On Charging the Purported USB-Only MacBook

Tons of feedback from readers regarding how a USB-only MacBook might charge. I’ve collected a bunch of them from Twitter here. Among the recurring ideas:

  • iPads don’t have MagSafe, and generally aren’t used while charging, so maybe this new MacBook is supposed to work like an iPad, unplugged. Possible, I suppose, but I think this train of logic would lead one to argue that Apple should stop making MacBooks and everyone should just use iPads. The whole point of MacBooks and iPads being separate devices with completely different form factors is that people use them for different tasks, and in different environments. iPads are usually held in hand,1 lessening the need for MagSafe protection. Plus, even if this new MacBook has absolutely staggering battery life, if people can plug it in while using it, they will, at least sometimes, which means MagSafe trip protection would still be useful.

    Note too that iPads come with Lightning cables that are only 3 feet long. MacBooks come with very long cables. If this new MacBook ships without MagSafe of any kind, perhaps the cable is only 3 feet long, iPad-style, reducing the chances that you even could position it in a way that the cable could be tripped over. That’d sure be frustrating for anyone who leaves the house with an uncharged MacBook, though.

  • Maybe it’ll still have MagSafe, but somewhere else on the cable. A lot of readers suggested that the MagSafe connector could move to the AC adapter, or that you’d use a MagSafe-to-USB-Type-C dongle. Requiring a dongle would be gross (and easily lost). I’m not sure what to think of a MagSafe connector on the AC adapter, but something along these lines seems like the most likely answer.

  • Apple Watch-style inductive charging. That’s a great idea, but I’m not aware of any inductive technology that carries sufficient current to power something as big as a laptop. If any company could bring such technology to market this year, it’d be Apple, but I’ll believe it when I see it. But also: where would this connect on the MacBook? If it’s on the bottom, wouldn’t it prop up the whole laptop at an angle? The sides are too thin. That leaves the back of the display, like maybe it’d connect on the Apple logo. That strikes me as ungainly.2

  1. Yes, I know, many people use hardware keyboards and prop their iPads laptop-style on a table or desk for writing, but I think it’s fair to say most iPad usage is hand-held. ↩︎

  2. Speaking of Apple Watch-like technology, Mark Gurman, in his report on this purported new MacBook, also claimed that its trackpad no longer physically clicks. If that’s true, I can’t help but wonder if they’re introducing “taptic” feedback. Apple has always prided itself on the quality of its trackpads — they’re the best in the industry, by a long shot. iOS touchscreens don’t have any physical feedback, but they do have *visual* feedback when you tap and drag. And on the Mac, *clicking* and *tapping* are two different things. I can’t help but think you’d want some sort of physical feedback — and if it doesn’t actually click, that means haptic feedback. ↩︎