During the Apple MacBook Pro event, Apple as expected refreshed it’s Macbook Pro lineup. Aside from the new Macbook Pro, a unifying Apple TV app was announced, aiming to change how we watch TV on multiple devices.Rumors have been swirling about what features and additions the new model would have included. While most of these rumors turned out to be true, there were a few genuine surprises in store.
The star of the show was clearly the MacBook Pro. The Pro was last redesigned in 2012, so it has been a while since a refresh. The new silver and space gray models which come in two 13-inch and 15-inch sizes will be thinner and lighter than the current version, yet still shying away from the tapered style of the MacBook Air. The design also sees an update with narrower bezels around the keyboard and screen, the standout feature of which is the touchscreen keyboard strip. The lower priced 13-inch model will have a traditional keyboard however the increased priced 13-inch and the 15-inch both come with the high tech new touchstrip. Basically the touchstrip will adapt to applications for a variety of key functions at the touch of a fingertip. Also added is a fingerprint scanner, similar to the iPhone and iPad, a Touch-ID branded fingerprint reader so that you can unlock your computer using your fingerprint. The scanner is located next to the keyboard touchscreen strip just above the “delete” key. A larger trackpad is twice the size as in previous models for the Force Touch feature.
Internally it sports an Intel Core i7 with Radeon Pro graphics card for the 15-inch and an Intel Iris GPU for the 13-inch in addition to a new faster SSD with up to 2TB of capacity. With additional power comes additional cooling and thermal management which is a welcome change from the previous model. The exterior has multiple Thunderbolt 3 ports support USB-C with any one of them available as a charging port, so yes, there will be dongles galore. Fantastic for us who are not already drowning in dongles as it is.
One of the big surprises during the MacBook Pro event was the inclusion of Apple TV. The announcement that Minecraft is coming to Apple TV by the end of 2016 was a nice addition. With 2,000 games currently, the hardware is growing into a nice niche gaming device. However the big news is that a “TV” app will unify all your shows and movies across all platforms onto one unified app. The concept of pulling all of our different apps and streaming services under one roof is ambitious to say the least. The app will show all your shows and movies but when you watch it will kick back to the default app it originates from. For users, the UI may take some getting used to, switching back and forth between “TV” and streaming apps. Noticeably absent from this was Netflix, who seem to be the big holdout. The app is a great idea that has a lot of potential but may require some tweaking before it is the app we would all love it to be.
Overall the event showed off some much needed refreshes for hardware and a few unexpected surprises. The touchbar is clearly the feature most will be talking about. With a slew of applications using it in different ways, the possibilities for use seem limitless. The capabilities shown with the updated Final Cut and Photoshop were fantastic. However the idea of a constantly changing interface depending on what is needed, almost seems too good to be true. It remains to be seen if the pros will love the customization of the buttons or if having to keep track of two different menus, one of which is constantly changing, will be a hindrance more than a benefit.
Unfortunately it seems the new MacBook Pro is virtually replacing the MacBook Air in every conceivable way. Based on the smaller size and better performance it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see the MacBook Air line killed off within the year. The base model 13-inch MacBook Pro without the touchbar is shipping today and starting at $1,499. The touchbar enabled 13-inch, $,1799, and 15-inch, $2,399, ship in two to three weeks. All models can be ordered on the Apple online store starting today.