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It Looks Like Apple is Killing the Physical Esc and Power Keys On New MacBook Pro 524

Curious minds on the internet have uncovered an image file on their Mac, which was added by Apple in the latest macOS update. The image reveals a new laptop that fully fits the description of rumored MacBook Pro, which Apple is expected to launch on October 27. The laptop in the picture has what seems like a "contextual" OLED display (some are calling it Magic Toolbar display) on the top. What's interesting from that picture is that there's no physical Escape key or Power key to be found anywhere.

Editor's note: We usually tend to avoid covering leaks and rumors, but several readers pitched the story to us, and media outlets are also covering it now, which adds some credibility to the matter.
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It Looks Like Apple is Killing the Physical Esc and Power Keys On New MacBook Pro

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  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @04:03PM (#53149109) Homepage Journal

    Just joking. Of course we'll all just have to change our key bindings.

    • Of course, this change makes using vi damn near impossible. This is all part of the Eric Conspiracy to force us to use Emacs.
    • Or Vi / Vim for that matter.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @05:03PM (#53149777)

      maybe the Esc key will be available as an over priced dongle?

    • I know you were joking but in Emacs the magic gateway to commands is M-x - which stands for meta-x. Yes Esc-x works, but you can also use Option-x in Aquamacs...

      Sadly it seems like the terminal version of Emacs does rely only on Esc to get to M-x, Option-x inserts some special character. I hope they fix that default but it can be re-bound as needed.

  • I'm imagining that the "make things better by simplifying" can only go so far. I'm not saying we've definitively reached such a point with Macs, but they keep learning that some of these "refinements" are mistakes, like not being able to right-click. Is trying to reduce vectors of interaction for their devices really their entire legacy?

    Mac is definitely the "simpler" brand, and draws a lot of users from that brand. I just wonder if it's not a long-term shoot-yourself-in-the-foot to limit yourself so (bo

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by npslider ( 4555045 )

      I suppose the Esc Key will be an option on the new OLED panel. Perhaps it's not lost, just moved.

      • I don't think this is going to work very well for the majority of us who rely on that particular key. If this rumor is true, it is one of the few legitimately infuriating things Apple will have done with their products.

        The place to do this paritcularly benighted thing is in the macbook and "air" line for college kids majoring in basket weaving and their later life selves: marketing bots. For the technical world, the esc key is still very, very important. You shouldn't drop it on your "pro" line, for "profes

        • Well, on the upside, technically, Apple's new feature is actually a find of Biblical proportions.

          They have done what no other has managed to do. EVER.

          They finally found the ANY key and are giving it to us on a shiny platter.

        • by mark-t ( 151149 )

          If this rumor is true, it is one of the few legitimately infuriating things Apple will have done with their products.

          (Raised eyebrow)


          I'm not sure if you're trying to be deliberately ironic or what....

          I can't recall the last time Apple made a change that actually turned out to be a good one. They've probably done it at some points in the past, but I can't think of any offhand.

          • Devil's Advocate:

            * Magnetic cables are freakin' awesome but are one of the few things that haven't been widely copied (I'm assuming due to patent or something.)

            * I think the iPad was sort of innovative... was there really no Android version in the works beforehand? I know e-ink readers were pretty widespread before then. Regardless, the "just make a big phone, but without the phone" approach was a very wise choice (even if it was obvious in retrospect) and they certainly deserve kudos they were the
    • That key needs to die an ugly death.

    • As can complexity (Score:3, Insightful)

      by H3lldr0p ( 40304 )

      Not defending Apple. Can't stand to use them myself. Can barely stand Windows most days but that's because I like knowing what's going on under the hood. I understand what those little things mean and how to use them to my advantage to make my work easier. That's not the case for everyone.

      It's well past time for UI to have different modes. Have one that's for ease of use. Have another for power and expert users. It's not a matter of safety. It's a matter of different use cases. I am hobbled with certain fil

      • Re:As can complexity (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Shane_Optima ( 4414539 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2016 @01:50AM (#53152165) Homepage Journal

        It's well past time for UI to have different modes. Have one that's for ease of use. Have another for power and expert users.

