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Apple had a few surprises in store at their Spring Forward live event. Everybody was expecting the inevitable Apple Watch details, but we also got a surprisingly impressive new 12″ MacBook in three colors, starting from $1299.
Introduced by Apple CEO Tim Cook on stage, and explained further by head of design Jony Ive in a series of typically dramatic video features, the MacBook stole the show.
Thinnest and lightest ever
Tim Cook declared that his team had “reinvented the notebook”, redesigning every last technology to make the thinnest, lightest and most energy-efficient Mac to date. It is 13.1mm at its thickest point, weighs just 2lb, and is the first fanless MacBook – meaning it will run silently. It’s the first time Apple have used an all metal enclosure, and that thing is so tightly and efficiently packed it would put even the most hardcore Tetris aficionado to shame.
Surprisingly this isn’t going to be the new MacBook Air. On the Apple website it is simply “MacBook” and sits alongside the existing Air and Pro models.
Not content with squeezing all that power into a tiny, beautiful shell, Jony Ive and his design team have also rethought the basics. First up is an all new keyboard, with larger key caps and an innovative butterfly mechanism for “more comfortable, precise, and responsive” typing.
Apple show off in an incredible slow motion video how the keys are springier and more responsive than the classic scissor mechanism. The width of the keyboard defines the width of the whole product.
New trackpad features
We also get the new Force Touch trackpad, which uses four force sensors to provide a “responsive, uniform click” across its whole surface. In addition to the now-familiar multi-touch interface, the trackpad can now respond to different pressures.
With this comes a new function called Force click which will allow additional functionality – similar to a right click on a conventional mouse – when tapping harder on links or images. The trackpad will also include responsive feedback using the Taptics system, just like the Apple Watch.
Portable and wireless
The new MacBook is designed to be as portable as possible and Apple envision the device needed zero wires the vast majority of the time. They want to see people taking full advantage of the latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies with features like AirPlay and AirDrop.
In terms of battery life, The MacBook will supposedly deliver 9 hours of usage on a full charge. Speaking of charging, with all this talk of an intelligent vision for no wires, many were half-expecting Apple to declare a new wireless charging technology. Instead they gave us a different surprise.
One single port
Aside from a standard headphone output, the MacBook has just one port for all other functions. One single port. Its using a brand new standard called USB-C, which Apple have helped to develop but is crucially a cross-platform technology. Everyone and their Grandma will be using USB-C soon.
It provides power, data transfer and video output all through the one versatile, reversible port. The downside is that you’ll have to shell out for an adapter if you ever want to do two things at once.
Not wanting to forget the rest of the range, Apple also threw in a few tidbits at the end of the event about their other MacBooks. The MacBook Air is set for a performance boost, featuring beefed up i5 and i7 processors and faster flash memory.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is also getting new processors as well as an extended battery life of 10 hours. It will also include the Force Touch trackpad and is shipping immediately, making it the first available model with this feature.
Pricing, models, and release date
So, a new keyboard, new trackpad, new single port, new 12″ Retina screen, no fans, all in a stunningly tiny package.
The MacBook will sell for $1299, with a second version boasting twice the storage and a slightly faster processor for $1599.
Available in silver, space gray and gold from April 10 – the same day the Apple Watch will be available for pre-order.
Check out the rest of our coverage of Apple’s live event.