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Apple's new MacBook Pro: 4 things professionals need to know

Apple recently unveiled its next-generation MacBook Pro. Here are the most useful features and functions for business users.

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Image: Apple

On Thursday, Apple refreshed its MacBook Pro product line by introducing the latest generation of its power user-focused laptops. The new MacBook Pro has a thin, sleek design with the familiar aluminum unibody design that the line is known for.

The new MacBook Pro brings a plethora of updates that will appeal to most users and Apple fans, but there are a few specific features that professionals will be able to use to improve their productivity and get more work done. Here are the four most important things that enterprise users need to know about the newest MacBook Pro.

SEE: Does the Mac still matter? (CNET)

1. Touch Bar

Perhaps most anticipated feature of the new MacBook Pro was the Touch Bar, a retina display multi-touch bar that takes the place above the keyboard that was traditionally occupied by the function keys. The Touch Bar supports gestures and taps, and includes tools that are specific to each application or website.

For example, in video editing programs, the Touch Bar could include a video scrubber. In Apple's Mail app, it will present the buttons for actions such as composing a new message or flagging another message. In Safari, users can use Touch Bar to preview tabs and check favorites, which could help increase web productivity if you regularly work with web-based apps.

The Touch Bar will also have quicktype suggestions as you are working in a document or email. Siri will have a dedicated key on the Touch Bar as well. If desired, the Touch Bar can be customized with new keys or control systems. Developers will be happy to know that Touch Bar has support for Terminal and Xcode, too.

2. Touch ID

Touch ID is coming to the MacBook Pro as well, as a part of the Touch Bar. A fingerprint scanner is located on the right side of the Touch Bar where the power button would have traditionally been located, and it is covered with Sapphire crystal. The new Apple T1 chip supports Touch ID with Secure Enclave, so users can perform Apple Pay purchases with their finger on the MacBook Pro.

Touch ID also allows for fast user switching between accounts on the device itself. If more than one user maps their fingerprint to the device, they can swap from one account to the account associated with their fingerprint by using Touch ID.

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Want a better look at the new MacBook Pro? Check out our gallery of images from the announcement.

Image: Brandon Vigliarolo/TechRepublic

3. Ports

Continuing the trend of eliminating certain ports that Apple set with the iPhone 7, the new MacBook Pro has ditched the MagSafe port for power. Instead, the computer can be charged using one of the four Thunderbolt 3 ports available on either the 13" or 15" core model. There is also a simpler 13" model with only two Thunderbolt 3 ports. The ports can also be used in a daisy-chain fashion to increase the number of peripherals and accessories.

A new LG UltraFine 5K Display was also announced in a partnership between Apple and LG. The display was created specifically for MacBook Pro customers, and it connects via a single Thunderbolt 3 cable, and contains its own ports as well. The best part is that it will charge the MacBook Pro while it is connected to the display.

4. Specs

There are three new versions of the MacBook Pro, as mentioned earlier. The core 13" and 15" models include the Touch Bar and four ports, while the lower-tier 13" model has no Touch Bar and only two Thunderbolt 3 ports. They are available in Silver or Space Grey.

The new MacBook Pro also has a force touch trackpad that is twice as large as the previous generation. The core models both have a Superfast SSD, a new thermal architecture, and a new speaker design. The 13" model is available with an Intel i5 or i7 processor, while the 15" model is only available with an i7 processor. The 13" model without a touch bar starts at $1499, the 13" model with a touch bar starts at $1799, and the 15" model starts at $2399.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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