Apple announces MacBook Pro featuring new Touch Bar, Touch ID hardware

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After a week of teaser promos for a product announcement, Apple unveiled its new MacBook Pro at an event at its headquarters in Cupertino last Friday. The new Pro, its first since 2012, is the first to debut a whole set of new features. The most notable are what now takes the place of the row of function keys at the top of the standard QWERTY keyboard: the Touch Bar and Touch ID.

The new piece of technology premiering at the event this week was the Touch Bar, an OLED touch display that will now run along the top of the keyboard on the MacBook Pro. It will provide a new method of interaction with the Pro.

The top row of keys now has the ability to change based on the application being used. The function keys currently have this capability, but the average user is not always aware of their function in any given application. The Touch Bar will change to provide not only dynamic keys, but forms of input that simply don’t exist right now, like scrolling through an emoji keyboard.

However, many computer security advocates are arguing that the most important aspects are the security features.

This is the first computer to feature Touch ID, Apple’s fingerprint scanning technology that has existed on the iPhone since the 5S model in 2013. A fingerprint scanner is located on the top right of the keyboard, at the end of the Touch Bar, and fingerprint recognition will be processed in a dedicated chip they’re calling the “secure enclave.”

Advocates for stronger security features on consumer products are supportive of the move, saying it is indicative of an important shift in computer and smartphone production in which a user’s privacy is given more weight than in the past.

Critics of the new MacBook argue, however, that these features do not justify the cost of the MacBook, which starts at $1,499 with the Touch Bar. They make the claim that the Pro is underpowered for actual professional use, as no model of the Pro comes standard with a top-tier processor or large amounts of memory.

As the first update to the MacBook Pro line in four years, the computer is likely to be successful, even against increasingly strong competition from manufacturers whose computers using the Windows operating system.

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