Apple has unveiled three new MacBook Pros: 15-inch and 13-inch models with a new Touch Bar that replaces the Function Keys, and a 13-inch model that still has them (that essentially replaces the MacBook Air). However, there was no new iMac or Mac Pro - which had been rumoured to also be announced (though we're hearing now that these will be launched separately on November 7).
The 15-inch MacBook Pro is the model that's going to appeal to most
Digital Arts readers - and it's the Apple product that's been in most need of an upgrade as it's been a few generations behind. Both the new 15-inch and 13-inch versions have 6th-generation Intel processors - bring the 15-inch model in line with competitors such as Dell's Precision 5510 and HP's ZBook Studio.
Both new models also boasts a new screen that Apple claims is 67% brighter, has a 67% higher contrast ratio and has a 25% wider colour gamut. The resolution of the 15-inch model remains at 2,880 x 1,800.
What's generated the most interest though is the Touch Bar. Replacing the function keys, this is a small, thin OLED touchscreen that can be customised to what you're working on.
This can be done by the application you're working in. Apple showed a new version of Final Cut Pro, 10.3, where an editor could scrub through a visual version of the timeline - zooming in and out as they went. Adobe previewed a version of Photoshop where a variety of tools could be controlled visually through the Touch Bar - including Select and Mask, a special Touch Bar mode for brushes, blending modes and even a visual version of the History panel.
Final Cut Pro 10.3 is out today. The new version of Photoshop will be out by the end of the year - and we're expecting more new features for Photoshop (and other Creative Cloud tools) to be announced at the Adobe Max conference next week (which I'll be reporting from).
You can add your own shortcuts to the Touch Bar, much like the function keys it replaces. It also features fingerprint recognition, so can be used to authorise Apple Pay payments on websites.
We need to test the Touch Bar to see how using it compares to full-screen touch interfaces in apps such as Photoshop and Premiere Pro on laptops and tablets such as Dell's Precision 5510, HP's ZBook Studio or the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. Adobe has put a lot of effort into creating touch interfaces that work well on Windows devices, but on stage, it looked a lot more clunky.
There are four Thunderbolt 3 ports along the sides of the MacBook Pro (both 15-inch and the Touch Bar 13-inch model), and a headphones port. And that's it. You charge it through one of those Thunderbolt 3 ports, which also act as DisplayPort connectors for video. Adapters allow you to plug USB devices or SD Cards into them too - though there are no specific slots for those anymore.
Inside the MacBook Pro is up to 2TB of storage, which Apple says is twice as fast as in previous models - up to 3.1Gbps.
Also new are bigger trackpads - twice as large on the 15-inch model and almost 50 percent larger on the 13-inch models. And there are two colour options - Silver or Space Grey.
There are two main configurations for the new 15-inch MacBook Pro. For £2,349 including VAT you get a 2.6GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of 2133MHz RAM, a Radeon Pro 450 graphics chip with 2GB of graphics RAM, and a 256GB SSD.
For £2,699 including VAT you get a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of 2133MHz RAM, a Radeon Pro 455 graphics chip with 2GB of graphics RAM, and a 512GB SSD.
Through build-to-order, you can spec the 15-inch MacBook Pro up to a 2.9GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of 2133MHz RAM, a Radeon Pro 460 graphics chip with 4GB of graphics RAM, and a 2TB SSD. This costs a whopping £4,049 - mainly due to the storage.
Pricing for the 13-inch model starts at £1,449.