A million hot takes have been posted about how the late-2016 MacBook Pro with USB-C is the undeniable proof that Apple doesn’t care about developers anymore. They took away all the ports! No Esc key! It’s just a more expensive MacBook Air!
But in some ways, the new MacBook Pro is the most techy and expandable laptop Apple has ever made. They are trusting their pro users to wade into murky USB-C waters in search of the holy grail of a universal, open standard for moving data and power between devices.
I’m not here to change your mind about the MacBook Pro. Yes, it’s probably too expensive and more RAM is better than less RAM. But everyone posting complaints without actually using a MBP for a few weeks is missing out on all the clever things you can do because it is built on USB-C. Over the past week or two with a new MacBook Pro (15in, 2.9ghz, TouchBar), I’ve been constantly surprised with how USB-C makes new things possible. It’s a kind of a hacker’s dream.
I personally don’t mind the choice of Apple going USB-C only either. The 2016 MacBook Pro is the best computer I’ve owned to date. But, yes, I’ve had that moment when I realized “Oh, wait, this doesn’t plug in natively anymore.” It was my YubiKey (Yubico is currently planning to release USB-C versions).
Once you get the usual cords as native USB-C versions, e.g. USB-C to micro USB, there are no dongles necessary anymore. Of course, for some devices, like mice or keyboards, you’ll have to go with a 10-Dollar-dongle until you eventually replace the device.
I began looking for USB-C accessories a while ago, ever since Apple started adding the ports to devices like the MacBook – or even Apple TV. For example when choosing a portable battery pack, I chose one that also had a USB-C port. It’s well-known that Apple doesn’t have any issues killing off ports of any sort no matter how old or how prevalent they are.
This brings me to one of the beauties of USB-C: It’s no longer a proprietary port like MagSafe was. Anyone can now make a power source for the MacBooks. Adhere to the USB standard and provide enough power and you’ll be able to power your device. You can now charge your MacBook from an external battery and don’t have through some weird hoops that were there for charging via MagSafe. For the record: Yes, I miss the break-away nature of MagSafe, but I bet there will be magnetic adapters that provide enough power to even the 15″ MacBook Pro.
I also wonder how many people actually plug things – besides the charger – into their computers these days. When I look around the co-working space I work at some may plug in an external display – with provided dongles that adapt from HDMI (or Mini DisplayPort on newer Macs/PCs) to the VGA/DVI port these older displays use. Aside from that it’s maybe a mouse or keyboard, but that’s about it.