Thoughts on the 2017 MacBook Pro

tl;dr — it is the best Mac I have ever owned.

I have a couple of iOS 11 app ideas that I want to work on over the summer and the idea of developing them on my 2011 MacBook Air was not appealing. Luckily, Apple had just refreshed their Mac lineup; so it was a great time to buy.

I do about 95% of my work at home from a desk, so the iMac would make a lot of sense for me. My ideal setup would be an iMac1 on my desk and a small laptop for those times when I need to work outside of my office.

After thinking about it some, I decided that (assuming I could only get one of them) the laptop makes the most sense for the flexibility2.

So I bought a 13” MacBook Pro with Touch Bar3. It would be a perfect secondary computer, but is modern and powerful enough that it could be my primary Mac for the next couple of years if my new app ideas don’t make any money.

So after using it for a couple of days, here are my first impressions. This is my first new Mac to use since 2012, so some of these things have been around for awhile; but they are new to me.

  • This is easily the best looking Mac I have ever seen. It immediately made my 2012 MacBook Pro that I use at work seem ancient.

  • I has the same footprint as the 11” MacBook Air. Price aside, this is the Retina MacBook Air that everyone wants.

  • I love the larger trackpad. The fake click using haptics completely fools me. Using Force Touch to look up words and to preview links seems more useful than 3D Touch on the iPhone4. My only wish here is that it supported the Apple Pencil.

  • I may be alone in this one, but I like the keyboard. The less key travel, the better. I would not be upset if the next Magic Keyboard uses this keyboard5. The only downside here is that the keyboard is definitely louder than before. This may get better as I learn to not hit them as hard.

  • The Touch Bar is a net positive, but it is not perfect. The first thing I noticed is that the resolution is pretty low. Everything looks a little fuzzy.

    Sliding for volume adjustment is nice.

    I don’t mind the esc key being digital, but I wish they extended the left side of the Touch Bar to be flush with the keyboard. It is inset just enough that I miss it about half the time. I keep missing the key and getting stuck in vi.

    The app-specific area so far seems like it is mainly used for keyboard shortcuts. This is useful for apps that I am less familiar with.

    The Touch Bar is visually subdued enough that I do not really notice the constant context-changing on my keyboard as I move around the system.

  • Having TouchID on here is great. Now I just have to make sure I don’t forget my 1Password password6.

  • Related, being able to use my Apple Watch to sign in is cool; but TouchID is way faster so I just use that. Hopefully the Apple Watch login gets faster in the future. Ideally I would be signed in and on the desktop by the time my screen turns on when I open the lid.

All of the new features above are fun, but the reason I bought it was to help me do app development faster. When using my MacBook Air, I was spending about half of my time waiting on the computer. When you only get an hour or two a day to work on a side project, your time is valuable.

I have had two nights of using this MacBook Pro for development and I have not had to wait on it yet. So for that alone, this Mac is a win in my book.

  1. Or iMac Pro. 
  2. Also, getting a MacBook Pro leaves the door open (like, barely open) to getting the iMac Pro at some point. Getting an iMac would have closed that door.

    Here’s to hoping. 

  3. Space Gray, 3.1 Ghz i5, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD 
  4. I don’t understand why Force Touch and 3D Touch have different marketing names. 
  5. From what I gather, a bunch of other people would be upset. 
  6. ‘1Password password’ felt funny to type.