Apple just unveiled the new MacBook Pro. “It is the new gold standard in notebook computers,” Apple’s SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller said. And, in particular, Apple replaced the function row on the keyboard with a touch screen. Based on the demos, this touch screen seems to be quite versatile.
For instance, the intro video showed that the touch screen lets you select sections when you’re editing a video. It can also help you pick an emoji with your finger. You can scrub though a video with a swipe. Or if you’re looking at a photo slideshow, you can select a picture without having to bring controls on your screen.
While all these functions will change depending on the app you’re using, it looks like the general function keys will still be there around the customizable area. In the top-left corner, you’ll see a touch button replacing the Escape, key for instance. At the very right, there will be a Siri button, the two volume buttons and a single brightness button that probably triggers another menu. There’s also an arrow to view other shortcuts, such as keyboard brightness.
In Safari, the Touch Bar shows your favorite websites when you have an empty tab. You can tap it and go to your favorite website, or you can even switch from one tab to another with a preview of all your tabs in the Touch Bar. In Photos, you can straighten the photo using the Touch Bar. When you’re typing, you can get Quick Typing suggestions like on your iOS device.
In the Mail app, you get the usual buttons, such as reply or reply all, but right in the Touch Bar. The app then predicts who you might want to add as a recipient to this message.
Third-party developers will be able to take advantage of the Touch Bar. Bradee Evans, design manager for Adobe Photoshop, also showed the next update for Photoshop. With the new version, you can manipulate palettes, layers and versions of the same image using the Touch Bar. It looks really good, and I’m sure designers are going to love this (unfortunately I can’t do anything with Photoshop except image cropping). Office and Skype are also going to take advantage of the Touch Bar. That’s an encouraging sign.
Touch ID replaces the power button at the top right of the keyboard. Overall, the Touch Bar looks quite powerful and compelling. Maybe it’s not enough to buy a brand new laptop, but it could convince some people to opt for the MacBook Pro instead of another Mac when it’s time to replace their existing laptop.