New iMacs look great, but why didn’t Apple fix the Magic Mouse’s charging port?

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better touch tool magic mouse
Charging the Magic Mouse 2 remains a headache.
Photo: Harpal Singh/Unsplash

When it comes to new tech, the focus understandably falls on what’s changed, not what stayed the same.

That’s absolutely the case for the new iMac, which Apple unveiled Tuesday at its “Spring Loaded” event. Plenty of attention is (rightly) being lavished on the iMac’s beautiful redesign. And the fun splash of color for the first time in years. And the debut of Apple’s M1 chip in an iMac.

However, one thing that stayed the same largely fell under the radar. That one thing is Apple’s terrible mouse — or, more specifically, the ridiculous location of the charging port on the Magic Mouse 2.

Released in 2015, the Magic Mouse 2 hides its Lightning port on its bottom. If the mouse runs out of juice while you’re facing an important deadline, you’re totally screwed. Due to the location of the port, you simply cannot use the mouse while you charge it.

That earned the Magic Mouse 2 plenty of scorn as one of Apple’s biggest failures of 2015. To this day, many regard it as one of Apple’s worst design crimes of all time.

And yet, Apple didn’t see fit to fix it for the radical new M1 iMacs it rolled out this week.

Apple’s mouse history

The company has a lot of history when it comes to mice. It didn’t invent the technology (that would be Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute in the 1960s). But Apple sure as heck tweaked the now-common pointing device.

Before 1983’s Lisa — the first Apple computer to come with a mouse — the peripheral had been used with just one personal computer before: the pricey Xerox Star.

Apple took the mouse and ran with it. It also made it affordable, reducing the cost from hundreds of dollars to something cheap enough it could ship for “free” with a computer.

The Mac made the mouse

For anyone old enough to remember the launch of the Mac, the mouse it shipped with was an utterly transformative accessory. That’s when the mouse really started making waves .The only thing comparable today would be the iPhone’s introduction of multitouch, and the way it reshaped the computing landscape.

But for a company synonymous with bringing the mouse to the mainstream, Apple sure has a mixed history on delivering good mouse designs. Some Apple mice have been pretty great. The company continued to iterate on the concept over the years, and brought about such lucky accidents as the no-button mouse.

The 'hockey puck' mouse did not score with Mac fans
The “hockey puck” mouse did not score with Mac fans.
Photo: Apple

But Apple also dropped some truly awful mouse designs on us over the years. For most people, the worst remains the “hockey puck” Apple USB Mouse that shipped with the iMac G3. (Coincidentally, that’s the last time Apple did a colorful redesign of its desktop Mac.)

The hockey puck mouse’s hand-cramping design proved so heinous that haters still rant about it almost a quarter century after its debut. It was the perfect illustration of why “think different” doesn’t always work. It was all style and no substance.

Something for the bigger iMac?

Next to the hockey puck mouse, the Magic Mouse 2 isn’t as dreadful. But the baffling decision to locate the Lightning port on the underside, rendering the mouse useless while charging, remains awful. It epitomized the worst impulses of the Jony Ive era at Apple, when the focus was placed on making sleek, minimalist tech with absolutely no ports visible.

Most of the time, that worked. With the Magic Mouse 2, it absolutely didn’t.

Charging your mouse isn’t something you have to do every day, rendering this more of an occasional nuisance than a glaring, constantly infuriating flaw. But it’s still an epic design fail — and it’s something Apple definitely should have taken care of alongside the iMac redesign. After all, we won’t see the horrible Butterfly keyboard on Apple’s upcoming MacBook reconfiguration.

Matching the Magic Mouse’s color to the iMacs is cool, but fixing the charging port should have been at the top of the list when it came to upgrades. Hopefully, Apple won’t keep Mac fans suffering too much longer with the Magic Mouse’s incredibly flawed design.