But the problem with the Touch Bar wasn't actually the Touch Bar
itself, it's that it wasn't a Pro feature. The concept of a small
touch-screen for common tasks was a good one—and we've heard from many people who enjoyed using it.
The MacBook Pro just wasn't the right product for it, and Apple's
flagship laptop is better without it.
But the Touch Bar isn't without its merits and we're hoping
Apple still has plans for the Touch Bar. Here are three ways Apple
could keep it alive.
The most obvious way for Apple to keep the Touch Bar in its
repertoire is by moving it over to the MacBook Air. We assume that
the 13-inch MacBook Pro, the only remaining laptop
with a Touch Bar, will be unceremoniously retired at some point in
2022. So if Apple has any plans to keep the Touch Bar around, it's
going to have to end up in the MacBook Air.
The good news is the MacBook Air is already in store for a
redesign. We've heard that the three-year-old MacBook Air will get
a dramatic overhaul with new colors, a notched display, and an M2
processor. And a Touch Bar would be a perfect addition to an
entirely new MacBook Air. I've long asserted that the Touch Bar is
a consumer feature masquerading as a professional one, and it would
be right at home on the MacBook Air. Here's how Apple initially
described the Touch Bar in the 2016 MacBook Pro press release:
The Touch Bar places controls right at the user's fingertips and
adapts when using the system or apps like Mail, Finder, Calendar,
Numbers, GarageBand, Final Cut Pro X, and many more, including
third-party apps. For example, the Touch Bar can show Tabs and
Favorites in Safari, enable easy access to emoji in Messages,
provide a simple way to edit images or scrub through videos in
Photos and so much more.
Now read it as a feature of the MacBook Air:
The Touch Bar places controls for common tasks right at the
user's fingertips depending on the app you're using, like Mail,
Finder, Calendar, GarageBand, and many more, including third-party
apps. For example, the Touch Bar can show Tabs and Favorites in
Safari, enable easy access to emoji in Messages, offer easy access
to controls like volume and brightness, and so much more.
See how easy it is?
Apple's standalone Magic Keyboard is a good keyboard but it's
hardly magical. It doesn't have backlit keys, isn't all that
ergonomic, and you have to buy an iMac to get it in any color other
than silver and space gray. But if Apple really wants to add some
magic to its Magic Keyboard, a Touch Bar would absolutely do the
A Touch Bar would
truly make the Magic Keyboard magical.
It could be an option for Apple silicon Macs like the Touch ID
model and would probably cost $249 for the numeric keypad, but the
Touch Bar would be a brilliant addition to Apple's Bluetooth
family. We'd probably have to sacrifice some battery life, but it
would be an acceptable tradeoff for one of the coolest features
ever to grace a Bluetooth keyboard. A Touch Bar on the Magic
Keyboard would truly be a magical feature that finally gives the
skinny screen a purpose and puts Apple's standalone keyboards back
on the map.
If there's one place above all where the Touch Bar makes the
most sense it's the iPad. The coolest option would be to add it to
the Magic Keyboard by rethinking the current layout. Like the
iPhone, the iPad doesn't need the same keys as the Mac, so the
Magic Keybaord could tweak the layout to make room for a Touch Bar.
Imagine snapping an iPad Pro into a Magic Keyboard and having a
Touch Bar spring to life like a tiny second display.
The iPad Pro's Magic
Keyboard would make a nice home for the Touch Bar.
The Touch Bar could also work as an element on the screen. When
typing on the magic keyboard, a Touch Bar-style strip could pop up
along the bottom of the screen that offers the same menu and
contextual options that it provides on the MacBook keyboard. Until
we get a touch-screen Mac, that's probably the most logical place
for it—still in a line of sight when typing, but without taking up
important screen real estate. What doesn't make a ton of sense on
the MacBook Pro would be perfect for the iPad Pro, which is a
different sort of professional machine.