Apple?s wireless mouse has needed an update since its launch
Photo by Alex Rowe, 2019
About once every year or so, I remember that I own Apple?s Magic Mouse 2, a small light slab of aluminum and plastic with a touch-sensitive surface, an optical sensor, and perhaps the world?s dumbest charge port location.
I promised myself I wouldn?t bash the mouse too much this time, like I did a year ago, but I?ve already ditched that oath.
It?s certainly a beautiful mouse, and I like some things about it, though its obsessive Apple-style chase of form over function means it?ll probably never be anyone?s first choice of pointing device.
In the unlikely event that Apple ever revisits their touchable mouse, I think they could do so much better.
Photo by Harpal Singh on Unsplash
THINGS I?D CHANGE
Charge Port Location
This is the big one, the one that every reviewer, user, and probably even internal focus tester has mentioned a million times.
Apple shipped a mouse with a rechargeable battery. That?s?fine I guess. The original Magic Mouse had the flexibility of using AA batteries, but integrated batteries are more or less the norm in the ~$99 mouse market now.
The problem? The lightning port is on the bottom of the mouse. You can?t charge the mouse when you?re using it. You can?t plug it in without turning it on its side. And Apple didn?t even include a charging light or any sort of indicator to let you know the charging status of the device.
So you just have to guess.
To their credit, it does charge quickly. Apple claims you?ll get ?all-day? battery life out of a couple minutes of charging, and that you?ll get a full charge from dead in two hours. These are totally accurate.
It?s a proper pain to actually determine those stats are accurate because, without a charging light, you can?t actually see the battery level until you sync it to a computer.
Apple should move the port to the front of the mouse and add a small charging light.
In the past, I would have said that the port should be USB-C, but Apple?s dogged insistence on randomly continuing the lightning port means it?s anyone?s guess what port they?d actually use.
Yes, I know that the port moving to the front would make the mouse a bit thicker. Oh no. The horror.
But it could also open the door to so many other improvements. The already- excellent battery could be a touch larger, allowing for longer battery life.
And a thicker mouse would mean I could properly hold on to it.
Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash
The Magic Mouse 2 looks amazing. It?s a smooth, gently curved feather of technology. Its acrylic surface looks like it hovers just above your desk.
Unfortunately, its thin profile means it?s harder to manipulate compared to just about every other mouse on the market today.
I have smaller-than-average hands, and I?m still forced to use a weird combination of a claw and fingertip grip. Any attempt to fully palm the mouse pushes the bottom of my hand awkwardly into the desk.
Imagine trying to slide your cell phone around on a desk and use it as a mouse, and you?re not too far from the Magic Mouse 2 Experience.
I manipulate it around with my thumb and ring finger, before settling in to use its admittedly-excellent button and touch surface.
If you remember the infamous hockey puck mouse, it?s a little bit like using that?thing. I actually enjoyed its stubby round shape and width. The rounded sides made gripping it easier than grabbing even the Magic Mouse 2, though I won?t try to defend the puck beyond that.
I know I?m weird for even pretending it wasn?t the worst mouse ever.
With a slightly taller base, and some sides that your hand could actually grip onto, the Magic Mouse would be elevated out of the realm of beautiful aesthetics and into the world of functional design.
Photo by Alex Bachor on Unsplash
I know Apple hates putting more than one button on a thing, and indeed, why use a button in 2019 when you can just use your face?
Still, the thicker base on my non-existent Magic Mouse 3 could have, wait for it?additional buttons on the side.
You?re right, this is silly, I don?t know why I considered it.
Bluetooth 5 / H1 Chip
The Magic Mouse 2 operates on the now-ancient Bluetooth 3 standard.
Today?s Bluetooth 5 protocol would allow for potential improvements in both tracking latency and battery life. While a Bluetooth Magic Mouse will never compete with a dedicated USB receiver in the speed department, an upgraded Bluetooth system would go a long way.
It?s not like Apple developed their own bespoke amazing Bluetooth chip for their headphones and AirPods they could also bring over to the mouse right?
A combination of a slightly larger battery due to the thicker frame and the efficiency of the H1 chip would help give Apple?s Magic Mouse 3 one of the best battery life ratings of any rechargeable wireless mouse on the market.
Photo by Alex Rowe, 2019
THINGS I?D KEEP
Outside of those of you still rocking a glass desk and holding a deep hatred for mouse pads, I don?t personally think anyone should ever really want to use a laser sensor.
They rose to prominence a few years ago but these days optical sensors track more accurately and are more power efficient.
?Why would you even worry about this Alex? The optical sensor in the Magic Mouse 2 is pretty good, why wouldn?t they just keep it??
Because, hypothetical me, Apple likes to tweak technologies and re-brand them as their own.
Rather than paying money to another company that?s developed a high-efficiency modern optical sensor, or developing their own, I could see Apple buying a faltering laser sensor company up, then installing one glass table in every Apple store location to show you the ?magic? of laser tracking.
Photo by Nadir Balcikli on Unsplash
Plastic Top Surface
Wait, aren?t I the guy that always said that a mouse this expensive should use Gorilla Glass on top?
Yes. Yes I am. But I now see why this was wrong.
Gorilla Glass would further inflate the price of the mouse beyond the $79/$99 price point.
The plastic used in the current Magic Mouse is thick, and precisely curved to match the aluminum underneath. It would cost quite a bit to engineer a piece of glass to match this shape.
Apple would, of course, pass that cost on to the consumer.
The glass would also add more weight to the mouse, making it a little less portable and easy to slide.
So yes, I know that the plastic surface doesn?t feel as nice as glass, and that it scratches the second you look at it?but it makes sense. I was wrong before. The design, production cost, and weight headaches wouldn?t be worth it.
Photo by Craig Garner on Unsplash
Apple?s touch surface on the Magic Mouse 2 works better than it has any right to. I know that other mice have been reluctant to adopt touch sensitivity, and I think this is silly.
It?s a big thing you?re constantly touching while using your computer! Why not make it at least optionally touch-sensitive?
I?ve never had a single false positive for right-clicking, scrolling, or gestures on my Magic Mouse 2. Just like with Apple?s trackpads and phones, the touch technology in the Magic Mouse is a delight.
Photo by Alex Rowe, 2019
Big Dumb Teflon Bars
I love the Magic Mouse 2?s approach to feet.
So many other mouse companies put little stickers of Teflon on the bottom of their mice, and Apple was like how about BARS made of the stuff?
They?ll eventually wear down just like all mouse feet do, but they slide better on the awkward collection of tables in my local coffee shops than any of my other mice. Once I?m able to actually get a nice grip on the mouse, at least.
Photo by Alex Rowe, 2019
The Magic Mouse 2 is a gorgeously thin, portable, fun-to-click-and-touch device that I can barely grab on to and that I have to flip over to charge.
When it?s plugged in I always feel like I?ve injured a baby turtle. I actually charge it in my dining room so I don?t have to look at it.
A proper port location, some slightly taller aluminum sides for me to hold on to that also contained a bigger battery, and newer Bluetooth hardware would make the Magic Mouse 3 objectively better.
That is, if they ever bother engineering another mouse at all.
The new Mac Pro reveal would have been a good time to show a new ?Pro? mouse, but they didn?t do that. They?re probably expecting people to buy a ?real mouse? from the wide selections available from their competitors.
And that?s fine, I guess.
It?s just weird for me to see Apple so pointedly ignore the mouse since they made it the essential interface device for computers in the first place, ?progress? or no.