Tag Archive for ‘MacBook Air’

Moving to the MacBook Pro

13-inch MacBook Pro

After Apple started transitioning their notebook line away from the notoriously unreliable butterfly keyboards, I started pondering what my new work laptop would be. My first work-issued laptop was the 2018 MacBook Air. Although I absolutely loved the machine’s weight, size, and overall design, the keyboard was fundamentally flawed.

I started having issues with the keyboard just a month or two after I received the MacBook Air. But I just dealt with the annoyance of duplicate and missed key presses because I needed it for work. I live too far away from an Apple Store to easily bring it in for repair and that left me with the only option of sending it in by mail, which usually takes at least a week. I couldn’t be without my work laptop for that long.

Then, about a year later, Josh was born and I was on parental leave for four months. I took that opportunity to send in my machine and get the keyboard replaced. It came back about a week later and the keyboard worked perfectly. That’s excellent, but my faith in the butterfly mechanism was tarnished.

I came back from parental leave earlier this year and knew that I was due for a replacement machine in April. Apple had already released the 16-inch MacBook Pro last November with the new scissor switch keyboard and I wasn’t going to order a new laptop unless it had the new keyboard. The 16-inch is just too large for my liking, though. I like to move around the house throughout the day while I work — spending some time at the kitchen table, some time in the living room, and some time in the office. Between that and the extra heft while traveling to work meetups a few times each year, I would much rather have a smaller machine.

The next Mac to return to the scissor switch keyboard was the MacBook Air in March. All the benefits of my 2018 MacBook Air with a new, more reliable keyboard — what’s not to like? I still had another month to go before I was able to order a new work laptop and although I found the new Air intriguing, I felt it was in my best interest to wait and see with the 13-inch MacBook Pro update had in store.

I didn’t have to wait long, the new 13-inch MacBook Pro was announced in May. But that left me with the question, which MacBook to choose?

Luckily, I work for the best company in the world — we’re able to choose what machine is best for each of us and our work, with limited restrictions. So I could essentially get whatever I wanted, configured however I wanted. With price being no object, that means you have to choose a machine entirely based on it’s own merits — there’s no need to make concessions because a component upgrade is too expensive.

I hemmed and hawed for quite some time about what machine would actually be better for me and my work. I liked the form factor, lighter weight, and lack of Touch Bar on the MacBook Air, but how much would I appreciate the extra horse power of the MacBook Pro? And would that additional performance be worth the trade offs in portability?

I had it narrowed down to two different configurations:

MacBook Air

  • 1.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
  • 16GB of memory
  • 512GB solid-state drive

MacBook Pro

  • 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i7
  • 32GB of memory
  • 512GB solid-state drive

Most of my friends that I spoke with suggested I choose the MacBook Pro, but the decision wasn’t too easy for me. I overvalue portability compared to most of them. I want the thinnest and lightest laptop I can use and will typically give up performance for it. And that extends to the power adapter that the machine uses as well — 30 watt power adapters, which the MacBook Air require are much smaller and lighter than the 61 watt power adapter that comes with the Pro. I know I can use third-party power adapters (and trust me, I do), but it becomes tricky when you want to use your laptop under load with a lower wattage adapter — the battery depletes even when plugged in.

Then there is the question of the shape of the machine itself. The MacBook Air features that iconic wedge shape, while the MacBook Pro is flat. I rarely use an external keyboard, so would the flat shape effect my ability to type comfortably? The answer isn’t obvious and given the state of retail at the moment, it’s not like I could go out and try the MacBook Pro for some amount of time in store. And even if I could, the environment isn’t exactly great from an ergonomics standpoint, so I doubt I’d be able to get a good impression of what it would feel like to use in practice.

And the other major downside of the MacBook Pro is the Touch Bar. I have heard almost nothing good about it and the overall impression that I see online is that the Touch Bar makes your computer worse. Things are a bit different with the current iteration, though, specifically with the escape key being a physical key. But without much experience with it, I’d still err on the side of preferring a machine without one.

But then we get into the topic of performance. This is where the MacBook Pro really starts to shine. Based on Geekbench 5 benchmarks, the MacBook Pro is only marginally faster than the MacBook Air on single-core tasks, but it’s one-and-a-half times the performance on multi-core tasks. It’s difficult for me to gauge whether I will really get much benefit from that extra performance in my day-to-day tasks, though.

