The Talk Show

269: ‘Maximally Thin’ With Casey Johnston


00:00:00   Hey everybody, it's your internet pal, John Gruber.

00:00:03   I've got some good news and some bad news.

00:00:04   The good news first, I have an amazing guest,

00:00:07   Casey Johnston, who has done more writing

00:00:09   and great writing about the saga

00:00:12   of the butterfly switch MacBook keyboards

00:00:14   than anybody else on the internet.

00:00:16   And we're here to talk all about

00:00:18   the new 16 inch MacBook Pro

00:00:20   and its all new keyboard design.

00:00:21   So that's the good news.

00:00:22   The bad news is that I recorded the whole show

00:00:25   using my review unit 16 inch MacBook Pro

00:00:28   And to connect it to my regular microphone, I had to use a USB-C to USB-A dongle.

00:00:33   And I think something went wrong there.

00:00:35   And my side of the audio has a bit of static.

00:00:39   And we're doing our best to mitigate it in post.

00:00:42   But you're going to hear it, I think.

00:00:44   And I'm just telling you upfront that you don't have to let me know.

00:00:48   I'm really sorry about it.

00:00:49   Nobody feels worse about this than me.

00:00:51   I really do.

00:00:52   But you don't have to let me know.

00:00:54   And here's the weird part.

00:00:56   I can't explain it.

00:00:57   I'm recording this preamble where I don't have the static using the exact same microphone

00:01:01   setup that had the static when I recorded with Casey.

00:01:05   I can't explain it.

00:01:07   It's some kind of thing.

00:01:09   I don't know if I didn't have the USB key cable all the way in or what the heck I did

00:01:13   wrong.

00:01:14   Can't explain it.

00:01:15   Sorry.

00:01:16   On with the show.

00:01:19   Casey Johnston, welcome to the talk show.

00:01:21   Thank you.

00:01:22   Are you excited?

00:01:24   It's a big week for you.

00:01:25   I mean, yes, I guess yes, it is. This is the culmination of years of complaining and effort on my part.

00:01:37   So for I can't believe that anybody listening doesn't know but for anybody who doesn't know

00:01:42   Casey, while employed at the outline wrote, I think all of the stuff on the keyboard was from your time.

00:01:49   No, actually, the first time I wrote about it, I was not yet working there.

00:01:53   That was it was like maybe four or five months before.

00:01:56   But it but was it published at the outline or published at the outline?

00:02:01   Yes, I wrote it as a freelancer.

00:02:03   All right. All right. And it was

00:02:05   headline. The new MacBook Pro, the new MacBook keyboard is ruining my life.

00:02:11   I mean, it was no exaggeration.

00:02:13   It really was and sort of continues even today, even this week at work

00:02:18   Trying to use actually a different computer, but same same style of keyboard continues to run my life

00:02:23   Because you are a professional writer and

00:02:28   most professional writers

00:02:31   Do a fair amount of typing on?

00:02:34   keyboards

00:02:37   So it's like, you know

00:02:40   In a way the stakes are even higher because it's my job to make sure everything's correct. But with these keyboards, I'm out here

00:02:46   introducing errors constantly

00:02:48   But I really do think so the big news everybody listening by now obviously knows Apple released the new 16 inch MacBook Pro

00:03:01   Which replaces the old 15 inch it's just slightly bigger. So they gave it a new

00:03:06   Number for the size of the screen diagonal

00:03:09   And it has an all-new keyboard design

00:03:14   You, I think, along with Joanna Stern, I would say that you and Joanna Stern really led the

00:03:25   way on the writing about this keyboard over the years.

00:03:30   And there is a sort of Emperor has no close angle to it, where it's like, I feel like

00:03:39   Ultimately the bottom line of your writing about the issue is this keyboard is garbage. I mean literally you said it ruined your life

00:03:46   Yes

00:03:46   I mean

00:03:47   It's it's tough because you can't like the keyboard was the style of keyboard was out for a couple of years before

00:03:53   I even got a hold of it let alone wrote about it

00:03:57   So it was like there was some

00:04:00   Negative feedback about it, but I think it really didn't gain any

00:04:07   critical mass because no one really—I don't think it's not

00:04:10   like no one bought the original MacBook, no modifier, the teeny

00:04:15   tiny one with the super, super shallow keys. So I think that no

00:04:21   one was out there trying to amass the negative feedback

00:04:26   into one place and be like, "Wait, this is actually kind of

00:04:28   bad." It was only when it started to proliferate out to

00:04:32   the pro line, and then eventually the airline much

00:04:35   that I think people or that I that I sort of

00:04:39   Came to it and was like this is there's a trend here

00:04:43   This is bad and it seems like it has been bad and just no one saying anything in a very strange way

00:04:48   And it was hard because like

00:04:52   Apple and

00:04:55   various people

00:04:57   various owners of these computers would sort of continue to insist that it was like

00:05:01   Quote-unquote user error or like an extreme minority of people who are having this problem

00:05:06   But just the ease with which I was

00:05:10   Seeming to have it like without really doing much wrong or anything differently than I had with any other computer

00:05:16   really involved a

00:05:19   Yeah, like it was a real like there there are four lights moment like I just have to like know my own truth here

00:05:31   Because it's two things. There's the

00:05:33   What if the keyboard the butterfly switch keyboard which as you said was introduced with the teeny tiny?

00:05:39   MacBook with no adjective after its name that is now out of the lineup

00:05:45   Yeah, yeah then now with the air they've

00:05:51   They've they've taken it out

00:05:57   And you could kind of understand why they went to it because that was such a teeny tiny computer

00:06:03   So emphasis, you know so much emphasis on being it's super small didn't even have fan a fan system

00:06:08   It used a chipset that you know

00:06:10   Wouldn't ever get hot enough to require fan. So there just wasn't room for a bigger keyboard with traditional travel blah blah blah

00:06:18   It and then they use that keyboard eventually expanded to the whole line

00:06:24   With you know, whatever mechanical differences when the computers got bigger whether you liked it or not is one thing when it functioned

00:06:31   Completely as design is you know, and and I I never loved it, but I didn't hate it

00:06:37   It's you know, that was always my impression of it. The bigger problem was for a lot of people it

00:06:45   Tended to develop

00:06:49   multiple types of problems one problem would be

00:06:52   Keys that stopped working and so you'd go to type in E and no E would appear on screen

00:06:58   Or you'd go to type a space and nothing would appear and then the other problem people had

00:07:03   Was the opposite where you would type a key and you get two of them instead of one. That was the biggest

00:07:08   Having for sure. I mean like the interesting thing is that those those MacBook sans modifiers?

00:07:15   Were not really made for people who like used computers much at all. It seemed like because they were so underpowered and

00:07:22   Just like they couldn't they couldn't do anything. If I recall they couldn't even have very many like browser tabs open

00:07:27   They were almost like Chromebooks

00:07:29   So it's like for values of that person

00:07:32   It seemed like maybe the keyboard actually wasn't that bad because if it's like you never really like

00:07:37   Take your computer outside of a single room in your house

00:07:39   You never carry it around you never really open it when you open it you use it for like maybe

00:07:45   15 minutes at a time like for those people it actually might have been fine

00:07:51   Well, it only had one port which was yeah, which was one of the women

00:07:55   It was really for people who like didn't really need a computer at all

00:07:59   so that may have been why it takes it took so long for the

00:08:02   keyboard issues to emerge but nonetheless what I'm trying to say is

00:08:06   the keyboards like I

00:08:09   Remember trying them in store

00:08:12   When I went to go be like I was like I had heard the keys were not

00:08:18   Great. I think I had tried them on the MacBook and

00:08:21   Felt it was too shallow

00:08:24   Just didn't feel great and I wanted to like wait and see what happened

00:08:29   Even though I was kind of due for a new computer. So I was like in the market

00:08:33   So when I went to the Apple store and I tried it there was a little bit more travel and I was like

00:08:38   Oh, this isn't so bad. Like you can at least feel something and like there it's pretty responsive

00:08:45   And it kind of feels nice to type on but the nice to type on feeling

00:08:48   went away so quickly because of the like I assumed the dust problem that it just

00:08:53   just anything getting in there would the the sort of drop-off point from

00:08:59   the pristine state in which typing felt good to the

00:09:03   Slightly less good state in which typing felt terrible. Like it was a very shallow sort of

00:09:08   amount of

00:09:11   Travel pun intended from from the one to the other

00:09:14   So it just quickly became bad. So it's hard for me to say whether I actually liked the keyboard or not.

00:09:20   It's like the keyboard in the pristine state, actually I didn't mind it so much.

00:09:23   It was a little like,

00:09:26   not as satisfying as like a mechanical keyboard obviously, but it was fine.

00:09:30   But the normal state, it's like what is the normal state of keyboard then if you know,

00:09:36   it can't even sustain the sort of pristine state where the typing was. At least

00:09:43   You could you could ignore it like it wasn't it wasn't a significant factor. I

00:09:47   Came around on this and I personally never bought a

00:09:53   MacBook with one of those keyboards. I'm my the one that I still

00:09:58   That you managed to stay with the market, right?

00:10:01   but

00:10:04   The nature of my job is that I have reviewed various of these models

00:10:09   over that period for like six weeks at a time and with a MacBook and iPhones in particular is

00:10:17   I'm not gonna say it's easy to review them

00:10:19   but it's kind of the technique is easy is I put all of my stuff on and

00:10:25   Just use it full-time and the nature of my life is that I use my iPhone all the time and I'm I

00:10:31   just use whatever MacBook I'm reviewing all the time to do all my work and

00:10:38   So I've used the keyboard cumulatively

00:10:41   For months because I've reviewed several MacBook models over this stretch for six weeks at a time

00:10:50   and the one time I think it was the summer of

00:10:55   2018 yeah, that sounds about right so it's like a year and a half ago

00:10:59   they came out with new MacBook pros, and I was using one and

00:11:04   One time the e key got stuck down and like the corner the corner was wedged under

00:11:10   Yeah a little bit like or something it was like that and and I just sort of noodled it and I was like

00:11:19   Oh now I've got something juicy and I tweeted about it

00:11:22   I was like, ooh he got stuck and then it never got stuck again

00:11:26   And I and that was like three days into testing it and I wound I used it for like the next six weeks

00:11:32   non-stop as like my daily driver computer never happened again and

00:11:37   And like weeks later somebody from Apple PR reached out to me and they were like, hey

00:11:42   I missed it and they had like a link to my tweet from like a month ago and they're like, hey is everything

00:11:47   All right, and I was like, you know what never happened again and they were like, oh shoot

00:11:50   But I was like, you know, I mean

00:11:54   That it was like almost a sort of gaslighting thing where it's not

00:12:00   Not a consistent downslope and like the the dust or whatever it is that's getting under there can get

00:12:06   Lodged and then sort of shake and loose

00:12:09   Or move around like it wasn't it was very very possible for you to develop an issue and have it

00:12:16   Consistently at home and be like I can't write emails like this and then take it into the store and in

00:12:21   Transporting it to the store

00:12:22   Whatever it was was shaken out from under the key and suddenly the key works fine and the genius would be like well

00:12:27   I can't help you like there's nothing for me to

00:12:29   look at or correct and I can't like take the whole computer apart for a problem

00:12:35   that I can't reproduce. So best of luck. Right. Right. And maybe that term

00:12:42   "gaslighting" gets thrown around a little too much today. You know, like 10 years

00:12:46   ago, I don't know if I ever heard it, but it totally applies to this scenario

00:12:50   where you know that you were writing and your E key was producing

00:12:56   double E's and you take it into the store and son of a bitch every single

00:13:03   time you or you could say let me do it and you type you know a sentence and it

00:13:08   the key works perfectly and you kind of get it it's like what is the genius

00:13:14   supposed to do I mean but on the other hand if they know Apple knows that

00:13:20   there's a lot of people coming in with this problem where the real where the

00:13:26   gaslighting thing comes in is like when you know a problem is a problem and other people are having

00:13:31   it and other people are coming and claiming it and you're pretending like they're some crazy

00:13:36   weird one-off or that their problem is relatively innocuous like the the line that I kept hearing

00:13:41   oh maybe it's just a piece of dust is like you know you know in your like cosmic like overlord

00:13:49   apple brain that you have done something wrong here and even if the genius doesn't know it

00:13:55   Someone somewhere up the chain knows it so for someone to be facing me telling me that my problem is like some sort of non-problem

00:14:02   It is really kind of messed up

00:14:05   yeah, and

00:14:08   the other thing is that the

00:14:11   MacBook or the lap the idea of a laptop has been around for a very long time at this point and Apple

00:14:21   deserves credit. I mean, this is going back into like the 90s, but sort of defining the modern idea

00:14:27   of what is a laptop piece of hardware because like in like the early 90s, the industry was all over

00:14:34   the place. And sometimes the keyboard was right up at the front of the device. And people didn't know

00:14:40   if there should be a trackball or should the keyboard you know, and eventually this idea of

00:14:45   put the keyboard towards the back, use the front as like palm rests and put a pointing device in

00:14:51   the middle became like the defining idea of a laptop. And in the early days, they were all

00:14:57   super expensive because computers were expensive. And it was like the entry model was like $6,000.

