No escape: The new MacBook Pro in the leaked photos apparently doesn’t have an “esc” key

by Joey deVilla on October 25, 2016

alleged-2016-macbook-pro
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, chances are that you’ve heard about and even seen the leaked photos that purport to show the new MacBook Pro that is expected to be announced on their Thursday, October 27th event. MacRumors has posted these photos, which show the inclusion of a touch-sensitive, fingerprint-reading OLED display where the function keys would normally go.

Here’s the same photo, zoomed in at the upper left-hand corner of the keyboard. Note that the esc key is missing:

alleged-2016-macbook-pro-keyboard

For the purposes of comparison, here’s a photo of the upper left-hand part of the keyboard on my work-issued machine, a mid-2015 MacBook Pro. Along with function keys, it has the esc key:

2015-macbook-pro-keyboard

The esc key generates the “escape character” — ASCII 27 in decimal, Unicode U+001B, equivalent to ctrl[ — and was meant to be a “cancel” or “stop operations” signal, or to mark the beginning of an escape sequence to specify that incoming characters should be interpreted as instructions rather than data. A number of Mac applications use the esc key as a “cancel” or “stop operations” signal, but according to Mac OS’ UX guidelines, the official key sequence for stopping operations is command. (command-period).

Most users will likely not miss the esc key, but there is one set of users for whom its removal could be a big problem…

vim-user

…vi/vim users. In vi and vim, the esc key gets you into command mode. Yes, there’s still ctrl[, but it’s not the same as having a single, dedicated key located at the uppermost, leftmost part of the keyboard.

Expect to hear some angry developers this week.

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