Today, Apple introduced new MacBook Pro configurations. Don’t get me wrong, what they showed was pretty cool, and the new Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro is terrific, but we were expecting the return of Apple giving professionals some serious love. And in reality, this event was all about the new apps for the Apple TV and new features added to Final Cut Pro X.
First up in the new event was Apple’s CEO briefly mentioning a new accessibility website where users can see all the features that are already featured on Apple devices and how they can access them. “Today we’re launching an accessibility website,” Cook said. “And we believe that technology should be accessible to everyone.” That website is available here.
Then Cook pivoted faster than Speed Racer in a controlled slide to the announcement that iOS 10.1 brings Portrait Mode to the iPhone 7 Plus along with a vacation esque slide show of what users of the Beta version have been doing with it.
There’s also a bug fix of a huge security flaw, but what Cook didn’t mention is that according to Forbes, users have been complaining that 10.1 has been deleting user health data as it reboots to the factory defaults. So if you’re a health app user, you may want to wait for 10.1.1 and a fix. But the downside to that is, you won’t get the bug fix that closes a vulnerability of hackers being able to take over your devices according to a malicious image or PDF. So until then, it’s best to not click on these. If you don’t care about the Health app, then by all means, upgrade.
Next came the expansion into Live TV for the Apple TV. With it’s new focus that Apple TV is all about apps, the ‘Hockey Puck’ streaming device has grown to more than 8,000 apps, including 1600 providing video content, and nearly 2,000 games. The big news here is that Minecraft is coming to Apple TV and you’ll be able to play it cross platform with desktop and other devices.
“We want Apple TV to be the one place to access all your TV Shows and movies. A Unified TV Experience” – Tim Cook
Apple also announced their new TV app, which provides live TV and social interaction. Watching Twitter’s Thursday Night Football, for instance, you can swipe to the right on your remote and see tweets live as the action happens and even send tweets to chime in.
There’s also access to Periscope, video replays, etc. The TV App has a Watch Now feature which aggregates all the programs you watch across other apps on the AppleTV and keeps you abreast of which ones you’re in the middle of or binge watching. There’s also Siri interaction, so you can tell Siri to start playing a movie, live sports like hockey or the NBA or the news and it will find it and play it. The TV App launches by the end of the year and will also install any missing channel apps you want as you need them.
Today is 25th anniversary of the first Powerbook. Since then, every generation of MacBooks have pushed the industry forward. – Phil Schiller
Then came the product everyone had been talking about in the rumor mill for the last 10 days … the MacBook Pro. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first Mac laptop, the Powerbook 170, Apple’s Phil Schiller bragged that the new MacBook Pro was 6.8 MILLION times faster than that first laptop. Can that really be true? Schiller says it is, so WOW.
Features wise, the new MacBook Pro comes in two different screen sizes and three models (more on that later). There’s a 13-inch and 15-inch configuration. The 15″ comes with an Intel i7 quad core Skylake process with 2133 mHz of RAM and is driven by AMD’s Polaris Radeon Pro graphics cards. The retina screen is 67% brighter with 25% greater color gamut. Apple also made the trackpad twice and large and give it force touch. It’s also about 20% smaller than the previous MacBook Pro.
The 13″ MBP comes with either an i5 Dual Core Skylake processor or the quad core i7, along with all the other features. It’s SSDs scream at 3.1 GB/second and can come up to 2TBs. Pushing all that power, Apple has added advanced thermal cooling through dual fan blades and air cooling pipes that envelope the entire inner workings of the MacBook Pro.
Lastly, the MacBook Pro comes with 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, with any capable of being dedicated to power, Display port, HDMI, etc. What’s interesting is that Schiller mentioned that Thunderbolt 3 has a plug similar to USB-C, but came short of saying you could plug one in, but you can use adapters to add a host of other accessories including the new 5K Screen that Apple has been developing with LG. This explains why Apple killed the Thunderbolt display, they just has farmed it out to LG.
“People don’t really use function keys anymore so we’ve remapped those keys to do other things that enhance the notebook experience.”
But all that isn’t what people came to see. They came to see the so-called “Magic Toolbar,” which Apple officially named “Touch Bar,” and it’s really cool. Being fully customizable and capable of changing from app to app, the Touch Bar replaces one of the last dinosaur features of a computer keyboard, the function keys, which have been around for 45 years.
The Touch Bar is a full retina screen that has force touch built in. With it, users can have special keys for photo editing, auto correct and predictive suggestions for writing and full button features for cut and paste, then it can change to Editing tools in both iMovie and Garage Band, and Facetime controls. Every time you go into a different app, the Touch Bar will change.
There’s even a dedicated button for SIRI and TouchID built into the Power button. The TouchID has a new T1 chip with Secure Enclave which enables you to use Apple Pay for the first time in any Mac computer. Performance wise, video editors will be pleased that the MacBook Pro is 57% faster with the 15″, and 76% faster with the 13″.
Now to those three models. Yes, three. There’s two different 13″ MacBook Pros, one without the new Touch Bar, with a dual core Intel i5, Intel Iris Graphics and 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, starting at and one without. Pricing starts at $1499, then a 13″ model with Intel i5, Iris Graphics, the Touch Bar and four thunderbolt 3 ports from $1799. Lastly, there’s the 15″ Macbook Pro, which has a Quad Core Intel i7, AMD Radeon Pro Polaris 450 Graphics package, Touch Bar and four Thunderbolt 3 ports. Starting at $2399.
The 13″ MacBook Pro without Touch Bar ships today, while the Touch Bar centric models will ship in 2-3 weeks.
Then came Final Cut Pro X, and even though there’s a new version 10.3 now out, Apple chose to only highlight how Final Cut takes advantage of the Touch Bar’s fully interactive capability during the presentation. And this is where Touch Bar really fires on all cylinders.
Chief of these capabilities is that the timeline is placed right onto the Touch Bar and is fully interactive. This is really cool, but with my huge fingers, I wish Apple had made the touch bar larger than it is if they want us to manipulate the edit line with any kind of serious precision. But then again, I’m only seeing it, not using it. It could be far reactive than at first blush.
But with it, you can move your workflow into full screen and then use the Touch Bar to tweak and make ripple edits and other changes from the Touch Bar. You can also drag and drop from the Touch Bar to the screen and back, which is amazing. Apple also redesigned the FCP X interface and added support for Rec 2020 and HDR. To find out all the new features, see Larry Jordan’s dedicated write-up on Version 10.3 of Final Cut Pro X here.
Sadly, Apple continues to leave the Trashcan Mac Pro lingering with no updates and no new iMacs. Could we can an update to those in the future? Possibly, though they may just be new processors and the like. There was a strong hint that Apple is going to discontinue the MacBook Air, as they made a specific point to mention that the 13″ MacBook Pro without Touch Bar is thinner and lighter than the MacAir. So you can expect that there won’t be a new MacBook Air coming in the future. It was fun while it lasted, but now it’s all about Macbook Pro.