Apple MacBook Pro 2016: 8 things you need to know

Apple’s latest laptop is familiar in some ways, startlingly new in others

The long-awaited refresh of Apple’s core laptop range is finally here. And thanks to numerous leaks and the ever-swirling online rumour mill, some of the new MacBook Pro’s most innovative features aren’t surprises at all – we already knew some of Apple’s most headline-grabbing plans.

But even if you think you’ve guessed everything ahead of time, the MacBook Pro 2016 has facets you haven’t considered. Want to know the straight facts about this portable power ‘book? Read on.

1) It raises the Bar with a Touch of class...

Unquestionably the standout innovation in the 2016 MacBook Pro is the Touch Bar. Replacing the traditional row of function keys at the top of the laptop’s keyboard, it’s a multi-touch OLED strip – essentially a long, narrow screen – which can be customised to display different controls, depending on what you’re doing at any moment. So if you're editing photos, the Touch Bar will feature tool shortcuts. If you're editing videos, you'll be able to see the whole timeline and scroll through it using the Touch Bar.

While it means the death of the venerable F-keys and the stalwart Escape key – at least in physical form – we don’t think the mourning period will last long; the new setup’s versatility promises to make the MacBook Pro’s user experience something quite special.

2) It has Touch ID

There’s a Touch ID fingerprint sensor built into the keyboard, next to the Touch Bar (where the power button is, in fact). So instead of inputting a password (so old fashioned!), you simply press your digit on the bar to login to your computer, or authorise an app installation or purchase.

Touch ID, of course, also means Apple Pay, previously available only on the iPhone and iPad, can now be used to make secure online purchases through macOS.

3) It comes in the same sizes as before…

As with the previous few years – since the removal of the 17in model back in 2012, in fact – Apple is offering 13in and 15in variants of the new MacBook Pro, both with Retina Display screens. The screens carry the same number of overall pixels as previous generations (2560 x 1600 for the 13in, 2880 x 1800 for the 15in), but colour gamut, brightness and contrast ratio have all been boosted.