Wednesday December 7, 2016 2:23 pm PST by Joe Rossignol
Apple in the latest macOS Sierra beta appears to have fixed a common issue where transferring files to an external hard drive or SSD connected to a Thunderbolt 3 port caused the new MacBook Pro to crash for some users.
MacRumors forum member Dave Miles claims he received an email response from Apple's software engineering chief Craig Federighi, who apologized for the inconvenience and confirmed the issue has been fixed in the fifth macOS 10.12.2 beta seeded to developers and public testers on Monday.
While we have not been able to verify the authenticity of the email beyond a reasonable doubt, the issue does appear to be fixed regardless.
At least a half-dozen users claim the fifth beta of macOS 10.12.2 addresses the crashing issues, which most often affected users backing up their new MacBook Pro to an external drive with Time Machine using a wired connection. Some users also reported crashing issues when transferring files between two external drives.
MacRumors forum member TreadEverSoLightly succinctly described the dilemma that a number of other users faced:
I'm already on my 2nd MacBook Pro. Picked up last Wednesday and swapped it for another model 2 days later after experiencing crashing while my laptop backs up via Time Machine to an external HD. Computer freezes up during data transfer and refuses to acknowledge my inputs. Then crashes and restarts itself.
It is unclear what the underlying problem was, with some users speculating it could have been related to USB driver, firmware, or software issues. Others believe large file transfers contributed to the problem. Ultimately, what matters the most is the issue now appears to be resolved.
MacRumors forum member saba01 is one of several users who delivered the good news today following weeks of complaints:
I had the same issue. My MacBook Pro crashed when transferring large files (over 4TB). I installed macOS 10.12.2 and the problem is solved! Yesterday I did a 40TB backup with no problems at all!
macOS Sierra 10.2.2 will likely be publicly released as a free software update later this month following completion of beta testing.
All late 2016 MacBook Pro models appear to be affected, including standard 13-inch and 15-inch configurations with AMD Radeon Pro 450 or AMD Radeon Pro 455 graphics, but the issues appear to be most prevalent on the high-end 15-inch model with built-to-order AMD Radeon Pro 460 graphics.
15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar exhibiting graphics issues (jscooper22)
User complaints have continued to surface over the past five days, with new videos emerging showing the usual symptoms, ranging from brightly colored flickering and full-screen checkerboard patterns to screen tearing and visual artifacts. Affected systems sometimes become unresponsive or crash due to a kernel panic, requiring some new MacBook Pro users to perform a hard restart.
Apple has yet to publicly acknowledge or comment on the graphics issues, but in a supposed email response to a MacRumors forum member, Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi allegedly said he believes the problems have been resolved in the latest macOS Sierra 10.12.2 beta released on Monday. As a point of emphasis, this email response has not been verified.
Thanks for your note! We believe we have addressed all of these graphics issues in the latest beta of Sierra 10.12.2 (available at beta.apple.com).
I hope that you enjoy your new MacBook Pro — it’s a fantastic machine!
While we have yet to verify the authenticity of the email beyond a reasonable doubt, there is some unscientific evidence to suggest it could be real:
• Although it could easily be faked, the response appears to resemble previous email responses sent by Federighi
• The user who shared the email response is a longtime MacRumors forum member who registered his account in June 2007
• Apple executives appear to be increasingly using email as a vehicle to subtly address customer questions and concerns
• MacRumors viewed a lengthy follow-up email the user received from Apple's Executive Relations team, which appears to be legitimate
Reports from affected users running the latest macOS Sierra beta are slim at this point, but at least one forum member claims to still be experiencing graphics issues on the fifth and latest macOS Sierra beta.
macOS Sierra 10.12.2 should be publicly released later this month, so additional user reports should soon prove if the graphics issues have truly been fixed.
Wednesday December 7, 2016 6:05 am PST by Joe Rossignol
HP today launched its 27-inch ENVY display with 4K Ultra HD resolution and a built-in USB-C port for charging the new MacBook Pro, 12-inch MacBook, or most other USB-C devices at up to 60 watts over a single cable.