        "Power users" are the ones that have really got the shaft over the past 10+ years. It's distinct from (but broadly overlaps with) expert: the basic idea of a power user is someone who is fully taking advantage of the functionality that is built-into the app (including options in the config files or "advanced" tabs in a GUI), but doesn't want to built it him/herself (which includes but isn't limited to writing CLI scripts.) Some stuff I am probably an "expert" on, but most of the time I'm just a power user. I don't want to use a CLI to sort my photos. That's horrendous and clearly less functional. I'm sure emacs-dired or some old midnight commander clone would be functional enough, but I've never had the patience to sit down to get over that learning curve and configure it how I need it just to enable a few missing features.

        But WHY THE HELL SHOULD I NEED TO MANUALLY ENABLE THOSE FEATURES TO BEGIN WITH? Linux has had like 20 years to make a good GUI file browser and they've failed utterly. Why the hell are permission issues with removable drives still a thing? Having to open a terminal window to launch "sudo nautilus/thunar/dolphin" in a separate window, without any of my customizations (so everything is invariably some big icon, enabling me to see like 7 files at a time) to fix some ridiculous a permission issue that should've never existed in the first place... are you fucking kidding me?[1] No, I am NOT going to open up a CLI as a workaround for bugs (yes, bugs) in your 15 year old actively-developed file browser, and fuck you very much for suggesting such a thing.

        Why can't I tell at a glance where this folder is being mounted from? Why can't I tell at a glance what the filesystem is? Wait, what? You can't even tell these things even with rightclick-properties?? What is the POINT of having a "properties" or "details" if you're not going to even give me a hint about where the directory is physically located? When this sort of thing comes up I generally just give up and launch gparted, just to figure out what the hell I'm looking at. I'm sure there's an easier way, but the easiest way was obviously for my file browser to actually give me a few scraps of information about the goddamn files .

        Why does this "places" view vs. "tree" view dichotomy still exist? It's senselessly crippled almost every single Linux file browser I've ever seen, to one extent or another. It renders pcmanfm unusable. It used to render thunar unusable, but they've fixed it now. Sort of. Still completely impossible to tell apart a lot of the entries in the left pane: 32GB removable drive, 32GB removable drive, 32GB removable drive, god fucking forbid you show me anything like a vendor name or a graphic representing used space or the file system or something. Dolphin is a bit better at it, as I recall, but I've never gotten around to getting Qt dark theming to work properly.

        Why is there no "undo"?[2] Why the fuck can't I simply control-z to undo a partial file file move after I realize there's not enough space... wait just a goddamned second, WHY DID YOU EVEN BEGIN THE MOVE OPERATION WITHOUT FIRST CHECKING TO SEE IF I HAD ENOUGH SPACE?

        Oh look, now there's a filename collision during my 2 TB copy, which you helpfully paused about 30 seconds into it (and I've been gone for an hour eating lunch, thinking you were busy finishing said goddamn copy operation.) Couldn't you have just keep going and ask me about duplicate filenames after you've copied all the other thousands of files that weren't duplicates?

        Oh look, in addition to the file name being the same, the file size is also the same. Hmm. It says "resume_latest.odt". Well, is it the same file or isn't it? Why the hell aren't you telling me the goddamned modified date on the file? And why didn't you run a hash? Y

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @04:35PM (#53149459) Homepage

      Been able to right click for decades.... Why do you guys that have zero experience with a MAC keep trying to bring that fake piece of info Up?

      • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @06:01PM (#53150171)

        "Been able to right click for decades.... Why do you guys that have zero experience with a MAC keep trying to bring that fake piece of info Up?"

        Decades? Sure, you've been able to right click in OSX for as long as I can remember.

        Sure. Just not with the mice apple sold you. []

        From 1983 to 2005 all apple sold was one button mice. The 2005 mighty mouse was the first one that actually had a 'right click'.

        That said the mighty mouse/magic mouse being multitouch devices with capacitive touch continued to make right clicking far less discoverable to users than a typical PC mouse which clearly had 2 clickable surfaces, one on the left, and one on the right.

        And that continues even to today. And frankly the apple might/magic mice are utter garbage; designed for people who spend more time admiring their mouse then using it. []

    • by saider ( 177166 )

      Reminds me of a Dilbert...