I spend all day in Chrome, Slack, Simplenote, and Things. Those aren’t particularly intensive applications, especially since I typically have less than ten tabs open in Chrome at any given time. I also have some menu bar apps open, like iStat Menus, tyke, Droplr, One Switch, and a handful of others. That’s a pretty accurate snapshot of my daily work and I don’t need a ton of CPU performance to keep up.

But this might not always be the case. I have an opportunity to spend time working on support for our mobile apps in the future and with that comes the possibility of more intensive applications. Specifically the iOS Simulator and Android in emulation so I can test our apps in different environments. This is a far heavier workload than what I’m doing currently and is the single reason I ultimately decided to spring for the increased performance of the MacBook Pro instead of the better portability of the Air.

Impressions

I ordered the 13-inch MacBook Pro in space gray with a 2.3GHz Intel Core i7, 32GB of memory, and a 512GB SSD. I’ve been using the machine for my daily work for about a month and although I had some hesitation with a few of its features, I’m very happy with the decision overall.

Here are my miscellaneous thoughts and impressions on the machine’s features, when compared to the 2018 MacBook Air that I upgraded from:

  • Physical Size: The difference in thickness and weight of the MacBook Pro was immediately obvious when it first arrived. But it only took a few days before I completely forgot about it. When I pick up the MacBook Air now, I am reminded of how light it is, but in my day-to-day it hasn’t had much of an impact.
  • Keyboard: It feels different than the MacBook Air. And while I appreciate the scissor switch keyboard’s reliability and key travel, I do find myself missing the stability that came from the butterfly switches. Not enough to go back, mind you, but I can understand to a certain extent why Apple was fond of the butterfly mechanism. If they were able to fix the reliability issues entirely and increase key travel, I think the butterfly keyboard would actually be more enjoyable to type on.
  • Touch Bar: I’ve been skeptical of the utility of the Touch Bar since its introduction, but have had very little experience with it up until now. Having a physical escape key seems to be a massive upgrade from the previous iteration and I’ve actually found the feature to be a positive addition to my workflow, although minor. I currently have my Touch Bar configured to display the extended Control Strip with display brightness, keyboard brightness, and volume buttons on the right with Quick Actions, Mission Control, and Show Desktop on the left. I only have one Quick Action configured, but I imagine it will get more useful to me as ideas for automation present themselves in my work.
  • Performance: I haven’t had much of an opportunity to test out the MacBook Pro’s performance. I’ve been sticking primarily to my everyday tasks so far and it has tackled those handily. I’ve run Geekbench a few times and the performance results do bear out what I’ve seen listed in their benchmark browser.
  • Battery Life: I don’t have exact measurements on battery life and mileage may vary depending on your workload. I have found that the Pro’s battery life is worse than the MacBook Air, but not by so much that it impedes my ability to work away from a power adapter for prolonged periods of time. One interesting wrinkle in this attribute is my use of Turbo Boost Switcher Pro, which lets you disable Turbo Boost at will. When this feature is disabled, I’m still seeing better performance and better battery life when compared to the 2018 with Turbo Boost enabled. So if I ever needed to work for longer stints without a power adapter, disabling Turbo Boost would likely do the trick.
  • Power Adapter: The MacBook Pro’s power adapter is large compared to the MacBook Air’s adapter. And massive compared to the third-party Anker power adapter I had been using. But I’ve since purchased Anker’s 45 watt adapter with a similar form factor and although it doesn’t provide as much power as the included adapter, it seems to at least maintain the current charge when the machine is under load.
  • Thunderbolt 3 Ports: The MacBook Air offers two Thunderbolt 3 ports while my new MacBook Pro offers four. There has been exactly one instance where I’ve used more than two ports — I had my power adapter, iPad Pro using Sidecar, and my Apple TV HD connected so I could display its screen in QuickTime for screen sharing on Zoom. I’m sure there are still a lot of Mac users that wish they could have more ports, but I think Apple’s offerings are just fine.

Unless something radically changes over the next couple of years, I expect my next Mac will be whatever the 13-inch MacBook Pro iteration is at the time of purchase. It offers an incredible balance of horse power and portability, which makes it the perfect machine for my work and travel habits.

John Gruber Reviews the New MacBook Air ➝

John Gruber:

The things that haven’t changed with the MacBook Air — size, weight, display — didn’t need to change. They were already great. The things that have changed — price, performance, and for me personally, especially the keyboard — have all changed significantly for the better. These new MacBook Airs are a lot cheaper, performance is appreciably improved for both CPU and graphics, and the keyboard has gone from “well, it’s OK” to “damn, this keyboard feels so good it makes me want to write something”.

