Next-Generation MacBook Pro's Touch ID Feature Likely Built Into the Power Button
Back in May, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that the next-generation MacBook Pro will include an OLED "touch bar" above the keyboard and Touch ID support, with a subsequent part leak of the machine's chassis supporting the idea of this touch bar replacing the current row of function keys.
Kuo did not address exactly how Touch ID would be integrated into the new MacBook Pro, but a new report from 9to5Mac claims the technology will be built into the device's power button. The MacBook Pro's power button currently resides in the row of function keys, so it is a logical place to incorporate a fingerprint sensing power button as part of the new touch bar.
A source who has provided reliable information in the past has informed us that the new MacBook Pro models, expected to be launched in the fall, will feature a Touch ID power button as well as the previously-reported OLED touch-sensitive function keys.
If placed in the power button, the fingerprint sensor would allow users to wake the MacBook Pro and authenticate its security in one touch, similar to waking up an iPhone by pressing the Home button while simultaneously activating Touch ID.
Beyond the Touch ID power button, the OLED touch panel is rumored to be contextual, displaying different controls and user prompts depending on which apps and programs are open on the MacBook Pro. Designer Martin Hajek created a few renders with the OLED panel earlier in the summer, but didn't include what the Touch ID button might look like.
With the announcement of macOS Sierra at WWDC this year, Apple introduced another way for users to gain access to their Macs while still keeping the device secure, called Auto Unlock. The feature works with an Apple Watch to automatically unlock a password-protected Mac when an authenticated and unlocked Apple Watch is nearby, so it would still only be available to those Mac users who also have an Apple Watch.
In addition to Touch ID and the OLED panel, the new MacBook Pro is expected to be slightly thinner than the current generation thanks to new metal injection mold-made hinges, have thinner speakers aligned on the side of the keyboard, and introduce support for USB-C. According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the new MacBook Pro will be "the most significant upgrade ever undertaken by Apple."
The state of the current Mac lineup is causing turmoil for users interested in upgrading their machines on the eve of the big refresh this fall, but with no word yet from Apple, even the launch period is somewhat muddled. The new MacBooks could be revealed in September, alongside the iPhone 7 and new Apple Watch models (now believed to be split into two editions), but the company could also opt to hold refreshes for the Mac until a separate event later in the fall, perhaps in October.