The new MacBook Pro comes with a notch
With new MacBook Pros, Apple has reversed years of poor design choices, removing the universally hated Touch Bar and restoring consumers’ ports and MagSafes. Yet, in a bizarre demonstration of support for the iPhone, the company has placed a large, ugly notch in the center of what is touted as the best notebook screen around.
Despite its apparent swagger, it must be a humbling moment for Apple to be compelled to admit that it has been told for a long time that so few of its design breakthroughs are valued by its users. It’s important to remember why you’re eying this MacBook Pro in the first place: Apple’s unserious attempt is to cut corners to bring you a slick promotion.
Initially, the Touch Bar sounded impressive, but in reality, there weren’t many compelling reasons to use it and 90% of the time, users just wanted the regular keys — not to mention the accessibility issues created by having these elements mapped to an undifferentiated touchscreen display. In response to the disastrous failure of the butterfly switches, the keyboard design has reverted to a thicker one with a “mechanical feel”. Apparently, people don’t care too much if it means typing is painful and your keys break frequently.
Going entirely to USB-C was another ambitious step that had no basis in reality. All it did was increase the dongle industry and make people carry a half-dozen two-inch wires around with them in order to use the many devices and drives they’d accumulated over the years.
As a result, Apple has gone back and reintroduced these and other elements as if they were brand new concepts after withholding or failing to improve them. The irony of seeing a commercial promoting the M1 Pro Max’s power while an SD card reader assembles itself in the cutaway view is rich and delectable.
But Apple then did something that shouldn’t have been done.
Macobook got notched
Notches are not my favorite feature. I know that some people find them appealing. Both in ordinary use and in fullscreen media, I find them quite distracting. The notch isn’t great, but a hole punch is much worse. Just for that reason, I’m keeping my SE 2 after the notch makes the new iPhones less attractive than previous models.
Apple may have expanded the display upwards and toward the bezel, but it was unable to incorporate its new webcam (there’s no Face ID or anything). So, in some ways, you’re gaining ground, or so my Apple apologists have convinced themselves.
They remark, “What do you need to do with the middle portion of the menu bar or whatever?” The new screen aspect ratio is taller than 16:9, 2:1, 21:9, and other common ratios, therefore it’ll presumably be letterboxed in media. The notch won’t show up when you’re in a fullscreen app, but it does erase the extra space you supposedly gained. The net result, they say, is a gain in space.
However, the design is ugly.
Look, it’s not even visible! That top quarter inch is obviously not visible. Image Credits: Apple
I have a very straightforward question. Would you prefer a screen with a notch or one without one? The notch interferes with the main objective of a display, which is to display objects, so the answer is almost always “the one without a notch.” Anything that extends past the rectangle of the display prevents it from fully and effectively utilizing this shape. Almost everything on the screen has a notch cut out or accommodates the notch in some way.
There are some people who won’t mind. Some people are genuinely unconcerned. Good for them.
Some people, however, turn on “TruMotion HD Smooth” to make their TV look like a soap opera. People sometimes use both LEDs and incandescent bulbs in the same room. Some people don’t arrange their books according to color. You get my point – and a neurotic aesthetic like mine can go too far with its concerns.
It is important that technology is as unnoticeable as possible. In order to become ubiquitous and virtually invisible, the entire industry is reducing cables, boosting automation, and improving “smartness.” This tennis ball-sized device links you to your entire digital world. A pair of tiny earbuds that “magically” charge themselves, connect instantly, and change their volume levels according to your ear canal’s peculiarities. And so forth.
Retina displays are sharp enough to fool the eye into believing they are real; 120 Hz refresh rates eliminate latency and blur from perceiving the difference between digital and physical, and a minimum bezel decreases the “border” between the two. It has always been the aim of display technology to create the most magical window possible. Simply said, the notch is a step backward rather than forward. We are witnessing a shift from the digital to the physical, which is less magical, less real, and less obtrusive.
Even if the notch doesn’t bother you, you know that it will be removed as soon as it’s physically possible. Everyone knows that screens without notches are better. As they did today, they reintroduced decade-old features that no one actually asked for, while acting as if they had purposefully reinvented the wheel.