I’ve used a 2018 MacBook Air as my work machine for almost a year and a half. There were only two things I wanted in my next machine — a reliable keyboard and increased performance. Apple delivered on both.

I’m due for a new work-issued computer sometime in the next few months. And because I work for the best company ever, I’ll be able to pick out the model and choose the build-to-order options that I want to use. I’ll likely wait until I see what an updated 13-inch MacBook Pro has to offer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up with one of these new MacBook Airs.

➝ Source: daringfireball.net

The One-Word Answer ➝

John Gruber:

I asked an Apple source last fall why it took so long for Apple to release the new MacBook Air. Their one-word answer: “Intel.”

I can think of one way they could have killed some time while they were waiting.

The Best MacBook Accessory on the Market ➝

There are plenty of accessories from folks like Twelve South, Anker, and even Apple that can be an important part of your daily workflow. But I can’t imagine owning a MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro without at least one of these. I try to keep my desk clear of clutter and store items in my desk drawers when I’m not using them, but this has become such a crucial part of my Mac experience that it lives on my desk so it’s always at the ready.

macOS Menu Bar Apps

As I mentioned in my recent MacBook Air review, I’ve spent a lot more time on macOS over the past handful of months. I still use my iPad Air 2 as my primary machine for personal use, but I do just about all of my work as a Happiness Engineer on macOS.

Since I’ve already shared my thoughts about the new hardware, I wanted to speak a bit about the software I’ve been using. I won’t be covering everything today, instead focusing on the Menu Bar apps that I have installed — whether they’re a crucial part of my workflow or something I’m currently testing.

Aside from the standard Wi-Fi, Sound, Battery, Time, Siri, Spotlight, Time Machine, and Bluetooth icons, I have the following applications in my Menu Bar:

  • Alfred: I’m basically incapable of functioning on a Mac without this app installed. I think Merlin Mann is to blame for that. All of his coverage of Quicksilver after I first purchased a MacBook in 2006 has ingrained into my brain that ctrl+space is my go-to keyboard shortcut when I want to do, basically, anything on my Mac. I use it for launching applications, opening files, and searching the web. I have nearly two dozen custom web searches setup that allow me to quickly access Automattic’s internal tools and documentation while I work. It allows me to be productive and efficient in a way that no other application has.
  • Droplr: I share a lot of screenshots and GIFs during my time working with WordPress.com users and Droplr is the best app I’ve found for sharing these files. I usually use macOS’ built-in keyboard shortcuts for taking the screenshots, then I can drop them on to Droplr’s icon in the Menu Bar to share them. The app uploads the file, opens it in my web browser, and automatically adds a URL I can share to my clipboard. If I need to markup or annotate a file, I can do so with its built-in tools and the app even has the ability to record a GIF of a specific portion of my screen, which I can use for illustrating more complicated, multi-step tasks.
  • TextExpander: While, I’ve only just scratched the surface of the efficiency and productivity gains that this application allows for, this is another essential application for me. Since I do a lot of typing throughout the day, I use TextExpander to automatically expand small bits of text into larger snippets that I find myself typing frequently. I only have about three snippets that I use regularly, but I plan to grow that list over time as each one becomes fully integrated into my workflows — there’s no sense in adding a bunch of snippets only to realize that you don’t remember or use most of them.
  • Hocus Focus: This application automatically hides other app windows after they’ve been inactive for a period of time. It helps keep my screen clear of clutter and allows me to focus on the task at hand. I’ve only used the app for a few weeks, but I like it quite a bit so far. I have non-active apps set to hide after two minutes and only disable the feature when I’m on video chats with other members of my team.
  • Bartender: A simple little application that let’s me hide the majority of my Menu Bar apps behind an ellipses icon. This is especially useful when I’m working on my Air’s 13-inch display, since it keeps my menu bar icons from overtaking my screen. I have it setup to hide everything except the applications and system status indicators that I use most — Droplr, Wi-Fi, Sound, and Time.
  • Moom: This is an app that I’m still testing at the moment. It allows you to reorganize, resize, and reposition your application windows with the ability to save these as presets that can trigger with a keyboard shortcut or when you connect or disconnect an external display. Since I often switch throughout the day between my external LG UltraFine 5K display and the MacBook Air’s built-in display, I suspect this will become an essential app for me once I have the time to configure it for all my apps.
  • Backblaze: I started using Backblaze as one of my backup solutions a few months ago. I still use Time Machine with an external drive, but since I use my MacBook Air portably a lot, I don’t have it connected most of the time. Backblaze helps to fill in those gaps for me by continuously backing up my machine, as long as I have an internet connection.
  • 1Password: This is my favorite password manager by far and I use it on all of my devices. It’s thoughtfully designed, incredibly powerful, easy to use, and let’s me share passwords with my wife through our family account. If you aren’t using a password manager, I highly recommend giving this one a try.
  • Turbo Boost Switcher Pro: This little utility app allows me to enable and/or disable Turbo Boost on my MacBook Air, primarily as a way to increase battery life. This is another application that I haven’t spent much time actually testing, but I expect it will be invaluable when I’m traveling.