The IPS LED-backlit display features a clean design with a micro-edge bezel, matte black rear panel, and a thin aluminum stand. The base can be detached for VESA wall or arm mounting, but a bracket is not included.
The display has a 60Hz refresh rate and supports AMD FreeSync, designed to eliminate stuttering and tearing in games and videos by locking the refresh rate to the framerate of the graphics card.
• 27-inch IPS LED display with ultra-wide 178° angle viewing
• 4K Ultra HD resolution (3,840×2,160 pixels)
• 16:9 aspect ratio with 142 PPI
• 60Hz refresh rate
• 99% sRGB color gamut
• Typical brightness of 350 cd/m2
• Built-in ports: 1 USB-C, 1 DisplayPort 1.2, 1 HDMI 2.0, 1 HDMI 1.4
• USB-C Power Delivery up to 60 watts
• AMD FreeSync
• VESA mounting
HP's new ENVY 27 Display is available on HP.com and at select retailers in the United States for $499 starting today. The price point is about $200 cheaper than some competing USB-C displays, such as the LG 27UD88 and Lenovo ThinkVision X1, but features and connectivity vary.
One display that may be a better buy in the near term is LG's and Apple's new UltraFine 4K display. While it has a smaller 21.5-inch screen, the UltraFine has "Cinema" 4K resolution (4,096×2,304), built-in speakers, 3 additional USB-C ports, higher 500 cd/m2 brightness, and a wider DCI-P3 color gamut.
LG's UltraFine 4K display is $524—only $25 extra—until December 31. Afterwards, its price returns to $699.95, which will make it a less attractive option compared to HP's ENVY 27 display, although still worth consideration.
Tuesday December 6, 2016 7:02 am PST by Joe Rossignol
When looking at the current state of the Mac lineup, the new MacBook Pro is the only model Apple has updated over the past seven-plus months. Even the latest MacBook Pro models required a 527-day wait, which was considerably longer than the average of 320 days between previous MacBook Pro refreshes.
A glance at our own MacRumors Buyer's Guide shows the new MacBook Pro is the only Mac currently listed with a "Buy Now" status, as all other models beyond the 12-inch MacBook have not been refreshed for significant periods of time. The longest overdue is the Mac Pro, last updated 1,084 days ago.
• iMac — 420 days ago
• MacBook Air — 638 days ago
• Mac mini — 782 days ago
• Mac Pro — 1,084 days ago
The lack of updates can be at least partially attributed to Apple having to wait on chipmakers and suppliers such as Intel, AMD, and Nvidia, each of which follow their own product roadmaps, although that cannot be the only reason given Skylake processors are now readily available for update-deprived Macs.
A lack of meaningful updates to several Macs this year impacted Apple's bottom line, as Mac revenue has declined for four consecutive quarters year-over-year. The declines have worsened each quarter, starting with a 3% drop in Q4 2015 and progressing to a 17% drop in Q3 2016, according to Strategy Analytics.
Apple investors now await the company's first quarter earnings results to see if the new MacBook Pro models will be able to reverse that trend.
Conversely, after several down quarters, the iPad has experienced a mostly upward trajectory over the past year, thanks largely in part to the iPad Pro's higher average selling price. Apple's tablet revenue is now stable on a year-over-year basis, after dipping as low as -21% one year ago.
Strategy Analytics senior analyst Eric Smith attributes the stabilizing effect to Apple's renewed focus on iPads. He said Apple entered the 2-in-1 tablet market with the iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard right in time to renew growth and capitalize on growing enterprise demand in the future.
Recognizing that Microsoft was changing the computing device market, Smith said Apple "pretty much forgot about Mac" in order to attack the 2-in-1 tablet segment with the release of iPad Pro models over the past year.
"Apple has been a master of cannibalizing its own business before other companies do so in a major way," Smith told MacRumors. "Apple let iPad slide until it became clear that Microsoft was changing the computing device market. It refocused on iPad with the Pro series and pretty much forgot about Mac to attack the 2-in-1 segment."
Apple's move was rather effective, as iPad market share has stabilized at 22% over the past two years after declining for the previous four years. But it would seem it took a change in stance to get there as, in the past, Apple essentially dismissed the idea of releasing a tablet-notebook hybrid.
