The ‘Late 2016’ MacBook Pro isn’t exciting, but still leads by example

The 'Late 2016' MacBook Pro isn't exciting, but still leads by example
The 'Late 2016' MacBook Pro isn't exciting, but still leads by example (Credit: Michael DeAgonia)

What should you take away from the long, long wait for Apple’s new 13-in. and 15-in. MacBook Pros and the fact that they’re relatively pedestrian? For one thing, they might not be as pedestrian as they seem.

Let’s get this over with: Macs just aren’t the coolest thing Apple does anymore. They don’t bring in huge profits. People don’t lust after them the way they do a new iPhone. They’re not the second or third or even fourth thing that CEO Tim Cook and Design chief Jonny Ives are thinking about.

So Apple let the new MacBook Pro release slip and then it let it slip some more. Before you knew it, the company was releasing sixth-generation Skylake laptops into the rollout of Intel’s seventh-generation Kaby Lake processors. Apple needed something new and different and – poof! – the Touch Bar was born.

Touch Bar is a red herring, a pink unicorn, eye candy designed to cast a “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for” spell on anyone who looks too closely at the new line up of MacBook Pros. What’s more, even if Touch Bar might someday be useful, that won’t be for another couple of years when mainstream software supports it.

The list of supporting apps consists mostly of niche players with the exception of Microsoft Office. And Microsoft’s support? Has anyone heard a timeline on that? By the time the Touch Bar gets real, Apple might be on to a full-size touchscreen.

There’s more to the new MacBook Pro than the Touch Bar. I bought my daughter a space gray MacBook Pro 13 for Christmas. (And you thought I was a hater.) The form factor changes have a greater effect in the 13 than they do in the 15.

I’m not talking about the specifications; I’m talking about what it feels like to use these laptops in the real world. The 13 has something the 15 (and the previous generation 13) doesn’t have: total portability.

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