Friday, 28 October 2016 06:37

VIDEOS: Two new MacBook Pros walk up to a touch screen bar none Featured

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It’s no joke, Apple’s new 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pros with Touch Bar models extend the OS and app interface to a dynamic, multi-touch bar that definitely dials up the performance.

Watch out, Surface Dial, Apple’s new Touch Bar on its latest MacBook Pro models takes Dial’s touch and turns it multi, able to support 10-finger multi-touch and great customisation, alongside apps that bring appropriate buttons and options dynamically for each program you use that supports Touch Bar mode.

It’s not just a "bar" but an actual screen, marking the first time Apple has added any form of touch screen to its Mac range, although the main display is still not touch capable.

Even so, Apple has taken full advantage of the long bar or strip of real estate where the physical, numbered function keys once stood, with well thought out and advanced customisation and useful features surfacing right when the user needs popular functions or those one chooses to include by easy customisation.

There's no YouTube version of Apple's MUST-SEE October 2016 keynote, but if you click here, you'll be able to watch it in full. 

More videos and plenty more info is below!

A series of quality demonstrations followed, showcasing the Touch Bar’s use in Photoshop, complete with an equally capable colour changing mode via Touch Bar to challenge that seen by turning Microsoft’s Surface Dial accessory so colours are changed there, too.

Microsoft does promise Surface Dial is backwards compatible with the Surface Pro 3, 4 and Surface Book models, while Apple’s Touch Pad is only available on its 13-inch and 15-inch new MacBook Pro sizes, and there’s no word yet of any wireless Magic Keyboard with similar Touch Bar interface, making the purchase of a new MacBook Pro the only way to gain access to the new features.

Apple explains that "the Touch Bar places controls right at the user’s fingertips and adapts when using the system or apps like Mail, Finder, Calendar, Numbers, GarageBand, Final Cut Pro X and many more, including third-party apps. For example, the Touch Bar can show Tabs and Favourites in Safari, enable easy access to emoji in Messages, provide a simple way to edit images or scrub through videos in Photos and so much more".

Apple made plenty of other improvements, too, however, which should make those waiting for new MacBook Pro models to arrive find themselves, for the most part, very happy.

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro models are thinner than the MacBook Air, and they’re smaller in volume, while being faster and better than both the previous MBA and MBP models.

Here's three of Apple's new videos, plenty more detail below. First up is the new MacBook Pro reveal commercial: 

 Jony Ive talks about the new MacBook Pro models:

 Another new MacBook Pro ad:

 A fourth video is embedded at the end of this article.

A second model of the 13-inch MacBook Pro is available without the Touch Bar and instead the traditional function keys, at a lower price.

However, with the new "second multi-touch screen" on the new 13 and 15-inch models, it’s clear that another level of human and machine interaction has been born, and judging by the various demos, it looks very natural, very capable and already, despite only just launching, very polished.

There’s plenty more new features, too. Touch Bar-equipped models also have a Touch ID button, letting you use your fingerprint not only to unlock your Mac, but also to authenticate yourself when paying for something using Apple Pay.

A newer, better, brighter and more colourful Retina display has been included, a more responsive keyboard with 2nd-gen butterfly mechanism and better travel feel over the 12-incn MacBook is now standard, while a new Force Touch Trackpad, twice the size of the old, makes the new Mac, in combination with everything else, even more touching.

Where you might be disappointed is knowing that Magsafe charging has been eliminated in favour of four Thunderbolt 3 ports, which are identical in look and compatible with USB-C ports, any of which can be used for power, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, Displayport, USB 3.1, 3.0, 2.0 and just about anything else.

There’s also 6th-gen Intel processors, SSDs up to twice as fast as the previous model and faster memory, too. Alongside thinner and smaller bodies than earlier MacBook Pro models — and on the 15-inch model, "up to" 2.3x the graphics performance of its predecessors — you have some impressive computers that definitely take the fight right up to Microsoft’s claims of Surface supremacy.

Apple global marketing vice-president Phil Schiller said: “This week marks the 25th anniversary of Apple’s first notebook; through the years each generation has introduced innovations and capabilities, and it’s fitting that this all-new generation of MacBook Pro is the biggest leap forward yet. With the groundbreaking new Touch Bar, the convenience of Touch ID, the best Mac display ever, powerful performance, improved audio, blazing fast storage and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity in our thinnest and lightest pro notebook yet, the new MacBook Pro is our most advanced notebook ever.”

All three new models feature "an entirely new enclosure design and all-metal unibody construction that creates an incredibly rigid and dense notebook that is amazingly thin and light".

The 13-inch MacBook Pro:

  • just 14.9 mm thin;
  • 17% thinner and;
  • 23% smaller volume than the previous generation; and
  • Over 200 grams lighter at just 1.37 kilograms.

The new 15-inch MacBook Pro:

  • just 15.5 mm thin;
  • 14% thinner;
  • 20 % less volume than before; and
  • weighing just 1.83 kilograms – over 200 grams lighter.

Graphics

  • Apple’s new 15-inch MacBook Pro features powerful Radeon Pro discrete graphics delivering up to 2.3 times more performance than the previous generation.
  • The 13-inch MacBook Pro comes with Intel Iris Graphics that are up to two times faster than before.

SSD storage and speeds

All models feature SSDs with sequential read speeds over 3GBps and Thunderbolt 3 which consolidates data transfer, charging and twice the video bandwidth in a single port – allowing users to drive a 5K display and power their MacBook Pro with a single cable.

A recap of the package beyond the Touch Bar and Touch ID:

  • Much larger Force Touch trackpads — 46% larger on the 13-inch MacBook Pro and twice as large on the 15-inch MacBook Pro;
  • More responsive and comfortable typing on the keyboard with "a second-generation butterfly mechanism";
  • Louder, more true-to-life sound through speakers with "double the dynamic range and improved bass";
  • macOS Sierra, Apple’s most advanced desktop operating system, with new features like Siri® integration, Universal Clipboard, Apple Pay on the Web and Photos, "which helps you rediscover your meaningful memories, organise your library and perfect shots like a pro".

Pricing and availability in Australia

The 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2199 for a 2.0 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage, and ships today.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID starts at $2,699 with a 2.9 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage, and is estimated to ship in two to three weeks.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at $3,599 with Touch Bar and Touch ID and features a 2.6 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.5 GHz, 16GB of memory and 256GB of flash storage, and is estimated to ship in two to three weeks.

More highly specced models with more RAM, CPU speed and storage capacity are available at higher prices.

Video editors who use Apple’s Final Cut Pro software are getting a new release of the software that works closely with the Touch Bar functionality – which you can read about here.

Apple also launched a new interface for watching TV on the Apple TV, and on your iPhone and iPad using a new app simply called "TV".

It is nicely flexible and worked beautifully in the demo to streamline and enhance your televisual enjoyment, but it’s only coming to US citizens first by the end of the year so we’ll have to wait until hopefully sometime in 2017 for Apple to be able to convince content owners and licensors in Australia so the app can launch here likewise. 

No doubt VPNs, US accounts, US iTunes cards and more will be used be people around the world to try what will start off as a US-only TV app experience in places well outside the US like in Australia. 

More information on the new Apple TV interface here.

Check out the detail on the new MacBook Pro models at Apple here.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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