MacBook Pro: Kaby Lake models 'to enter production this year'
Report claims Apple plans to upgrade 13ins and 15ins models 'in third quarter'
Apple reveals new Touch Bar MacBook Pro
Apple revealed a new range of powerful laptops, unveiling three updated MacBook Pros at a keynote event last night.
The computers are more expensive than their predecessors by a significant amount, but they pack new technologies into a significantly thinner design.
As expected, the highest spec MacBook Pros have an OLED touch panel above the keyboard to replace the fixed function keys and is "very, very cool", Gizmodo says.
The feature - "We call it Touch Bar," said Apple's Phil Schiller - is customisable and adapts to whatever software you're using: it'll display a search bar and a back button in Safari, for example, or editing buttons to view photos or videos.
The screen has a matt finish so doesn't feel out of step with the rest of the keys on the laptop or as if you're using an iPad or iPhone.
On the right of the Touch Bar are near-persistent icons and buttons for controlling volume and screen brightness. They can be swapped for different hot keys and users can also bring up the classic strip of function keys if they wish.
The Touch Bar supports multi-touch manoeuvres and gestures, but there's no haptic feedback built into the strip so swipes and prods aren't accompanied by any sense of touch.
A Touch ID sensor is embedded into the strip – the fingerprint sensor Apple has fitted to iPhones and iPads over the last few years. It’s integrated into the power button and can be used to lock and unlock the laptop. It also means supports Apple Pay and will allow users to shop online with just a fingerprint.
Screen sizes haven't changed. A 13ins version serves as the entry-level option, with a more powerful 15ins being the most expensive option.
The smaller laptop can be equipped with a duo-core Intel i5 or i7 processor, while its big brother gets a quad-core i7 as standard. Apple promises the new laptops perform significantly better than the outgoing MacBook Pros, thanks to new Solid State Drives.
The laptops are fitted with Thunderbolt 3 sockets alongside four USB-C ports – users will need an adaptor for the standard USB-A fitting used by most memory sticks and the Lightning cable used by iPhones and iPads.
A third MacBook Pro is on the way, another 13ins model but with lower specs, fewer ports and without the Touch Bar.
It does come wrapped up in the thin new casing, though, and at half-an-inch thick, is slimmer than the MacBook Air.
Prices are up across the board. The entry-level Macbook without the Touch Bar is priced from £1,449, while the next version up costs at least £1,749. Those going for the range-topping 15ins laptop will see prices starting at £1,949.
The entry-level laptop is available from 1 November, while Touch Bar models will be out in three to four weeks.
Apple MacBook Event: How to watch it and what to expect
This afternoon Apple is set to host a keynote event where the company's range of Mac computers will take centre stage.
Apple has already introduced new iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches this year, leaving only the company's computer line-up in need of an update.
Pre-launch rumours suggest that a new MacBook Pro will be the star of the show. The new computer has been all but confirmed thanks to a couple of leaked images of the laptop.
Other new Mac products could be in the pipeline, too. Here's what's expected and how to watch the event online:
New MacBook Pro
The MacBook Pro hasn't been updated for some time, but this evening's event should see the introduction of a completely new version of Apple's most powerful laptop.
Pictures of what's widely thought to be the new MacBook Pro have been found buried deep within the latest release of Apple's MacOS operating system. The photos show that pre-launch rumours about the computer could well be true with new features that include an OLED touch sensitive strip above the keyboard to replace the function keys.
What's displayed on the strip will change based on whatever you happen to be doing on your laptop, so apps will have custom controls placed right on the keyboard. Photoshop could use the touchbar as a toolbox, for example, or a word processor might display editing tools. A Touch ID sensor is also built into it, which means you'll be able to use Apple Pay on the new MacBook Pro, as well as using the fingerprint scanner as a lock for added security.
While the touchbar and Touch ID are all but confirmed, the rest of the laptop's new features remain rumours. It's expected that Apple will abandon USB-A ports in favour of smaller USB-C, and the HDMI and Micro SD ports will be dropped too.
MacRumors adds that the new laptop is likely to have Skylake chips, more powerful AMD Polaris graphics cards, larger on-board storage options, plus a lighter, thinner look. The computer will be available in 13ins and 15ins sizes.
New MacBook Air
The new MacBook Pro may not be the only new laptop on show. It's thought that a second new addition will also feature and MacRumors reckons it'll be a subtly updated 13ins MacBook Air. It's likely that the new model will have USB-C ports, meaning that Apple's entire laptop range will move over to the smaller standard. MacRumors says it could have the new Skylake processors too, as well as Thunderbolt 3 compatibility.
Apple may be in the process of dropping the MacBook Air from its line-up, so the 11ins version of the laptop may be quietly retired, making the new 13ins version the cheapest Apple laptop on the market.
There's been a lot less chat about what's on the way for the rest of Apple's computer line-up. It's not clear if the Mac Mini and Mac Pro are due updates, for example, even though it's been years since these Macs received any new hardware.
As for the iMac, Apple is rumoured to be working on new versions, but KGI analyst Ming Chi-Kuo, who has an excellent track record when it comes to new Apple products, says these won't be ready until next year
How to watch the event
The event will kick off at 6pm UK time and you'll be able to watch it live on Apple's website. You'll need a Mac with Safari 6.0.5 and OS X 10.8.5 or later to watch it, and if you're on a PC you'll need Windows 10 with the Microsoft Edge browser to access the stream.
iPads, iPod Touch, and iPhones running iOS 7 onwards will work with the stream too.