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Apple unveils new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, starting at $1,799

After the 25th anniversary of its first notebook, Apple announced a new MacBook Pro with a touchscreen row of keys on Thursday.

"This week happens to be a huge week in the history of the Mac, and the history of Apple," Apple CEO Tim Cook said.

The new lineup, available for order on Thursday, includes a 13-inch version starting at $1,799, a 15-inch version at $2,399, and a version with traditional function keys for $1,499. The Touch Bar versions should ship in 2 to 3 weeks.


Apple MacBook Pro Touch Bar
Source: Apple

The new retina display touchscreen strip, Touch Bar, adapts to whatever software the user has open and can be customized. It can be used to browse Safari, access predictive typing and emojis, adjust volume, or edit photos. It could be useful for simple tasks like navigating a video without leaving full-screen mode, or swiping through photo filters, as is done on a smartphone.

Users can also log into their MacBook Pro with their fingerprint, and authorize purchases, thanks to a special chip, according to Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple.

The new computers also have a dedicated key for Siri, and can still be used as traditional function keys, said Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering. Users can even switch user profiles on the MacBook using just their fingerprint, Federighi said.

A new 13-inch MacBook Pro is the lightest and thinnest version yet, weighing just 3 pounds, according to Schiller. At 4 pounds, a 15-inch version has a track pad that is twice as big as the previous version, Schiller said.

The 15-inch computers are faster than past versions, and have Intel i7 processors, solid state drives and Radeon Pro graphics processors. The speakers have twice the audio range, and there are also four Thurderbolt ports, any of which can be used for charging, Schiller said.

A 13-inch version with traditional function keys, an i5 chip and two Thunderbolt ports will also begin shipping on Thursday to appeal to potential MacBook Air customers, Schiller said.

Ahead of the holiday shopping season, Thursday's event attempted to rekindle interest in the market that was once Apple's bread and butter: personal computers.

"The Mac is more than a product to us, it's a testament to everything we do and everything that created Apple," Cook said. "The world's creative forces use the Mac to push the world forward."

Apple MacBook Pro Touch Bar
Source: Apple

Reports of the new touchscreen function key row have stoked curiosity about what developers may be able to do, after a dry spell of new Macs. Indeed, the Touch Bar works with developer platform, XCode, Schiller said, and Microsoft is working on Touch Bar support for Office.

Apple also demonstrated a new "TV" app that aims to unify the television experience, by listing a variety of over-the-top options.

The new free app has a single sign-on that can sync across devices, works with Siri, and will ship with an operating system update by the end of this year. Popular game Minecraft is also headed to Apple TV by the end of the year.

"Our developers now have access to the biggest screen in your home, and in just a year, we now have 8,000 apps," Cook said at a media event. "New games keep coming."

Cook also touted the success of the iPhone 7 and its operating system, iOS 10, which now features a new Memories feature for resurfacing old photos from your camera roll. The company also announced a new accessibility website.

A Cupertino media event comes as Apple has upped its bets on the enterprise computing industry, despite a slowing PC market. The company recently announced a partnership with Deloitte and has special software offerings for sectors like education and healthcare.

"In the enterprise market we're seeing some great examples of iPad and Mac deployment," Luca Maestri, Apple's chief financial officer, told investors in an earnings conference call this week.

Worldwide PC shipments are forecast to decline 7.3 percent year-over-year in 2016, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). Mac revenue was flat from a year ago in the quarter ending in September, and Apple had about 7 percent of the worldwide PC market as of July, IDC estimates.

Reports of the new Apple devices hit the web months prior to Thursday's event.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman had previously predicted a new MacBook Pro may feature a secondary touch display above the keyboard, a larger trackpad and faster graphics card. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted a new MacBook Pro could come in two sizes, 13-inch and 15-inch, according to tech blog MacRumor. Kuo reportedly also projected a new MacBook Air, while Recode reported news of a new TV guide app.

Meanwhile, rival Microsoft revealed Surface Studio on Wednesday, with what it says is the thinnest desktop display ever made, alongside a slew of new devices aimed at the premium market.

"We're trying to create a new category of device," Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of the Windows and devices group at Microsoft, told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Wednesday. "We're going to push the high end."