Earlier today, Apple hosted one of its trademark special events — just a matter of hours after Microsoft’s rival briefing on the future of its Surface line and Windows 10.
Tim Cook opened the show in understated style, presenting a slideshow of photographs taken by iPhone 7 users to attendees. However, it wouldn’t take long for the event to move on to the topic of the day: some big changes to the MacBook Pro line, and plenty of demonstrations highlighting how users will benefit.
Apple TV was the first device to be showcased as part of the event. Cook announced that Minecraft is coming to the Apple TV, and will be available before the end of the year, before the focus shifted to completely new functionality intended to enhance viewing video content on the platform.
Users will now be able to access Twitter responses to the shows they’re watching — an NFL game was the example used — and even facilitates quick responses by pushing individual tweets to another Apple device. This functionality is set to be rolled out across election night coverage, sports broadcasts, and news programming.
Cook returned to the stage to discuss the “unified TV experience,” an expansion of the search functionality previously offered on Apple TV. A new app called TV was announced, which is set to offer big changes to the way users watch television.
TV will offer easy access to all the television shows and movies the user is currently working their way through, across all apps — whether they’re currently airing, or older content. Selecting a video opens up the appropriate app or service automatically, and the content begins playing immediately.
The Touch Bar
“The Mac is more than a product to us,” Cook said, as the spotlight was put on computer hardware. “It’s a testament to everything we do, and everything we create at Apple.” It was noted that this week marks the 25th anniversary of Apple’s first notebook, prompting a brief trip down memory lane.
Then it was time for the official reveal of functionality that’s been public knowledge for some time — the Touch Bar. A sizzle reel showed the dynamic strip being used as a rotation dial, an Emoji gallery, and a GarageBand track viewer.
This new keyboard element is multi-touch, meaning that users can interact with multiple controls at once. Microsoft was confirmed to be on board with adding support for the Touch Bar to services like the Office suite and Skype.
The Touch Bar also works in sync with Apple’s T1 chip to provide secure authentication for Apple Pay transactions. Multiple users sharing the same computer can register their fingerprints with the new MacBook Pro, and even switch between accounts by pressing a finger against the scanner.
The New MacBook Pro
The Touch Bar isn’t the only feature that sets the new MacBook Pro apart from its predecessors, which boasts a striking new display that’s 67 percent brighter and possesses a 67 percent higher contrast ratio compared to the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro.
The 15-inch system utilizes a 6th-gen Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, while the 13-inch variant features a dual-core 6th-gen i5/i7 CPU.
The laptop’s Force Touch trackpad has been made two times larger, and an all-new keyboard design implements a second-generation update of the company’s butterfly mechanism.
The system is being billed as the thinnest and lightest MacBook Pro ever made, with the 13-inch model clocking in at just 14.9 millimeters thin and 23 percent smaller in volume than its predecessor. The laptop features four ports, each of which can be used for charging the device, as a USB connection, to link up a monitor, or for countless other purposes.
The capabilities of the new MacBook Pro were demonstrated in creative software suites like Final Cut Pro, DJ Pro, and Photoshop — but targeting creators was about as close as Apple came to directly referencing yesterday’s Windows event.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,799, while the 15-inch model starts at $2,399. A 13-inch variant without the Touch bar is set to retail from $1,499.