In an interview with CNET, Apple’s design chief Jony Ive elaborated upon some of the design decisions taken while developing the Touch Bar in the new Apple MacBook Pro lineup. According to him, touch screens as we know them, are not the best use of multi touch technology.
Ive revealed interesting facts like how the OLED Touch Bar, which replaced the function keys on the new Macs was under development for at least two years. A number of design options were explored which were later rejected.
When we lived on them for a while, sort of pragmatically and day to day, [they] are sometimes less compelling. This is something [we] lived on for quite a while before we did any of the prototypes. You really notice or become aware [of] something’s value when you switch back to a more traditional keyboard.
Ive wanted a design that could be contextually specific and adaptable, along with something that was mechanical and fixed which required a “difficult prototype” with a mature software environment.
One of the things that remains quite a big challenge for us is that you have to prototype to a sufficiently sophisticated level to really figure out whether you’re considering the idea, or whether what you’re really doing is evaluating how effective a prototype is.
You sort of change your hat, because you have to figure out how do you then productize it, and develop the idea, and resolve and refine to make it applicable to a specific product. To do that in the context of the MacBook Pro — while at the same time you’re trying to make it thinner, lighter and more powerful — the last thing you want to do is burden it with an input direction that now has a whole bunch of challenges specific to something like touch.
He also said that Apple doesn’t think a touch screen is a particularly useful or appropriate application of multi touch. This statement is actually very interesting considering that for the vast majority of use, a touch screen was the epitome of touch. On being asked to elaborate Ive refused and made his ground clear by stating that it would lead him to talk about things his team is currently working on.
On talking about the Touch bar, Ive said that incorporating it is just the beginning of a very interesting direction for the Mac. You might also have heard about rumors that Apple might introduce a customizable e-ink keyboard in Macs next year. Touch Bar and E-ink Keyboard? What more can you ask of life!