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article imageApple's heavily upgraded MacBook Pro to feature Touch ID sensor

By James Walker     Aug 9, 2016 in Technology
Apple's range of next-generation 2016 MacBook Pro laptops will include a power button that doubles as a fingerprint sensor, according to a growing number of reports. For the first time, Apple will also offer a touchscreen display to modernise the MacBook.
News site 9to5Mac said it has been informed by a "reliable source" that the new MacBook Pro will feature the previously-rumoured Touch ID power button. The range of laptops, set to be launched alongside the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch 2 in mid-September, will be the first substantial update to the high-end MacBook family for a few years.
Apple's Windows-based rivals have been getting ahead of it and the company has been slow to respond. It is common for Windows machines to include a touchscreen and a fingerprint sensor, neither of which are available on the current MacBook line-up. With this year's family, Apple will change that, adding features that will appeal to its fans.
The power button on the new MacBook Pro will double up as a Touch ID sensor. When the button is pressed to wake the computer up, it will recognise the user's fingerprint and immediately log in. The system will work in the same way as the Touch ID sensor built into the iPhone's home button, unlocking the device almost instantly with a one-touch process.
Alongside the option of a full touchscreen, the new MacBook Pro is also thought to feature an OLED "touch bar" display positioned above the keyboard. Sitting where the function keys are usually arranged, the touch-sensitive display will act as a kind of ticker or status screen. Users will be able to bring OS X's status bar down into its own display directly above the keyboard, making it easier to interact with onscreen elements like menu bars and volume controls.
A rendering by Martin Hajek showing how Apple could implement an  OLED touch bar  on the 2016 MacBoo...
A rendering by Martin Hajek showing how Apple could implement an "OLED touch bar" on the 2016 MacBook Pro
Martin Hajek
Much remains unknown about the purpose and functionality of the touch bar. Nothing concrete has been produced to show its existence, although recent leaked photographs that allegedly show the chassis of the new laptop appear to confirm its inclusion.
In June, developer Martin Hajek created a few renders that show how the display could be implemented. He imagines it as a status bar showing controls that are contextually relevant to the open apps on the main display. Apple could be working on something else altogether though.
However the touch bar turns out, it will be a MacBook-exclusive feature that can't be found anywhere else. No Windows laptop currently has such a display, although it's possible manufacturers could come up with their own implementations once Apple launches its new MacBooks.
Combined, the new features should make this year's MacBook refresh the most substantial update for some time. Apple has neglected the MacBook Pro over the last three years, leaving owners waiting for revised hardware. Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has previously said the 2016 Pro will be "the most significant upgrade ever undertaken by Apple," an informed rumour to excite fans of the powerful range.
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