Update: Apple has now unveiled the new MacBooks. Click here for everything you missed.
Apple's next big "Hello Again" event is scheduled for tomorrow, October 27, and the company is expected to unveil updated models of the MacBook line of laptops and iMac desktop computers. This is welcome news for Apple fans since the Macbook Pro has not been refreshed since 2012 and it sorely needs a feature and specification bump.
Included in the MacBook Pro refresh is this one big rumored change that people might not like - the removal of the traditional USB port in favor of USB-C.
However, according to images found by MacRumors hidden within the macOS Sierra 12.1 update, the new MacBook Pro will ditch another set of old reliables: the function keys.
Yep, the physical function buttons above the keyboard - the F keys, the physical volume, screen brightness, media buttons and that Esc button - are all getting axed on the new MacBook Pro.
This confirms an earlier rumor we covered. In place of the row of function keys, the new MacBook Pro will have a touch-sensitive OLED bar above the keyboard instead. This touch bar is said to support a brand new feature codenamed "Dynamic Function Row." The bar will display an ever-changing virtual row of keys and commands depending on the application context, and with its debut, virtual buttons will likely fill in the void left by the missing keys.
For habitual Esc and function key users, this might pose a problem since they won't be in their traditional spots anymore. How will they replace the Esc function? Will there be a quick way to adjust the volume and screen brightness?
Thankfully, in macOS Sierra, the Esc key can be remapped to another button (Open System Preferences >> Keyboard >> Modifier Keys). For other functions like volume and screen brightness, maybe Apple is pushing people to use Siri to perform basic adjustments like these.
Another feature we noticed in these leaked MacBook Pro photos is the confirmation of the touch sensitive sensor that is built into the power button. This hybrid button will be used for logging in and for biometric entry for services like Apple Pay, similar to the iPhone's Touch ID system.
What the photos don't confirm though are the ports. It's very likely that the traditional USB ports are gone but we still don't know how many USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports will be included. We will have to wait and find out tomorrow during the Apple Event scheduled at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET.
To watch Apple's live stream as it happens, check the official Hello Again page.