MacBook Pro display notch obscures app menu bars: "How is this shippable?"

Originally published at: MacBook Pro display notch obscures app menu bars: "How is this shippable?" | Boing Boing


You’re Holding It Wrong.


Apple keeps telling consumers what consumers want instead of the other way around. And it keeps working. As evidenced by the fact that it is now hard to find a smartphone without a notch even though nobody ever asked for one.


The Cult of Jobs knows what’s best for you.


Don’t care, got magsafe, a real keyboard, and an HDMI port.

The way I see it, the notch is just the next thing for Apple (and its fanboys) to eat crow about in the future. It is good to have something to look forward to.


indeed, from the article, essentially “Well, then you should have used Dark Mode”

While the notch is noticeable at first, Apple is betting on some macOS software features, including dark mode, to help minimize how noticeable it is to some users in day-to-day use. For example, when macOS apps are in full-screen mode, the system adds a black border to the top of the display, hiding the notch while not interfering with a user’s content. Developers can choose to have their app’s content shown on either side of the notch.

This image from the comments of the “apple claims” article helped illustrate what the designers are hoping for:

The article helped also me understand the internal consistency, that they consider this bar to be “extra” space, and that the area below the notch is actually the “full display” which sounds like a reasonable explanation, but definitely requires that “you’re thinking about it wrong” explanation. But I still don’t understand why they needed the notch up there, is that where the front-facing camera and notification lights are? Something about allowing narrower bezels? This bezel obsession is bordering on some kind of dysmorphia.


If anything, dark mode will make the problem worse, since it’ll make it even less clear whether something might possibly be obscured by the menu. At least in light mode it’s glaringly obvious the exact extent to which the menu bar is obscured.


It is ironic (if that’s the right word) that a few OS versions ago, Apple changed the menubar so that it tints the desktop background, rather than having its own solid-color background. If the menubar had its own background color, Apple could enforce the “hidden notch” look more easily.


Tech companies’ (and too many websites are equally guilty) continually ignoring users’ needs and failing to properly test their crap before foisting it on the public is tiresome AF. I first got online in October of '98, and really feel for everyone’s who had to put up with it even longer, and/or more frequently than I’ve experienced it.


Apple: So, instead of giving you this giant, tall bezel across the entire top of the computer just to hold a camera, we, we decided to extend the screen upwards around the camera in a manner where this new real estate can be used in an optional way or you can just shut it off and get that giant bezel back. Because we use ~16:10 for our new screen, a normal movie will consume the entirety of our wide HDR display since those movies are 16:9.

Some people: But I just wanna to complain.

Apple: We said it was optional, so you can shut it off.

Some people: But I just wanna to complain to my followers for more engagement and to get more funding from my sponsors.


Wouldn’t they sell more units if the notch wasn’t there? I just don’t understand how this makes sense for their bottom line.

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Except this doesn’t hold up if menu items are actually lost behind the notch, which was demonstrated in one of the videos.


So, this is a sub-case of a pre-notch problem with menu bar icons: if the right side icon bar extends into the space used by the application menu, the application menu covers it and makes the menu bar icons inaccessible, in the same exact way you see here.

Apple has never treated menu bar icons particularly well, and this just exacerbates the problem. They need an option to make that scrollable or collapsable or just get rid of it entirely and go back to drawers or something, because the menu bar icons suck.


Sometimes they’re right; no one was clamoring for another MP3 player before they launched the iPod.

This time, not so much.


Well I can concede that it’s superior to the “thin top bezel” solution my work-issue dell laptop decided on, which was to put the webcam at the bottom of the screen near the hinge, so that everyone gets that nice, flattering under-chin shot in video conferences, and if you type, everyone gets terrified by your suddenly enormous fingers.

But fear not, Apple says the app developers have the option to put graphical elements around the notch or not. Don’t you just love more unnecessary versioning of software, now your designs get to be “responsive” to different notch generations too!


Yeah, checks out. And it seems that the apps people are complaining about in these videos have not been updated to allow for compatibility with the notch (ie, they still stretch to the full dimension of the available space and don’t have a function to ignore the notch yet). Compatibility updates are always an issue with new tech formats, so it’s not like this is more impactful than, say the move to or away from Intel, dropping Flash support or the shift to USB-C only.

I’ve always been a Low End Mac kind of guy (used, refurbs, etc), so I always find the OuTRaAGe!!! around new Apple offerings a little hard to muster empathy for. You want first-gen gear? You get first-gen issues like a lack of app updates.

BTW, the menu drop downs are standard for apps that have extensive menus and has been for some time. The only truly outrageous change was dropping MagSafe, but thank Dog they brought it back for this model. It is truly a magnificently clever answer to an actual issue.


Saw the video, still think this situation is over rated. Here is what is happening:

  • Disable extra space system wide when using this app: complaints
  • Auto-adjust for legacy apps with long menu bars by moving MB down: complaints
  • Auto-adjust for legacy apps with long menu bars by moving obscured menus away from notch: complaints.
  • Being forced to do an update on this app: complaints

All the apps are going to be using the Apple menu routines. Why don’t Apple’s routines know about the notch and displace those menu items to the right further in the language direction? And then do a massive QA cycle testing that. (Oh, I guess that’s why.)


They shouldn’t have to. There should be a screen dimensions setting that allows you to set the screen to not use the upper area at all, so the apps won’t even know that area of the screen exists won’t need to be updated (I have some apps that will never be updated). It doesn’t sound like the system settings offer that as an option, but I can’t tell for sure from what I’ve read so far.


It’s initially mystifying: Why did they self-own by putting that notch there??

But, they didn’t put a notch descending down into the screen.

They expanded the screen space up, to left and right of the camera.