During a 2012 earnings call, when asked to comment on why the MacBook Air and iPad would not eventually converge, Apple CEO Tim Cook argued that combining the products would result in compromises. "You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator but those won't be pleasing to the user," he said.
By contrast, earlier this year Apple released a TV ad called "What's a Computer?" that positions the iPad Pro as a computer. "Imagine what your computer could do if your computer was an iPad Pro," the tagline concludes.
Likewise, Cook said the iPad Pro is a notebook or desktop computer replacement for many people. "They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones," he added. "I think if you're looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?"
In the post-PC era, it is perhaps unsurprising that Apple's attention has shifted more towards the iPhone—and by extension, the iPad. But many faithful customers are hoping Apple will eventually turn its sights back to the Mac, following what some critics believe was a disappointing MacBook Pro update amid an aging lineup of Macs.
I bought a maxed out 13-inch Touch Bar model and I've been using it for about a week. With light use, I've been consistently getting around 5-6.5 hours when mainly browsing. Apple claims 10 hours wireless web but my battery has never lasted this long.
Reddit user Azr-79 yesterday claimed his new base model 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar received only 3 hours and 45 minutes of battery life on a single charge, despite what he described as "normal usage" in the form of web browsing, watching YouTube videos, and software development.
MacRumors forum member Scott claimed he experienced a 5 percentage point drop in battery life, from 10% to 5%, in just 12 minutes. Google Chrome, a known battery hog, was listed as the only app drawing significant power. The discussion topic he posted in and others are littered with similar claims of sizeable percentage drops in mere minutes.
Other claims on Reddit include anywhere from 3 hours to 5 hours to 6 hours — sometimes more, and sometimes less.
Conversely, some users report battery life exactly in line with Apple's advertised figures. Reddit user Andrew J., for example, said he was working on non-intensive tasks on his new MacBook Pro for 90 straight minutes, and still had 92% battery life with an estimated 10 hours and 35 minutes of usage remaining.
I've been working non-stop for the past 1.5 hours, back and forth between emails, Safari, Calendar, Messages, organizing files, editing some PDFs in Adobe Acrobat DC, and building a financial model in Excel. I started at 100% and am now at 92% battery, with an estimated 10 hours 35 minutes remaining. If you're not getting this kind of battery life on your MBP you should definitely get it checked out.
Estimates unsurprisingly vary widely based on screen brightness, background processes, and other factors, so user reports are only anecdotal evidence and your mileage may vary. It is also important to note battery life could be initially reduced until Spotlight finishes indexing your new MacBook Pro.
Battery life complaints are nothing new following the launch of a new Apple product. However, some users speculate battery life could be impacted by the new MacBook Pro switching from more efficient integrated Intel graphics to the power-hungrier dedicated AMD Radeon Pro GPU for unnecessary tasks.
Once again, however, there are always claims to suggest otherwise. Reddit user Lebron Hubbard claims he received 5 hours and 48 minutes of battery life on his high-end built-to-order 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar when forcing only the dedicated AMD Radeon Pro 460 graphics to run using gfxCardStatus:
Even though the dGPU rarely kicks in for day to day stuff, the Radeon Pro 460 seems really efficient for small tasks. 5:48 is nothing to scoff at for dGPU only, and it runs very cool and quiet.
Apple's built-in Activity Monitor and third-party app coconutBattery are useful tools for tracking system processes and detailed battery information.
Apple officially says the new MacBook Pro is rated for up to 10 hours of battery life. Specifically, its tech specs page says all new 13-inch and 15-inch models are capable of up to 10 hours of wireless web browsing, up to 10 hours of iTunes movie playback, and up to 30 days of standby time on a single charge.
Apple explains how it performs its battery tests on its website:
The wireless web test measures battery life by wirelessly browsing 25 popular websites with display brightness set to 12 clicks from bottom or 75%. The iTunes movie playback test measures battery life by playing back HD 1080p content with display brightness set to 12 clicks from bottom or 75%. The standby test measures battery life by allowing a system, connected to a wireless network and signed in to an iCloud account, to enter standby mode with Safari and Mail applications launched and all system settings left at default.
