Apple unveils new Apple MacBook Pro laptops with emoji-enabled Touch Bar

October 29, 2016 3 minute read
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After an eighteen-month quiescence, Apple unveiled three new MacBook models on Thursday to accompany their existing laptop line-up: a 15-inch MacBook Pro and two 13-inch versions – one which is thinner than the other. All three new iterations are ‘the thinnest ever MacBook[s]’ and are each around 20% smaller in volume than previous models. Unlike Apple’s other gadgets – namely the iPhone and Apple Watch – the MacBook Pro hadn’t seen a significant upgrade in over four years, so the introduction of new software and hardware features, as well as a redesign, was long overdue. Although expected, Apple’s decision to revamp their MacBook line-up shows that the brand still believes in the laptop market and their place within it.

Apple MacBook Pro features

Each of the MacBook models is available to pre-order today, with shipping expected for early November. All three models come with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM and you can opt for either Silver or Space Grey. Whilst Apple haven’t brought the iPhone’s all-new anodized Aluminium or high-gloss Black or Jet Black finishes to their MacBook line, they have made some considerable changes to the new models – here’s the new features worth talking about:

Touch Bar

Arguably the most significant change to the design of the MacBook Pro is an all-new OLED touch panel above the standard keyboard, which marks the end of the “F” command function keys at the top of the keyboard. The new MacBook Pro computers now feature a panel of touch-sensitive ‘virtual keys’ which allows dynamic shortcuts to functions such as volume control, brightness and screen management.

As well as offering a simple way to control system settings, the Touch Bar keys also change depending on what you’re using your laptop for. Phil Schiller, senior vice president of marketing at Apple says: “It’s a retina display, multi-touch [panel], responding to gestures and taps. We call it Touch Bar. First it replaces the standard system functions, but it goes way beyond that. It adapts to whatever software you’re using.” The customisable Touch Bar will bring up a search bar when you’re browsing the web with Safari, and it also offers predictive text and Siri as on the iPhone. Dubbed as the “instant Emoji Touch Bar”, it’s also capable of suggesting and inserting emojis without having to leave the keyboard (just as you might’ve noticed on your iPhone, if you’re currently using iOS 10).

MacBook Pro Touch Bar

Apple replaces function keys with dynamic ‘Touch Bar’ | Photo Credit: Guardian

Touch ID Fingerprint Sensor

Another touch-sensitive addition to the new MacBook’s is the introduction of Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor next to the Touch Bar. Integrated into the power button, the button is activated by your fingerprint and can be used to unlock the laptop and to confirm payments (it’s compatible with Apple Pay).

Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint identity technology is used on their iPhone and iPad ranges and allows device owners to unlock their gadgets without having to type in a passcode. The technology also allows one-touch payment authentication with Apple Pay, which is now widely accepted in stores.

MacBook Pro Touch ID Panel

The MacBook Pro Touch Bar adapts to different software applications

USB-C

Apple came under scrutiny at the launch of the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus for removing the headphone jack on their flagship smartphones. Speculation over the design decision is still ongoing but it doesn’t appear to have affected Apple’s smartphone sales. With the potential to become a point of contention, the MacBook Pro’s now feature four USB-C ports. All standard USB ports have been dropped – a decision which could prove unpopular for creative professionals; a key MacBook Pro demographic. Luckily, you can purchase an adaptor for less than £20 online, which’ll allow Thunderbolt, HDMI and USB attachment.

Apple MacBook Pro USB-C Ports

The MacBook Pro laptops now feature four USB-C ports | Photo credit: Pocket-lint

There’s three versions of the new MacBook Pro available, and all three are available for sale now on the Apple website. You can choose from three sizes: 15-inch, 13-inch (thin) and 13-inch (thick). Confusingly, Apple was rumoured to be releasing a 13-inch MacBook Air but it appears the thin version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro has replaced this – especially as it’s weighing in at 12% thinner that the most recent MacBook Air, as well as 13% smaller.

Starting from £1,449 for the thin version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro and rising to £1,749 for the larger MacBook Pro, you wouldn’t be wrong to assume that the scaled-up version has some more impressive features. Not quite – it’s simply that the less expensive version doesn’t feature the Touch Bar and Touch ID inclusions. The high-end version of the MacBook Pro, the 15-inch version, starts at £2,349 (don’t worry, this one comes equipped with everything you need).

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