I have to say, I’ve had a lot of fun finding and testing applications for the Mac over the last handful of months. Although I never exactly “abandoned” the platform entirely, I certainly haven’t paid as much attention to the new software and tools that have been released over the last couple of years. So if there are better options to fill the roles of the apps listed above or you have a recommendation for an app I might be interested, don’t hesitate to reach out on Twitter. I’m always on the look out for the latest and greatest software.

MacBook Air

As some of you may know, I recently started a new job. I’m now a Happiness Engineer at Automattic, helping WordPress.com users build their online business, share their ideas with the world, or do just about anything you could think of with a website. This new change in my life is at least partly to blame for the lack of publishing here on Initial Charge, but now that the holidays are behind us, I should have a bit more time for writing.

I’ve added quite a bit of new tech to my setup over the past few months and have plenty of thoughts and ideas to share about what’s happened in the world of Apple recently. But today, I thought I’d spend a bit of time discussing the new MacBook Air.

I’ve had the new MacBook Air for about two months now and it’s served as my primary work machine. I occasionally do some communication-related tasks on my iPhone and iPad, but the vast majority of my work is done on the Air.

I ordered the Space Gray model with a 256GB SSD and 16GB of RAM.

There’s a small part of me that wishes Apple allowed for a bit more customization with this machine. But in practice, the Air’s internals have been more than sufficient for my needs. I routinely have several tabs open in Chrome alongside Slack, Things, Simplenote, and nearly a dozen menu bar applications.

I know that this isn’t the heaviest workload — I’m sure video editors and developers would push this machine to its limits. But I haven’t had a single hiccup with it from a performance perspective. For my needs, the MacBook Air has been absolutely perfect in this regard.

I’ve been quite happy with the machine’s battery life as well. I haven’t come close to the “up to 12 hours” that Apple lists on its technical specifications page. But I use Chrome, so that’s to be expected. In real world use, I’m getting closer to 6-7 hours on a single charge without making any alterations to my work. That’s significantly more than any other Mac I’ve ever owned and is enough to get me through the bulk of my work day. I bet if I closed some background apps and disabled Turbo Boost, I could squeeze out a full day of work on a single charge.

From a hardware design perspective, I’ve been mostly happy with the new Air. While it is larger and heavier than the 11-inch MacBook Air that it replaced, the machine itself feels rock-solid. And when you consider the additional screen real estate that it offers, I think this is the perfect laptop size for me.

One notable aspect of the MacBook Air specifically is the size of the power brick. This isn’t something that gets brought up too often when I see others weighing the pros and cons of each model in Apple’s lineup. But the new Air’s 30W power brick is the same one that ships with the MacBook. And it’s downright minuscule compared to the 61W and 87W chargers that ship with the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros. I’m really going to appreciate that when traveling.

To circle back to the display for a moment — it’s superb. It doesn’t get as bright as the MacBook Pro, but I haven’t felt the need for it in my use. I have the automatic brightness setting turned on and it usually floats between forty and sixty percent. I’m running the display with the default scaling settings and everything looks crisp and clear. Absolutely no complaints on this front.

I’m perfectly fine with the ports situation as well. Two USB-C ports has been one more than I’ve needed in my day-to-day use so far. I haven’t plugged anything other than my power adapter and an external display into the machine. Although never at the same time since I’m using the LG UltraFine 5K Display, which delivers power and data on a single cable. When I’m traveling, I’ll surely appreciate the ability to plug in an external drive while I’m charging, but I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d want an additional port — I guess I just don’t use peripherals like everyone else does.

As a quick aside, how incredible is it that a notebook this small is capable of powering a 5K display. It’s the “best of both worlds” machine that I’ve always dreamed of. I get the thin and light ultra-portable when I’m traveling and a spacious 27-inch display when I’m at home at my desk. It really is amazing.