00:15:02   And that's in like 1995 dollars. And it came down in price and everybody got them. And at this

00:15:10   point, most people when they think of getting a computer, what they mean is a laptop, like the

00:15:15   The desktop is the oddball.

00:15:17   Everybody knows what it is.

00:15:19   Everybody's used one.

00:15:20   People who do work on computers, which is an awful lot of people.

00:15:23   That's what they think of.

00:15:24   And all of those years, all of that typing, most people never want to have a key go bad

00:15:32   on any computer.

00:15:35   It's an awful lot of typing.

00:15:37   I did the math one time, just like back of the envelope.

00:15:40   like, all right, I do a lot of typing because I am a writer, but just sort of spitballing

00:15:45   well the typical week has I do this many words and let's just take a guess that the average

00:15:51   word is four characters in a space. And, you know, take a look at my sent email and just

00:15:59   copy you know, like, how many emails did I send in the year so far and you know, just

00:16:03   a quick estimate and it's like, Oh, I press keys on a keyboard millions of times a year,

00:16:09   no exaggeration. There's, you know, that's actually true. And it works every time. It's

00:16:13   not like 99.9% of the time, right? Because it's like you people living in the modern

00:16:20   world with a job that involves email, you don't have to be a writer to do a lot of writing,

00:16:24   like just email and Skype or slack and stuff like that. You we press these keys and the

00:16:31   accuracy is way more than 99.9% accurate, because if it was only like one out of 1000

00:16:39   and failures, you would feel like you would go insane. It

00:16:43   really is like 100% accuracy historically. And so to have

00:16:47   these,

00:16:47   I was I was gonna say this is like more this is like one of

00:16:50   the better feel like realizations that I had when I

00:16:53   was writing this first article was that keyboards keyboards

00:16:57   were a solved problem. Like no one. No one thought of you

00:17:01   didn't I didn't even think about a keyboard like that a keyboard

00:17:04   could like do I have to like check that the keyboard is going

00:17:07   to be okay. It had not been something that I had thought

00:17:11   about in so long. And for Apple to go and try and reinvent it

00:17:18   to the degree that it had become—I mean, as you're

00:17:21   saying, even a sort of extremely marginal failure rate

00:17:25   is so much greater than how anyone had ever thought about a

00:17:30   keyboard before. Keyboards are supposed to be extremely

00:17:33   reliable. They're the primary interaction mechanism for a

00:17:36   computer and to take it even from that like tiny percentage

00:17:41   like a fractional percentage increase in like, inaccuracy is

00:17:45   actually quite devastating to the entire mechanism.

00:17:49   Right? And some people know no. I'm gonna claim no judgment is

00:17:57   being asked, but I am judging you. I'm sorry, dear listeners,

00:18:00   because I know some of you this applies to you. Some people, some

00:18:05   people eat and drink around their laptop. Right at the keyboard. I don't I never have

00:18:12   because I just you know, I like I don't I just don't want my keyboard to get gross.

00:18:20   But people do. And for good reason, you know, people are eating at lunch and at lunch, you

00:18:26   kind of need to do work or you need to catch up or you just want to be entertained. Right.

00:18:30   and you just want to watch a YouTube and hit the spacebar because you want it to play.

00:18:35   But people do that. They have done it. They'll continue to do it. And their keyboards just

00:18:41   keep working or kept working like the keyboards that were the standard, not like, oh, I'm

00:18:47   going to buy an Apple keyboard. I mean, like you could go buy a Toshiba, you could go buy

00:18:51   a Samsung, you could go buy an HP or a Dell or any of the various brands that are out

00:18:58   there. And there's all sorts of things that you would say or

00:19:02   janky about like cut rate laptops, you might say, Oh, my

00:19:06   god, this display is terrible. Look at it. You could just

00:19:09   eyeball it. Or the hinge that you open it with is like, just

00:19:14   janky trackpads notoriously kind of had bad tracking on PCs on a

00:19:20   lot, especially cheap. Yes. And like in trying to have like

00:19:22   right click mechanisms and so are like scrolling mechanism,

00:19:25   things like that. Yeah. The Yep. Or I remember one time long ago, I mean, obviously long ago,

00:19:31   because I haven't had a real job in a very long time. But one time, I had to work at a place where

00:19:35   everybody got a Dell laptop and the Dell laptop had like the early 2000s. It had and I know

00:19:43   everybody has this as an option. I don't like it. But the thing where you can just tap the keyboard

00:19:48   without clicking it to have it register as a mouse click. Oh, it was it was turned on.

00:19:54   It was turned on on the Dell and this is a brand they issued me a brand new laptop right out of the

00:20:00   you know, I got to unseal it factory unsealed. And it had that turned on and it was driving me nuts.

00:20:08   And I'm searching around the goofy windows, preferences or settings, whatever they called it,

00:20:15   can't find it. I do some googling on the model number and it turns out it is there is no way to

00:20:21   turn it off. I was like this is insane. Anyway, one thing I didn't have a problem with on that

00:20:27   on that laptop was typing. Like it's it really it's more than a solved problem, right? It really

00:20:34   is like the thing that made it insane is that it wasn't even something we thought of as a solved

00:20:40   problem right like nobody really thought about buttons that don't click right I

00:20:45   mean it's um I can't even conceive of the I mean I wish I knew the process

00:20:55   that went into making these decisions that led to this keyboard that like they

00:21:02   were like this is a this is a reasonable sort of leap to make and in changing the

00:21:08   functionality and the design and I don't think I don't think it's like they anticipated these problems, but

00:21:13   it's it's not a

00:21:16   uncommon mistake for Apple to make that they sort of fail to account for any

00:21:19   real world

00:21:22   issues like I the other thing I would compare it to is like

00:21:25   When it used to be that iPhones didn't work super well in the cold

00:21:30   Because I think it doesn't get very cold and like it's cool. It's it can be it's cold

00:21:35   North San Francisco, obviously, but it's not like Northeast cold there. So the fact that they never

00:21:43   sort of accounted for that functionality problem is, is I think, part and parcel to this keyboard

00:21:49   issue as well. Yeah, yeah. And I think that even in those early years, I could be wrong, but

00:21:55   certainly with the original iPhone, it never even got to San Francisco, because I'm sure they didn't

00:22:00   even let the test units leave Cupertino. Like, however, however limited the number of people

00:22:05   who had access to pre-release hardware, they almost certainly weren't going to San Francisco.

00:22:10   Like maybe Steve Jobs could take it home, but he lived in Palo Alto. Right. I get it. No,

00:22:15   they've had some issues with that. The one I remember in particular was, I think it wasn't

00:22:19   the first or one of the iPod Nanos. And it was, it had like a plastic front and it scratched just

00:22:31   just by looking at it.

00:22:32   And sometimes people get real, you know,

00:22:35   there's a large number of people who kind of want

00:22:38   their Apple stuff to stay mint condition

00:22:40   and it's like normal wear and tear.

00:22:42   It's like, oh, come on, nobody but Apple.

00:22:44   But this one iPod Nano really could get scratched

00:22:47   by like rubbing a tissue over it.

00:22:49   I mean, it was like putty and it was like,

00:22:53   how in the world did this ship?

00:22:54   Well, somehow it must've like, you know,

00:22:58   like never left the Johnny Ive team design lab,

00:23:01   and they just loved the way it looked

00:23:03   and the way it felt on your fingertip.

00:23:06   And they never really tried,

00:23:08   like just throwing it in a pocket with some keys

00:23:10   to see what would happen.

00:23:12   But it only lasted one generation.

00:23:14   The very next iPod Nano had like a much different polymer

00:23:19   on the surface and it was much more scratch resistant.

00:23:21   - Yes, I do recall that.

00:23:23   I mean, yeah, it's funny that they've,

00:23:26   that they continue to make the same type of mistake where we don't get this real world

00:23:31   testing. And I think there's something to be said for like, I like Apple design, and

00:23:36   I like the fact that it's not super ruggedized. I would never want that from them. But the

00:23:42   fact that these sort of glaringly obvious real world test cases continue to slip through

00:23:50   their design ideals is very telling and interesting. It's surprising to me that they can't even

00:24:02   get together a test case, or they couldn't have gotten together a test case where someone

00:24:06   just brought one of these computers home back and forth or outside of a testing lab, apparently,

00:24:15   like see the issues that start to come up with the keyboard. I

00:24:20   mean, it really didn't take very much at all. I wouldn't say, I

00:24:23   wouldn't claim to never bring a, say, crumbly cookie around my

00:24:30   keyboard, but I had done it for years and years with other

00:24:33   laptops, other Mac books. Never, ever, ever an issue with the

00:24:39   keyboard as far as keys sticking or needing to clean under them

00:24:44   or it becoming any sort of like failure condition in the way that it did with this one.

00:24:50   It became like, because there was like a standard, or there's still it still exists. I mean,

00:24:55   we're laughing, but every single laptop that Apple sells other than the starts at $2,400,

00:25:03   and is as big as a lunch tray 16 inch MacBook Pro is still using

00:25:08   I mean, I thought it was absolutely wild, like just as a sort of preparation for getting the for this podcast

00:25:14   I was on their website just like double-checking to make sure I wasn't the one going crazy

00:25:20   They're still selling like if you want a 13-inch MacBook Pro, it still comes with this old keyboard

00:25:24   I'm like, are you kidding me? This is absolutely wild to have it an only one computer. I can't understand

00:25:31   I could never understand a justification for

00:25:33   That being the case. I would love to hear them explain that

00:25:38   not. But they won't. All right. I am going to take a break right

00:25:43   now because we're just going to keep rolling on keyboard. It's

00:25:46   all keyboards all the time this episode, no sports, no, no other

00:25:49   stuff. I mean, we will fill up five hours on the keyboard. But

00:25:53   I'm going to take a break and thank our first sponsor. It's

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00:26:20   to start with internet somewhere. In my house that's in

00:26:24   the basement. The router is in the basement, it kind of has to

00:26:27   be for reasons I don't want to expand upon. But the basement is

00:26:30   not a great place for your Wi Fi signal to start. But I got a

00:26:34   Wi-Fi got an eero plugged into the router. It connects to another one that's just plugged

00:26:39   into a wall upstairs. That blankets our living area with Wi-Fi. And then we have another

00:26:45   one level up that hits our bedrooms. And our whole house, four stories has good Wi-Fi all

00:26:53   the way at the top and right here in the basement where I'm talking to you now because I'm near

00:26:57   the base unit. But you don't have to do anything complicated. There's no like I'm in system

00:27:02   admin hooking up these router type things and typing in IP addresses. It is like the

00:27:07   easiest thing to set up in the world. You just plug it in, you go to the iPhone app,

00:27:12   and you say I've got a new Eero and it detects it and then it adds it to your network. And

00:27:17   then the Eero system takes care of all of the hey, which one is connecting to which

00:27:24   devices and doing a little dance like that. You don't have to worry about it. It's just

00:27:28   You plug it in, you add it to your thing,

00:27:30   to your home network, and you're done.

