Apple’s special event today focused on hardware. The big news is a brand new version of the MacBook that includes a fancy touch screen in place of the function keys, but they also announced a new TV app and some minor Apple TV improvements.
The MacBook Pro Gets a Touchscreen On the Keyboard, Is Thinner
The MacBook was the main spotlight of the event. It’s a little thinner and lighter than the previous version, comes in an all-metal case and in two models: A 13-inch and a 15-inch.
The big new feature is the touchscreen strip that replaces the Function keys, called the Touch Bar. It’s a Retina display and touchscreen that changes depending on the application you’re using. So, if you’re using Photos, you can swipe between images, or if you’re browsing online, you’ll see a list of your favourite web sites. Apps can customise what appears here, so the Touch Bar’s icons change based on what you’re doing and where you’re doing it. Third-party applications will be able to add in support for the Touch Bar. Apple showed off Photoshop, Pixelmator and Office using it. The Touch Bar also includes Touch ID support for logging into your MacBook or paying with Apple Pay with your fingerprint.
Alongside that Touch Bar, there’s a new, larger force-touch trackpad, a new keyboard that uses an updated version of the switch mechanism in the MacBook, an improved screen, a faster SSD and improved speakers. In general, performance is improved all around with a new Intel Core i5/i7 chips and new Intel Iris graphics cards.
There’s a small catch though. The MacBook Pro comes with four ThunderBolt 3 ports, any of which can work for power, ThunderBolt, USB C, DisplayPort or HDMI. That means there are no traditional USB 2.0 or 3.0 ports. Also gone is the SD card slot, but the headphone jack remains for now.
The new MacBook Pros with the Touch Bar start at $2699 and go up to $4249. There’s also a MacBook Pro available that doesn’t have the Touch Bar for $2199. You can order one starting today.
The TV App Brings Videos from Multiple Services Together
Apple announced a new app, called TV, which makes it so you can browse videos from a variety of different apps and services in one place. So, if you stopped watching a movie on iTunes, it will be available in the TV app. Likewise, you’ll be able to browse all the videos available on different services in one place. That said, Netflix didn’t make an appearance here, so it’s only useful if you’re using iTunes or any of the premium pay TV apps. The app will be available on Apple TV, iPad and iPhone in December for free.
Apple TV Gets Better Siri Support, Twitter Integration
Siri gets some improvements on the Apple TV, allowing you to use it to pull up live TV broadcasts. They demoed this with football, showing that you can pull up a live game by simply asking for it, like “play the Auburn game.” This will at least make finding what you’re looking for a little easier. Twitter also came out to show off a live Twitter feed that can run alongside a broadcast where you can see and interact with live commentary.