      Dilbert: What makes your product better?
      Salesguy: Well, our keyboard is so simple it only has one button, and we press it for you at the factory.
      Dilbert: What happens when I press the button?
      Salesguy: Woa, Woa, Woa, - I'm getting in over my head here.

  • Dear /. editors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by guruevi ( 827432 ) <`moc.stiucricve' `ta' `ive'> on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @04:06PM (#53149133) Homepage

    Please try to link to a site that does not obtrusively ask for money when you want to see the story. I'm sure there are other sites that have the same coverage without ruining my experience.

  • Future Macs will have no user interface at all. You will get a flat gray cube with an Apple logo on it that will have no interactive capability. However, you will be firmly nestled in the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion field, fully aware that, no matter how utterly worthless the overpriced cube may be, your status as a hipster is secure.

    • I think the Apple Watch is an early Beta of this future product.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        As soon as they make sure it doesn't accidentally emit enough heat to warm your hands and that the Apple logo emits enough light to clearly see it at all times without accidentally providing useful vision in low light situations, it'll be ready for production.

        There is considerable concern in the engineering department that it is still heavy enough to hold paper down.

  • by npslider ( 4555045 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @04:08PM (#53149167)

    It takes courage to not Escape.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @04:09PM (#53149177)

    Thanks to Apple, we will at last purge the filthy vi heathens. Let the thousand-year reign of emacs begin!

  • Ah, minimialism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @04:10PM (#53149189)

    Lenovo did this with their X1 Carbon a while back too. What is the obsession with removing functionality? Sure, Mac users probably don't use the Escape key too much, let alone the function keys. However, Esc has always been the equivalent of Cancel on MacOS and Windows dialog boxes, and terminal-based applications still use it.

    I don't know - I guess I feel old. Yes, hipster apps don't use control keys on luddite keyboards. Apps! But, removing a functional item for purely aesthetic purposes -- which I guarantee is the reason Apple is doing this -- seems to me like a bad precedent to set. People who use their computers for actual work like the idea of a full keyboard, and removing keys from an already-sparse MacBook Pro keyboard doesn't seem like a good way to attract this class of user. You already have to use a combination to get home, end, pgup and pgdn on Mac keyboards, for example.

    • by npslider ( 4555045 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @04:17PM (#53149261)

      Perhaps Apple has ran out of useful features to add to their new products and have been forced to resort to this.

      Just look at how much more gorgeous the new iPhone 7 looks without that ugly cowardly headphone jack!

    • >Lenovo did this with their X1 Carbon a while back too. What is the obsession with removing functionality? Sure, Mac users probably don't use the Escape key too much, let alone the function keys. However, Esc has always been the equivalent of Cancel on MacOS and Windows dialog boxes, and terminal-based applications still use it.

      I'm typing this on my Lenovo X1 Carbon, complete with its escape key on the keyboard. What are you talking about?

    • don't like it well you can buy a $30 usb-c keyboard or an $29.99 apple usb-c to usb-a dongle + power port? to much for only $19.99 usb-c to usb-a dongle

    • by ewhac ( 5844 )

      Lenovo did this with their X1 Carbon a while back too.

      Actually, they didn't remove the ESC key, but they relocated it, and did several other gibberingly insane things as well. It was a fscking disaster. [] Gen-3 restored the keyboard to sanity, and is quite a decent machine.

    • just like other dumb shit like removing CMOS batteries in HP Stream "laptops".

    • Re:Ah, minimialism (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @05:02PM (#53149765)

      Get rid of the "Q" key. No one uses that. We shouldn't let a minority of words dictate the keyboard for everyone. We can do this without affecting kwality.

      • by adolf ( 21054 )

        Better to get rid of the W key, since uue can accomplish the same thing by using tuuo single Us.

  • Oh noes! (Score:4, Funny)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @04:11PM (#53149199) Homepage

    Please tell me they atleast still have the PrtScn/SysRq and Pause/Break buttons!

    • Are you trying to say that Esc is about as useful? Because, you know, you're quite wrong. Open a file with vi and see.

  • LOL (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @04:11PM (#53149201) Homepage Journal

    Editor's note: We usually tend to avoid covering leaks and rumors

    ... but we will if we can't get enough wild speculation and laughable hyperbole to fill the front page.

