Should Apple Expand or Roll Back Touch Bar Availability?

BY Evan Selleck

Published 28 Aug 2017


Apple unveiled the Touch Bar as a hot new feature for the MacBook lineup, integrating the feature into high-end models for better or worse.

It’s Apple we’re talking about here, so the decision by the company to put the Touch Bar, a feature that some users simply might not want at all, on all of its high-end laptops isn’t too surprising. After all, Apple doesn’t want to adopt touchscreen on its computers, so the Touch Bar is meant to alleviate some of those issues, but it really doesn’t do that. Unless you’re a DJ that really wants to show off your skills on a small, elongated touch strip.

The Touch Bar has been called a gimmick by a lot of people, and a former Apple employee, Chuq Von Rospach, has penned a blog post to effectively say the same thing, even going as far to say that the Touch Bar doesn’t have a future at all:

“The current laptop line forces users to pay for the Touch Bar on the higher end devices whether they want it or not, and that’s a cost users shouldn’t need to pay for a niche technology without a future. So Apple needs to either roll the Touch Bar out to the entire line and convince us we want it, or roll it back and offer more laptop options without it. I’m going to be curious what they do if/when they announce updated Laptops this fall.”

I agree that the Touch Bar is niche, by default, but the fact that it can simply be used to show the Fn keys is probably its only really saving grace, if it has any at all. As far as I’m concerned, I think the idea of the Touch Bar is cool. Having hot keys that pop up for each app is neat. Is it something that should be forced on people who want to buy a high-end MacBook Pro?

No. No it is not.

Rospach makes a good point in the write-up, too, saying that he’s not sure what the future of the Touch Bar is, and maybe Apple isn’t entirely sure, either. Earlier this year Apple announced new iMacs and the Touch Bar wasn’t mentioned once, for instance. Moreover, Apple didn’t even announce accessories for the new iMacs that support the Touch Bar or Touch ID on those devices, either.

“So what’s the future of the Touch Bar? I don’t know. I’m not sure Apple does, either. I was fascinated that when Apple released the iMacs earlier this year not one word was mentioned about the Touch Bar or Touch ID and support for them via an updated keyboard or trackpad was nowhere to be found. I’m taking that as an indication that after the lackluster response to this with the laptop releases, they’ve gone back to the drawing board a bit before rolling it out further.”

It’s technically possible that Apple has read the writing on the walls as far as the Touch Bar is concerned, and maybe we see future models that don’t offer the feature, even in high-end models. But right now I think it’s just a problem that Apple is forcing the technology on people that want a high-end MacBook Pro, but maybe don’t want the Touch Bar.

The question is whether or not Apple should double down on it and offer it on more MacBook models, or if they should dial it back and offer more laptops without the feature. If Apple is really confident in the technology, we’d see it on the early-2018 MacBook, and then we’d see it on every iteration of the MacBook Pro, too.

Or, they can go the other way with it. We could see the Touch Bar get relegated to just a niche MacBook Pro model, and not take over the high-end lineup. We could see a 15-inch MacBook Pro, for instance, that doesn’t offer Touch Bar support. Or we could see a top-of-the-line 13-inch MacBook Pro without the feature on board, too. Apple isn’t afraid of options by any means, and I think this is one area where that would be a benefit to them.

I tried out the Touch Bar when it first launched, and while I still think it’s a cool idea I just couldn’t see myself wanting to use it all the time. And while Touch ID is a great addition, I don’t think it’s enough to warrant adopting the whole Touch Bar just yet. Maybe one day, but right now I’m perfectly fine with my standard Fn keys.

What do you think Apple should do with the Touch Bar? Expand its availability to all MacBook models, or dial it back? Did you buy a new MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar, and, if so, how do you like it?