3 things you didn't know about the MacBook Pro's new Touch Bar

Macbook Pro Touch ID
Macbook Pro Touch ID (Image credit: iMore)

With the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar beginning to ship to customers, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down for an interview with Steven Levy from Backchannel to talk about the new laptops. The Touch Bar, Schiller says, comes after years of experimenting with Multi-touch on the Mac, and finding that a full-blown, iOS-like experience just wasn't in the cards.

From Backchannel:

"We think of the whole platform," he says. "If we were to do Multi-Touch on the screen of the notebook, that wouldn't be enough — then the desktop wouldn't work that way." And touch on the desktop, he says, would be a disaster. "Can you imagine a 27-inch iMac where you have to reach over the air to try to touch and do things? That becomes absurd." He also explains that such a move would mean totally redesigning the menu bar for fingers, in a way that would ruin the experience for those using pointer devices like the touch or mouse. "You can't optimize for both," he says. "It's the lowest common denominator thinking."

Levy was also able to ask Schiller about Apple's decision to include only USB-C ports on the new MacBook Pro, a decision that has frustrated many with a number of classic USB peripherals and accessories. Ultimately, Schiller believes, it's a non-issue.

Furthermore, with its speed and versatility (a big advantage is that you can use any of these ports for video, charging, and pretty much anything you'd ever do by connecting with a computer), USB-C is right for now. As far as dongles, he claims that most people won't need them. For the small number of people that do, ones are available. (Apple, obviously sensitive to the issue, recently cut dongle prices on its store.) "We're absolutely more sure than ever that we've done the right thing."

Still undecided about whether or not you should pick up a new MacBook Pro? Be sure to check out the iMore review.

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.

  • Apple pushing their own way, maybe others will follow. Sent from the iMore App
  • I think Apple is missing a trick.... I have a Windows laptop and a desktop both with touchscreen and they work beautifully. Admittedly the use is 80% mouse and keyboard but I find the 20% touch use very useful for zooming, panning, drawing, inputting quick commands when I am not sitting etc. I cannot see what is the advantage of not having a touchscreen and judging from the millions of Windows Surface book users (many more than iMac and iPad users combined) I am not alone. The funny thing is that being a iPhone and iPad user I do prefer Apple over Windows by a factor of 10 and would rush to buy a touch enabled Mac if they ever made one. I wonder whether this is just Apple politics and the fear to admit that they are not right all of times... Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • "Admittedly the use is 80% mouse and keyboard but I find the 20% touch…" You just explained why a Touch Bar is better than a touchscreen
  • Bridging the gap, Apple takes on a different approach You don' t wanna say touch screens, but we'll give u something else, to close that gap, which is the Touch Bar. However u also don't wanna look in two places at once either.. Sometime we have gotten used to just looking at out screens and paying not much else to the keyboard. I'd like a touch screen only for example. an "L" shape Mac, even desktop 90 degree angle, looks better, yet rest it on a lap like a tablet and suddenly the same concept says "ok" The only advantage hook would be the Touch bar u expect icons to be in the same place all the time.... If an app updates and the icons are different, or re-arranged, u gotta look "down" Something, a touch screen Mac would solve. However, are we saying o Windows PC's they have no problem with touch screens in the same "L" shape design (aka touch screen Windows laptops), yet on the Apple side the same concept does not fit...? Looks the same to me... Perhaps, its more an close eco system than anything else. The same was true with Blue-ray drives and Steve called than "a bag of hurt"
  • Windows PCs do have a problem with touchscreens, not all apps are designed for them. As posted by a commenter above: "Admittedly the use is 80% mouse and keyboard but I find the 20% touch…" When you're using the touchscreen on your touchscreen laptop only 20% of the time, there's a problem. Also this argument makes no sense: "The only advantage hook would be the Touch bar u expect icons to be in the same place all the time.... If an app updates and the icons are different, or re-arranged, u gotta look "down"" The same can happen with an app that's displaying icons on the screen, whether that's a touchscreen or not, you'd still have to look around the screen to see where the buttons have moved to
  • I have used touch screens on PCs and have had trouble getting used to taking my hands off the keyboard area to select on the screen. It does not seem intuitive to me...might be too used to using laptops for years. I have not tried the Touch Bar but it seems like a good idea and at least something to try out. I would rather just select from the top off the keyboard than reach up to the screen. It makes sense (to me at least) to select on the screen for my iPhone and iPad while just using the keyboard on my laptop. I hope critics of the Touch Bar will at least give it a try before condemning it outright. The MS Surface Studio looks to be a great solution for having touch screen on a larger device but at it's steep price, I see it as having a limited market.
  • I am still waiting for someone to tell me what is the advantage of not having a touchscreen... Give us a touchscreen and let us decide whether we want to use it or not. If I do have a touchscreen and I only use it a little I don't miss out on anything, if I do not have a touchscreen and I want to use it I get frustrated. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • If most applications' UI and the OS UI are updated to accommodate the touchscreen, then there wouldn't be disadvantage to having a touchscreen, however this is a tremendous task, especially to get all developers to update their apps, plus this means apps will have less icons on screen which means detailed user interfaces can't be possible. Apps require stuff like icons to be a certain size in order for comfortable tapping on a touch screen, that means less icons, and possibly hidden/slide out menus.