Apple’s new iPad Pro is the best explanation for why we’ll never see a touchscreen MacBook

Apple event april iPad pro
  • The iPad Pro feels more like an answer to 2-in-1 Windows devices than Apple’s MacBook line.
  • It’s following the same evolution as hybrid Windows devices, especially when it comes to camera upgrades.
  • The iPad Pro is where we’re seeing forward-looking new tech from Apple, not the MacBook.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Apple’s iPad Pro has always seemed like an alternative to the laptop. After all, it has a laptop-sized screen, it’s designed to work best with a keyboard, and it now supports trackpad input.

But the company took that idea a step further on Tuesday with the introduction of its newest iPad Pro. The updated model comes with Apple’s powerful M1 chip – the same processor that drives its latest MacBook laptops – new mini-LED display technology with improved brightness and contrast on the larger model, 5G support, and Thunderbolt connectivity.

The announcement served as yet another sign that the iPad Pro is indeed Apple’s answer to the 2-in-1 Windows laptops that have dominated the PC industry over the last decade. It reinforces the idea that we’ll probably never see a touchscreen Mac, because that’s exactly what the iPad Pro has become.

The iPad Pro is following a similar path as new Windows laptops

Many of the upgrades we’ve been seeing on Windows laptops in recent months are also present on the new iPad Pro. These include better microphones and cameras for conference calls, thinner and lighter designs that run on processors based on the same basic architecture as those in our phones, and 5G integration.

Just look back to some of the most interesting laptop announcements from this year’s CES conference for evidence. Lenovo’s new IdeaPad 5G laptop, for example, comes with 5G and runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx processor. That chip is built on the ARM architecture that’s commonly found in the processors that power smartphones and tablets, similar to Apple’s M1 chip.

HP’s Elite Dragonfly Max, meanwhile, comes with a 5-megapixel camera and four wide-range microphones that use artificial intelligence to optimize audio – an upgrade that was clearly intended for the work-from-home era.

Apple now has its own take on how to improve video conferencing as it relates to the iPad Pro. The tablet comes with a new feature called Center Stage, which leverages the iPad Pro’s new wide-angle front camera and machine learning to automatically keep you in the shot as you move. Since it runs on M1, it also uses Apple’s image signal processor, which greatly improves color and brightness as I found when reviewing the MacBook Air.

Of course, some of the additions on the newest model address the iPad Pro’s shortcomings when compared to laptops. The 2021 model comes with Thunderbolt support, for example, which enables support for more powerful accessories like faster storage devices.

And now that the iPad Pro runs on M1, there’s a chance that app compatibility between Mac and iPad will become easier to manage since they’re powered by the same chip architecture.

The iPad Pro is Apple’s vision for the future of computing

It’s unclear whether the iPad Pro has been a hit for Apple in terms of sales because the company doesn’t specify those details in its earnings reports. But what has become clear is that the iPad Pro is Apple’s vision for the future of the personal computer, despite the fact that it’s not technically a laptop.

It’s the iPad Pro, not the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, that includes new sensors like Apple’s Lidar scanner, a new 12.9-inch display that’s brighter and packs in more pixels per inch, and features such as Center Stage. The MacBook Air and MacBook Pro were among the first computers to launch with Apple’s M1 chip, but the iPad Pro feels like the first computer that was really designed to take advantage of it.

The MacBook Air and Pro are excellent laptops, but they feel antiquated in some respects. Unlike modern Windows machines, they lack qualities like flexibility, touchscreens, nearly borderless displays, and facial recognition technology, just to name a few. The iPad Pro, however, has all of those features and more.

I don’t know that most people will be willing to give up their MacBooks for an iPad Pro just yet. And Apple doesn’t want you to; it’s clearly very invested in its Mac lineup. But I do think the iPad Pro is the device to keep an eye on if you really want to understand Apple’s perspective as it relates to the future of computing.

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Apple’s latest computers are being targeted by a new type of malware – and 30,000 machines are already infected

apple m1 chip
Apple’s M1 chip is the target of a new type of malware.

In November 2020, Apple unveiled a sleight of new computers that were powered by the company’s first-ever in-house silicon: The Apple M1 chip.

