You can now get an AirBar and get a touch screen on your MacBook Air

Before Apple launched the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, rumors floated around that the company was making a laptop with a touch screen. After the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar was launched, there were still a number of people saying they wanted a touch screen, not a touch bar.

Clearly, that was all the motivation Neonode needed to create the AirBar, a gadget that connects to the MacBook Air, making the screen touch compatible. So, for those that think Apple made a mistake by not making its laptop screen touch capacitive, you can do it yourself with the AirBar for MacBook Air.

What's new with AirBar?

AirBar is officially on sale for the 13-inch MacBook Air on Amazon.

See at Amazon

How does it work?

AirBar is a small strip that magnetically sticks to the bottom of your laptop's screen and projects a light field across it. The AirBar picks up your gestures and somehow sends the signal to the computer that you want to zoom, scroll, swipe, and more.

Because it is a light field and not an actual touch capacitive screen, the AirBar can sense gestures, even when you're wearing gloves, or if you aren't using your finger at all, but some kind of pointy tool instead.

Yeah, but does it work?

PCWorld magazine recently reviewed the AirBar for Windows-based screens and said it is a "surprisingly good peripheral."

Make no mistake: A genuine touchscreen is more precise and offers more flexibility in terms of multitouch capabilities. But for those who want an inexpensive-but-serviceable alternative, the AirBar does the job.

Why only the MacBook Air?

The AirBar connects to the bottom of your computer screen using magnets and measures 13.3 inches long. It needs about 17 mm of non-screen space in order to work. So, the current AirBar only fits the MacBook Air. According to the company's press release, compatibility with other MacBook models is in the works for later this year.

Yeah, but why would I want it?

I know there are plenty of people out there that long for the day when they can reach out and touch their Mac screen and use gestures to navigate their actions. Not all of us are onboard with that kind of user experience though. In an interview with the Independent, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller talked about how the company researched, tested, and ultimately tossed out the idea of a touch screen computer.

If you made the Mac a touchscreen you'd have to figure out how to make it a good experience with your finger on a touchscreen. Trust me, we've looked at that — it's a bad experience. It's not as good or as intuitive as with a mouse and trackpad.

Apple hasn't found the perfect storm of computer usage, combined with touch screen technology, in a way that works, which is why there is still no such thing as a MacBook with a touch screen.

This is one of those situations where Apple knows best. But choice is an option that humans value, which is why there is such a thing as the AirBar.

What if I want one anyway?

AirBar for MacBook Air is on sale now at Amazon for a retail price of $99 (though the price has already gone up to about $116 on Amazon). You can also find out more about it from the company's website.

What do you think of a touch screen Mac?

Do you want a Mac with a touch screen? Would you invest in the Airbar to have that ability?

Updated July 18, 2017: AirBar is now on sale at Amazon.

Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).