00:27:32   It is so easy to manage, and it really does help

00:27:35   if you've got any kind of living situation

00:27:37   where one router, WiFi, signal thing

00:27:42   can't reach the whole place.

00:27:44   Really, they have fixed that.

00:27:47   In a townhouse type scenario like me,

00:27:50   it just never would work.

00:27:51   And starting in the basement, it would be impossible.

00:27:53   So really, I'm a big fan of Eero,

00:27:56   even even though they're a sponsor of the show. I'm not or I should say, I'm not just

00:28:01   saying it because they're a sponsor of the show. Here's what to do. To find out more.

00:28:05   You go to ero.com slash the talk show, euro.com slash the talk show and use that code the

00:28:15   talk show I think you can get the code automatically by starting at that URL. But just remember

00:28:19   the code the talk show. And when you check out, you will get your hero delivered with

00:28:25   free overnight shipping, you can have it 24 hours from now pause the podcast, order your

00:28:29   hero 24 hours from now it'll show up at your house for free. So go to eero.com slash the

00:28:36   talk show. The keyboards so it is one of the here's the thing Apple is I don't think any

00:28:45   company is well suited. No, no company, no person, no team, no organization, nobody does

00:28:51   well when they make mistakes, right? Mistakes. That's the definition of a mistake. I think

00:28:57   Apple is particularly unsuited to dealing with significant mistakes, small mistakes.

00:29:05   Sure. Like imagine if going to the second generation butterfly keyboard had fixed all

00:29:11   the reliability issues, then we would have thought timeline wise, well, this was reasonable.

00:29:18   the first generation was all new. It ends up there were issues with reliability of commonly used keys.

00:29:26   And, you know, like a year later or so or eight months later, when they came out with the second

00:29:33   generation, whatever that was, you would think, well, that's a reasonable amount of time for Apple

00:29:38   to acknowledge it and address it and ship a next generation product that fixes it.

00:29:48   that the real ghost in the room and we'll spend time talking about this the new 16 inch MacBook

00:29:53   Pro which is really great I will you know spoiler it is really great and the keyboard is really

00:29:58   really I really do think it's fixed everything the the biggest issue here is how long it has taken

00:30:05   for this thing to ship and how long will it take for it to spread throughout the rest of the MacBook

00:30:12   family in 2020, which Apple, of course, won't even say they're going to do. I mean, we all

00:30:19   are guessing that they're going to do it. It would seem crazy if they didn't because

00:30:25   this keyboard is so much better. And presumably, they're they're losing a fortune on fixing

00:30:32   these damn things while they're under warranty. I mean, they have this crazy keyboard repair

00:30:36   program.

00:30:37   That's what's really crazy to me is that I can't imagine this is a winning proposition

00:30:44   for them to continue to double down on their nothing being wrong with these keyboards.

00:30:49   But that is, I mean, obviously, I think they're going to phase out of it.

00:30:53   But still, it's been so long.

00:30:54   They've been like, it's fine, it's fine, it's fine, it's fine.

00:30:58   I don't know.

00:30:59   It's a crazy decision to me.

00:31:01   Yeah, and I think it's I think Tim Cook is a very interesting and nuanced person. And I also think

00:31:10   though he is public persona is very, he's clearly very private. And whatever he's like in person,

00:31:18   I think is impossible to glean from what he exposes to us in the public. And so I don't

00:31:26   subscribe to the notion. I don't I think he's a very interesting fellow. And I think if you really

00:31:30   found out what he's interested in and what aspects of these things he gets involved with,

00:31:35   I think it would all be very interesting. But there's certainly a, a, a line of thought that

00:31:41   I don't subscribe to. But there's a line of thought that well, look, he came from operations.

00:31:46   He's not a product person. He's not a designer. He wasn't, you know,

00:31:50   his he's a bean counter, right? He's only interested in making in that fortune of money

00:31:58   that Apple takes to the bank every three months and when they do these quarterly things, right,

00:32:04   he's a bean counter and therefore, whatever your pet peeves with Apple are X, Y and Z.

00:32:10   It's because Tim Cook is a bean counter and he doesn't allow engineering to spend time fixing

00:32:16   bugs. And so their software is buggier than it used to be because of Tim Cook, because he's cheap

00:32:20   and whatever, you know, everybody's there's a whole bunch of people whose pet peeves about Apple,

00:32:26   they attribute to because Tim Cook is in love with profits first and the product second as opposed

00:32:33   to Steve Jobs who loved the products first, right? Even if that's true, this is the thing that doesn't

00:32:39   make any sense. It either way, it doesn't make sense. Because if his first concern is the quality

00:32:46   of the products, well, then the keyboard should have been fixed sooner. But if his first concern

00:32:51   is with profit margins and making money, then this thing that has... and the repairs were

00:32:59   insanely expensive because the design of the computer was that if the keyboard broke, they

00:33:02   had to take the whole quote unquote top case and the top case was all of the computer bits.

00:33:09   Right?

00:33:10   Like that's the other thing that's so confounding about this whole thing is if your E key broke

00:33:16   and Apple said, "We have... all right, we'll take your computer and you can come back tomorrow

00:33:20   and pick it up."

00:33:21   fix did not involve popping off the E key and doing something and then popping the E key back on

00:33:27   the fix was effectively to just give you a new computer right i mean i think now i think the

00:33:32   the latest generation can be like if i think at least the keys can be taken off and cleaned under

00:33:38   if i recall correctly there's there's still delicate like uh slightly slightly more um

00:33:45   fiddling that can be done without dealing with the computer in like two whole pieces

00:33:49   Mean this has been how Apple computers have been I think I'm pretty sure this was in the first article that I wrote

00:33:56   largely about the keyboard but

00:33:59   Sort of speaking to the level of ridiculousness that repairability has gotten that

00:34:03   the previous

00:34:06   MacBook Pro that I owned

00:34:08   one of the little rubber feet fell off and I brought it in the

00:34:12   Apple Store thinking they would just like give me a little

00:34:17   Stick on rubber foot and I would just pop it on and be on my way and I ended up being there for

00:34:22   like an hour and talked to like three different people for them to figure out that

00:34:28   The only way to fix the fallen off rubber foot

00:34:31   Was to take the computer and replace the entire bottom half of the case

00:34:35   There was no other way to get another foot on the on the computer, which is just

00:34:42   Like they the three geniuses who were all going through this like also couldn't believe that that was true

00:34:47   But that's the level that things have gotten to with this these these computers

00:34:56   Yeah, and that sort of is is a canary in the coal mine that

00:35:03   apples

00:35:05   Whole support system

00:35:08   It has holes in it right like that's not an uncommon problem. I don't think that Apple's laptops

00:35:16   have a

00:35:18   Particular problem with the rubber feet falling off. No, I've seen it. Yeah

00:35:22   It does happen. They're not I'm pretty sure well maybe it's different in the latest ones, but I'm pretty sure they're not

00:35:29   Adhered anyway, except for like sticky goop between the case the foot. Yeah

00:35:35   and so that and

00:35:37   And they have this thing that none of-- it's a huge competitive advantage that, at this

00:35:44   point, I think goes under-talked about, is that they have this worldwide chain of retail

00:35:52   locations where you can go in and talk to an actual person from Apple who Apple has

00:35:58   certified is technically proficient enough to figure out common problems.

00:36:06   And it boggles the mind that with all of the secret drawers they have around those stores,

00:36:13   that there's not one that's just full of rubber feet.

00:36:16   I know.

00:36:17   Neatly filed, right?

00:36:18   And it wouldn't be like a junk drawer.

00:36:19   It would be like this thing that you would love.

00:36:22   You would like, "Oh my God, come take a picture of that."

00:36:24   Because it would say like, it would have like these little index cards, 2013 MacBook Pro,

00:36:28   13 inch, you know, so that you would get the exact right rubber foot.

00:36:32   Right.

00:36:33   Right?

00:36:34   I mean, it's insane that they don't have it.

00:36:35   I really feel this has been a shift in

00:36:38   how the Genius Bar works and how their repair

00:36:43   whole thing is structured because, I mean,

00:36:46   I got my first MacBook laptop in 2006.

00:36:51   And back then, they were quite responsive and helpful

00:36:55   and just sort of realistic in a way that

00:36:58   dealing with geniuses now is like talking to a robot,

00:37:03   like talking to Siri or like to Alexa,

00:37:08   it's like you want there to be

00:37:11   a sort of human behind the

00:37:13   interaction in the way a human, like if

00:37:15   if a stick-on rubber foot fell off they

00:37:17   would hand you another stick-on rubber

00:37:17   foot

00:37:19   rather than being like, "I'm sorry to hear

00:37:21   your computer is defective. Please

00:37:24   allow me to consult with my

00:37:27   other geniuses and my iPad and figure out

00:37:28   what it is you should do." It's like,

00:37:31   there's a very easy answer here, which is

00:37:31   just a stick on foot. And it's like that sort of level of service, so to speak, has been

00:37:38   totally lost within the genius or the Apple sort of Genius Bar ecosystem.

00:37:45   And it's sort of it's sort of like when you go to any sort of premium brand retail type

00:37:53   thing, they, they want to take care of your products, you know, like, so if you buy like

00:37:58   a ring at Tiffany and then five years later you come in and you're shopping for something

00:38:03   else but they know you've got the ring from Tiffany. They'll like beg you, they're like

00:38:07   let us clean it, we'll clean it for you right now and just take your ring and go and do

00:38:13   like this professional magic cleaning thing and then give it back to you and it looks

00:38:16   brand new. You know like just as a courtesy like they just want your ring that you bought

00:38:20   five years ago still look perfect. And you know you go to a good car dealer and it's

00:38:25   like you go in and take something in with your car. They'll like vacuum it, you know,

00:38:28   they'll like vacuum the inside for you free and stuff like that. Give you a free car wash

00:38:33   because they want the car looking good. Right? Like so like, right, like a no name,

00:38:37   Chrome brand equity in the in this like, sort of subjective more like, strapped way.

00:38:41   Right. So like you buy a no name Chromebook and the feet fall off the rubber feet fall off. Well,

00:38:47   you know, just buy a new Chromebook or whatever. But Apple should want you they want your five year

00:38:52   old MacBook Air to have all four rubber feet.

00:38:54   Right. They want us, they want, see, I mean, this is how it used to be. They want you to

00:38:58   be out in the world with your like, sort of identifiably old computer, but it's still

00:39:04   like I used to admire the crap out of those people when I would see them around like,

00:39:08   New York people were still carrying around their like 12 inch PowerBook in like 2012.

