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CNET Asks: Does the Mac Still Matter?

Apple announced a new line of MacBook Pros today that replace the function keys with a Touch Bar, a touch sensitive strip that includes customizable software buttons and Touch ID functionality. CNET, in an exclusive 90-minute briefing with Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi, and Jony Ive, discussed the new MacBook Pros and explored the relevancy of the Mac in a mobile era.

That the new MacBook Pros are thinner, lighter, faster, and brighter is not unexpected for a laptop that hasn’t been updated for a while. What’s special about the new MacBook Pros is the Touch Bar. In a typically understated fashion, a reticent Jony Ive described the Touch Bar to CNET as:

’the beginning of a very interesting direction’ that combines ‘touch and display-based inputs with a mechanical keyboard.’

Phil Schiller was a little more forthcoming about what Apple hopes its new laptops will mean to users:

’We didn’t want to just create a speed bump on the MacBook Pro,’ he says. ‘In our view this is a big, big step forward. It is a new system architecture, and it allows us to then create many things to come, things that we can’t envision yet.’

The Touch Bar is a fascinating blend of ideas from iOS, such as touch tools for straightening photos, and existing macOS toolbars moved to the keyboard. Regardless of how you feel about how long it’s taken Apple to refresh the MacBook Pro, I’m optimistic about this new approach to the MacBook Pro and the possibilities it opens up to third-party developers.