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Three hardware features Apple needs to trash forever

Monday May 30, 2022. 12:00 PM , from Macworld UK
Apple’s no stranger to killing off old technology. The original iMac famously did away with not only legacy ports but also shuffled the floppy disk right off this mortal coil. Elsewhere, the company has been aggressive about transitioning to solid-state storage and Retina-quality displays, with little to no compunction for the old hardware they replace (and with good reason).

All of this is to say that the company typically doesn’t count nostalgia as an asset. Recently, rumors have pointed to another feature that may find itself on the chopping block: the Lightning connector that debuted on the iPhone 5 in 2012. Speculation would have it replaced by USB-C, which has already replaced the proprietary port on several iPad models, as well as being the de facto connector on modern Macs.

While such a transition would no doubt cause some degree of consternation among many users, I’m all for it. In the words of one of the better Star Wars movies of recent years: let the past die. Kill it if you have to.

With that in mind, here are a few more features that can still be found on today’s Apple products, but whose time in the sun should probably come to an end sooner rather than later.

Touch Bar: Touch of evil

Somewhere deep within Cupertino, there’s almost certainly a lab with an unholy experiment: a MacBook whose entire keyboard has been replaced with a featureless slab of glass. But in public, Apple’s last attempt to bring its touchscreen technology to the Mac wasn’t really an unmitigated success.

Yes, it’s time to kill the Touch Bar.

Will the Touch Bar finally disappear in 2022?

To be fair, it’s on its way out already. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 chip is the only remaining product in Apple’s line-up that still has the strip of touch-sensitive buttons instead of physical function keys. And chances are that when the M2 versions roll around, the Touch Bar will be pining for the fjords.

This isn’t to say that the idea of using touch technology on Macs is inherently a bad idea, but the Touch Bar really did not nail it. On the surface, it promised a higher degree of customization and flexibility than static buttons, but its lack of tactile feedback or ability to use without looking often made it more cumbersome than useful. Combined with the fact that Apple seemed to believe it never really needed further upgrades on the hardware or software side, the Touch Bar has basically languished in the years since the release. It’s time to put it out of its misery.

Webcam: 1080p-eww

Is there any feature of new Macs that has caused as much consternation as the humble webcam? What once was more or less an afterthought on Apple’s computers has catapulted into top billing, thanks to the enormous and sudden rise of video conferencing during the pandemic. But only the very newest Macs have finally abandoned the 720p webcam in favor of the somewhat underwhelming 1080p version. (Let’s not even get into the foofaraw over the Apple Studio Display’s camera.)

This is one place where Apple should have skipped forward. Forget 1080p–that’s so very 2010. Why not a 4K webcam? After all, there’s been no hesitation about cramming cameras of that quality into iPhones and iPads–the latest iPhones have both front- and rear-facing cameras capable of recording video at 4K resolution.

It’s unquestionably a more expensive proposition, but when you consider that most people buying a Mac with a built-in webcam are already spending well over $1,000 (and probably much more), throwing in a single 4K-capable camera doesn’t seem like a lot to ask. Much as Apple might not want to admit it, remote work isn’t going anywhere soon. And it’s not like Apple doesn’t get a benefit from this as well: FaceTime looks way better on an iPhone than a Mac.

The fact that Apple equips its Macs and the Studio Display with a 1080p camera is laughable.Apple

SIM cards: Know when to fold ’em

It’s the year 2022 and even the fanciest iPhone you can buy still has a SIM card slot in it. Sure, there’s the argument for backwards compatibility and there are certainly countries around the world where a physical SIM card is still more common (even here in the US). But with the advent of eSIM, it’s far easier to manage your cellular connection and plan via an app than it is to have to deal with tiny, easily misplaced or damaged chips.

The advantages to Apple are plain: removing the SIM slot frees up valuable space inside the iPhone, makes it easier to waterproof, and lets them stop packaging one of those dopey over-engineered SIM removal tools in every box.

And though SIM cards have been handy when you want to have two different phone plans (say when you’re traveling internationally), the latest iPhones and iPads already support dual eSIMs. This is clearly the future calling (and the future of calling, for that matter).

I hear your concerns! What will disavowed spies crush under their boot heels? It’s a tragedy, but SIM cards are passé: they’ve been getting increasingly smaller over the last two decades and it’s time for them to finally disappear and join floppy disks, SCSI connectors, and dot-matrix printers in the great computer junkyard in the sky.

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