Apple revamps MacBook Pro with virtual keyboard controls

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 2:54am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 9:57am

Apple on Thursday introduced the first overhaul of its MacBook Pro laptop in more than four years, demonstrating dedication to a product that represents a small percentage of revenue.

The highlight is a new digital display on the top row of the MacBook Pro keyboard. The strip has function keys that change based on the task at hand. The feature is called the Touch Bar. The new laptop comes in 13-inch and 15-inch versions and is available in both standard silver and space gray colours.

The Touch Bar has controls for navigating e-mail, editing photos, and sending emojis, Apple said. Buttons for connecting to servers, taking screenshots, and turning off notifications can be added, Apple software head Craig Federighi said during a demonstration.

The new MacBook Pro is the first to include Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor. To securely store data needed for Apple Pay transactions, the updated laptops have a dedicated chip called “T1.”

The notebooks were unveiled by Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller at an event at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. The design is similar to previous iterations, but the devices are lighter, thinner and slightly narrower, but include all-metal components.

The new MacBook Pro’s trackpad is twice as large as the previous version. The 13-inch model’s overall volume has been reduced by 23 per cent, while the 15-inch has slimmed its volume by 20 per cent.

The Mac product line generated 11 per cent of Apple revenue during the company’s 2016 fiscal year. That was was down from 13 per cent in 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.