Apple's website also provides tips for maximizing battery life on the MacBook Pro, including updating to the latest version of macOS, optimizing Energy Saver settings in System Preferences, dimming the screen's brightness to the lowest comfortable level, and turning off Wi-Fi while not connected to a network.
Additional battery optimization advice provided by users includes performing a fresh install of macOS Sierra and resetting the SMC.
Friday December 2, 2016 4:07 pm PST by Joe Rossignol
Since new MacBook Pro models launched last month, an increasing number of early adopters have reported serious graphics issues on Apple's latest notebooks. The glitches and other problems appear to be most prevalent on built-to-order 15-inch models, but standard 13-inch and 15-inch configurations are also affected.
MacRumors reader Jan Becker, for example, said the graphics began to glitch on his new high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro, equipped with built-to-order AMD Radeon Pro 460 graphics, while transcoding video with Adobe Media Encoder in Premiere Pro. The notebook subsequently crashed.
Becker claims when he took his MacBook Pro to an Apple retail store to be replaced, an employee said the graphics issues are likely a hardware problem. He later claimed he received a phone call from Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California, where it allegedly has a team of engineers looking into the issues.
Apple called me from Cupertino. They put together a group of engineers to get to the root of this. I re-created the incident while I was on the phone with them and sent them the log files of the crash. They also want to "capture" my MacBook Pro with all the files on it to investigate more.
The most common symptoms reported by users include brightly colored flickering, full-screen checkerboard patterns, screen tearing, and other visual artifacts. Affected systems may subsequently experience unresponsiveness or a kernel panic, sometimes resulting in the MacBook Pro crashing.
15-inch MacBook Pro with AMD Radeon Pro 460 graphics with full-screen visual artifacts
The high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and built-to-order AMD Radeon Pro 460 graphics appears to be most commonly afflicted, but several users have reported similar issues on 15-inch models equipped with standard AMD Radeon Pro 450 or AMD Radeon Pro 455 GPUs as well.
MacRumors reader Jayselle recorded his 15-inch MacBook Pro with AMD Radeon Pro 455 graphics flickering while connected to two external LG displays.
It is not entirely clear if the issues are a hardware or software problem. The graphics appear to act up most when users are completing intensive tasks, such as transcoding video with Adobe Media Encoder, syncing large photo libraries with Photos, or using other Adobe apps such as Photoshop and Lightroom.
It would initially seem the issue is limited to 15-inch MacBook Pro models with dedicated AMD graphics, but there are a few isolated reports of graphics issues on 13-inch models with integrated Intel Iris 540 and Intel Iris 550 graphics — including the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with a standard row of function keys.
As insurance, Apple's extended holiday return policy is currently in effect. MacBook Pros purchased or delivered between November 10 and December 25 are eligible for return until January 8, 2017 in the United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, and select other countries.
Apple appears to be aware of and is investigating these latest graphics issues, but it has yet to publicly comment on the matter. Apple been actively exchanging MacBook Pros for affected customers, according to users. Schedule a Genius Bar appointment or contact Apple Support to facilitate this process.
Thursday December 1, 2016 7:54 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Apple has released updated audio drivers to fix a major issue causing blown out speakers on new MacBook Pro models running Windows 10 with Boot Camp.
Earlier this month, a number of users began noticing crackling or distorted sound coming from the left, right, or both speakers on the new MacBook Pro, oftentimes shortly after installing and running Windows 10 with Boot Camp. These issues persist even when affected users boot back into macOS Sierra.
MacRumors reader tianhuailiu — edited slightly for clarity:
"I used Boot Camp to install Windows and the right speaker started producing crackling sounds. It sounds like something broke inside the speaker. Every time I log in on Windows and try doing something with the speaker driver, either the left or right speaker produce a crackling sound. I have to return the MacBook Pro right now. Right now both my speakers crash both in macOS Sierra and in Windows, and they can only produce half of the original volume.
The damage to the speakers appears to be permanent once it occurs, requiring users to contact Apple to exchange their new MacBook Pro for a replacement unit. Unfortunately, due to limited stock, some of these users are now faced with waiting several weeks for their MacBook Pros to be swapped out.