  • The lack of an escape key reminds me of my years using DEC keyboards which, famously, didn't have Escape keys. You had to type Ctrl-[ to generate an Esc. Vi and emacs were a pain to use, but I really liked DEC TPU.
  • by Hartree ( 191324 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @04:14PM (#53149231)

    You never turn off your devices. You will be constantly be consuming monetized content.

    Including the surf noise it plays while you're sleeping.

    Someone who wants to turn it off must, obviously, be deviant and need intervention.

  • by TFlan91 ( 2615727 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @04:17PM (#53149255)

    I once had a laptop with a "touchscreen" for volumn, power, etc and within a year that shit the bed. Never went back to anything that remotely looked like a touchscreen keyboard.

  • 1. Apricot did the "Small display integrated with keyboard" thing with a bunch of their MS DOS machines in the 1980s. You could use it as a calculator, and apps could address it directly. It was a good idea, but the lack of it on the PC meant they quietly dropped the feature when they switched to making PC clones.

    2. So they're losing Esc, but they're keeping the Caps Lock key? Even Google has the design sense to lose that.

  • Escape makes for a terrible Escape key. I encourage everyone to map their Caps Lock key to Escape, especially if you're a vim user.

    For Windows, I installed AutoHotKeys to do the mapping. For Mac, the capability is built in. Go to System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Modifier Keys -> Caps Lock to Escape. Linux kind of depends on your window manager. I assume you're smart enough to figure it out.

    • I've always used the CAPSLOCK as a CONTROL key, just where the good lord always intended it to be. Making this the escape seems a bit blasphemic.

    • Thank you for pointing that out - I was skimming to see if someone had before doing it myself. I normally remap caps-lock to control though, and the reach to Esc already had me doing the ^{ more of the time anyways... Even on a smaller keyboard the F-keys and Esc are farther than you should have to reach from home row.
    • Capslock is control. It was where God put the control key on the first keyboard. The collective of fallen angels known as IBM moved this key in order to confuse mankind.

  • Apple listened to consumer concerns that complained that escape key had negative connotations and often triggered traumatic memories of entrapment and escape and male dominance. Therefore, to show its progressive stance ESC and Power keys were permanently removed. Instead, they were replaced with a single Sympathy key that does nothing.
  • Well, since Apple seems insistent about removing important keys from the keyboard, why not go all the way? []

  • Developer machine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @04:26PM (#53149349) Journal

    Last year I shopped for a new dev machine (laptop). I decided to be open minded and consider the latest Macbooks as well. There were a few things that completely ruled them out for me, one of the biggest being that the keyboard did not have Home, End, PgUp and PgDn. I realize that there are chording / key combinations to do some of those things, but I already use numerous key combinations with those keys (like navigating to the end of a line vs the end of a document, selecting from the cursor to the end of the document, etc). Any laptop that does not include those 4 keys are totally out of the question for me for development use. Removing the ESC key is obviously, in my mind, yet another step in the wrong direction.

    The ironic thing is Macs are pushed as productivity machines for professionals. That is one of the reasons they are supposed to fetch a premium price is because they aren't just "home" machines for the masses. Which makes the stupidity even worse because professionals use advanced tools that use keyboards for more than just typing words.

    In case anyone wondered, the other primary hardware issue that eliminated the Macbook was the lack of a touchscreen (necessary for web development these days to debug and test touch interfaces to be consumed on mobile devices).

    • The ironic thing is Macs are pushed as productivity machines for professionals. That is one of the reasons they are supposed to fetch a premium price is because they aren't just "home" machines for the masses.

      Macs are for professionals ... just not your sort of profession!

    • Ctrl-E goes to the end of the line, Ctrl-A to the beginning. Thank you Emacs.

      Shift-Command-DownArrow Selects from the current cursor position to the end of the document... Shift-DownArrow adds to the selection a line at a time.

      I've never missed any of the keys you mention as a developer, because the Mac has a number of keyboard modifiers (ctrl-option-command-shift) and they almost always do an excellent and intuitive job being stacked. I cannot think of anything the four keys you mentioned do that I cannot

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @04:27PM (#53149355) Journal

    It seems in the mad rush to monetize everything and everyone developers and designers have been forced to foreswear anything resembling common sense.