00:39:14   It was just like, that's, that's like such, that's like, it's like seeing somebody drive

00:39:18   like a vintage car. It's like that's how good those computers are that people, they love them so much

00:39:23   and they take care of them and like the entire ecosystem sort of like supports itself. It really

00:39:28   was like that's a kind of brand equity that you can't really buy and to sort of connect

00:39:34   back to the Tim Cook point you're making that you say you don't necessarily buy, which is fair, but

00:39:39   But the fact that, it's hard to take that externality

00:39:44   and turn it into a line item where you can sort of

00:39:51   put a value on the sort of user experience

00:39:55   and how people are out there in the world

00:39:57   and the fact that if I'm typing an email to you

00:40:01   and I'm sort of in a hurry and I don't have time

00:40:03   to go back to fix all the doubled Es

00:40:04   or the doubled spaces, this is how my emails

00:40:07   coming through and it's like my computer's fault. It's like, how do you ascribe a value

00:40:13   to that, either as my frustration or this sort of bafflement of the person I'm talking

00:40:19   to on Slack or sending an email to? Those things all come, they do sort of amount to

00:40:26   something that is not, that can't be described by me bringing in the computer. And maybe

00:40:33   then the issue can't even be replicated to the genius and then it's like oh saved money

00:40:38   in Tim Cook's pocket. It's like well no, there's a lot lost there. That's very subjective.

00:40:47   It's like I said, the confounding aspect of it is, I mean clearly whatever you think of

00:40:52   Tim Cook, he's in charge of the company, right? You could tell he's the man. The buck stops

00:40:59   with him. His highest priority, almost certainly, it doesn't make sense either way, is either

00:41:07   the quality of their products and the user experiences that people have with them, or

00:41:13   it is Apple's financials and its profit margins and revenue. I personally suspect that he

00:41:19   truly because I think he gets it even though he's not a product designer himself. I think

00:41:25   he understands the company and its relationship with the people who appreciate it.

00:41:32   And I do think he's a long term thinker.

00:41:34   I think that he's more interested in where Apple is going to be in 10, 20 years and not

00:41:38   about what they're going to report to Wall Street in three months.

00:41:42   But he knows that along the way, you've got to keep you know, part of his job is to keep

00:41:47   those people happy who do care about that.

00:41:49   And I think he gets it that the most important thing Apple can do, it's the whole reason

00:41:53   Apple exists and is so different than other computer device makers is that they really

00:41:59   do put the design of the hardware and the software and the overall experience first.

00:42:04   So I personally believe that he believes that that that's the most important thing. But

00:42:08   the thing that's so confounding is that it doesn't matter if you believe the other side,

00:42:12   if you think he's most interested in profit margins, because either way, it does not make

00:42:16   sense that this keyboard lasted as long as it did.

00:42:20   I mean, yeah, I don't I I can't I can't make heads or tails of it really as far as

00:42:27   Like they did they did quite clearly in ways. They didn't openly acknowledge but that were

00:42:33   um sort of revealed in the the technical specs of or like the sort of little

00:42:39   Nuances and changes of the structure of the keyboard mechanism that they were trying to fix it

00:42:45   They were trying like it was all it all ended up being sort of meaningless half measures, but they weren't

00:42:50   Completely like they they weren't completely resistant to the idea that it wasn't working and it was a significant problem

00:42:57   I don't know why they didn't jump to I like I really don't know why they didn't jump to

00:43:02   Just putting them at like what they ended up doing just putting the magic keyboard in the computer and people have been saying this

00:43:08   For I think ever since the I I wrote my first piece

00:43:12   They were like, why isn't the magic keyboard which is quite good and doesn't have this problem

00:43:17   Why isn't that just the keyboard in the computer and it's like obviously

00:43:21   It's thicker. There's a I mean well

00:43:25   Then I'm curious to hear what your take is because I feel like that's a Johnny Ive thing

00:43:29   to be like the computer needs to be maximally thin and it's worth the sacrifice of

00:43:34   the faulty butterfly keyboards

00:43:36   In order for the computer to be as tiny as possible

00:43:42   Well, let's hold that thought that Johnny I've let's hold that thought see this is my this is my deal

00:43:47   I I do this sponsor reads right here mid show and I have a notorious problem where I think well

00:43:52   That's a great point for a break and because we can pick it up right there

00:43:54   And then I do the sponsor read and I completely forget

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00:46:17   they have a one question survey. Where did you hear a fracture and just tell them you

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00:46:33   fracture. Johnny Ive, that's like one of

00:46:39   the other elephants in this whole saga.

00:46:43   I had forgotten, right? I feel

00:46:46   surprised. My brain since I started

00:46:48   my new job is like just mush, but I think

00:46:53   I didn't really account for... I've

00:46:54   forgotten even as I started talking

00:46:56   about Johnny Ive right now that he was

00:46:58   gonna leave the company, and what a

00:46:58   a significant moment that should have been, to me, somebody who knows intuitively, if

00:47:04   not in any practical sense, that "Johnny Ive" is the reason the keyboard is this way.

00:47:10   And that should have been the sort of like, "Oh, we're going to be saved," or at least

00:47:15   this is an overall good sign.

00:47:17   And maybe that's over-interpreting things, but I feel like now we can safely say that

00:47:23   might have been the watershed moment that was needed in order for them to finally step

00:47:27   that set us back.

00:47:30   And again, so many people want everything to be black or white.

00:47:35   Johnny Ive is either awesome or is awful.

00:47:37   And so you sit here and we can sit here and speculate that he played even some role in

00:47:45   the going forward with the butterfly keyboards, because of his personal preference for making

00:47:52   things as thin as possible. And that even if it saves point four

00:47:58   five millimeters of height on the laptop, worth it. That

00:48:03   doesn't mean that we're saying Johnny I've sucks, right? So

00:48:06   please get it through your head. But you used to and like you

00:48:09   even said it like you complain about this stuff. And somebody

00:48:12   out there who has one of these keyboards who never had a

00:48:14   problem, will use it as proof that you did something wrong,

00:48:19   Like well, I've got one and nothing's wrong with it. So I don't know what you're doing you idiot and it's like

00:48:25   like how did you graduate from high school and and get through like

00:48:30   Even eighth grade science class with that sort of

00:48:35   Mind to evidence. I mean

00:48:38   Way beyond keyboards for people to take their own lived experience as like the universal truth

00:48:45   that's almost one of the greatest problems we're facing right now as a society, but I mean

00:48:51   I would say what our podcast for other than wild speculation

00:48:54   I mean

00:48:55   I would never say like

00:48:56   Johnny Ive was the precise reason and this is only being undone because he's gone, but I do think as far as

00:49:03   the sort of bigger forces within

00:49:06   Apple the company I don't think it's nothing and

00:49:12   Right. I you know, I will never will we ever know for sure probably not but it seems it seems

00:49:19   significant that this went on for so many years and through so many tweaks to the butterfly keyboard design trying and trying and trying to

00:49:27   hold on to it and keep it as close to as what it was and now that

00:49:31   He's leaving now. They finally push through a completely or not a completely different design, but like a

00:49:37   More reliable design that they already had

00:49:41   All right, I just you know again, I don't know for all I know somebody could come to me

00:49:47   You know a little birdie who knows you know might come to me and say off the record that you know

00:49:52   It turns out that Johnny personally hasn't looked at a MacBook design in six years

00:49:58   It just is his attention has been elsewhere. He's you know, he's looking he's looking at architecture. He's looking at chairs

00:50:05   He's he's obsessed with the volume buttons on iPhones, you know, but the MacBooks, you know

00:50:11   he's he's delegated to other members of his team actually had nothing to do with the keyboard.

00:50:14   It could say that I would be a little surprised I, I and I don't know. And again, I don't know how

00:50:21   much of it is Johnny and how much of it is the whole team around him that he's selected that

00:50:26   shares his priorities. What I have heard from other actually have heard from other little birdies

00:50:32   is that the butterfly keyboard did get pushed through by his team in the you know, the hypothesis

00:50:40   that their priority on thinness was higher than their priority on, well, how does it

00:50:48   feel to type on?

00:50:49   And even at the point where it got to questions of reliability, that's why they stuck with,

00:50:55   well, let's try a second and a third generation of the butterfly design before we give up

00:50:59   on it, that it did kind of come from the ID group.

00:51:03   I mean, this has been--

00:51:04   The other thing--

00:51:05   We've been hearing this I feel like that like the Apple has always been

00:51:10   designed forward and it was like here's the case thing figure out how to make the parts fit inside so for that to be

00:51:17   All for that principle to be also applied for the keyboard just wouldn't surprise me at all

00:51:21   Yeah, I think I think it's I think their design process is definitely more complicated than that

00:51:27   Right who?

00:51:30   Tell who's tail wagging dog dog wagging tail situation

00:51:35   I think it's a slightly different relationship than other companies.

00:51:40   Yeah. It's just so hard to say, you know? I don't know.

00:51:46   And the other interesting thing about the new keyboard is that it's not just that they went back to scissor mechanisms from butterfly mechanisms,

00:51:57   which have more travel, which I will verify you can feel that they have more travel.

00:52:02   travel. They feel exactly like I know Mark, I'll put a link in the notes, Marco Arment did this

00:52:07   wonderful thing where he actually created charts and graphs of key travel of the keys over the

00:52:13   years. And like the old ones, before the dark days, had like, two meter, two millimeters of

00:52:24   travel, or like 1.5 millimeters of travel, it was like 1.5. The butterflies only had point five,

00:52:30   let's just call it 0.5 millimeters. I mean seriously 0.05 millimeters we're talking about a hair

00:52:35   and these new ones are like one millimeter of travel so they're by measuring about halfway

00:52:42   between the better butterflies and the old ones and I gotta say just using it for a week it feels

00:52:47   yeah it feels like maybe like halfway in between. It's exactly what it feels like but in addition

00:52:54   to fixing those mechanisms they've also gone back to the old arrow key arrangement in an

00:52:59   upside down T, which was a big pet peeve of mine. They went back to having a hardware escape key

00:53:05   up in the corner. They revisited several decisions that were unpopular with a lot of people. And

00:53:14   again, why did it take so long? What is the attachment to some of these things? It's very,

00:53:23   you know, mysterious. But the attachment that stuck, I mean they went down so many not great

00:53:30   paths with these designs that people complained about and that they stuck to until now,

00:53:37   mysteriously until this version of the computer. Some very interesting timing. I'm curious though

00:53:44   about the motivations of the Touch Bar and how that's sticking around.

00:53:51   that's yeah, that's interesting too. And the way they did well number one, let's just get this out

00:54:00   of the way. Even though you are New York based, and you are in the media, and you have written

00:54:08   the highest profile along with Joanna Stern articles over the years about the keyboard,

00:54:14   you were not invited to the media shindig last week. Oh, absolutely not.

00:54:19   Which I think is criminal. I mean, I've actually never been invited to an Apple event. I was not.

00:54:27   I mean, back when I worked at Ars Technica, I was not Apple point person, so that sort of made sense.

00:54:32   But I have had very little sort of communication from Apple about—I think after this article,

00:54:40   this first article came out, I heard from nobody. What I did hear was, a few months later,

00:54:46   recruiter messaged me on LinkedIn asking me if I would be interested in a job at

00:54:51   Apple. True story. But yeah, I don't know what their

00:55:05   methodology or like reasoning was for that maybe they were just like what is

00:55:11   the outline, never heard of it before, maybe this will just blow over. But it was like that article,

00:55:18   that like, I don't know that they have any way of like, sort of watermarking how much something is

00:55:25   traveling. I don't even really have any confirmation that anyone inside Apple really like

00:55:31   engaged that maybe maybe someone did tell me something and I just forget. But um,

00:55:36   I think that it was it was the number it was like the second most trafficked article on the outline

00:55:43   Which is not a that's it's kind of that's a big fish in a kind of small pond

00:55:47   But it was it was definitely hundreds of thousands of views that have even been getting closer to a million

00:55:53   By now, so it was not not nothing so not

00:55:59   Sort of calculus of like never even engaging with me

00:56:03   Even not even in an off-the-record like yelling at me sense like I'm like never heard from them

00:56:09   Do you think that would have been different if you were still at ours technica?