But back to the port discussion. This transition to USB-C has been kind to me. I’ve purchased a new SSD that came with a USB-C cable and a USB-C to Lightning cable so I can charge my external trackpad, keyboard, and mouse when the need arises. Funnily enough, I own more dongle-related t-shirts than I do actual dongles for my MacBook Air.

The Air’s built-in trackpad feels spacious and comfortable — Apple continues to build the absolute best notebook trackpads on the market. There was a bit of an adjustment at first, since I was moving from the older-style physical trackpads to the haptic-powered ones. But it didn’t take more than a week or two before the trackpad felt normal to me.

My biggest complaint is that the trackpad occasionally misses my “tap to clicks”. However, this has been the case with every Mac trackpad I’ve ever used — the Air is no better or worse. I’m almost certain that these missed inputs have something to do with the algorithm Apple uses to prevent accidental clicks while typing. And although it doesn’t happen more than a couple of times each day, I wish there was a way to fine-tune this setting so that it missed these “tap to clicks” less frequently.

Touch ID has been such a nice feature for me and I’m so glad Apple decided to include it without the Touch Bar, which still feels a bit too gimmicky to me. I do have my Mac setup to unlock automatically with my Apple Watch, but this actually lends itself well to how I plan on using my Mac.

When I travel, I often leave my Watch at home — it’s one less thing to charge, manage, and keep track. So I can utilize the convenience of Touch ID in those instances. But while I’m at home, the Air is frequently connected to the 5K display in clamshell mode, which means Touch ID isn’t available. This is where unlocking with my Watch swoops in to smooth out the rough edges. This is the sort of seamless integration and niceties that I’ve grown to love about using Apple products.

And that brings me to the keyboard. Apple’s new notebook keyboard might be the most controversial change to their lineup — even more so than the move to USB-C. I typically stand on the side of it’s mostly fine, but I have experienced some problems that had me reconsider this stance.

The full-size left and right arrow keys still trip me up from time to time. Although I have started getting used to it. I do believe that the inverted “T” design of the previous style keyboard is still vastly superior, but this change isn’t a deal breaker for me.

Before owning the keyboard, my biggest worry was in regards to the distance between keys. This aspect of the keyboard was a significant hurdle for me in the brief moments that I spent test driving the keyboard at Best Buy and the Apple Store. I always felt lost while typing because there just wasn’t enough definition between the keys. Luckily, that feeling subsided quickly and the keyboard actually feels good to type on now.

That is, until I started getting duplicate inputs when I pressed certain keys. Whenever I would type something with the letter “a” or “p” in it, the Air would register multiple key presses when I was only intending to type a single letter. For example, typing the word “apple” would give me something like “aappple”. Referring to this as “irritating” would be a gross understatement.

Since I spend most of my day typing, this is basically a nightmare. I’ve tried to mitigate the issue by attempting to smoosh whatever dust or debris is causing the problem by firmly pressing on the top of the key and giving it a little wiggle with my finger. That will usually give me another day or so until the problem arises again. But this is by no means a solution.

Upon the recommendation of Apple, I went out and bought a can of compressed air that I’ve used to hopefully blow the dust and debris out of my keyboard. The jury’s still out as to whether this is going to fix the problem for longer than my smoosh method, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

It is a pretty major failure on Apple’s part that this is even a problem to begin with, though. I’ve owned a handful of other Apple keyboards throughout the years and I’ve never had to use compressed air to clean debris out of them. In fact, this is the first can of compressed air I’ve purchased since I switched to the Mac over twelve years ago.

I just can’t see how this design flaw wasn’t discovered during testing. It had to have been. I only had the MacBook Air for about 3-4 weeks before I started having problems with it. If it means I have to blow some compressed air into the keyboard every month or two, I guess it’s something I can deal with. But Apple needs to take the time to think about whether the trade-offs are worth it for this keyboard design.

Spoiler alert: they’re not.

Yes, I’m sure Apple’s design team appreciates the thinness of this keyboard, but that shouldn’t come at the cost of usability. Especially when they have another keyboard in their lineup that’s absolutely incredible to type on. I’ve used the Magic Keyboard for almost two years now — it’s an absolute joy to use and since it’s still using scissor-style key switches (as opposed to the butterfly mechanism in MacBooks), it doesn’t exhibit any of the problems that users have experienced with the MacBook keyboards.

Apple needs to stop trying to fix a flawed design and refresh their entire notebook lineup with a new keyboard that utilizes the same key switches that they’re using in the Magic Keyboard. That would be the ideal way forward for Apple and their customers.

