First headphone jack, now USB port: New MacBook set to be unveiled next week

By James Titcomb

Apple has not significantly updated the MacBook Pro for over four years.
Apple has not significantly updated the MacBook Pro for over four years.

Apple is preparing to launch new Mac computers next week, but may controversially ditch the traditional USB port.

The long-awaited refresh to the company's suite of computers, including the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and iMac, will be unveiled on Thursday October 27, the technology website Recode reported.

The event is reportedly set to be held at Apple's Cupertino headquarters, rather than the San Francisco auditoriums it traditionally holds iPhone launches at, suggesting it may be a more low-key event.

However, interest is still likely to be high. Apple has not significantly updated the MacBook Pro for over four years, and rumours suggest the new model may include intriguing features such as a touchscreen display at the top of the keyboard instead of the standard function keys.

The screen's "virtual keys" would change depending on what program is being used - music controls in iTunes, but editing functions when word processing, for example.

It may also do away with the traditional USB port in favour of USB-C, a newer standard that does not support standard "USB-A" cables or sticks. The USB-C port, pictured above, is smaller and more rounded than the traditional socket.

While it is not the first time Apple has done this - last year's 12-inch MacBook had just the one USB-C port for charging and connections - getting rid of traditional USB on the more workmanlike MacBook Pro may prove unpopular.

According to Macotakara, a Japanese website with a strong track record on Apple products, the new MacBook Pro will feature two ports - USB-C and Apple's own Thunderbolt port.

It is likely that the laptop would charge via USB, making the only available port while plugged in the Thunderbolt.

However, interest is still likely to be high. Apple has not significantly updated the MacBook Pro for over four years, and rumours suggest the new model may include intriguing features such as a touchscreen display at the top of the keyboard instead of the standard function keys.

The screen's "virtual keys" would change depending on what program is being used - music controls in iTunes, but editing functions when word processing, for example.

Apple is also reportedly set to unveil a new 13-inch MacBook Air that will follow in killing the traditional USB port, making the standard redundant on its computers.

Despite the slow rise of USB-C, the standard USB port is still widely used, including on Apple's own chargers for its iPhones and iPads, and while customers can buy adapters that convert USB-C to standard USB, or allow for multiple ports, it is likely to prove controversial.

Apple notoriously removed the headphone jack on the iPhone 7, giving users headphones and an adapter that connect via the lightning port that is used to charge the phone.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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