Until Thursday, the MacBook Pro had not been mentioned on an Apple event stage in more than a year.
But on October 27 — on the 25th anniversary of Apple’s first notebook laptop — Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the latest, long awaited, upgrade to the MacBook Pro.
“For 25 years we have been defining and redefining what a notebook is and what a notebook can do, and today and we are going to do it again,” Cook said.
A touchscreen above the keyboard called the “touch bar”
The biggest change: Apple is getting rid of the top row of function keys — from the escape key to the volume keys. In its place, the new MacBook Pro will have a customizable, multifunction touchscreen that spans the width of the keyboard. On the right side of the touchscreen is a Touch ID fingerprint sensor for Apple Pay authentication that also doubles as power button.
The “touch bar,” which will have retina display and multitouch capabilities, adapts to the application currently in use. It shows different function keys and tools depending on what the user is doing. If you’re typing a sentence, it will offer suggestions for the next word. In your web browser, it shows back, forward, and search buttons. If you’re editing photos, it’ll show image-editing tools.
The laptop will also feature additional design tweaks. It is the thinnest and lightest MacBook Pro Apple has ever made. The 13-inch model is 3 pounds and the 15-inch model weighs 4 pounds. And Siri, for the first time, will have its own button on the keyboard.
It’s been a long time since techies and Apple obsessives have been able to rally behind a major MacBook development — as the Verge’s Vlad Savov noted in April, the last announcement left the “basic experience unchanged.”
The introduction of the touch bar, however, is the biggest overhaul in quite some time, and it will give Mac developers a new canvas to work with.