Last weekend I had the chance to visit my local Apple Store and check out the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. I was not impressed.
The Touch Bar could have been the greatest user interface advancement to hit the Mac since the Multitouch Trackpad. Instead it is a Gimmick Strip used to quickly tap commonly used keyboard shortcuts and emoji. Complex tasks, like those used in Final Cut Pro X, are possible. But instead of keeping your hands on the keyboard and your eyes on the screen, the Touch Bar forces users to waste time hunting for hidden commands.
Designing the Touch Bar took development time away from the Mac. Apple only released four new Mac models this year. One was a speed bump, and only two have the Touch Bar. How many more Macs could have been updated this year if Apple hadn’t wasted time on Touch Bar? If Apple thinks the Touch Bar is such a big deal, why not include it on every new Mac?
Like the Multitouch Trackpad on Mac OS X and 3D Touch on iOS, adoption of the Touch Bar requires new hardware. New hardware comes at a cost. The increased price of new MacBook Pros will delay the adoption of Apple’s newest user interface. How many Mac users will benefit from a feature that is only on the most expensive Macs? Will developers embrace a feature only wealthy Mac owners can afford?
Even if the Touch Bar is adopted by the few, we will all be stuck with its cost for a long time. Raising the price and complexity of every Mac model that includes it.
The Touch Bar is a distraction. A bone thrown to the Macintosh Community while Apple continues to prioritize iOS. It might be a shiny bone, the best distractions are, but given its limited functionality the cost is too high. Until we all get more time with the new MacBook Pros, adding the Touch Bar asks more questions than it answers.