The Touch Bar Future

29 August 2017

Chuq Von Rospach:

So I think Apple needs to make a decision here: either push the Touch Bar/TouchID system out to the entire Mac Line via a new Keyboard, or they need to expand their laptops with a line of devices without Touch Bars.

The current laptop line forces users to pay for the Touch Bar on the higher end devices whether they want it or not, and that’s a cost users shouldn’t need to pay for a niche technology without a future. So Apple needs to either roll the Touch Bar out to the entire line and convince us we want it, or roll it back and offer more laptop options without it. I’m going to be curious what they do if/when they announce updated Laptops this fall.

Whether you like or despise the Touch Bar, you can’t say it’s “technology without a future”. Apple knows its own trajectory, no one else. I don’t think they have shown any suggestion of abandoning it (the 2017 MacBook Pro lineup retained the Touch Bar for a start).

In fact, the Touch Bar has a clear path of iteration ahead of it. Make it cheaper, roll out to lower-end Macs, add haptic response, and ultimately take over the whole keyboard with one giant screen. The current utility of the Touch Bar is small but it doesn’t compromise the machine, aside from the price hike. I don’t use the Touch Bar for much and I don’t regret it in the slightest. I love being able to control volume and brightness as a slider by just sliding my finger along the track.

Apple probably needs to re-think some of the dynamic interfaces — even a year later, I can’t train myself to use it when I’m flitting between so many different states and applications. Even so, it’s not a dead-end feature by any means.

Pushing Touch Bar into lower-end MacBooks will be a big win for Apple. I strongly believe that the Touch Bar is better suited for novices than professionals; it is far more useful to people that have to stare down at the keyboard to type.