00:56:14   I mean, I know it's been a couple years since you left ours

00:56:17   But I wonder about that and I don't know I I have obviously have more back and forth with Apple PR than

00:56:25   Most people listening to this show probably most people but I don't know how they work

00:56:31   I don't know how they work and even off the record even off the record with trusted people who I've had a years-long

00:56:37   relationship with Apple PR they

00:56:40   It's just in the bones of everybody at Apple that they don't explain why they do what they do

00:56:46   I mean, I am I'm actually now I need to walk back what I said a tiny bit

00:56:50   They did contact me but like as a customer, it wasn't like a PR like what I've heard is they will

00:56:57   You know people they know or know of will get in touch and just I mean might be over an overstatement to scream at them

00:57:04   But they will they will get very upset and you know

00:57:08   Come come at you for the things that you say they sort of contacted me as a customer that was and we're like

00:57:13   We're sorry, you're having trouble with your computer

00:57:15   Do you want a new computer of the same exact and I was like, I think ultimately I did take them up on it

00:57:22   but then ended up still getting rid of it because it just had the same—I think I might

00:57:29   have messaged them back being like, "To be clear, we're talking about the same exact

00:57:33   computer with the same exact keyboard that's by design going to have the same exact problem."

00:57:38   They were like, "Yep."

00:57:39   And I was like, "Okay, well, I don't really have any other choice, so sure."

00:57:47   But yeah, in a PR sense, never heard from them.

00:57:50   What were you going to say? Well, what computer are you using now?

00:57:56   Like what is your daily driver? Well, I have my own personal...

00:58:01   I bought one of the MacBook Airs last year in a fit of

00:58:05   incredible optimism, but also I'm just like...

00:58:09   I think I've become... I've really come into my own as a person

00:58:14   who is just like... I guess I will waste my own

00:58:19   money to prove that I'm right, even though in doing it I ruined my own life.

00:58:28   That's sort of where I'm at.

00:58:29   And now the keyboard has been having problems on and off, and they've gotten so bad in the

00:58:33   last couple of weeks I made an appointment at the Apple store for next week.

00:58:39   And it's funny because every time I go in, I'm kind of like, "Do these people know who

00:58:44   I am?"

00:58:45   And I'm never like, "Do you know who I am?"

00:58:46   or I'm never like, "I'm Casey Johnston, here's the article I wrote. I want a new keyboard," or

00:58:51   whatever. But I'm always so curious, because no one's ever shown any sort of, betrayed any

00:58:59   recognition of like, "Oh yeah, you like that." I think most people don't look at bylines as

00:59:05   definitely one potential answer to that thing. But it's like, there's really no flag in the back end

00:59:12   of like this like a number not number one an enemy of the Apple state I would

00:59:19   be surprised I don't feel like I get treated any differently and people still

00:59:23   still do still talk to me like I'm you know a child like who doesn't who's

00:59:29   never used a computer before the way they talk to everybody but I want to

00:59:34   well you were asking me something about PR and Apple and Ars Technica mm-hmm

00:59:39   Well, I was just curious if you think that if you had written the same series of articles

00:59:45   and they were published through ours, do you think it would have had a...

00:59:50   I'm not saying it would have changed the world and gotten the new MacBook keyboard out sooner,

00:59:54   but I somewhat suspect that you would have gotten more of an official off the record

01:00:00   almost certainly.

01:00:01   I do wonder.

01:00:02   I think that the main contact for Apple stuff

01:00:07   while I was there was Jackie Chang,

01:00:09   who was kind of Apple editor.

01:00:12   And I can only imagine if I had done such an article

01:00:18   that they would have contacted her at least

01:00:22   and felt like, can we all sort this out maybe?

01:00:25   Or if I had published it at, I don't know, The Verge,

01:00:32   something like that. It might have been more. But then the

01:00:35   question is too, I'm not sure how much of a stomach anyone had

01:00:40   at that point. This was not to toot my own horn, but no one was

01:00:47   asking the hard questions about this computer. And I think there

01:00:50   was, and there was still at that point, I think there's been a

01:00:53   little bit of a watershed since that of questioning Apple's

01:00:58   design judgment and/or integrity that I think people were playing softball on these models.

01:01:09   And I'm not sure that if I had pitched an article to a tech publication that was like,

01:01:14   "These keyboards are garbage," I think, not to name any names, I never had any of these

01:01:19   conversations, but I think that people are overall quite protective of their relationship

01:01:24   with Apple, the company, and I think there would have been some real hesitation about

01:01:30   putting a stake in the ground that was like, "These computers are bad."

01:01:33   So it's a real credit to the outline, too, to Leah Finnegan, who was like…

01:01:38   The only reason this article came into being was that she's a friend of mine and was

01:01:44   listening to me rant over and over about these keyboards, and was like, "Can you just write

01:01:48   this article?"

01:01:49   I was like, "Okay."

01:01:52   so many things that I write, I'm kind of like, I don't know that anyone will ever care or listen

01:01:57   to this. It's a keyboard in one of the most expensive computers you can buy. What a sort of

01:02:03   marginal and dumb complaint. But there's obviously a lot more there, and I'm being kind of

01:02:09   facetious. But I think that it's hard to imagine this having played out in any different way

01:02:16   because of that sort of Apple tech publication dynamic that is still an ongoing thing. I think

01:02:28   it's changed a little bit, but it's a matter of fact.

01:02:32   I get it. And I don't think you're tooting your own horn unnecessarily. I really mean it,

01:02:39   that you sort of went out on your own and were sort of like the first to call "the

01:02:45   The emperor has no clothes.

01:02:46   This keyboard is actually a piece of crap

01:02:48   and ruining my life.

01:02:50   And you were on your own at that point.

01:02:51   It wasn't like there was no acknowledgement

01:02:53   that people were having problems, right?

01:02:56   I mean, there was an undercurrent of that,

01:02:59   a baseline of, you know, keys that--

01:03:01   - Yeah, I mean, I did have to go and find,

01:03:02   I went and found backup for what I was saying.

01:03:06   I didn't wanna like make entirely about myself.

01:03:10   And there were forum posts and people going back and forth.

01:03:13   and just the fact that there seemed to be this sort of party line from the

01:03:20   Genius Bar was another sort of telling element. Like there were a few things

01:03:23   that had to be sort of in place in order for me to feel comfortable making this

01:03:27   argument. But yeah, it was like no one was really naming the thing.

01:03:32   And so just to be clear, your current computer is a MacBook Air that you

01:03:40   got last year after the new MacBook Airs came out in November?

01:03:44   Right. They were they were the sort of great new hope at that

01:03:48   point, but they had like, whatever the fourth or third

01:03:50   generation butterfly key that was supposedly gonna be better

01:03:53   and they had the membrane and whatever and I was like, I don't

01:03:56   trust this. But I'm gonna give it a shot. And like I really did

01:04:00   need a new computer. My computer was a 2013. I could have done

01:04:06   what I suggest people do or what I have been suggesting people do and like literally

01:04:11   Gia Tolentino asked me about this a couple or maybe like a month ago. She was like my computer's dying

01:04:17   What should I do this sort of de rigueur thing became to buy a refurb?

01:04:22   like 2015

01:04:24   Right. Oh the one at the time they were even sort of hard to find and I think they still are yeah

01:04:32   So I think I was on the fence about doing that and that's oh it was only like sort of two years newer than the

01:04:39   computer that I have that wasn't like doing so hot and I wanted more sort of

01:04:44   Not that necessarily you would get more performance out of an air than a pro but just I think in terms of like overall

01:04:52   Newness of the hardware. I wanted to like give myself a better chance at that

01:04:56   And now here we are I

01:05:01   I do think, and again, it's all anecdotal, but we have to treat Apple's statements on this.

01:05:06   They've said over and over again, a small number of customers are affected by blah, blah, blah.

01:05:10   And what is a small number? Famously, it's a Bezos number, right? Like Amazon will say, famously,

01:05:19   we've had our best-selling Christmas, Black Friday ever, but then they don't tell you what it's in

01:05:26   relation to. There's no baseline. So small number. I mean we all know that

01:05:32   it isn't everybody. We all know it probably isn't most people, right?

01:05:37   Is it 49%? It's never that many at any given time but like over the course

01:05:45   of the lifetime of a computer, how many is it? I would be very curious. It's like maybe

01:05:50   there are only let's say, I don't know, a couple thousand computers in the shop.

01:05:53   That's a very small number to be having an issue at any given time

01:05:57   But if you consider how many you've sold and how many you've treated I would be super curious what that statistic is

01:06:03   right and you just know that they know because the people who work at Apple in

01:06:09   Cupertino use MacBooks and so whatever the failure rate is we know it's high enough that it

01:06:15   percolated within the company

01:06:18   But I've seen crazy things like just like over the last three years and once this really became

01:06:24   For lack of a better word a meme, you know that hey these keyboards are crap

01:06:28   But like you see pictures on Twitter of people who use an external keyboard with their Mac books

01:06:34   Which is insane and and they're like smart people and like professional developers and they're like, well

01:06:41   I just don't feel like being without it for seven days while they replace it

01:06:46   Like it's I'll actually go through the ridiculousness of plugging in a USB keyboard

01:06:52   Or a blue, you know using a Bluetooth one

01:06:55   rather than the built-in one because I don't want to do it and I could honestly see myself doing that because

01:07:01   There are times where you just don't want to be without your your computer

01:07:06   And it's such a pain

01:07:07   I mean, I'm in a position where I have I have this my personal computer

01:07:13   Which I guess I don't even need I have my work my work laptop

01:07:16   Which is one of the MacBook pros the non non touch bar extra long escape key like

01:07:23   2016 or 17 and then I have also a desktop computer

01:07:27   so I wouldn't be like totally hard up if I were to take this one in which I'm going to do and hopefully they will I

01:07:32   Think the last time I brought this one and they sprayed it out with a can of hair

01:07:36   Not in front of me notably

01:07:39   And brought it back out and it did seem to be working better and I was like, okay

01:07:43   But like now I've done that I have two cans of air here. I've tried to spray it out. It hasn't made any difference

01:07:49   So I'm hoping they will just fix it and I'm very tempted to play that

01:07:54   Do you know who I am card on this because I'm so tired of dealing with the problem and I'm hoping they will just

01:08:00   Take it

01:08:04   It's so funny that they won't even even if they're their first fix is to use the air air sprayed

01:08:11   You know the compressed air trick that they won't do it in front of you

01:08:15   It's sort of like like it's like their version of like you you flag your waiter and you know

01:08:19   The I've got a fly in my soup and then the waiter isn't just gonna fish the fly out of your soup and walk away

01:08:25   It's gonna take your soup away and right presumably give you a fresh bowl of soup

01:08:32   I think, I mean, the whole service element of this

01:08:38   keyboard issue has been so ridiculous. I think I wrote about this

01:08:42   the first time, or I think the third time, but the sort of first

01:08:48   cycle in the first model of computer that I had that was having this problem.

