The big MacBook Pro update we’ve been waiting for is finally here. Apple on Monday took the wraps off the revamped laptop, which comes with an OLED bar and a revamped chassis.
The MacBook Pro will come in 13-inch and 15-inch varieties (either Space Gray or Silver), complete with a new design; the 13-inch model is just 14.9mm thin, making it 17 percent thinner than the previous model. Overall, it’s 23 percent smaller in volume, making it more portable than ever.
The 15-inch model is 15.5mm thin (compared to 18mm thin before), 14 percent thinner than the existing model. That means it’s 20 percent smaller in volume, and it weighs just four pounds.
The trackpad is also two times larger and supports Force Touch, along with a revamped keyboard with Apple’s butterfly mechanism. Apple claims it’s more refined compared to the one that was introduced in the MacBook; the improved keyboard apparently has more travel and is easier to use.
The new MacBook Pro has a screen that’s 67 percent brighter and supports 67 percent higher contrast ratio, adding 25 percent more colors. On the inside, the 15-inch will come with an Intel Core i7, Radeon Pro graphics and Polaris architecture. There’s also a new faster SSD up to 2TB.
Both models also come with four Thunderbolt 3 ports that support USB-C, which means there’s no MagSafe this time around. The good news is that any one of the four ports can be used as a charging port but you better be careful about kicking the cord. (And, yes, there’s a headphone jack.)
But it’s that new OLED bar above the keyboard that’s the real star. It’s actually a Retina display with multitouch and responds to gestures and taps.
According to Apple, the Touch Bar will adapt to whatever software is being used. In Safari, for example, the bar will show users browser bookmarks, along with back buttons and tab buttons. It can also show UI elements for features in apps such as iPhoto, so you can quickly straighten a photo.
It’s basically bringing touch elements into the world of macOS without introducing a MacBook with a touchscreen. The nice thing is that the screen you interact with rests right on the keyboard, which means you won’t get tired prodding the display.
The Touch Bar also supports Touch ID and will allow users to quickly sign in to their computer and even buy stuff online; Touch ID is integrated right into the power button.
The feature can also support multiple fingerprints, allowing multiple users to share a machine. One demo Apple showed allowed one user to switch to their account by simply placing their finger on Touch ID.
Apple demonstrated how the Touch Bar works in apps such as Mail and Messages, which will dynamically adapt to show users things like emoji and the ability to bold and italicize text.
For editors, Touch Bar will show editing controls in Photos, and you can scrub through videos right from the touch screen. Many of these UI elements already show up on screen but the Touch Bar ostensibly makes the process of editing more convenient.
What’s neat is that the Touch Bar can easily be customized, so yours will look different compared to another user’s. And developers will be able to tap into the Touch Bar, so Spotify and the like will have direct access. One of the biggest is Touch Bar support for Office—even Skype for Business.
Much of what Apple showed off is how the Touch Bar can help creators edit photos and video. Not only that, but it seems to make a lot of processes easier to perform and understand, so apps such as Final Cut Pro won’t be so daunting for new users.
It remains to be seen how the Touch Bar will change the way people interact with the MacBook Pro but it certainly introduces some very cool ideas. Rather than creating an all-touch environment, the Touch Bar enables users to interact with their creations, something you’d only get from the iPhone or iPad.
Apple is promising up to 10 hours of battery life, which is pretty solid if you really hammer this thing while editing. Interestingly, you can buy one without the Touch Bar, which will be the base model with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory and 256GB SSD.
The base 13-inch MacBook Pro will cost $1,499, the 13-inch will go for $1,799, and the 15-inch MacBook Pro will cost $2,399. The base model ships today while the models with the Touch Bar will ship in two to three weeks. You can order any model starting today.
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