Thanks to Apple’s carelessness, those that follow the company had fewer “wow moments” today when Apple unveiled its new line of MacBooks, which sure enough included an OLED “Touch Bar” running the length of the keyboard and replacing the traditional row of function keys. As expected, the new line is across the board thinner, lighter, and more powerful than their predecessors.
New Touch Bar for the Macbook Pro looks pretty fancy at first glance
Tech writers are certainly patting themselves on the back today as Apple did, indeed, show us the rumored and leaked OLED Touch Bar replacing the row of function keys as expected, the same one most of us have been writing about for the last six or so months.
But each of the models announced today offers more than just the Touch Bar (one of the new MacBooks retains the function keys) with Apple unveiling its sleekest laptops yet in an event at its Cupertino, CA campus today.
Before this morning in California, Apple had let it go over a year without updating its line of MacBooks, but now we know that three new ones are on offer. There are two new 13-inch models (one with and one without the Touch Bar) and a 15-inch model as well that also has the Touch Bar.
These laptops are in great shape and have shaved off some thickness and lost some weight. The 13-inch MacBooks are 14.9 mm thick which is 17% thinner than their predecessors and weigh a mere three points. The 15.5-inch model is a bit thicker at 15.5mm but 20% less volume to it than last year’s model.
In addition to the Touch Bar which we will talk about more in a bit, the new line includes a 2nd-generation Touch ID sensor for fingerprint scanning which is tied to a T1 chip for Apple Pay use as well as for unlocking the computer.
For users who opt to purchase the 15-inch MacBook Pro, they will find that the Force Touch trackpad had doubled in size and all three models there is now a dedicated key to wake up Sire, something the company deemed necessary once it released Siri with macOS when the operating system was released in September.
The display on the new MacBook Pro took a big leap forward when it comes to brightness with the new display offering nearly 70% more brightness while also offering more contrast and 25% more colors. For those watching videos or listening to music, Apple has given the speakers considerably more output while expanding the dynamic range.
The 15-inch MacBook Pro is equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor with 2133MHz memory that in addition to AMD’s Polaris GPU promises considerably faster graphics processing by enlisting 4GB VRAM. All told Apple is making bold promises of over 50% speed increases no matter what you’re doing with gains as much as 130% when working with 3D graphics.
Each MacBook shown today has four Thunderbolt USB-C ports.
More about this OLED Touch Bar and pricing
The Touch Bar changes based on what you’re doing and developers will certainly be given the option to do what they think best for their software by default. Apple has already provided Touch Bar support for most of its packaged software and other programs. While the Touch Bar can be customized by the user, Apple has done what it thinks best. For example, if using Safari, the Touch Bar shows bookmarks while Messages sees common emoji inside the OLED strip.
From the settings window, users can drag and drop options from the screen into the Touch Bar for customization. Many have suggested that the OLED Touch Bar is little more than a gimmick, but I would disagree having watched them demo it with different programs today. When Apple fired up Final Cut Pro today, we saw that the Touch Bar allows users to move through the timeline of the project being edited with nothing more than a finger, something that will certainly be welcome to those editing video regularly.
Yesterday, with the unveiling of Microsoft’s Surface Studio we were introduced to the Surface Dial. Essentially, in just two days’ time, the world now has two brand new input methods that should save a lot of mouse clicking for many.
As far as pricing goes the 13-inch MacBook goes, prices start at $1,799 with a Touch Bar with the ability to spend more if you opt for a bigger hard drive or other options. The 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,399 and can also be augmented for additional money.
The 13-inch Pro without the Touch Bar starts at $1,499 and so far is the only one shipping out the door when ordered. Those that opt for a Touch Bar are welcome to order it but won’t be shipping for two to three weeks.