01:08:53   One of the

01:08:56   diagnostic tests was to put the computer in a particular,

01:09:00   I think diagnostic or safe mode or something like that and ran a program where the

01:09:05   Genius went through and pushed each key and I was like, this is such

01:09:10   Theater, I can't I can't stand it. I think I like dissociated when I was sitting there

01:09:15   I was like, this is what what would this tell you? I like absolutely nothing. I just can't I

01:09:20   couldn't conceive of what useful input that would and I think it also there was also like a

01:09:27   Software element where it was like there was a progress bar and it was like analyzing the keyboard. It's like this

01:09:32   There's just no way that this is doing anything and it was like 45 minutes of

01:09:38   This just like a few tests like that and I was like, oh my god

01:09:43   You like you can type on the keyboard and see that it doesn't work, but you're gonna do all this stuff. Anyway, I

01:09:48   Thought that the other thing that was frustrating at the point

01:09:54   where and again, I don't think it was a problem that Apple shift

01:09:57   Well, it's a problem

01:09:59   but I

01:10:00   don't think it's a mistake that Apple shipped this keyboard in the first place because I can imagine a

01:10:06   scenario where it got through internal testing as

01:10:09   reliable and it was only a question of whether people liked it and

01:10:14   It gets out, you know, you can ship mistakes if you don't ship mistakes once in a while. Maybe you're not trying hard enough

01:10:21   I actually believe that right that if you you know that you're you're being too cautious

01:10:25   But it's like the way to be right all the time is to keep an open mind about having made mistakes

01:10:32   You know and this is my philosophy

01:10:34   You know with what I write it during fireball where it's like I try to be right all the time in what I write

01:10:39   But then you know I try to keep an open mind that maybe I'm wrong about something and acknowledge it and then just say hey

01:10:45   You know what I was wrong about, right?

01:10:50   In the era, you know, let's say all of 2018 is where I feel it was maximal

01:10:57   comedy of

01:10:59   This is absurd, you know, and that's you know, it was March or May of 2018 when Joanna wrote her

01:11:06   famous and so amazing

01:11:09   Column the Wall Street Journal could left nothing on the table. It was it was just incredible. I

01:11:17   I wish I told her if I had I know, I can't even I she was on my show a couple episodes ago and I told her I was like, that's the Hall of Fame column for anybody in this racket like because it was hilarious. It was spot on. It was totally fair. It the gimmick was execute was it sounded like a good gimmick and then the execution was amazing. And it wound up actually having an effect like I know I can't say for a fact but I can say with 99% of the time, I'm not even sure what I'm saying.

01:11:46   can say with 99% certainty that Apple shipped that summer update to the MacBook Airs sooner

01:11:55   than they were planning to.

01:11:57   And the straw that broke the camel's back on changing their internal schedule was Joanna's

01:12:03   column.

01:12:04   Oh, I'm sure.

01:12:05   I mean, I'm so envious of the platform.

01:12:07   Like, how would anything – I mean, maybe that's the real question to ask is when

01:12:14   anything have been any different? Like, leave aside the

01:12:17   tech outlets if I had if I had written this for like the New

01:12:19   York Times.

01:12:20   Right. What would Yeah, very true. Yeah. Yeah, I think I

01:12:25   think it would have had more fallout. I think there's no

01:12:27   doubt about it. And that's not right. It's not fair. We should,

01:12:29   you know, ideally in an ideal world, at this point with the

01:12:35   way the world is today, it makes me laugh even imagining an ideal

01:12:38   world. But in an ideal world, every article would be judged on

01:12:42   its own merit and would reach the audience it deserves to reach, but that's not true.

01:12:46   Of course.

01:12:47   I mean, I think I feel some resentment about it also because it's not like, again, this

01:12:56   is me being like, "Do you know who I am?" in a way that's just screaming into the void.

01:13:01   But it's like, while the outline was nothing, it's like, I've been a tech writer for a very

01:13:07   Not a very long time but like a decade and like it's like I know absolutely I I'm not

01:13:13   I don't I don't I wouldn't believe that I am

01:13:16   Entirely unknown to people who work at Apple from back when I worked at Ars Technica like it's not like I was

01:13:24   Nobody who just happened to be hating their computer

01:13:28   So it's it's frustrating to me also that it couldn't get traction just from that but it's like I don't know

01:13:34   I'm just you know

01:13:36   myself. It did something broke internally. It's like I said,

01:13:40   Apple internally clearly wasn't hooked up to deal with a mistake

01:13:45   of this magnitude. And 2018 to me was where it really I mean,

01:13:49   it's great that it's fixed now at the end of 2019. Or at least

01:13:51   the fix that started rolling out. But 2018 was ridiculous. If

01:13:54   they had fixed it, by the end of 2017, or at the beginning of

01:13:58   2018, then Joanna never would have gotten to write her column.

01:14:01   Right. And it's fine. See, but the other thing that I thought

01:14:05   interesting about 2018 was 2018 last year was or no 2019 it was this year when they came out this

01:14:11   year when they came out with the third generation butterfly keyboards with the quote unquote material

01:14:17   change which i clarified what do you mean by that because material has different meanings you know

01:14:24   there's the scientific meaning where you're using a different material material science yeah yeah

01:14:31   Yeah. And then there's also the sense that material just means

01:14:34   meaningful. And they were like, well, we really mean both. But

01:14:37   we do there are, but there are there's one or more components

01:14:42   and they wouldn't say, you know, one thing they wouldn't say it

01:14:45   was this little hinge or whatever they you know, typical

01:14:48   Apple, they don't want to explain. And I guess I don't

01:14:50   know if the I fix it, people took it apart and figured out

01:14:52   what what actually is. And it was just that it was the

01:14:55   membrane and like the brain was a particular I think they like

01:14:58   figured out or reverse not reverse engineered but sort of through through

01:15:03   differential diagnosis figured out what the material of it was and like or at

01:15:09   least what was extremely similar so that was. So I I do think so I feel like the

01:15:15   ultimate good news bad news is I do feel that that change actually improved the

01:15:22   keyboard reliability and it does and again this is my anecdotal data as the

01:15:27   guy who writes during fireball is very different than what Apple knows from people coming into

01:15:31   stores. But I hear from a lot of people, you know, like I've heard from an awful lot of

01:15:35   people who read my site, follow me on Twitter or listen to the podcast, who've told me about

01:15:39   problems with this keyboard. I really do think that that that third generation quote unquote

01:15:47   material change fixed the reliability issues. I don't think it fixed the way it feels. I

01:15:54   could be wrong. And so this is the bad news part of it. This is

01:15:59   the Yeah, you don't have not within the MacBook Air. I think

01:16:01   it's not within the MacBook Air by default. But I think if you

01:16:03   do bring it in, and you have enough sort of like, yeah, they

01:16:07   won't, they won't give you that. Right. Yeah, they won't. Yeah,

01:16:12   if you need to fix, even though you bought the one at the end of

01:16:15   2018, they would give you the fixed one. And it is if you just

01:16:19   think about the way Apple usually works. iPhones are unique because and you know, and they

01:16:27   make the most money on them and they're everywhere. But iPhones, everybody knows when's the next

01:16:32   iPhone coming out? I can tell you for a fact, it's coming out in like the second Tuesday

01:16:38   of September unless September, the second Tuesday of September is September 11. In which

01:16:45   case they'll do it on Wednesday because they don't want to do it on September 11. I guarantee

01:16:48   it. They do it every year. It comes out like clockwork. It doesn't have a date, but it's

01:16:54   like Easter. There's an algorithm where you can predict which Sunday Easter is going to

01:16:59   be. You know what Thanksgiving is going to be?

01:17:03   Yeah, why don't we institutionalize this into Apple Tuesday? I think Jackie Chang used to

01:17:08   say this. Everyone used to breathlessly be like, "Oh, my God, the invites for the Apple

01:17:12   event." It was like, "This is the date." She was like, "It's always the second Tuesday.

01:17:16   been this way for a decade.

01:17:19   Yep.

01:17:20   Right.

01:17:21   There are other products that are on irregular schedules, and MacBooks in particular, to

01:17:25   the frustration of people who rely on them, like me and probably you, as their primary

01:17:32   work computer, are harder to predict.

01:17:34   But one thing we know is they don't update them more than once a year.

01:17:38   And so the fact that they came out with...

01:17:41   And the whole idea of a modernized MacBook Air was that they said so last year.

01:17:46   It's their best selling MacBook.

01:17:48   It's you know, this is what people think of as an Apple laptop, a wedge shaped

01:17:54   thing with a 13 inch screen, which is like just right for most people, where

01:18:01   it's this perfect balance of portability and lightweight and still still bigger

01:18:06   than that little tiny MacBook.

01:18:07   And it's bigger than an 11 inch iPad, blah, blah, blah.

01:18:09   But everybody wanted one with the retina screen because it by that point it was like, well,

01:18:13   this is ridiculous that their their most popular laptop is still sold with this screen that

01:18:19   looks like it's from 15 years ago. So they came out with it in November. And the fact

01:18:25   that they updated it in the summer this year to get that third generation keyboard standard

01:18:31   and they did something else they like you switched to cheaper RAM or something. There

01:18:36   something like that they made a couple of other they did more than just put the keyboard in

01:18:40   it shows you that that the keyboard was an issue because there's no way they would have updated at

01:18:47   the soonest they would have updated it as a regular apple product would have been

01:18:51   one year later right doing it nine months is unusual right yeah very telling yeah all right

01:18:58   you were asking about the touch bar before and i didn't really answer my understanding but

01:19:03   shortened or something?

01:19:04   Yeah.

01:19:06   Well, so what they've done, it is different.

01:19:09   And so now there is, on the left side, a physical escape key

01:19:13   so that the touch bar doesn't go all the way to the left side.

01:19:17   And it no longer shows you the fake escape key

01:19:22   that it would have done, except for certain apps.

01:19:25   There's actually an interesting thread on Twitter that--

01:19:28   I swear, I hope I'll put in the show notes--

01:19:29   where some guy who works at Apple

01:19:31   actually wrote about it, which is unusual because people

01:19:32   Apple often don't publicize stuff like this. But there are some cases where certain apps

01:19:39   like might put up like a dialog box and they still put the equivalent they won't put an

01:19:46   escape key on the virtual touch bar, but there might be like a done button or something that

01:19:52   finishes something and their logic which is really, really smart. Like in a sense, you

01:19:57   can almost see that this is how they tried. This is why they shipped the no physical escape

01:20:02   key in the first place was that there are all sorts of situations and corners you can get painted into

01:20:09   designing the software where it makes sense for the touch bar to be involved in canceling or

01:20:16   stopping or whatever you would use an escape key for. But the basic idea now is that if you start

01:20:22   something on the touch bar, if the app has some kind of thing where you start the process of

01:20:27   changing the volume or whatever the can'ts the way to get out of it might still be on the

01:20:32   touch bar anyway so that's one change there's a real escape key and the logic of what the

01:20:37   touch bar shows has changed dynamically based on which computer you're on because obviously

01:20:43   you might be running the same version of mac os 10 on a year-old macbook pro and you still need

01:20:49   the virtual escape key uh on the right side the touch id sensor now has like a gap between it and

01:20:55   the touch bar so you can feel it more clearly. Yeah, that's what the air has. I mean, I there

01:20:59   obviously doesn't have a touch bar. But yeah, it's its own standalone sort of piece. Right?

01:21:03   Right. Yeah, it's the exact I think it might be the exact same piece from the air. And then the

01:21:10   other change they made was that they increased all of the keys have more space between them now.

01:21:15   It doesn't really look like it at a glance. But if you really compare it side by side,

01:21:19   well, it's good. I think it's a really important change because I feel like the keys being too

01:21:24   close to each other led to sometimes not being sure where your fingers were on the right

01:21:29   keys. So all of the keys on the keyboard have slightly more space between them. And they

01:21:36   slightly you know, it's like a fraction of a millimeter, maybe. It's not a huge gap.

