Thanks to the new Mac laptops only supporting USB-C, any older devices needn’t to connect to the 2020 machines need to go through a hub. This is where the issue is cropping up. Juli Clover reports:
“MacBook owners have run into connectivity problems with all kinds of devices that require a USB-A connection, including mice, keyboards, and other accessories. Multiple hubs have been tested, which suggests that the issue is not caused by a particular brand of hub, and it also appears that most of the complaints are limited to USB 2.0 accessories rather than USB 3.0 and 3.1 accessories.”
Apple is not alone in removing the older USB-A ports from its laptops, but most ‘Pro’ machines will offer a mix of USB-A and USB-C ports to allow for forward- ad backward-compatibility. Let’s be honest, Apple has a reputation of pushing forwards and removing older hardware from its machines far faster than the competition.
But Apple must also be responsible and take on board the needs of the wider community. It is all well and good pushing the hardware forward, but if users have a key piece of technology they rely on, and Apple’s answer is ‘why not upgrade to something newer’ then the trust between the two parties will be broken. Although not yet affected by the USB 2.0 issue, Forbes’ John Koetsier has noted that Apple’s progress can be a painful experience for users:
Let me just spit it right out: two of the three allegedly “Pro” 13” MacBook models that Apple just updated have a grand total of two ports… If you want to use your laptop at your desk, you’re generally plugged into power. That’s port number one [gone].
One answer is, naturally, to buy a USB hub to offer more ports. Which is going to drive users right into the issue of USB compatibility in the new machines. Apple’s drive for simplicity makes this a bigger problem.
With the fault happening on replacement machines offered to new users, this looks to be a software issue. A new patch for MacOS Catalina will likely be needed to solve the problem.