New MacBook Pros: smaller impact; finer although not wedge shaped; larger trackpad; more

A new Bloomberg report says that the new range of MacBook Pro models will have a smaller footprint than existing models, and will be thinner but not adopt the wedge shape of the MacBook Air and 12-inch MacBook. The trackpad is also slightly wider than current models.

The machines are said to already be ‘in advanced testing’ but will not launch until after the iPhone event in September, confirming earlier reports that said that the laptops were scheduled for release in quarter four.

The report also confirms what we’d hoped about the OLED touch strip replacing the function keys …

Instead of physical keys, a strip-like screen will present functions on an as-needed basis that fit the current task or application […] Apple’s goal with the dedicated function display is to simplify keyboard shortcuts traditionally used by experienced users. The panel will theoretically display media playback controls when iTunes is open, while it could display editing commands like cut and paste during word processing tasks, the people said. The display also allows Apple to add new buttons via software updates rather than through more expensive, slower hardware refreshes.

Unsurprisingly, Bloomberg also confirms that USB-C ports will be included, though provides no detail on how many or what other ports – if any – will be provided.

Also confirmed is Touch ID. Our own source said that this would be combined with the power button, and this latest report appears to support this, stating that the scanner will be ‘beside the new function key display.’

Apple is said to be using one of AMD’s Polaris GPUs as it offers the slim design and power efficiency required, but there will be a higher-end AMD GPU available to meet the needs of pro users.

Finally, the report says that Apple has ‘considered bringing gray, gold, and silver colors to the new line’ but that it is ‘unclear’ whether or not it will do so.

If the report is accurate, one disappointment is that the smaller footprint appears to rule out my own hope that Apple might switch to 14- and 16-inch screens. While smaller bezels would have made this practical within the existing dimensions, it sounds very much as though Apple is prioritizing minimizing the physical sizes of the machines.

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