Well, after months of anticipation, speculation, and a first look before launch, Apple has finally introduced us to what we’ve all been referring to as ‘secondary OLED strip’ or ‘Magic Toolbar’. But, behold my friend, this secondary touch screen which replaces the function keys of the keyboard on the updated MacBook Pro is called the ‘Touch Bar’.
Taking center stage at the MacBook Pro launch event, Phil Schiller, Senior VP of Marketing at Apple said,
[This] MacBook Pro is the new gold standard in notebook computers.
The new thinner, lighter and powerful MacBook Pro is definitely a looker, but the highlight of this sleek new laptop is the ‘Touch Bar’, which is quite versatile in usage. This secondary touchscreen sports a crisp Retina display, which supports multi-touch — use any number of fingers to control any number of functions. You’ll see why I said that!!
This Touch Bar will not only be a perfect replacement for function keys but will also help you control numerous system capabilities right from this secondary display. As expected, the Touch Bar will be contextual and adapt according to the software or application open on your MacBook display.
For instance, if you open Safari on your MacBook Pro, then the Touch Bar will display a row of some of your favorite websites and controls to open a new tab, and to switch between tabs. Once you’ve done picking one of them, it will show the address bar. So just tap that, and start typing the website address you wish to visit. No clicks required. This makes the user experience more intuitive and takes it to another level.
In Photos, you’ll be able to see controls to straighten the photograph, apply various filters, control the lighting effect all from this lovely new Touch Bar above the keyboard. For third-party apps like Final Cut Pro, you’ll be able to see the complete timeline of the video you’re currently editing in the middle along with controls to edit the same on the sides of the second touchscreen.
And then comes my favorite — the DJ application. For those who love making music, you’ll be to use the Touch Bar to scrub through your tracks. You’ll be able to precisely pin-point and land on the correct note to edit and then you’re free to mix it the way you want to. Rejoice developers! The Touch Bar also shows controls for the infamous Terminal and Xcode. This only goes on to show that third-party developers will also be able to take advantage of this crisp secondary display in the coming months.
In addition, when you’re on the desktop and not using any apps, it looks like this secondary touchscreen will show the general function keys. It will also show you the Siri button, volume controls, and a single brightness button which can be triggered via a touch or a swipe. If you’re unsatisfied with the control placement on the Touch Bar, you can also customize the same according to your needs.
But wait, we’re not done yet. I’ve saved the most anticipated and juicy addition for the last. The Touch Bar also brings with it Touch ID, which replaces the power button at the top right of the keyboard. Apple has also added a new T1 chip to power this Touch Bar and Touch ID system. This chip also includes Secure Enclave, which means you’ll be able to use the Touch ID to complete the transaction via Apple Pay on the web.
So, if you ask my opinion, the Touch Bar is one fabulous addition to the MacBook Pro. In the beginning, it might look a bit gimmicky and you might turn a blind eye to the same. But, I assure you it wouldn’t be possible. This Touch Bar will entice you and you’ll crave and prefer something like this over your existing laptop.
So, Apple, take a bow! You win the battle again!