New Features Rumoured for MacBook Pro

Mikey Campbell for AppleInsider:

In a note to investors obtained by AppleInsider on Monday, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts Apple to release a new form factor MacBook Pro design sometime in the fourth quarter of 2016. Thinner and lighter than current hardware, the long-awaited redesign will also feature exotic technologies carried over from Apple’s mobile device lineup.

Specifically, Kuo believes Apple plans to introduce a Touch ID fingerprint reader into the new MacBook Pro chassis, which if true will be the first non-iOS implementation of the biometric security system. In addition, an “OLED display touch bar” is earmarked for integration and will replace physical function keys located above the laptop’s QWERTY keyboard.

Fourth quarter? Wouldn’t give up on WWDC hopes over it - for all we know, it could be simply announced at the event, but made available much later. It’s also refreshing that Apple might be giving a hotly-anticipated product time to be refined.

Touch ID seems like a given at this point, like a Retina MacBook Air was last year. (Of course, we got the MacBook instead, but it was more or less what was asked for.) The OLED display in replacement of the function keys, now that’s really interesting.

Campbell mentioned technologies being carried over from Apple’s mobile devices - I see this being the approach Apple’s making with the OLED bar. It could be used as a Nav bar for apps like in iOS, or for QuickType, or notifications, but I bet it’ll be used primarily for something new that has yet to be conceptualised, as opposed to just the configurable display keys seen today.

Whatever the OLED display would be used for, it would make the MacBook Pro a more truly pro device. It would act as a third input method, on top of the keyboard and trackpad already in the device - I don’t know anyone who’d want to deal with that unless they were a power user or professional.

Like last year’s 12-inch MacBook, the new Pro models are expected to adopt speedy USB-C connectivity alongside the usual Thunderbolt ports, which should get a bump up to Thunderbolt 3.

The fact that iOS devices don’t ship with Lightning-USB-C cables leads me to believe that USB-C won’t be replacing USB 3 anytime soon. But if it didn’t come with USB-C, I’d be surprised. That said, yes, I think USB-C and USB 3 should be in the new machine, in which case the second Lightning port in the current Pros would be replaced by a single USB-C port.