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New MacBook Air Fails The Coronavirus Challenge

As countries around the world fight the coronovirus pandemic, everyone is discovering the power of video conferencing applications. From choir practices to government briefings, a slew of applications have stood out. At the same time, webcams on laptops have received more attention.

What is becoming clear to many Apple users is the fact that the MacBook range is hobbled. The universal 720p web camera barely sneaks into the megapixel range with a 1.2 megapixel camera. In the new world of self-isolation and lockdowns, there’s a sharp focus on weak webcams.

Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new MacBook Pro at a press event held at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2src16. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new MacBook Pro at a press event held at the company’s … [+] headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group) (Photo by MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images)

MediaNews Group via Getty Images

A revamp of the largest MacBook Pro outfitted it with a 16-inch screen, but failed to update the webcam. Last month’s release of the MacBook Air brought over the new scissor-switch styled Magic Keyboard from the larger laptop. Still the old webcam remained, and it is a point of contention in all the reviews.

Nilay Patel for The Verge:

”… the webcam in the Air is the same old 720p webcam Apple’s been using forever. It’s fine. It is aggressively fine. I hope someone on the Mac team talks to someone on the iPhone team about cameras before they release another laptop with this webcam.”

Joanna Stern for The Wall Street Journal:

“With a fixed keyboard and improved price, Apple’s entry-level laptop is at its best ever—just don’t fire up that webcam”

Dan Ackerman for CNet:

“At least you can upgrade [the storage], unlike the 720p webcam, which feels stuck in time and keeps this from being a truly pro-level business machine, although that’s a problem that plagues the entire MacBook line.”

Apple Recalls Approximately 5srcsrc,srcsrcsrc 15-Inch MacBook Pro Computers For Fire Hazard

CORTE MADERA, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 27: The MacBook Pro laptop is displayed at an Apple Store on June … [+] 27, 2019 in Corte Madera, California. Apple announced a recall of an estimated 432,000 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops due to concerns of overheating batteries that could catch fire. The recall is for 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops sold between September 2015 and February 2017. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Compare that to the iPad Pro that was launched at the same time. The 2020 edition of the workhorse tablet (the one that Apple is promoting as ‘a real computer’) comes with a 7 megapixel selfie camera that can shoot 1080p video. If you look at the iPhone 11, you get a 12 megapixel selfie camera that sports a wide angle lens. Look beyond Apple’s smartphones and you find the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra sporting a 40 megapixel camera.

To say that the MacBook Air’s webcam is acceptable in the second quarter of 2020 would need a very wide definition of acceptable. Apple’s reputation is about bringing the best hardware to consumers, yet for years the webcam on its laptops have been a shadow of those found in its other devices.

Tim Cook and his team would not have foreseen the rapid rise of video conferencing and home streaming that has happened over the last few weeks. But they were aware for years of the calls for a better webcam in the MacBook family, they would have been aware of the rise in game streaming, and they would have seen the feedback for FaceTime video across all their platforms.

So why has the MacBook family come up short in a world that instinctively turns to Apple for excellence?

Now read more about Apple’s minimal marketing of the new MacBook Air…

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