Apple’s keynote today focused on the Mac and the company’s vision idea for the future of TV. New MacBook Pros are coming, including one that’s thinner than the Macbook Air, as is a new feature called the Touch Bar. The Touch Bar replaces the function keys and adjusts to the software a laptop is running. Overall, it was a small event with not a lot of news, but hey, new laptops! Exciting!
The MacBook Pro has an all-new update
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the original PowerBook, Apple’s first laptop, making it a particularly fitting time for (finally) an update to the MacBook Pro. As previously leaked, the new MacBook Pro has made the function keys defunct with a OLED touch strip that Apple is calling the Touch Bar.
The design itself has been slimmed down from the previous Retina MacBook Pro (Apple’s saying 14-17 percent thinner and almost a half-pound lighter), and is available in 13-inch and 15-inch models, in either silver or space gray colors. The new MacBook Pro also brings over the Force Touch trackpad and an updated second-generation butterfly switch from the 12-inch MacBook.
For the 15-inch model, Apple’s offering a quad-core Core i7 processor, AMD Radeon Pro graphics with up to 4GB of video memory, and up to 16 GB of RAM, while the 13-inch version will offer either Core i5 or i7 processors and an Intel Iris GPU. There are 4 USC-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, any of which can be used to charge the computer, along with a 3.5mm headphone jack, although the SD card slot from the former generation has been removed.
Touch Bar replaces the function keys with an interactive touchscreen
The Touch Bar was today’s showstopper. The retina display bar replaces the keyboard’s function keys and responds to touch and gestures. It also changes with software, so if a user is in a web browser, the Touch Bar will bring up bookmarks, as well as the option to add a new tab, move between tabs, or navigate to a different website. In Photos, editing controls pop up. Users can slide their finger across the Touch Bar to browse photos, change filters, or resize. Similarly to the Dock, users can control what defaults show up on their Touch Bar, including system controls, which can also be immediately accessed by holding down fn key on the keyboard. Overall, it seems to present an alternative to a touchscreen.
Touch ID comes to the MacBook Pro
Touch ID is also integrated next to the Touch Bar, built right into the power button. It uses the same faster second-gen Touch ID sensor from iPhone 6S / 7 with a sapphire cover, and includes a new T1 chip with a local secure enclave for Apple Pay security. Touch ID also can be used for multi-user machines to quickly switch between accounts simply by tapping the button.
Professional applications get updates
Apple showed off an update for a variety of professional applications for the MacBook Pros. The new Final Cut Pro supports the Touch Bar, and can show an interactive view of the video timeline even while video is playing full screen, along with contextual controls for things like audio sliders. Apple also showed off similar kinds of Touch Bar integration with Adobe Photoshop, and DJ Pro. Other apps with announced support include Microsoft Office, Pixelmator, Sketch, and DaVinci Resolve.
LG UltraFine 5K Display
LG built a 5K display specifically for the new Macbook Pro. Apple executive Phil Schiller called it the “ultimate docking station” because it can simultaneously display from the laptop while charging it. We didn’t get many details on the display, but we do know one Macbook Pro can support two of them.
Apple Sidelines the MacBook Air
Apple also announced that it won’t be updating the MacBook Air line today, instead directing users to a new entry-level variant of the 13-inch MacBook Pro that lacks the Touch Bar and offers only two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, starting at $1,499. However, MacBook Air fans can take comfort in the fact that the 13-inch Pro is actually thinner and smaller than the older MacBook Air. The old MacBook Air will be sticking around as well as a budget option.
Apple TV gets a unified “TV” app
Apple hasn’t been shy about marketing it as a media and gaming device that it wants to be the center of your living room. So it makes sense that the newest Apple TV is characterized by the fact that it can run apps, including Minecraft and over 2,000 other games on the platform.
More importantly, Apple announced a new “TV” app for the Apple TV, a new unified hub for content across all the various apps you have installed. The TV app also utilizes a single sign on method, automatically signing you into new applications as you add them to the device. The TV app will also available for iPhone and iPad as well, letting you access the same content with the same authentication across all your devices. The TV app will be made available in a free update later this year.
Apple also wants to help viewers watch live TV through Siri voice navigation. People can tell Siri to go directly to news channels or the sport they want to watch. So if someone asks to watch the Chicago Bears game, Siri knows what app is playing it and will navigate directly there. Siri can also list entire sports schedules with scores. Taken with the TV app, Apple is making it a lot easier to find what you want to watch without hunting through apps.
Along with the new products comes the death of certain features. RIP function keys, (potentially) MagSafe, and the SD card slot. We might miss you after we stop staring at our new Touch Bar.