There will be a less expensive model without the Touch Bar
Software makers including Adobe and Microsoft are supporting Touch Bar
The new devices are thinner and lighter than their predecessors
Apple on Thursday launched its latest MacBook Pro model at an event timed to mark the 25th anniversary of the original PowerBook, held at its campus in Cupertino. The new MacBook Pros feature a completely new design, faster components, and an innovative (and highly leaked) multi-touch screen-cum-controller. 13-inch and 15-inch models are set to be available within three weeks in the US, starting at $1799 and $2399. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID will be priced starting at Rs. 1,55,900 while the 15-inch model will start at Rs. 2,05,900.
The most innovative feature is of course the multi-touch control strip which replaces the Fn key row. Apple has named it Touch Bar, and it is fully interactive and context-sensitive. It shows simple system-side commands including a dedicated Siri shortcut, but adapts to different apps and workflows within them. Demonstrations on stage at the event showed dozens of possible uses, including word autocomplete suggestions when typing, email composition and filing tools, Photoshop tool selection and manipulation controls, DJ scratching and mixing, and scrubbing a timeline while editing video.
Applications can show content full-screen while controls are moved to the Touch Bar. Multi-touch gestures mean that things such as a waveform or timeline can be manipulated directly. For those who need the traditional Fn keys, they are still available too. For those who need the traditional keys or find the new models too expensive, there is also a 13-inch model without the Touch Bar, starting at $1499 or Rs. 1,29,900 in India.
The new MacBook Pro models also feature Touch ID sensors integrated into the power button. Apple detailed a new chassis design which actually makes the 13-inch MacBook Pro smaller and thinner than the 13-inch MacBook Air. A new design for the speakers allows them to push more air, resulting in a claimed 2x improvement in dynamic range and better bass reproduction. The speakers are now placed on either side of the keyboard.
Common minimum specifications include 6th-gen Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs, 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and 256GB SSDs. The 13-inch model's screen has a resolution of 2560x1600, and it uses integrated Intel Iris 540 graphics. The 15-inch model has a native 2880x1800 resolution and features AMD Radeon Pro graphics.
The models with Touch Bar feature four USB Type-C ports which support Thunderbolt 3 as well as USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds, while the one without Touch Bar has only two ports. Apple also detailed a new Thunderbolt 3 5K monitor developed in partnership with LG, which will work as a dock to charge a MacBook Pro while also featuring breakout ports for other devices, plus a webcam, speakers and mic array.
Apple has begun shipping the model without the Touch Bar immediately in the US, while the Touch Bar models are listed as shipping in 2-3 weeks. Availability in India is unknown, as all models are listed as "coming soon".
Disclosure: Gadgets 360's travel and hotel for the event in Cupertino were sponsored by Apple.
We discussed everything you need to know about the new MacBook Pro on Orbital: The Gadgets 360 Podcast. You can either subscribe via iTunes or RSS or just hit the play button below.
Jamshed Avari has been working in tech journalism as a writer, editor and reviewer for over 13 years. He has reviewed hundreds of products ranging from smartphones and tablets to PC components and accessories, and has also written guides, feature articles, news and analyses. Going beyond simple ratings and specifications, he digs deep into how emerging products and services affect actual users, and what marks they leave on our cultural landscape. He's happiest when something new comes along