The new Boot Camp audio drivers are available through Apple Software Update on the Windows side for both 13-inch and 15-inch models, although the issue appears to primarily affect the larger of the two. The new drivers, of course, are of no help to users who have already blown out their speakers.
While new drivers are available, late 2016 MacBook Pro users should exercise caution when running Windows 10 with Boot Camp due to the severe nature of the problem. As a temporary workaround, some users have plugged in headphones during the booting process until installing the updated drivers.
After installing the updated drivers, some MacBook Pro users appear to be experiencing issues with low volume on both Windows 10 and macOS Sierra, but the underlying problem remains unclear. Affected users should contact Apple or schedule a Genius Bar appointment for further support.
The issue does not affect older MacBook Pro models or Windows virtualization software such as VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop for Mac.
Update: Apple has released a support document confirming the problem and advising users to update to the new drivers to avoid speaker issues.
Saturday November 26, 2016 5:52 am PST by Tim Hardwick
Two free third-party Touch Bar apps have been making the rounds this week that may be of interest to some owners of new MacBook Pros. The apps essentially offer alternative ways of accessing pre-existing macOS functions.
TouchSwitcher adds an icon to the right side of the Touch Bar that when tapped brings up a list of currently running apps for quick app switching, similar to the Command + Tab keyboard shortcut.
One limitation of the Touch Bar discovered by TouchSwitcher's developer is that only one non-system control can be displayed in the right-hand strip, meaning other Apple apps compete for the same space.
iTunes for example overrides TouchSwitcher when music is played, and the TouchSwitcher app must be restarted to make it re-appear in the control strip. To manually regain access to the default media control button, users can long press on the TouchSwitcher app icon to quit it.
Another new app called Rocket lets users launch apps from the Touch Bar. Rather than live in the system control strip on the right though, Rocket is a standalone app that can be invoked using a keyboard shortcut, whereupon it displays a list of app icons along the left side of the Touch Bar.
TouchSwitcher and Rocket (listed as a beta) can be downloaded for free directly from the developers' websites.
Friday November 25, 2016 9:19 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Apple premium reseller Expercom is offering some notable discounts on new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models, including up to $53 off 13-inch models and up to $167 off 15-inch models depending upon the configuration selected.
The discounts are even steeper when an AppleCare Protection Plan is added. 15-inch models with AppleCare are up to $225 off, while 13-inch models with AppleCare are up to $117 off, depending upon the configuration selected.
A limited number of MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models remain in stock, with the majority estimated to ship in 2-4 weeks. Prices are valid until November 26. For reference, here is Expercom's sales tax policy.
Friday November 25, 2016 4:05 am PST by Tim Hardwick
Since it's been revealed that Apple chose to use a soldered down, non-removable SSD in its 13-inch and 15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros, it's natural for users to wonder about the fate of their data in the event of a fault that requires a logic board replacement.
Fortunately it appears as if Apple has a proprietary in-house tool to rescue stored user data when disaster strikes. 9to5Mac reports that a dedicated port on the logic board allows Apple staff to attach the recovery tool once the board's been removed from the chassis. The tool then transfers the data from the SSD to a working MacBook Pro's drive via one of its USB-C ports.
All indications are that users won't be able to get their hands on this recovery tool, as it's only available to Apple support staff for emergency use when a laptop sent in for repair won't boot.
Monday November 21, 2016 7:00 am PST by Joe Rossignol
Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller has allegedly responded to an email from software developer Ben Slaney to further clarify why the new MacBook Pro maxes out at 16GB of RAM, noting that supporting 32GB of RAM would require a different logic board design which might reduce space for batteries.
Schiller: The MacBook Pro uses 16GB of very fast LPDDR memory, up to 2133MHz. To support 32GB of memory would require using DDR memory that is not low power and also require a different design of the logic board which might reduce space for batteries. Both factors would reduce battery life.
Slaney himself wrote an article explaining how the new MacBook Pro uses a low power, enhanced version of DDR3 RAM called LPDDR3E, which maxes out at 16GB. To achieve up to 32GB RAM would have required using DDR4 RAM, but its low-power variant LPDDR4 is not supported by the Intel processors powering the late 2016 models.