By early 2021, it looks like Apple’s line of new computers has already been breached by a malicious set of software nicknamed “Silver Sparrow.” Just shy of 30,000 of Apple’s new computers have already been infected, according to the security firm Red Canary, primarily in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Germany.

The infected machines range from the Mac Mini desktop to the latest version of Apple’s laptops. Both the latest MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro are powered by M1 chips.

Notably, security researchers have yet to observe the Silver Sparrow malware actually doing anything harmful. 

“Though we haven’t observed Silver Sparrow delivering additional malicious payloads yet,” Tony Lambert, an analyst at Red Canary intelligence, wrote in a blog post. “Its forward-looking M1 chip compatibility, global reach, relatively high infection rate, and operational maturity suggest Silver Sparrow is a reasonably serious threat, uniquely positioned to deliver a potentially impactful payload at a moment’s notice.”

Though viruses are uncommon on Apple’s computers, a variety of other malicious software impacts Macs. The best way to protect yourself is to use free software from companies like Malwarebytes, which scans your computer and quarantines harmful software.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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MacBook Touch Bar: The special touchscreens built into MacBook Pro models, explained

MacBook Pro Touch Bar
The Touch Bar is only available on the high-end MacBook Pro models.

  • The MacBook Touch Bar is a thin touchscreen above the number keys on MacBook Pro keyboards that offers versatile functionality.
  • To use a Mac’s Touch Bar and its library of digital icons, you can tap, swipe, and slide along the bar. 
  • Some Touch Bar buttons change depending on the app you’re using, while others remain constant.
  • You can open your Mac’s System Preferences menu to change some of the Touch Bar’s settings.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Introduced to MacBooks in 2016, the Touch Bar is a small touchscreen located above the number keys on MacBook Pro keyboards.

The Touch Bar was built to replace the function keys – the numbered F1 through F12 keys that come standard on most keyboards. Despite this, the Touch Bar actually has a variety of features and tools that change depending on what app you’re using.

As of this writing, the Touch Bar is only available on 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro models. However, this might change in the future.

How to use a MacBook Touch Bar

As its name suggests, Apple’s Touch Bar is activated by touch, and as such responds to gestures like tapping, swiping, and sliding. You can use these gestures to adjust the brightness and volume, activate Siri, access function keys, and more depending on the app you’re using.

For example, if you’re checking your email, you’ll see actions to reply or flag emails on the Touch Bar. Image editing apps might let you trip or crop with a touch. And a calculator will display the standard adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing symbols.

Try using different apps and watch how the Touch Bar changes to match them.

This Apple Support page shows which buttons pop up when you select a file in Finder (including Preview and Share) and when you view a picture in the Photos app (including Rotate and a slider to quickly navigate through photos).

apple macbook pro touch bar
Apps have specific Touch Bar commands.

An advantage of the Touch Bar is its ability to customize which buttons appear. For app-specific functions, you can customize the buttons to include commonly used tasks. To change your Touch Bar’s settings, open System Preferences, select “Keyboard” and the “Keyboard” submenu afterward, then choose and adjust among the variety of customizable options available for the Touch Bar.

And if something appears on the Touch Bar that you want to save for later, you can take a screenshot of just the Touch Bar.

The Control Strip

While the buttons located in the center of the Touch Bar will change depending on the app you’re using, the Control Strip, which is located on the right side, doesn’t change. Here, you’ll find buttons to activate Siri and adjust settings like brightness and volume. To expand the Control Strip, tap the left facing arrow button.

In the expanded view of the Control Strip, you can also adjust keyboard brightness, control video or music playback (with pause, play, rewind, and fast forward buttons), and more. 

Macbook Pro with touch bar
Once you get used to it, the Touch Bar is easy to use.

The function keys

Function keys (F1 to F12) are standard on most keyboards, meaning that you’ll likely still need them.

For Macs with a Touch Bar, the function keys are accessed via the Touch Bar. To find them, press and hold the Fn key or Globe key (whichever one you have) on your keyboard.

If this doesn’t work, go to your Mac’s keyboard preferences to ensure this shortcut is enabled. You can find your keyboard preferences in the “System Preferences” app.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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