01:21:43   But it's enough that I think it really makes a difference is that the touch bar is further

01:21:47   above the number key row. There's a little bit more of a gap there too. And they said

01:21:52   Good design call because I think I've I mean I experienced this too when I had one for you know

01:21:57   It was a year and change I think but constantly hitting the touch bar by accident

01:22:01   never really wanting to interact with the touch bar other than to use the

01:22:05   The F key like basically the media keys are like the brightness up and down

01:22:10   Either the keyboard brightness or the screen brightness is like all I ever

01:22:18   Used it for and it was just like two extra taps than it was when it was just the hard

01:22:22   function keys

01:22:24   but it was otherwise just constant hitting it by accident and people were activating Siri by accident and that's fixable, but

01:22:30   Yeah, moving it away from the rest of the keyboard. It seems like a

01:22:34   merciful gesture

01:22:37   All right. All right, you don't have a touch bar right now

01:22:39   But let me let me just throw out a tip for everybody listening who does and is kind of annoyed by it

01:22:46   Is you don't actually have to do an extra tap when you tap on the brightness or the volume on the?

01:22:53   Touch bar you can just immediately start dragging and it'll immediately show you in and move the little slider to show

01:23:01   It has always been that way, but if you don't know that I don't see any reason why any person would guess right

01:23:09   It is a great little shortcut. It's very clever

01:23:12   It's been like that since the day one, but it doesn't it looks like you have to tap it first

01:23:16   Wait for the slider to appear because when you do it the way I'm telling you to the slider

01:23:22   Doesn't your finger isn't actually on the slider because you're not starting where it is

01:23:27   Mmm anyway play with it everybody. It's a game changer. Yeah, and it really does it

01:23:33   The bigger question and I you didn't ask it directly, but I know what you're gonna

01:23:38   I know what you're getting at is that the touch bar is not universally beloved. Oh

01:23:42   like it's

01:23:45   Another would be it would be a greater

01:23:47   Folly headline were it not for the keyboard in general. I feel like but the key word has really stolen the

01:23:54   the Thunder as far as like design mistakes, I

01:23:57   Think that the touch bar is very different. It's a different caliber of

01:24:03   Controversy compared to the keyboard because

01:24:07   because I do think that the more if there weren't the keyboard to talk about.

01:24:12   Yeah, probably. And

01:24:18   so I think internally Apple sees the touch bar as

01:24:24   a premium thing that is better than F keys now better how I'm not quite sure

01:24:31   what they think internally, but that anything that's a premium

01:24:36   MacBook is going to come with one. And so like the 13 inch MacBooks have had, you know,

01:24:45   the what we colloquially have called the MacBook escape, because it had in, in addition to

01:24:51   not having a touch bar period, therefore always had a physical escape key. But that's like,

01:24:58   it's not really a pro pro device, it's actually slower, it has like more like a MacBook Air's

01:25:04   internal

01:25:06   chipset and stuff like that they just call it a MacBook Pro because it's the exact same size as the

01:25:12   MacBook 13 inch MacBook Pros that do have a touch bar right and it's a lot cheaper. It was you know, it's hundreds of dollars less

01:25:20   Right. I mean the 15 is like I don't I would never having used one now

01:25:25   it's like I would never pay extra hundreds of dollars for this thing that it's slightly actually slightly less useful to me than the

01:25:34   configuration of the function keys

01:25:36   And solves a problem that you never had like there's nobody really I I think internally what Apple has thought and I get it like

01:25:43   the idea of function keys

01:25:46   Just period seems like this weird throwback to like 1978 right right like it. It's like

01:25:54   You get I don't I don't like I'm not gonna say there's like no way to improve upon the function keys there

01:26:01   there should there should be but it's like this is not this is not a chief you know

01:26:06   yeah you know and it was asked at the media event the question and answer stuff was all

01:26:12   off the record on background i forget the exact rules but i i didn't worry about it because i

01:26:20   knew i wasn't going to quote anybody anyway so i treated it as on background um but you know they

01:26:26   They did the media thing in groups of eight.

01:26:29   I don't know how many groups there were.

01:26:31   It's one of those other things.

01:26:32   You just don't know what's going on when Apple holds these

01:26:35   because they had a group of eight,

01:26:37   had a little keynote presentation just for us

01:26:39   that was on the record,

01:26:40   explaining everything that was new.

01:26:44   Then we had time for questions,

01:26:46   and then they moved us around as a group of eight

01:26:48   to a series of demo stations

01:26:49   where like here's developer stuff,

01:26:51   and they show you Xcode doing stuff super fast

01:26:53   and literally made a point of saying that, you know,

01:26:56   here, if you use the VIM text editor from Unix,

01:26:59   the escape key is right there.

01:27:01   So I don't know how many groups there were,

01:27:04   but they moved us around.

01:27:05   But somebody in my group definitely asked about the,

01:27:09   and it was Marco.

01:27:10   - Of course.

01:27:11   - Definitely asked about, hey,

01:27:14   why is there no option?

01:27:17   Is there, just double checking,

01:27:18   there's no option to buy one of these 15 inch MacBook Pros

01:27:21   without the touch bar.

01:27:23   and if not, why?

01:27:24   And the first part of the question

01:27:27   was answered very clearly, no.

01:27:30   There is no option.

01:27:31   And the second part wasn't answered at all

01:27:35   because that's the sort of decision

01:27:37   Apple just will not explain.

01:27:38   And they won't say, we're not gonna explain it.

01:27:40   They have an answer, but it's sort of word sally

01:27:43   and they just won't say it.

01:27:44   I think it's because they truly do believe it's better.

01:27:49   I think they think it's more elegant

01:27:51   And I think they think it genuinely is a premium product,

01:27:55   a premium aspect of a product.

01:27:57   And the one thing about the 15 inch MacBook Pros,

01:28:00   even going back to the PowerBook era, I think,

01:28:02   is that they've, the 15 inch ones,

01:28:05   and now the 16 inch have always been very pro

01:28:10   in terms of specs and price, right?

01:28:12   Like there's never been,

01:28:14   there's never been a sort of more affordable way

01:28:17   get a 15 inch display on a Mac laptop, which I think kind of

01:28:22   sucks. Because if you know, like, you know, it, the whole

01:28:26   thing, this whole keyboard thing has really just shown that if

01:28:28   you're a Mac user, we all know that we're beholden to one

01:28:32   company's whims on everything. And, you know, if there's a

01:28:37   problem, what if they start shipping crappy computers,

01:28:40   where we're all fucked, right? We're screwed. Right. And I mean,

01:28:44   we're already there. One of the are we right? We were a dark, a

01:28:48   dark few years we've had here. Right.

01:28:49   Right. But I it's kind of crazy to me that if you know, I

01:28:55   totally get why someone would want the smallest laptop

01:28:58   possible. Totally can imagine that I can also imagine why

01:29:02   someone would want the biggest laptop possible to have the

01:29:05   biggest display possible. Because they and they don't

01:29:08   care. Maybe they don't even move it around much. Maybe they just

01:29:10   mostly use it at their desk. So the fact that it's big doesn't

01:29:14   really matter and they'd have a bag that fits in. And I also get why most people want one

01:29:19   that's sort of right in the middle with like a 13.3 inch diagonal screen. I totally get

01:29:26   all of that. But I think it really sucks that if you're, what you really want is a big 16

01:29:32   inch, 15 inch screen, whatever size, and you want to use a Mac that you've, your starting

01:29:37   price is $2,400. Like I think that kind of sucks. Like, cause what if, yeah, what if

01:29:42   you really don't do anything other than use Safari and email and Slack and you

01:29:48   don't need professional-grade RAM.

01:29:51   But you just want a big screen, you're saying?

01:29:53   Yeah, like wanting a big screen it seems like a very normal thing to want, you know?

01:29:57   Like they'll sell you an iMac that, you know, that is relatively lower spec'd

01:30:02   just because you want a big screen. Like I don't...

01:30:05   I mean, the point that I would make is that like if you want like a laptop is so

01:30:11   suboptimal for working on for a long time in so many ways that like to me if

01:30:16   you want a big screen but you don't need it for any other purpose other like

01:30:20   you're not editing video or photos or say like you're you don't have some

01:30:24   visual need you just like want some visual space I'm kind of like that that

01:30:31   speaks to you're on the computer for a long time you're using it a lot unless

01:30:38   Unless you're super, super mobile, I'm kind of like, you should just have a desktop setup,

01:30:44   like a monitor that you can plug into, and then that solves your problem.

01:30:50   It's like only if you need this big screen and somehow need to be able to bring it lots

01:30:55   of different places, which I don't think is the majority of people who need to bring it

01:31:00   to some places and also need that huge screen.

01:31:05   I think if they had one though, if they had a 15 inch MacBook Pro that had a slower CPU,

01:31:11   like the 13 inch one that doesn't have a touch bar, and they took out the touch bar and it

01:31:15   was only 2000 or maybe $1900, like cut $500 off the price, but $1900 still pretty, you

01:31:23   know, expensive in the world of laptops.

01:31:25   I think that thing would sell shockingly.

01:31:27   Even if still it was like the same price as a 13 inch that worked that had better specs

01:31:36   and just a smaller screen.

01:31:37   Right and has a touch bar.

01:31:43   I guess my other disappointment with the touch bar, I'm okay with them.

01:31:46   I'm not a touch bar hater.

01:31:48   I'm not a touch bar lover, but I'm okay with it.

01:31:51   It wouldn't bother me in the least that I'll probably never buy a MacBook again that doesn't

01:31:56   have one. I kind of wish though that they had thought of better

01:32:01   things to do with it. Well, I think it just that that this is

01:32:04   the most doesn't that seem like part of the problem is the most

01:32:07   sort of positive thing that I can say for the touch bar is

01:32:10   that it holds space for if they have they ever do come up with a

01:32:15   good idea of how to use it. It's like the computers were will

01:32:19   already are like a certain like back generation of computers

01:32:23   will already have it. It's like they can't they can't go back

01:32:26   and change the function keys. I mean, you sort of can, but they can't change the printing

01:32:30   on them or whatever. So it creates space for a good idea if someone ever has one. There's

01:32:40   some meaning to that, I think. I wouldn't say there's absolutely nothing that a touch

01:32:44   bar could be useful for. There's a couple of applications, I think, where it's like

01:32:51   scrolling through certain things or shortcuts. There's a way I think that it could be

01:32:58   integrated that's useful, but we haven't gotten there yet.

01:33:01   All right, I'll take a quick break here. Thank our third and final sponsor. Good friends at

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01:35:15   a Squarespace with code talk show. All right. I guess we should talk more about this actual

01:35:23   laptop that I'm talking to you on now. Yeah. What's there to say? I'm going to try something.

01:35:28   Here's what I want to try. So the, so the keyboard being fixed that to me, this in order,

01:35:33   Here's here's to me that the new the story of the new MacBook in order the keyboard totally fixed. I love it

01:35:39   I really like this keyboard now when I go back to my

01:35:43   2015

01:35:45   Which is my personal one. I actually I feel how jiggly all the keys are

01:35:49   Like they've they've kept that stability of the key caps from the butterfly keyboard, but put it into a nice squishy

01:35:57   Scissor key mechanism. I think you're gonna like it

01:36:01   You haven't tried one, right? Because I just hit the stores

01:36:03   Okay, yeah

01:36:08   Well, they might be in stores and I know that if you pre-ordered on Wednesday, some people started getting them yesterday

01:36:14   You're gonna like it. I think

01:36:16   It definitely feels better than the butterfly keyboards. It even is like the magic keyboard the external keyboard, right?

01:36:22   Yeah with less travel. Yeah

01:36:25   But I think the keys even feel a little bit more stable though because the maybe because they don't move a lot

01:36:31   It just has a good feel that has the same really nice backlighting that doesn't bleed around the edges from the recent keyboards

01:36:39   You know like now I look at my 2015 MacBook and I'm like that looks kind of cheap the way the backlighting

01:36:43   Bleeds out from around all keys

01:36:45   I love the new arrow key layout. I'm hung up on that. I could never get used to the

01:36:51   Full height left and right arrow keys. Are you are you a person who cared about that?

