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article imageApple's MacBook Pro has no SD card slot because it's 'cumbersome'

By James Walker     Nov 2, 2016 in Technology
Apple has explained why it has dropped the humble SD card slot from its new $1,499 MacBook Pro. The company said the highly controversial change was made because the slot is "cumbersome" and gradually being replaced by wireless standards.
Apple marketing executive Phil Schiller made the comments during an interview with The Independent. He discussed the development of the new MacBook Pro models, as well as the public's reception of the laptops.
The company has updated the MacBook Pro for the first time in several years. Among the headline features are improved performance, a thinner and lighter design and a new "Touch Bar" display above the keyboard. However, the hardware that's gaining the most attention is the lack of an SD card slot, a staple on even budget laptops.
Schiller told the Independent that the decision was made because "it's a bit of a cumbersome slot." He noted "you've got this thing sticking halfway out [of the laptop]" when a card is inserted, spoiling the MacBook's clean design. There's also multiple memory card formats to consider. Different cameras accept different standards but only one could be included on the MacBook. Most consumer devices use SD but there was always a trade-off to be made.
Because increasing numbers of cameras are including wireless transfer features, Apple thought the best route forward was to drop memory card support altogether. Customers will need to transfer files wirelessly or use a dongle to connect SD cards to their Macs.
The move has been heavily criticised by video editing professionals who frequently need to move large files from cameras to their computers. It continues Apple's tendency to anticipate the future ahead of time, creating scenarios that will be positive in the long-term but can be unwieldy at launch.
The Independent also asked Schiller about the presence of a 3.5mm jack on the new MacBook Pros. The company dropped the jack from the iPhone 7, apparently creating an inconsistency by bringing it back on the Macs. Schiller noted that the 3.5mm jack powers more than just headphones on laptops. He pointed out that pros have audio equipment including studio monitors and amps that have no wireless alternatives, making the jack's inclusion a must-have.
At another point in the interview, Schiller addressed the separation between macOS and iOS. He said Apple is "steadfast in our belief" that the two are fundamentally different products. He noted that adding a full touchscreen display to the Mac would make it difficult to use key components of the interface, including the menu bar.
Schiller also commented on the criticism directed at the new MacBook Pros since launch. The company has been accused of neglecting the brand with analysts noting the laptops don't actually feature "pro" hardware. The entry-level model, coming in at $1,499, has a dual-core processor that would be equally at home in a Windows laptop costing $1,000 left. Quad-core chips only appear in the high-end models, retailing at above $2,000, and aren't available at all on the 13-inch version.
Schiller said the criticism has "been a bit of a surprise" but defended the launch. He said Apple "took a bold risk" with the new MacBook's design and hardware, adding cutting-edge features like the Touch Bar that aren't present on rival machines.
"We know we made good decisions about what to build into the new MacBook Pro and that the result is the best notebook ever made, but it might not be right for everyone on day one," the executive said to The Independent. "That's okay, some people felt that way about the first iMac and that turned out pretty good."
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