Apple has unveiled its first new version of its MacBook Pro laptop in 18 months, along with a brand new TV app for Apple TV, iPad and iPhone.
There were rumblings from some quarters that Microsoft’s exciting new PC and laptop lineup, which it unveiled just a day before Apple’s event, might steal some of the Cupertino company’s thunder. But really, for the most part, these are different products for different purposes and it’s unlikely that either of the two tech giants will be unhappy with how its latest gear has been received.
The price of the MacBook has been hiked, and there were a few notable absences throughout the launch event, but overall there is enough exciting new features and improvements for the new products to live up to the hype. Here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s latest drop.
The New MacBook Pro
Before we get into the real exciting bit (that glowing touch bar you’re about to see plastered over advertising boards all around the world), let’s talk specs. The new MacBook Pro is noticeably thinner, lighter and comes complete with fingerprint scanner to finally bring Touch ID payments to a laptop.
It has two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports on each side that are used for both power (no more MagSafe cables) and connecting external devices. However, there are no standard USB type A ports, which are still regarded as the global standard, and are used by Apple for their Lightning cable, which notably come with the company’s iPhones. You’ll be pleased to hear there’s still a 3.5mm headphone jack, but the SD card reader and HDMI ports are still, predictably, nowhere to be seen.
Under the hood, Apple has said the new 13in MacBook Pro can be equipped with dual-core versions of the Intel i5 or i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB storage and Intel’s Iris 550 integrated graphics chip with 103% faster gaming performance and 76% faster video editing and 3D graphics performance than the previous iteration.
But the real power comes in the form of the new 15in MacBook Pro. There’s a quad-core version of Intel’s i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and it also comes with an AMD Radeon Pro 450 graphics chip that offers up to 4GB of video RAM, with 130% faster 3D graphics, 60% faster gaming and 57% faster video editing.
The biggest change to the design is the new OLED Touch Bar, which we’ll get to now.
OLED Touch Bar
The big selling point for this MacBook Pro will be a thin touch display that sits above the keyboard. It’s called the Touch Bar, and it will offer different “keys” depending on the app that’s being used. It will effectively eliminate the need for a row of function keys, and open up a head of new possibilities.
By default, the Touch Bar will display a similar range of controls that Mac users will be long familiar with, like playback controls, screen brightness, keyboard brightness, etc. Those options will then change depending on the current App being used. For example, when browsing through your emails you’ll get buttons for flagging or replying. It will also give you suggestions to finish a word or sentence when typing, including Emoji, just like on your iPhone.
Of course, the bar will be entirely customizable to the preferences of the user, and will be available to use in Apple apps like Photos, Safari, Maps and Garageband. It’s yet to be announced whether this will extend to third-party apps, but it’s a likely possibility given that similar features are available for third-party companies to use on the iPhone.
Apple is promoting the bar as a tool for video and photo editing, but its use in everyday tasks will become as natural as the trackpad — which is also considerably larger this year.
LG UltraFine 5K Display
The in-built display looks great, but sometimes you need a little more room to work, especially when it comes to design tasks. That’s why LG has 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.
Stay tuned for more details on this one.
Unsurprisingly given the addition of the new Touch Bar, we’re also set for updates to Final Cut Pro and DJ pro. In Final Cut, the bar 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.
Other apps with announced support include Microsoft Office, Pixelmator, Sketch and DaVinci Resolve.
Apple TV App
The Apple TV, iPad and iPhone have a new called app, simply called TV: a new, unified hub that promises to help make sense of the 1,600 video content providers that have apps on the platform. It looks useful and great, but there are two big problems: it doesn’t include Netflix or Amazon.
As Wired points out, Amazon’s absence is no surprise, given that Amazon Video has never been on Apple TV, and seems unlikely to show up any time soon. Netflix’s absence is a bit weird, though, as it’s been around on streaming boxes, including Apple TV, since what feels like the dawn of time. Netflix spokesperson Smita Saran said in a press release, “I can confirm we are not participating and evaluating the opportunity.”
Netflix is still on Apple TV, but when can’t binge watch Narcos or watch the latest Star Wars movie, this new TV app falls a bit flat.
RIP Macbook Air
The MacBook Air is all but dead. Despite being Apple’s most popular computer and used by students, programmers, bloggers, and people without oodles and oodles of cash all around the world, the MacBook Air appears to have been laid to rest in the same graveyard as the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone.
There wasn’t a single mention of a new Air throughout the event, and afterwards, Apple quietly stopped selling the 11-inch version. You can still buy a 13-inch MacBook Air for $1,000, but for how long remains to be seen. Instead, Apple say MacBook Air fans should go with the tiny MacBook Apple announced last year — priced at $1,300.
The new MacBook Pro will start at $1,799 for the 13-inch and $2,399 for the 15-inch, and are available for preorder Today. The Touch Bar models will ship within three weeks. The non-Touch Bar 13-inch model costs $1,499 and ships now.
In other tech news, Facebook adds Snapchat-like halloween selfie “masks” for live video.