Having got mymaxed-out 15-inch 2016MacBook Pro set upyesterday, I’ve now been using it for a total of around 12 hours – so I’m calling this one my first real-life usage impressions.
Impressions of the form factor will obviously vary depending on whether you’re coming from a pre-Retina machine – as I was – or a later one. The new machine is smaller, slimmer and sleeker either way, but the difference is of course much more dramatic from a pre-2012 model. And in my case, I’m also moving from a 17-inch machine to a 15-inch one.
For me, then, the form factor is in a completely different league. The base unit is much thinner, and the lid is almost unbelievably so. It’s also significantly lighter. I said before that I think I may be able to switch from two Macs to just one. This one feels portable enough that having a separate MacBook Air now feels like overkill …
But for all its slimness, it doesn’t feel remotely flimsy: the build quality feels absolutely rock solid. It’s so beautiful, I may baby it a little more than I generally do with my machines, but I don’t have any concerns about its delicacy.
The shiny new toys
It’s fantastic having Touch ID on a Mac. I’ve wanted that ever since having it on an iPhone, and as soon as I had it on the iPad too, it had felt clunky not having it on the Mac also. Logging-in just by touching the power button is great, and likewise being able to do things like unlock notes by fingerprint – just as you do on iOS devices – feels long overdue.
One oddity: sometimes you can use Touch ID to install an app, sometimes you can’t. This appears to be on an app-by-app basis, rather than system-wide, which seems odd.
At present, not many apps support it – including some Apple ones (you can’t use Touch ID to permit viewing a password in Keychain, for example) – but I’m sure that support will very rapidly expand. A few months down the road, this is going to be a really appealing feature just on its own.
The second new toy is, of course, the Touch Bar.
Photos really don’t do this justice: it has to be seen, and up close, to really be appreciated. It really looks like printed, backlit symbols rather than a display screen.
I love the brightness and volume sliders. Just touch the key and immediately slide your finger right or left. It’s really slick, and totally intuitive. After this, repeatedly pressing a function key feels like something out of the Stone Age.
I was surprised to find that having the Siri button on the Touch Bar was actually quite a lot more convenient than clicking in the Dock. I didn’t expect it to be any quicker, but it is.
One of the very first things I did on the new machine was head straight into System Preferences > Keyboard to customize the Touch Bar buttons. Since I already had a Siri button, it seemed logical to add dictation as well. It also seemed silly to have both up & down buttons for volume and brightness when the slider works so much better, so I removed those and inserted the single-button versions. However, instant mute is handy, so I added this in too.
My Touch Bar so far, then, looks like this: