Apple

Thanks, Apple, for keeping USB-A on the Mac Studio

Thanks, Apple, for keeping USB-A on the Mac Studio

Rejoice, peasants! Your proletarian gadgets may live for another year!

I’m referring, of course, to the Mac Studio that Apple recently announced, which will be released on March 18. The company made a number of lofty claims about the device’s power and efficiency, using various graphs that it didn’t label as particularly helpful. These are just assertions until we get our hands on a unit – we’ll have to check the measurements ourselves.

But Apple also showed us pictures of the device. We have seen it. And there are two things that we know for sure, without a doubt, that he has. Computer, improve:

Imagine the possibilities.

Of course, there are ports for Thunderbolt, Ethernet, whatever. But look at these two little rectangles to the left of the HDMI. These two beautiful rectangles.

These, my friends, are a new invention called “USB-A”. I’m told you can use them to connect mice and keyboards to your computer, although I’ve always used the PS/2 port for that. The caps only seem to go one way, which seems like a bit of a design oversight. But overall, I’m excited to see where this standard takes us.

A user works on the Mac Studio Display.

Here it is in the wild.
Image: Apple

I’m joking. Seriously, I breathed a legitimate sigh of relief as soon as I saw this photo – I was worried for a minute that Apple might ship this device without USB-A.

Over the past few years, Apple has struggled with the connectivity of some of its MacBook generations. I’m typing this as we speak on a 2019 Pro only USB-C and drive, I’m sad about it. The latest MacBook Pro models got a number of ports back, but they still lack USB-A.

The journey with desktop systems, while not as devastating for me personally, has always been worrisome over the past few years. The 2020 Mac Mini, although it had dual USB-A, was a significant I/O downgrade from previous Mac Mini models. I watched with anxiety as Macs continued to lose ports. Laptops are one thing, I told myself, but surely, surely, Apple would never remove USB-A from its desktop computers.

And then we had the 2021 iMac. USB-C only. And I feared that this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. If Apple were shipping USB-C-only desktops – I repeat, desktop computers – maybe we’ll never see him again.

This, folks, is what devastation looks like.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales/The Verge

I was therefore quite happy to see these images during the announcement of Apple Studio, and if you follow our live blog, you will have understood that I was not the only one.

Anyway. As my colleague Chaim Gartenberg pointed out recently, there are all sorts of valid reasons to prefer USB-C over USB-A. It’s smaller, reversible, and you can use it to recharge. I understand why companies like Apple and Dell want to lobby the industry for this standard. The day every good SSD, webcam, mouse, keyboard, and other modern peripherals drop USB-A, I’ll be leading the parade.

On the other hand, as someone who often uses a MacBook Pro and a 2021 iMac as daily drivers, here’s a brief list of things I can’t connect without a dongle: my mouse (sue me, I don’t like not Apple’s mice), my mechanical keyboard, my external webcam, my podcast microphone, my camera, four discs on which I keep various things and my CD player (yes, I use one of those from time to time ). This is the reality for many people.

And sorry, I’ll just say it – dongles are pretty darn hard to track. I rely on my little USB-C to USB-A adapter for my life, and half the time I don’t even know where it is. The other day I found it under my sofa. I couldn’t tell you how it got there.

This is not a headphone jack situation where the industry is lining up to follow Apple off the cliff. I’m glad the company recognized that despite the benefits of USB-C, professionals may still need this port. Multiple of this port, in fact.

I just hope Apple’s consumer products (hello, iMac) follow suit. Because I really think that need still exists in the consumer space as well. In fact, this audience may be even more likely to own older devices and be less eager to upgrade.

So join me in rejoicing: USB-A is here to stay, at least for now. If you need me, I’ll campaign for VGA on the next MacBook Air. I’m joking! (Type of).