“The Mac is more than a product to us. It’s a testament to everything we do and create at Apple,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook at today’s “Hello again” Mac event as he unveiled long-expected updates to Pro notebooks. The new MacBook Pro has, as rumored, a programmable OLED touch bar substituting the function key row, called Touch Bar.
There’s also a Touch ID sensor powered by a new Apple-designed T1 chip. Like its predecessor, the new MacBook Pro comes in 13 and 15-inch flavors and each is available in Silver or Space Gray finish.
The notebooks have a 2x larger trackpad with ForceTouch haptic feedback (46 percent larger on the 13-inch MacBook Pro and twice as large on the 15-inch MacBook Pro) and are driven by Intel’s latest Skylake chips with faster graphics. The iconic glowing Apple logo on the lid is gone, however, like on the existing twelve-inch MacBook.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro weighs in at three pounds, almost half a pound lighter than the previous generation. It’s seventeen percent thinner and has 25 percent less volume than the previous-generation MacBook Pro.
The 15-incher weighs in at 4 pounds, is fourteen percent thinner and has twenty percent less volume. The biggest news is the new Touch Bar feature. Touch Bar, as mentioned, provides one-touch access to all of the functions previously provided by dedicated hardware function keys, and then some more.
When you’re multitasking, Touch Bar shortcuts change depending on the app being used. It’s great that Touch Bar provides autocorrect suggestion when typing on the keyboard, has a dedicated Siri button and even suggests emoji replacements.
In fact, it provides a dedicated interface for browsing all your emoji by category, frequently used and more—by way of swiping. In other apps, Touch Bar lets you create new tabs, manage your windows and more.
In Photos, as another example, a photo strip is rendered on the Touch Bar so you can quickly select an image to work with. You can even rotate photos, make color adjustments and more, right on the Touch Bar.
In the Finder, you can customize any toolbar features like the screenshot control to appear on the Touch Bar simply by dragging an item from the toolbar down until it drops on Touch Bar. And when customizing Touch Bar, the icons wiggle like on iOS.
Touch Bar has controls for iWork apps, iTunes, Terminal and other Apple apps, with a developer API available to enable custom shortcuts in third-party apps.
Both machines have a second-generation Touch ID with sapphire crystal protection. With a fingerprint scan, customers can unlock their Mac, switch user accounts and authenticate Apple Pay purchases on the web. “Touch ID enables a quick, accurate reading of your fingerprint and uses sophisticated algorithms to recognize and match it with the Secure Enclave in the new Apple T1 chip,” Apple said.
The Mac’s Touch ID sensor is powered by a brand new Apple-designed chip, called the T1, which has a Secure Enclave to support strong security and privacy like on iPhone.
Compared to the previous generation, the new MacBook Pro’s Retina screen is 67 brighter, has 67 percent greater contrast and gives you 25 percent more colors while consuming thirty percent less power than before.
It is the first Mac notebook display to support a wider color gamut. Both new machines have four Thunderbolt 3 ports providing a whopping 40 Gbps bandwidth for twice the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2 and allowing users to drive a 5K display and power their MacBook Pro with a single cable.
The new Thunderbolt standard is port-compatible with USB-C (also known as USB 3.1 Generation 2 or USB SuperSpeed+ and maxing out at 10 Gbps), meaning all your USB-C devices can be connected to the new MacBook Pro’s Thunderbolt ports. Thunderbolt 3 also supports the DisplayPort 1.2 video interconnect standard.
Any of the four Thunderbolt 3 ports can be used as a USB-C charging port. In fact, any of the four Thunderbolt 3 ports can be Thunderbolt 3, USB-C or Display Port without any adapter, or become HDMI or VGA with an adapter.
The 13-inch model comes with either Intel’s dual-core Core i5 or i7 with a 2,133 MHz memory, integrated Intel Iris graphics with 64 megabytes of eDRAM that’s two times faster on average or 103 percent faster in gaming and 76 percent faster in video editing and 3D graphics. The SSD in the 13-incher provides a maximum theoretical throughput of 3.1 gigabytes per second.
As for the more powerful 15-incher model, it’s powered by Intel’s sixth-generation quad-core Core i7 processor with faster 2,1333MHz memory and discreet Radeon Pro graphics that’s part of AMD’s new 14-nanometer Polaris architecture. You can outfit the graphics card with up to four gigabytes of dedicated video RAM.
Graphics on the 15-inch MacBook Pro is up to 2.4 faster than the previous-generation MacBook Pro with 60 percent faster gaming, 57 percent faster video editing and 130 percent faster 3D graphics. As for the SSD, the 15-inch MacBook Pro can be outfitted with up to 2TB flash storage with a throughout of 3.1 GB/s.
Last but not least, both new MacBook Pros have an all-new speaker design with twice the dynamic range of the previous generation. Battery? You get a ten-hour battery life.
The machines are available for pre-order today from Apple.com, Apple retail stores and authorized resellers, shipping in 2-3 weeks. The standard 13-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 chip with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8 GB RAM, 256GB SSD, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, Touch ID and Touch Bar costs $1,799.
The flagship 15-incher with a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 chip with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.5 GHz, 16GB RAM, discreet AMD Radeon Pro 450 graphics, 256GB SSD, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, Touch ID and Touch Bar will set you back $2,399.
For MacBook Air fans, Apple has created a 13-inch MacBook Pro model without Touch Bar and Touch ID and with the familiar row of function hardware keys. That machine, priced at $1,499, ships today.
It’s powered by a 2 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 chip with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, has 8 GB of RAM, integrated Intel Iris 540 graphics, two Thunderbolt 3 ports rather than four and comes with 256GB SSD.
The current 13-inch MacBook Air models continue to be available without a hardware refresh, but the 11-inch Air model has been officially discontinued. Additional technical specifications, configure-to-order options and accessories are available online at apple.com/macbookpro.
By the way, this week mark’s 25th anniversary of Apple’s first notebook, the PowerBook, which defined the modern notebook with a matrix-dot display and a keyboard-forward design that created room for a trackpad and other features.