01:36:55   I don't think I use the arrow keys enough to get upset about it. I mean I have

01:37:00   um

01:37:02   like

01:37:03   My other my other computers. I think that I do when I'm doing arrow stuff. It's more

01:37:07   On different keywords. Yeah, it's never it's not really bothered me. I've never really like fully understood that complaint, but I respect it. I

01:37:14   Could never get used to it. I have a friend who's a system administrator

01:37:19   And he was helping me with some stuff with during fireball this week

01:37:24   He's gonna buy one just to get it

01:37:27   Because he's using yeah, he uses the arrow keys all day every day like at the command line like to go up and down between

01:37:34   previous commands

01:37:36   Big is a big pet peeve for him. Oh, yeah, I

01:37:41   so I think there's people there's a lot of people who didn't really care and

01:37:45   The everybody who did care hated the the other layout right? So everybody who cares wants the upside-down T

01:37:52   And everybody who was like the other one was fine

01:37:55   I I found like one guy on Twitter who was arguing with me that the the new one was better

01:38:01   I've and his his logic was that because the left and right keys are used more often than up/down

01:38:08   therefore they should be bigger, but it's I

01:38:11   Don't know where to start with it personal

01:38:14   No, and the worst part is I know I talked to someone at Apple like I know that you know

01:38:20   How they talked about how they did like all this user testing about like we put different keyboard prototypes

01:38:25   in front of people and then like photographed, you know, they're

01:38:28   accuracy, you know, like they use video, they did real testing to

01:38:31   figure out what makes people make less mistakes. Well, that is

01:38:36   true. They did do that testing. But the thing that Apple didn't

01:38:39   say last week in the publicity for this device is that's

01:38:43   something that they have done for like 25 years and never

01:38:47   stopped and have always done like they've always done serious

01:38:50   testing on things like that. And so they had all the data

01:38:55   about how making the keycaps too big and decreasing the travel and using this different arrow key

01:39:02   design. They had the data that showed that it made people slightly just, you know, how much less

01:39:08   efficient, how many more errors? I don't know, but that there was slightly more errors and less

01:39:12   efficiency. They knew that when they shipped the keyboards that had those designs. So, yeah.

01:39:18   I mean, I find it so like what is the advantage of this of this one with the fat?

01:39:23   Left right key is like it just looks it sort of like squares out the entire

01:39:28   layout the only thing which is not not doesn't seem worth at all the trade-off of

01:39:34   Yeah, it's like it's it's sort of like, you know like

01:39:42   This is a terrible analogy, but it's like if you have a gap in your teeth

01:39:47   It's like well, you can at least fit a toothpick in there. Yeah, like I don't know, you know what I mean?

01:39:52   Like sure it doesn't look as good and aesthetically you should go to an orthodontist and get it fixed

01:39:57   But there's a you know, maybe a functional aspect of it. I don't know

01:40:01   There's a functional aspect to these to the gaps there the keyboard. It's just better

01:40:04   I don't want to spend more time on this it really I really do think it's fixed

01:40:08   I would wager money that the reliability issues are gone too because it truly is an all-new mechanism

01:40:13   scissor keys

01:40:15   Even though they have less travel than they used to never seem to have been

01:40:19   bothered by

01:40:21   bits of duster

01:40:23   It was just never something I ever thought about with a computer

01:40:28   It's like I never thought I never I never thought I would

01:40:34   Use the word egress as much as I have in the last few years and I don't even write massively about the keyboard

01:40:40   Anyway, number one story. The keyboard is an all-new design feels better

01:40:44   I think it's going to be more reliable. I like it. Number two, this is the part that out of left

01:40:49   field, I just wasn't even on my radar or something Apple might do. The speakers on this thing are

01:40:56   amazing. They are my analogy, my first thoughts on it. I compare it to going from a non retina

01:41:03   display to a retina display. It is that different side by side with like the 15 inch MacBook Pro

01:41:12   that this replaces it is a it is totally credible that you could be in like a typical small like

01:41:18   living room and use this laptop as the speaker to entertain guests and have music playing. It does

01:41:25   not sound like a laptop. It sounds like a home pod junior. It really it is absolutely astounding.

01:41:33   And it just came out to me it came out of left field because I never heard anybody say,

01:41:36   "Boy, I sure wish my laptop had better speakers."

01:41:39   But it's really night and day.

01:41:42   It is like, and again, going from non-retina to retina

01:41:46   to me is the difference because it's,

01:41:48   like I feel like with iPhones,

01:41:51   the iPhones have surprisingly good speakers

01:41:54   and I don't use them much because, you know,

01:41:57   in most contexts it feels rude to be playing the audio

01:42:02   through your iPhone, like, you know,

01:42:04   like if you're out in public.

01:42:06   But when you do want to listen to a video and have it play through the speakers, the

01:42:11   iPhone is at this point surprisingly good if you really pay attention to it.

01:42:16   But it's been like a incremental thing where for 11 years, every year they've made the

01:42:23   speakers slightly better, slightly better, slightly better, slightly better.

01:42:27   And now we've gotten to a point where yeah, if you compare this one against a phone, iPhone

01:42:31   from seven years ago, the speaker differences night and day, you can really hear it. It

01:42:36   there was never one year where the iPhones or the iPads had like a huge increase. Whereas

01:42:42   with this MacBook Pro, the speakers are absolutely amazing. I don't even know how much I use

01:42:48   them. I mean, it's like I don't even know like when's the last time I played stuff through

01:42:52   the speakers on my laptop? I usually just play through headphones. Now I'm like, that's

01:42:56   I'm kind of like what what is the significance? I mean, I I will do it

01:43:00   Let's see if I'm like doing

01:43:03   Dishes or some house tours. I might like prop the computer somewhere and play a show through it

01:43:09   All right, and that that is I'm telling you right now

01:43:13   And I really I hope they bring these to all the MacBook pros these speakers that it is so much more

01:43:18   Credible with this like yeah, just playing a show while you're doing dishes or preparing dinner or something like that

01:43:26   it's really amazing for a year over year, you know, generation over generation difference. It

01:43:33   is a totally different experience. I can't emphasize enough how much better it is.

01:43:37   Shruti, I forget her last name, but she was the product manager for the MacBook Pros at Apple,

01:43:50   was on Jason Snell's podcast Upgrade, and he did a fantastic interview with her after this

01:43:55   event and he asked her about it like what exactly is the use case for putting

01:44:02   good speakers in this and she goes well here's one that's very common let's say

01:44:05   you're a film editor and you're working on a movie or a commercial or something

01:44:10   like that and you've got a scene and the director comes over and standing right

01:44:14   over your shoulder and you want to show it here you just hit the spacebar to

01:44:18   play the thing having better sound is you know way more it's really important

01:44:25   that scenario because you don't you can't use headphones because you're sharing it with somebody

01:44:28   else it's a colleague and you know those little interactions between like a film editor and a

01:44:34   director happen you know thousands of times in the production of a film and so having better

01:44:39   sound could make a difference totally for some people the other thing they said was

01:44:49   that they've increased, they've totally redone the internal microphone. And if it's much better,

01:44:55   it's like a three microphone array. And that they even said it's studio quality,

01:45:02   and that you could use it even to record podcasts, which sounds like a bold claim. So here's

01:45:07   what I'm going to try right now. No, I have up here to four on this show, I've been talking to

01:45:14   you through the sure beta 87 aid microphone that I've been using for the last several

01:45:21   years on this show. But what I'm going to do right now is I'm going into Skype preferences.

01:45:26   This could just totally blow up the whole podcast.

01:45:29   All right, I haven't done it yet. In

01:45:39   three two one

01:45:41   on the internal microphone do i sound different yes you do all right so that proves that it worked

01:45:50   it didn't interrupt the skype call actually it's interesting we were talking about you were having

01:45:57   some like uh staticky on the um the other one but at least but um this one no static but you can hear

01:46:07   the room around you a lot more. It's a little like echolier.

01:46:11   I think that is worrisome. I suspect that there might be some bad. Well, we'll see.

01:46:23   But anyway, I'm talking on the internal now. I'll do the rest of the show right here. We don't have

01:46:28   much more to go, but I think that's interesting. I'm talking at about the same distance that I

01:46:33   I would be from the screen if I were just like typing on the keyboard right now or doing

01:46:37   like a like a FaceTime call.

01:46:43   I mean, it sounds fine.

01:46:46   It sounds even good.

01:46:47   But like, I definitely I do hear a difference.

01:46:50   It's not it's not the shorter.

01:46:54   And that to me is it.

01:46:55   There's performance increases that I'm not.

01:46:59   Here's my question.

01:47:00   Okay.

01:47:01   I've been disappointed by computers, and particularly the MacBook Air, with this.

01:47:06   How is the webcam?

01:47:07   Because the webcam in the MacBook Air is garbage.

01:47:10   You know, I didn't test it.

01:47:13   I honestly don't know.

01:47:14   I'm looking at it because the Skype preferences shows it to me.

01:47:19   I don't know.

01:47:20   I'm guessing it's not that good.

01:47:22   I'm guessing it might be as good as the MacBook Air.

01:47:25   interesting because it's not like a

01:47:27   Sort of killer app for the computer. I feel like it's like a utility thing, but

01:47:34   It's just so it's it's shockingly bad in the MacBook Air really bad. It's like a 640 by 480 not literally

01:47:42   But it's it's just yeah

01:47:44   breathtakingly awful

01:47:46   Yeah, I recall it's better in the pros that's all yeah, maybe it's a little better

01:47:51   I think that the problem is that they back themselves into the it is

01:47:54   physical corner where they want the display to be so ultra thin and therefore there's even compared to like a phone

01:48:01   There's way less thickness, you know, the the top of the MacBook Pro display is way thinner than an iPhone

01:48:07   So there's just no room for a bigger better camera

01:48:10   Yeah, I don't think it's that great

01:48:13   Any other questions that you have about the new Mac?

01:48:16   I think the only thing left is what is their schedule for the next year for rolling this out?

01:48:23   You know across the rest of the product line, you know

01:48:26   hmm

01:48:28   All right. I wonder all right. Let's call it a wrap. Everybody can follow you on twitter at Casey Johnston

01:48:35   It's a great Twitter follow right now you work at vice as the life editorial director

01:48:41   That's correct

01:48:43   You can find me. How's it going?

01:48:45   It's pretty good. I mean, I'm writing my column as well right for vice ask us woman and that's that's going really well

01:48:52   well. But it's great. I've been I hired a whole team and they're really firing on all

01:48:58   cylinders. I'm so proud of them and they're really fun to work with. I'm having a great

01:49:02   time.

01:49:03   And so you're you're you're ask a swole woman column is your column where you take questions

01:49:07   and answers from anybody, but obviously from the perspective of a woman. But you're a weightlifting

01:49:13   and enthusiast people asking questions like, hey, what how do I pick a gym? Right. That

01:49:18   was like one of your recent columns.

01:49:19   Yes, yeah. It's just stuff about, it's sort of refracted through the lens of like, lifting

01:49:27   weights but broadly about people's relationship with their bodies and food and exercise and

01:49:32   like how to sort of get that part of your life in order and feel okay about it and approach

01:49:38   it in a way that's sane and not subscribing to a lot of prejudices people have about themselves

01:49:45   and what they can or should be doing when it comes to exercise.

01:49:49   And you've been you've been writing that column at various publications now for at least like three years, right?

01:49:54   Yeah, it's been a little over three years now. Yep hairpin and then self and now vice. Well, that's great. Thank you for being here

01:50:01   I could not have asked for a more point on

01:50:06   Guest to talk about these goddamn keyboards than you

01:50:10   Well, and thank you honestly, I mean it from the bottom of my heart for for

01:50:17   Sort of popping the bubble years ago and and yeah doing the work that you did on the keyboard

01:50:23   Yeah, cool. Thank you

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