Using the iStat Menus tool, Slaney determined that, under normal conditions, the LPDDR3E RAM uses 1.5 watts of power. In comparison, he said the notebooks would use about 3-5 watts if they were using DDR4 memory, although this estimate is rather loosely based on tests of DDR4 RAM on Windows-based notebooks.
Slaney said the 2-5 watts saved translates to 10% of overall power usage being dedicated to RAM versus 20-30% that would be required for DDR4 RAM, which, if accurate, helps justify Apple's power versus performance tradeoff.
To put more than 16GB of fast RAM into a notebook design at this time would require a memory system that consumes much more power and wouldn't be efficient enough for a notebook. I hope you check out this new generation MacBook Pro, it really is an incredible system.
Apple's decision is even more justified when considering background power draw, or the energy a notebook uses to go back into sleep mode after regular usage. Slaney said this figure is estimated to be about 50% of overall power draw on an average system when using DDR4 RAM, but only 20% when using LPDDR3 RAM.
Moreover, the new MacBook Pro would get less than 7 days of standby time if it used DDR4 RAM, compared to 30 days with LPDDR3E RAM, he said.
Apple have been using LPDDR for several generations of their notebooks, and it’s part of the way that they get very long standby time on them. Switching to DDR4 would drastically decrease it from the 30 days of standby time that they get now to less than one week. With DDR4 they’d have produced a notebook that would have a completely drained battery if it was at 50% charge and you closed the lid and left it for a few days. Not only would that be annoying, but by running the battery flat often it would end up damaging a percentage of their batteries because they’d frequently get 100% discharged, which puts a lot of stress on them, and sometimes even kills them.
The rest of the article reflects upon poor battery life in several Windows-based notebooks with 32GB RAM, part of which can be blamed on the FAA's 100-watt-hour limit on notebook batteries brought on airplanes.
Affected users say the gesture either works only intermittently or does not work whatsoever on both 13-inch and 15-inch late 2016 models.
MacRumors reader Luke said the three finger drag gesture does not work in the upper left side of his MacBook Pro's trackpad.
I have the new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, and it seems there is an issue with the trackpad. Although it is enabled, the three-finger drag feature doesn't work in the upper left side of the track pad. It's most bizarre.
Some users have speculated the trackpad's palm rejection feature could be to blame, particularly since the gesture appears to be buggiest along the edges.
A handful of topics have been posted about the issue on the MacRumors discussion forums (1, 2, 3, 4) and Apple Support Communities over the past few weeks.
MacRumors reader David:
With the 13-inch MacBook Pro, I switched to three finger drag, and the palm rejection kind of gets in the way. If you go from typing to try and drag a window, you have to hit the center of the trackpad with your finger tips, or it doesn't register.
MacRumors reader Mustafa:
I always enable 3 finger drag. Ever since OS X 10.11, Apple tucked that feature away under Accessibility. I turned it on as usual and I am finding that it does not always move the windows as intended.
Apple Support Communities user Darren:
Try to enable three finger drag and do a 3 finger drag gesture on the bottom left of the trackpad. There is a 40% chance that it's wrongly detected as a secondary click. Sometimes it failed to detect 3 finger drag at the middle of the trackpad as well.
MacRumors forum member C.clavin:
Just bought a 2016 15" MacBook Pro and I am having an issue with the 3 finger drag. Since enabling the gesture, it works about 50-60% of the time. It's strange because it works at times on one window, and not others, and sometimes not at all.
"Three finger drag" is a Multi-Touch gesture supported on both traditional and Force Touch trackpads on many MacBook Pro models. It lets you use three fingers to move the active window on your screen without clicking.
On OS X Yosemite and later, the gesture can be toggled on by clicking on System Preferences > Accessibility > Mouse & Trackpad > Trackpad Options > Enable Dragging. Select "three finger drag" from the dropdown menu and check off the box.
Apple does not appear to have publicly acknowledged the issue, while it remains unclear if the issue is software or hardware related. If related to software, the issue will likely be addressed in a future macOS Sierra update.
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