Early adopters seem to like the new MacBook Pro Touch Bar

Touch Bar opens up the UI

Apple, Mac, MacBook Pro, Touch Bar, Final Cut Pro, user interface, touch
Credit: Apple

Apple’s new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar notebooks swiftly surpassed sales of almost every other decent quality notebook in the first five days availability.

Early adopters, adopt

Apple has raised its part and component orders with its supply chain partners, telling them that it expects strong shipments to continue until at least the end of the year.

Apple’s senior VP Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, recently said: “We are proud to tell you that so far our online store has had more orders for the new MacBook Pro than any other pro notebook before. So there are certainly a lot of people as excited as we are about it."

Slice Intelligence notes Apple has struck a chord with early adopters once again with this release. “Those who ordered the new MacBook Pro look strikingly similar to the early adopters who bought the Apple Watch on release,” they say.

Touch Bar’s magic touch

Interest in the new Macs appears to be driven by the introduction of the new Touch Bar, which is attracting attention among early adopters who are keen to put it through its paces.

The Touch Bar replaces the function keys with an OLED MultiTouch glass bar. The bar displays contextual keyboard commands, sliders and other control graphics in response to which application you are in and what you are doing within that application. You may find quick and easy access to image editing tools in Photos or deeply nested commands when working on a Word document, for example.

Thomas Grove Carter, a professional video editor who uses Final Cut Pro X at London’s Trim Editing writes:

“The more I’ve used [the Touch Bar] the more I’ve replaced certain keyboard shortcuts. Why would I use dual-hand/multi-finger shortcuts if the button was there in front of me? And it’s contextual. It changes depending on what I’m doing. I’m editing picture; it shows me relevant trimming shortcuts. I’m editing titles; it shows me font, formatting and color options.”

Love or loathe?

Will you like it? There are some who argue that the Touch Bar reflects that many developers insist on hiding controls and options from view, but this has always been the case on every platform. What the Touch Bar enables users to do is to gain an almost instant grasp of how to get things done in almost any application, as commands that may have been harder to find are rendered far more obvious through the contextual device. This means every Mac user should be able to be more productive in any app, thanks to the contextual guide provided by the device.

What next?

While Apple claims it still remains committed to desktop Macs, it has been over 1,000 days since the company upgraded the Mac Pro. This has generated much concern among Mac users. Given the company’s apparent plan to introduce AR experiences it is worth noting that existing VR systems, such as the HTC Vive demand a lot of computational power. Is it possible future Mac desktops have been delayed as part of the company’s AR deployment plan? I don’t know, but I can easily imagine contextual user interfaces such as the Touch Bar will be very important components of future AR interfaces, as the introduction of contextual computing experiences will need to be matched by depth within the control systems for those experiences. This makes it likely we’ll see external Touch Bar devices for some Macs, I guess.

Try it today

We don’t have such peripherals yet, but Andreas Verhoeven and Robbert Klarenbeek have created an app that creates a kind of virtual onscreen Touch Bar on any Mac. You can download the software at Github. It’s not perfect and installation is a little troublesome, but it does provide a nice insight into what Touch Bar does. In future all user interfaces may be this way.

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