The long due MacBook Pro update has finally happened this morning! At an event at their Cupertino headquarters, Apple announced a refreshed MacBook Pro lineup, including two 13” MacBook Pros and a 15” MacBook Pro. The new computers are thinner (than the MacBook Air), lighter, faster - with updated 6th Gen Core i5/i7 processors and AMD Polaris architecture GPUs - but they also have one cool new addition: a Touch Bar with TouchID!
The new MacBook Pro is a fairly significant upgrade from the ageing MacBook Pro with Retina Display. The new machine continues to keep the same resolution display, but it is 67% brighter and has 67% better contrast ratio. The Force Touch trackpad is now as much as 2x the size of that one the previous generation. The newer CPU and GPU architecture, paired with faster RAM and flash storage help the MacBook Pro to perform 57%-130% faster on video editing, 3D graphics and gaming, depending on the hardware you choose. The 13” and 15” MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and TouchID have four Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1 ports, and the baseline 13” MacBook Pro (without the Touch Bar and TouchID) has two of them. The headphone jack remains, but all other I/O has been removed (R.I.P. SD card slot, MagSafe, full-size USB ports).
The star of the show, of course, is the Touch Bar. The Touch Bar replaces the functions keys found on practically every computer in the last few decades. In place of the keys, a Retina Display strip with multitouch support (and TouchID) is used to display contextual tools relevant to the app you are currently using. Here’s a video that explains the Touch Bar:
The Touch Bar extends functions like scrubbing through video, photo editing, emoji typing and word suggestions, based on the app you are currently using, be it Messages, Safari, Photoshop, Sketch, Microsoft Office apps or Final Cut Pro. Sounds familiar? Microsoft did a similar implementation using the Surface Dial that works with Surface Studio that was announced yesterday. While the Touch Bar is not necessary for the MacBook to work, it definitely enhances usability by reducing the time taken to find items hidden inside menus.
Apple also announced the demise of the 11” MacBook Air, but kept the 13” Air around for some time. Apple announced a “replacement” for the MacBook Air: a 13” MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar and Touch ID that will retail for a similar price as the 13” MacBook Air. This completes the 3-computer MacBook Pro lineup:
The price hike did cause a little disappoint among customers, but I guess the upgraded specifications and the Touch Bar with TouchID make up the difference. You can preorder the MacBook Pro right now. The 13” MacBook Pro will ship today, while the 13” and 15” MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and TouchID will ship in the next 2-3 weeks.
The 2016 MacBook Pro celebrates the 25th anniversary of portable Mac computers. Multiple times during the event, Apple looked back and talked about how the MacBook got here. The video below, which is also the introduction video of the new MacBook Pro, shows all the portable Mac computers ever made.
I’m look forward to my 15” MacBook Pro, and I’ll review it as soon as it is delivered!
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Also read: Microsoft's Surface Studio PC is an iMac competitor with a gimmicky dial accessory