The New World of Apple Laptops

After last week's keynote, here is a quick rundown on the new Apple laptop landscape.

New design:

The biggest news is the new design of the MacBook Pros, Apple’s top range of laptops. They comes in three flavours:
- 13” model with standard function keys
- 13” model with the new TouchBar
- 15” model with the TouchBar
All three are thinner and faster than previous models (more on this later), and the new screen is brighter with more vibrant colour.
Apple have also changed the connections on the sides- the MacBook Pros comes with four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports- that’s it. These can be used to charge the laptop or to connect to USB-C compatible devices.
The trackpad on the new MacBook Pros is also far bigger than on previous models.
Let’s just pause on this for a moment- the Thunderbolt/USB-C ports are fast connections and versatile. So you can plug the new power adapter into any of the four ports to charge it. These ports are combinations - used for charging and for connecting any USB-C device, which is a new type of USB connection. Yes this could mean that you will need an adapter or two if you wish to plug in USB drives, iOS devices, cameras etc. But in a world of wireless backups and WiFi, this change makes sense. Various USB-C hubs and adapters are available.
The TouchBar:
The second of the 13” models, and the 15” MacBook Pro, come with the new TouchBar. This replaces the function keys and is a touch sensitive strip above the keyboard. What appears in this strip changes depending on what app you are using. When you use Photos, small thumbnails of your photos appear and you can skim trough your pictures. But when you use a word-processor, the TouchBar changes and shows tools and buttons for editing your document. This is a great way to make the top row on the keyboard dynamic and flexible, changing to show the tools you need for the app you are using.

More on those designs…
One of the lessons of last week is that the Apple laptop ranges are changing. Before last week we had:
- MacBook (12” thin laptop)
- MacBook Air (11 or 13” wedge-shaped laptop)
- MacBook Pro (13 and 15” pro laptops)
But the writing is on the wall for the MacBook Air. With the MacBook being the thinnest and lightest Mac, the MacBook Air has lost its edge. Now the 13” MacBook Pro is also thinner and the same weight as the 13” MacBook Air, so really the MacBook Air has lost its role in life! The only reason Apple are still selling the 13” MacBook Air is price- it is the cheapest of the laptops and so it will remain for some months to come, but it is on its way out and we are left with a two-family line up. One other change- Apple have stopped selling the smaller 11” MacBook Air.
So now, excluding the MacBook Air, all Apple laptops come with USB-C style ports. These are likely to start appearing on the iMac and Mac Pro desktops next year. USB is dead, long live USB-C!
One Extra Thing:
Display! Apple stopped making its big external Thunderbolt display a few months ago and they will not be producing a new version. But they have partnered with LG, the TV and screen manufacturer, to make a new "UltraFine 4K Display”. The good news is that this is far cheaper than the old Thunderbolt display, but it does not have the same good looks! For me, Apple not making its own display is a poor decision, but the reality is that there is little money left in this market and not an Apple priority today.