- Martin Hajek
If you’re planning to buy a MacBook Pro anytime soon, you might want to wait till fall.
The biggest rumored change is that it will include a touch screen as part of its keyboard. Above the numbers line, where the function keys normally go, will be a strip of touch screen that can be used as buttons, presumably.
While other companies have tried this general concept many times – notably Art Lebedev’s Optimus keyboard and Razer’s Blade Pro – Apple has the hardware and software integration to make it a useful feature.
Here’s a rendering of how it could look, courtesy of Apple fan Cameron:
In an op-ed article published Tuesday by 9to5Mac, Ben Lovejoy wrote that it would make a lot of sense for the touch screen to work as a “one-touch shortcut” for individual apps. For example, it could provide a truncated toolbar for those working in Photoshop. Or in Pages it could provide easy, customizable buttons for adjusting font and formatting.
Of course functionality like that would require extensive developer support.
It could also be a key part of Siri, which is expected to arrive on Mac computers this year, and would make sense as a place where the system could display the Siri animation.
The leaked shell casing for the new MacBook also suggests that it will come with four USB-C ports – and won’t plug in using the traditional magnetic MagSafe charger. I too welcome this: Most people plan to keep their laptop going for at least four years, and while the new USB port might be annoying at first, it’s smart future-proofing.
Finally, Fudzilla reported earlier this week that Apple seemed poised to include AMD Polaris graphics chips in this year’s MacBook Pros. Apple’s Pro models usually come with separate graphics chips, but tentative confirmation that they will get up-to-date performance is nice to know, especially for developers and other power users who find graphics performance is critical for uses such as virtual reality.
It’s less clear whether the AMD Polaris chips will be included in the 13- or 15-inch models.
The main question is when these next-generation MacBooks will go on sale. The most detailed report suggests the fourth quarter of this year, which would probably mean an October release – but that is far from certain.
Apple could also reveal the model as soon as next week, because the touch-screen strip could require third-party developer support, and Apple’s developer summit is later this month.