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Circuit Breaker

Major MacBook Pro revamp could replace function keys with OLED touch bar

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Apple is preparing a serious overhaul of the MacBook Pro line for later this year, according to a research note from well-connected KGI Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo reported on by MacRumors. The laptops are set to come in 13-inch and 15-inch models, with a thinner and lighter design enabled by a new MacBook-esque keyboard and revamped hinges. The new MacBook Pros will also reportedly use Thunderbolt 3-enabled USB-C ports.

All of that is kind of predictable. What is not predictable is Kuo's assertion that the MacBook Pros will substitute the keyboard's physical function keys with an "OLED display touch bar," which sounds deeply wild with shades of the original Razer Blade. The laptops are also said to integrate Apple's Touch ID fingerprint scanners. Kuo says they're the "most significant upgrade ever undertaken by Apple" and are planned for the fourth quarter of 2016, with a 13-inch regular MacBook apparently also on the cards.

Kuo has a good, if imperfect, record for predicting this kind of thing, and the specificity of this rumor makes it notable. If true, however, it means we're unlikely to see much in the way of meaningful MacBook updates at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next month.

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