Apple Finally Plans Major Overhaul Of MacBook Pro Featuring OLED Touch Panel, Touch ID Power Button

The MacBook Pro is long overdue for a major refresh, having not received one in over four years, and rumor has it Apple's planning some big changes. One of those changes is the addition of a secondary Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) display nestled above the keyboard in place of the standard row of Function keys.

That bit comes from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who says the OLED strip will serve up Function keys as needed. What Apple wants to do is make keyboard shortcuts for specialized tasks easier to access and more intuitive. They'll be dependent on the application that's open—fire up iTunes, for example, and the OLED strip will display media playback controls. If you're typing up a document, it might have editing commands.

MacBook Pro
Apple's going to replace the row of Function keys with an OLED strip on its next MacBook Pro refresh

The other big addition is Touch ID support. Apple's bringing its biometric fingerprint technology over from the iPhone (and iPad) to the new model MacBook Pro laptops. The Touch ID scanner will sit next to the OLED strip and allow users to log in faster than before. And like Touch ID on the iPhone, users will be able to authorize purchases.

Beyond the big feature highlights, you can expect the new MacBook Pro systems to be thinner with more powerful hardware packed inside. People supposedly familiar with the matter tell Bloomberg that there will also be discrete GPU options suitable for demanding tasks, including game play. It will be interesting to see if either of NVIDIA's Pascal or AMD's Polaris architectures find their way into the MacBook Pro.

Whatever hardware the MacBook Pro ends up, focusing on the laptop category makes sense for Apple. There's been no shortage of talk from the Cupertino outfit about the so-called post-PC era, but while sales of iPad devices (and tablets in general) have spiraled downward, Apple noted a 6 percent bump in overall Mac sales, including the MacBook Pro line, to $25.5 billion in its last fiscal year. It was the first year since 2011 that Mac sales were higher than iPad sales.