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Apple ramps up MacBook

Apple on Thursday unveiled new MacBook Pro laptops infused with touch control features that people have embraced on smartphones. MacBook Pro models shown off at a special event at Apple’s headquarters in Silicon Valley touted keyboards with “Touch Bar” controls where function keys have traditionally been positioned. Touch Bar adapts to display controls most relevant to whatever application is being used, from email or typing text to video editing or music mixing, demonstrations showed. New MacBook Pro models with 13-inch and 15-inch screens also had “Touch ID” fingerprint reading sensors built into power buttons, meaning that people will be able to unlock machines or make online purchases using fingers to confirm their identity. Apple senior vice-president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller referred to new MacBook Pro models as the “gold standard” in notebook computers. A MacBook Pro with a 13-inch screen and Touch Bar had a starting price of 1,799 dollars, while an upgraded model with the same screen size but a traditional keyboard was priced at 1,499 dollars. A 15-inch MacBook Pro with the touch control technology built in had a starting price of 2,399 dollars. Apple began taking orders on Thursday, with touch-enhanced models promised to begin shipping within three weeks and the standard keyboard version available immediately. “Apple now has the most compelling and coherent lineup of laptops it’s had in several years,” said Jackdaw Research chief analyst Jan Dawson. “But, Apple’s laptops no longer enjoy the kind of big hardware advantage they’ve had in the past.” The event came a day after Microsoft unveiled a high-end computer along with an updated Windows operating system. Apple is intent of guarding the loyalty of Mac users and winning new fans to its ecosystem. Shipments of Apple computers slipped to 4.42 million in a decline of slightly more than eight per cent from the same period a year earlier, according to industry tracker IDC. Industry reports released this month showed that shipments of personal computers overall slid anew in the recently ended quarter as lifestyles continued to shift to smartphones and tablets.AFP

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