All the hot news about the new MacBook Pro
Well hello, Brexit. When Apple launched a new MacBook Pro line-up at its special event on 27 October, one of the biggest talking points was the large price hike that came attached. If you want to buy a new Mac – of any kind – it’ll cost you significantly more now. Ouch!
So what did Apple announce to justify this brave new world of higher prices? The most interesting thing was undoubtedly the new MacBook Pro. As with all Apple product launches these days, pretty much everything wass leaked before the event (and uncannily predicted by us in MF302), but the new features did not disappoint.
Most eye-catching is the new Touch Bar that replaces the function keys at the top of the keyboard with app-specific controls relevant to what you’re doing at the time. So in iTunes, you might have buttons to skip through a track or toggle shuffle. In Mail, you can flag a message, send it to a specific folder and more.
Touch ID has also come to the Mac as part of the Touch Bar, and it has a number of uses. As with iPhone, you can now log in to your Mac with a touch of your finger. But you can also quickly switch user accounts – if two people share a MacBook, one person can use Touch ID while another user’s account is logged in to switch to their own profile. And, of course, you can use it to pay for your online shopping quickly and securely.
Craig Federighi demonstrated how you can customise the buttons that appear on the Touch Bar by simply dragging an alternative icon from a settings window down to the bar. Developers will also be able to use the bar in
their own apps, and companies like Adobe, Microsoft and Serif have already created their own offerings.
Use the Force (Touch)
Another visually obvious change is the enlarged trackpad – it’s now twice as large as the one gracing the previous generation MacBook Pro, leaving more room for swipes and gestures. It retains the pressure-sensitive Force Touch tech Apple added last year, too.
The keyboard has also been revamped to feature an updated version (or ‘2nd generation, as Apple calls it) of the butterfly mechanism found in the 12-inch MacBook. This delivers an updated switch mechanism, more travel, and greater responsiveness.
Elsewhere, the MacBook Pro has received a whole heap of internal component upgrades. The 15-inch version sees up to 130% faster graphics performance, 60% better gaming performance and 57% better video editing performance. Storage, memory and display all see improvements too. You get two or four Thunderbolt 3 ports depending on the model, which use a USB-C connector, compatible with USB 3.1 devices at up to 10Gbps.
Of course, there are all-important size and weight changes, too. The new 15-inch model is 14% thinner and takes up 20% less volume than its predecessor. The 13-inch model has seen similar reductions.
“The future of TV is apps”
Apple’s event wasn’t all focussed on hardware, though. It introduced a new app for Apple TV simply called TV. The idea behind it is to unify all your TV apps into a single hub. So instead of watching a show in one app and having to switch to a different app to watch something from a different network, you can view everything in succession in one place.
Like Apple Music, TV will feature curated recommendations from editors. It’ll also work across your Apple TV, iPhone and iPad, so you can watch on all your devices.
Unfortunately there’s no UK release date for the TV app, though – Apple only said it will launch in the US in December 2016.
Admittedly, the app wasn’t as exciting an announcement as the MacBook Pro. If you can stomach the wallet-busting, eye-watering, palm-sweating price hike, that looks to be Apple’s most intriguing MacBook Pro yet.
The keyboard has an updated version of the MacBook’s butterfly mechanism
This year’s MacBook Pro adds an entirely new input device, the Touch Bar, to provide you with contextual shortcuts for the app you’re using.
All models with a Touch Bar feature four Thunderbolt 3 ports, but two on 13-inch models have reduced bandwidth.