Here’s the thing, though. I grouse about the keyboard, but honestly, I love this machine. Nearly every other decision that went into building the new MacBook Air was spot-on. The weight and form-factor are perfect for my needs, Touch ID fits well into my workflow, and the performance is fantastic. The keyboard alone might be a deal breaker for some, but I think this is the best Mac I’ve ever owned.

The New Mac Lineup

Apple did something on Monday that Mac fans have been waiting years for — they released updates to nearly every Mac in their lineup. The iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, and even the MacBook Air saw improvements. And that’s setting aside the announcement of a new machine — the iMac Pro, which I plan to discuss in a future Linked List entry. This is exactly what Apple needed to do if they wanted to instill confidence in the Mac community that they still cared about the platform. And judging by the reactions I’ve seen online, it worked.

Of all the machines updated, the iMac is the most appealing to me. The new line features faster processors, higher RAM ceilings, the addition of two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, and discrete graphics for all of the 4K and 5K models. That’s a compelling product. Especially the entry-level Retina machine that’s now priced at $1299.

If I was buying a new Mac today, the entry-level 4K iMac, upgraded to a 256GB SSD would be the machine for me. The vast majority of my computing takes place on iOS these days, so I don’t have much need for a portable Mac. But I need a machine that can be left on at all times for Plex that is also accessible remotely with Screens for the rare occasions when I need a Mac for some random, impossible-on-iOS task.

Of course, as expected, there were minor updates to the 12-inch MacBook — Kaby Lake processors, improved graphics, and faster SSDs. But I was surprised to see updates to the MacBook Pro line. I know there were rumors of it during the lead up to WWDC, but with Apple’s recent track record, I was skeptical that they would refresh a product that was introduced so recently — they just came out seven months ago. A handful of years ago, when Intel was releasing new, faster chips with more regularity? Sure. But based on the last few years, I don’t expect refreshes that are quite this quick.

The biggest news here is the price drop on the Touch Bar-less 13-inch MacBook Pro. It starts at just $1299 now, which seems to be the new sweet spot for Macs. The 12-inch MacBook, 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the 4K iMac all start at $1299. It’s Apple’s new line in the sand, of sorts — if you want a Retina display, you’ll have to spend at least $1299 for it. I wish they could make Retina more affordable, but at least they’re heading in the right direction.

This does leave me wondering why someone would buy the 12-inch MacBook over the Touch Bar-less MacBook Pro when they’re identically priced. The extra storage on the MacBook is nice and, if that extra pound means a lot to you, the MacBook is lighter. But the 13-inch offers an additional USB-C port and is a lot more powerful than the MacBook. Maybe Apple will drop the price of the 12-inch with the next revision, it would really help smooth out their offerings.

I was surprised by the MacBook Pro updates, but I was shocked that Apple did anything to the MacBook Air. When John Turnis mentioned the “bump in megahertz” that it was receiving, I genuinely laughed out loud. I expected the MacBook Air to die a slow death — without any updates at all — only kept around as a placeholder until the 12-inch MacBook could be sold for $999. But the base-model MacBook Air is now available with a 1.8GHz Broadwell-based Core i5, which is just 200MHz faster than the previous base-model. It’s a paltry update, but the MacBook Air may still be Apple’s most popular Mac. And as long as that’s the case, they really should continue improving it.

And speaking of slow deaths, what’s going on with the Mac Mini? It’s the only Mac that hasn’t received any attention — no updates or even announcements of a future update. The current Mac Mini was initially released in October 2014. Since then, I don’t think there’s even been any rumors of an update, let alone an indication from Apple that one was coming.

Apple’s Mac lineup is far healthier today than it was before WWDC, but we’re not out of the woods yet. We know there’s a Mac Pro refresh in our future, but the Mac Mini is still a mystery. I’d like to see Apple ship a Mac Mini update before the end of the year — a simple configuration refresh with modern processors, increased memory, and Fusion Dives as standard would suffice, there’s no need for a major redesign. If Apple could manage that, we will have seen activity on every single Mac Apple offers in a single twelve month period. And that’s something we haven’t seen since, what, 2012? The Macintosh platform might finally being going through the revitalization that we all hoped for.

An Ode to the 11-Inch MacBook Air ➝

A great piece by Serenity Caldwell, about one of my favorite Macs of all time. I own the mid-2011 model with a Core i7 and it’s a machine I still use regularly, despite its age.