Apple still loves you, pro users, but that love will cost you
A solid chunk of Apple’s WWDC opening keynote on Monday felt like a love letter to professional users. You know, the designers, illustrators, music producers, and similar demanding customers who lovingly cherished their Macintosh computers when the general populace only had a vague idea of what Apple is.
This was a long overdue, important move from Apple. People who rely on their Macs for work weren’t happy in recent years, as the company seemed to forget about its roots and focus on the mass market. Look no further than the Mac Pro, which wasn’t updated in forever, prompting Apple to apologize back in April and (possibly for the first time ever) announce in advance a thorough update to this line of products.
There was no apology on Monday (though Apple CEO Tim Cook did on several occasions sheepishly proclaim the Mac as the “heart and soul” of Apple), but there were more than enough updates to please the demanding user. The company announced the iMac Pro, the first-ever professional-grade iMac machine, with truly high-end specs. It showed off a ton of new iPad Pro features illustrators and designers will love. It even yielded to years of
despondent cries requests and launched a full-sized wireless Magic Keyboard with numeric keys.
There’s more. The MacBook line of products got thoroughly updated, and even though there’s still no 32GB 15-inch MacBook Pro option — something pro users have been clamoring for — the laptops did get speedier, 7th gen Kaby Lake Intel processors and better graphics chips, just 7 months after the last update. And even though this feature is mostly VR-related, users will get the ability to connect a standalone graphics card to their MacBooks Pro in the future.
There was no word on the Mac Pro. It’s possible that the iMac Pro is the new Mac Pro and that the Mac Pro line is dead, but if the iMac Pro can deliver the necessary power for demanding tasks, we won’t be too sad.
There’s even a badge of honor for those willing to dish out five thousand or more for a computer, as only iMac Pro buyers will get the space gray set of accessories, including Magic Mouse, Trackpad, and Keyboard.
So good news all around, right?
Well, not really. While I personally do appreciate Apple’s Voldemortish embrace of its pro user base, one aspect of it all still feels like a slap in the face. Price.
The Touch Bar MacBook Pro is still expensive as hell. And though the entry level “escape edition” Pro is 200 bucks cheaper and now starts at $1,299, it still has only two (instead of four) USB-C ports. To add insult to injury, Apple reduced the storage for that variant to a paltry 128GB, which is just enough to install a couple of apps and store one photo. Of you. With donkey ears.
That wireless Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad? It’ll cost you $129, and a slap in the face you should apply to yourself if you actually pay that much for a wireless keyboard. There was a cheaper, wired option for $49 — until yesterday. Apple has removed from its store, even though many pro users don’t really care about their keyboard being wireless.
The iMac Pro, which arrives in December, starts at $4,999, but that’s the entry-level version, and Apple didn’t share the full pricing. Knowing Apple, clicking on options for 2 or 4TB of storage, 64 or 128GB of RAM and 10- or 18-core Xeon processor will soon have you explaining to your family why you have to go live under a bridge now.
Sure, it’s Apple we’re talking about, and none of this is new. The company sells premium products at a premium price which turns into painful if you’re not satisfied with the entry level options. But little things like the removal of the wired numerical keyboard and the reduced storage on the cheapest MacBook Pro just make me want to scream in anger.
Contrary to Mashable‘s Chris Taylor, I think that the onslaught of updates at this year’s WWDC was great. The MacBook, in all its forms, sorely needed an update; the new iPad Pro features seem to be quite cool and the iMac Pro is finally, a serious, professional grade Mac — and many other cool new features and products were shown. But Apple is still unyielding in its quest for your dollar, often annoyingly so, and I’m not going to pretend I like that.