10 Reasons the Apple MacBook Pro’s New Touch Bar Isn’t a Gimmick

Don’t give it the finger just yet.


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You could join in the internet fury over Apple’s expensive pricing of their Macbook Pro line, or point out the hypocrisy of how switching all of the device’s commonly useful ports didn’t include nixing the headphone jack—the same headphone jack that was “too outdated” for this year’s iPhone 7. What you can’t do is deny that the new Macbook Pro’s defining feature is the Touch Bar, a hardware innovation that’s so good for so many reasons, it manages to redeem its shortcomings. Here are a few of them. 

1. It uses gestures you already know.

Apple happens to be excellent at making innovation feel familiar. If you’ve ever slid your finger to unlock an iPhone, you’ll have just as easy a time using Touch Bar to work the volume and brightness sliders Apple has integrated into the Touch Bar’s UI.

2. It’s always there to help.

Or it can be, if that’s what you want. The option to leave the Touch Bar’s keyboard-integrated retina display on at all times is a click away, or you can leave the default where it shrinks away when not in use. 

3. It’s versatile.

Customizable in the “View” settings of many apps, the Touch Bar’s contextual options can be rearranged to put the shortcuts you use most front-and-center, or you can ditch the shitty ones that have no business being there. 

4. It adds security.

The Touch Bar includes a TouchID sensor in its far corner. The same fingerprint scanning tech that opens your iPhone or iPad can now unlock your computer too.

5. It enables ApplePay.

Apple’s payment system is poised to be integrated in over 200,000 e-commerce sites in the near future. That same TouchID fingerprint sensor on the Touch Bar that allows you to unlock your computer is also the one that’ll let you make fast, secure online purchases with the press of your finger.

6. It reminds us to use Siri.

Lots of people have a love/hate relationship with Siri. She may disappoint when you ask her to overreach her potential, even if the task seems simple but, with her capabilities, Siri can make regular tasks like scheduling calendar events or reminders easier on a laptop. With the Touch Bar’s dedicated, colorful (but not intrusive) Siri button, it’s an easy-access reminder that Siri is hanging around to help if you need her.

7. It’s useful in Windows, too.

Mac users who run Windows on their Macbooks via Boot Camp can also squeeze some value out of the Touch Bar with system utility options, like brightness still showing up in the Windows emulation. It’s certainly gimped by comparison, but it also serves as a reminder that Windows10 machines would do well to start integrating similar tech to the Touch Bar hardware.

8. It auto-fills.

Whether you’re in iMessages texting or filling out forms on an internet page, the Touch Bar will contextually offer auto-fill options for quick entry or auto-corrections.

9. It’s a better way to scrub videos.

In Safari, Touch Bar will contextually turn into a progress bar when it detects you are playing media. This is especially useful if you want to quickly and precisely fast-forward through a song on YouTube, a movie on Netflix, or any of the other videos you may be watching on your computer that would be easier to scrub through, say, if you only had one free hand.

10. It’s already got third-party support.

Apple itself is paving the way to show others how to implement Touch Bar support, but developers like Adobe and Google have plans of their own with Photoshop having just added the full-blown Touch Bar support they showed off at Apple’s announcement and Chrome being anticipated in the near future. Even then, if you’re too impatient to wait for full-fledged support in your most-used programs, you can try out software like the BetterTouchTool to make your own Touch Bar toolbars by using shortcuts in your favorite programs.