistant capabilities, which may prove problematic in the market. Regardless, the HomePod will have a hard time competing on audio quality alone, since you can buy several Amazon Echoes for the price of one HomePod.