MacRumors’ Husain Sumra, quoting KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo:
While long overlooked, the MacBook line is the brightest spot for Apple’s 2016 rollouts. This is particularly true of the two new MacBook Pro models, to be introduced in 4Q16, as they will have a thinner and lighter form factor, Touch ID, use OLED display touch bar (to replace physical function keys, located above the keyboard) and adopt USB-C / Thunderbolt 3.
Sumra goes on to write that the new machine will be offered in 13-inch and 15-inch configurations, as they are now. The addition of Touch ID would be a welcome one, but that OLED “display touch bar” is a more interesting tidbit. Several PC vendors ship softkeys for things like volume, screen brightness and media control, but this could prove to be even more flexible. For example, how many keyboard are still out there with a Dashboard button instead of one for Launchpad? If Siri is coming to the Mac, even my new Magic Keyboard would assumedly be out of date.
Additionally, if these buttons are just software, perhaps users could map custom things to certain areas. How great would it be to be able to hit something like Spotlight or ~/Dropbox with a single stroke?
The report also includes this passage:
The 12-inch MacBook will also be joined by a 13-inch MacBook, according to Kuo. The analyst believes that Apple will move forward with all three MacBook lines this year, with the MacBook Pro occupying the high-end slot, the MacBook will replace the Air as the medium-level model and the MacBook Air will serve as an entry-level model with comparatively low prices.
This feels right to me. I wonder if an entry-level Air would still come with both 11.6- and 13-inch displays, or if the larger Air will meet its end this year. Returning to a lineup where the cheapest machine has the smallest screen would be simpler and easier to understand.
Whatever happens, the rumored Q4 date for this MacBook Pro is worrisome. While the current MacBook Pro is still a good machine, Apple still hasn’t been able to get Skylake machines out the door. It’d sure be nice to see that change.