The 2016 MacBook Pro is the touchscreen Mac you’ve always wanted
Apple is known for being one of the most secretive companies in the world, but major hardware launches in recent years have been marred by leaks that have revealed just about everything there is to know about the products. before Tim Cook took the stage. As a result, many Apple events in recent years have felt “flat” – at least to those who follow previous leaks as a profession – robbing them of the big “wow” moments you typically associate with new products emerging from Cupertino.
But Thursday’s MacBook Pro launch was different. Heading into the event, the world knew Apple would be unveiling a new laptop with a touchscreen instead of function keys, but when we got our first glimpse of the Touch Bar in action, excitement among those gathered at Apple’s City Hall campus in Cupertino was palpable. It was the excitement of seeing a new version of a device that many of us still spend most of our working hours – reading awake, in this writer’s case – using.
(Also see: Apple MacBook Pro Event – Everything You Need to Know)
Yes, the Touch Bar isn’t exactly a new idea – Lenovo and others have experimented with similar ideas in the past and failed. Like most Apple products, it’s all about getting the details right. From the demos we’ve seen and the short time we’ve spent with the new 2016 MacBook Pro in the hands-on area after launch, Apple seems to have done just that.
The Touch Bar works exactly as you saw in the presentation – it’s a touchscreen that sits above your keyboard replacing the function keys, and parts of it are broken. light up and become different keys or suggestions depending on the context of what you’re doing. So, for example, if you’re on the desktop, the Touch Bar will look like your current Mac’s function keys, complete with the escape key; brightness, volume and music playback controls; etc But the real magic happens in apps.
Apple has opened up APIs that developers can turn the Touch Bar into anything they think their users will find useful. So, for example, Microsoft Excel can display controls that allow you to quickly change the background color of a cell or add a chart when a group of cells is selected. Apple itself has added plenty of features, offering iPhone-like suggestions on the Touch Bar when you’re typing a document or email, and even letting you quickly choose an emoji when words can’t express what you feel.
(Also see: MacBook Pro 2016 vs. Microsoft Surface Pro vs. HP Specter 13 vs. Dell XPS 13)
As you’d expect, Apple spent most of its Thursday event talking about the new Touch Bar, and while we’ve seen charts comparing the performance of the 2016 MacBook Pro to its predecessor soon enough, that’s just the last 10 minutes of the presentation the actual specs were discussed. That’s partly because Apple uses a standard Intel platform with components that are also available to competitors, unlike iOS devices where Apple’s own chips provide a competitive advantage. The 2016 MacBook Pro continues the trend of Apple laptops – such as the original MacBook Air and 12-inch MacBook – where it’s not about specs, it’s about something Apple dearly cherishes – the overall experience. , which the Touch Bar obviously aims to greatly improve.
Unlike the original MacBook Air and 12-inch MacBook, which at launch were criticized by many for their underwhelming specs, the new MacBooks live up to their “Pro” moniker when you consider the hardware you get – chips Core i5 with 8GB RAM standard on 13-inch models, with Core i7s with 16GB RAM on 15-inch; faster SSD storage from 256 GB; Radeon Pro graphics on 15-inch models; and more.
We’ve seen PC makers release various types of touchscreen hybrids and laptops in an effort to combine the power of keyboards with the convenience of the touchscreen. While it’s convenient to reach out and touch the screen to do something quickly, doing it for an extended period of time is uncomfortable and inconvenient. Most of these devices end up being used like regular laptops, and touch input is only used when the screen is disconnected from the keyboard, if that’s even possible.
(Also see2016 MacBook Pro Price, Specs, Features, and What’s New)
The clamor for Apple to release a touchscreen MacBook grew for a while, but it was always clear that Apple was never going to implement a clumsy solution that mirrored the PC world. Apple has managed to withstand the pressure for years, waiting to feel ready with a solution that works well, and that solution is the Touch Bar.
Although our first impressions of the Touch Bar are really positive, it’s only after spending some time with it in the real world that we’ll know if it’s a real productivity enhancer or just a glorified function key replacement. Apple might still release a MacBook with a full touchscreen one day, if it thinks it’s found solutions to existing problems, but until then, the 2016 MacBook Pro is the touchscreen Apple laptop you’ve always wanted.
Disclosure: Apple sponsored the correspondent’s flights and hotel for the launch event in Cupertino.