    As we have seen over the decades, Microsoft slowly but surely hid basic functionality from the user through every iteration of its operating system. I have a W95 machine where I can get to things faster than I can on my W7 machine, and substantially faster than on my dad's W10 machine.

    For its part Apple has liked to see itself at the vanguard of elegant computing, specifically the design of a computer. As we are all aware, nothing is let out the door of Apple which hasn't been dissected to the nth degree.

    While its operating system works, its flaws and quirks are just as numerous and like Microsoft, with each iteration they further disassociate the person from the OS, thinking they are making things easier. As the decision to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone showed, nothing is simpler when you remove basic functionality.

    Now comes their latest foray into the schizzle: no ESC key or power button. Nothing physical at least. Only some vague, wispy area to touch which one hopes will do what they want but will, as time and experience has shown, fail at every given opportunity.

    As the last two stalwarts slug it out for eyeballs, Linux plods along, years behind in functionality but always with the same mantra, "This year will be the year of Linux on the desktop!", as if saying the same thing over and over will make it true. Sorry, you are not Dorothy and you do not have a pair of red shoes.

    We arrive now at the beginning of the end for computing. Where once people could do what they wanted with what they purchased, where getting something done was held above what shade of font to place against a white background, now we must overcome the need to show how clever we are through our brilliance of design which lacks anything resembling ease of use.

    Within the next decade we will see how our vain attempts to design the most perfect machine will thwart the progress we so ruefully wish for. As is always the case, the more complicated a machine the more easily its performance can be degraded through simple acts. As the most recent attacks on high profile web sites have shown, thanks to the very technologies we claim will make our lives easier, we are now progressing to an age where we have made it much easier for those who wish to subvert or destroy that which is built.

    All because developers and designers are more interested in eye candy than functionality, reliability and simplicity.

    • Common sense is not common, in fact it's extremely rare in the wild. FYI, Dorothy's slippers were ruby. People have never been able to "do what they want with what they purchased" because there have always been, and will always be, limitations. If you don't like limitations you have to design and build your own device from the ground up, in which circumstance you get everything YOU want exactly as YOU want it. Don't be surprised if someone comes along and tells you YOUR perfect device is shyte and doesn't s

  • Even when I not use vi, I hit ESC at lesst a hundret times a day ...

    Does mot really make sense to get rid of a key that is used by professionals all around the clock.

    • There seems to be a big assumption that just because there's no physical ESC key, that there's no ESC key. That remains to be seen.

  • A leak like this would have never happened if Steve Jobs were still alive!

    I mean, except for the one time he was on the cover of Time magazine with the new iMac G4 the day before it launched. But other than that... never!

  • If this rumor is true, Apple will have succeeded in creating the ultimate in vendor lock-in because there will no longer be any way to escape from them once you've bought in.
  • Will the virtual power key still be able to power off the computer when held down if the OS is locked up? I cannot count the number of times iOS has locked up on me and I need a power off.
  • just dictate everything you want to write to Siri.
    Apple could save a fortune and make truly cutting-edge laptops by eliminating the keyboard, the mouse, the screen, and do everything in the cloud. It's a virtual laptop!

  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Tuesday October 25, 2016 @04:52PM (#53149645)

    I think one of the problems with Apple keyboards has been the ursurping of the function keys. I guess we don’t use function keys, but it took a little getting used to the fact that F3 doesn’t mean F3 unless you hold down the Fn key at the same time. And then every new Mac seems to change what the keys mean. If instead there were a row at the top of the keyboard that’s touch sensitive and which can change labels for all of those keys, that would actually make things a lot easier. Hold down Fn, and then all the labels change to F#. Leave Fn up, and they present whatever set of hotkeys you want to configure them to be! Sounds cool to me. Presumably, the left-most one will be Esc by default. Apple keeps adding features to, which I suspect is because their own developers use the terminal a lot, so that functionality doesn’t suffer bitrot but actually improves a little over time. I’m not sure what they’re going to do about the power button, but I was never bothered by the old style where there was a gray button flush with the chassis maybe they’ll bring that back.

    Now, what I still think is crazy is the removal of the audio jack. That’s GOT to be getting Apple mountains of feedback from people complaining that they can’t listen and charge at the same time. We’ll see what impact that has when iPhone 8 comes out.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."