Apple unveils MacBooks with interactive strip – USA TODAY
Apple is killing the function keys. The company unveiled Thursday a new version of the MacBook Pro with a thin touch display that sits above the keyboard.
CUPERTINO, Calif. â Apple unveiled a new MacBook Thursday that replaces function buttons at the top of the keyboard with a new interactive screen called TouchBar.
The Retina Display-quality horizontal screen adapts its digital keys to whatever you’re working on, whether editing a photo or browsing in Safari. TouchBar can also be customized by the user.
Another innovation to the venerable laptop is a new TouchID feature, which allows for fingerprint identification access to the device itself as well as website purchase approval, both of which are staples of the iPhone.
The new MacBooks come in 15-inch and 13-inch sizes. TheÂ machines are roughly 15% thinner and lighter than their predecessors. The display is 67% brighter with 25% more colors. There is also a 13-inch new MacBook available with out the new TouchBar.
Pricing: $1499 for the 13-inch without TouchBar, $1799 for the 13-inch with TouchBar and $2399 for the 15-inch with TouchBar. The laptops can be ordered today, with the versions featuring TouchBar shipping in the next two to three weeks.
Other companies also are working on making sure their products work with TouchPad, Apple executives said. For example, Microsoft will make Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Skype for Business work with TouchBar shortcuts.
“It’s the gold standard in notebooks,” said Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller, bringing up an image of Apple’s original laptop from the early days of mobile computing.
“The new MacBooks are 6.8 million times faster than that first device,” he said. “Put another way, aÂ full year of compute time can be accomplished in less than 5 seconds on the new MacBook Pro.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook also announced a new app for Apple TV simply called TV, or formerly known as the Videos app.
Click on the TVÂ app – which also will appear on your iPad or iPhoneÂ – and everything you’ve been watching, whether it’s a purchased movie or your binge-TV fare,Â automatically surfaces. It will be available by the end of the year.
Siri also comes into play with the new TV app.Â Ask what football games are playing, and the app immediately pulls up every game that is playing live at that moment.
“Now there’s a unified TV experience, one place to discover and enjoy your favorite shows across your devices,” saidÂ Cook.
It remains to be seen if these laptop upgrades will be enough to move the sales needle this upcoming holiday season. Significantly, thisÂ product event comes just days after the company reported its first annual sales drop in 15 years, largely due to slowing iPhone sales.
Apple fiscal year 2016 revenue of $215.6 billion declined 8% from the $233.7 billion it rang up the previous fiscal year. The fourth-quarter resultsÂ markÂ Apple’s third consecutiveÂ quarter of declining revenue and iPhone shipments.
Apple shares dropped 3% on the earnings news, and was down 0.5% Thursday to $115.01.
Follow USA TODAY tech reporterÂ Marco della CavaÂ @marcodellacava