avatarby A.J. HartlessOctober 31, 20160 comments

New MacBook 2016 TouchBar

It’s been four years since the last major refresh of the MacBook Pro line. Back in 2012, Apple introduced the Pro’s thinner chasis, Retina display and improved performance – a notable upgrade to the second generation models. Performance for the MacBook Pros have since been improved on a nearly bi-yearly schedule and now we finally got another major refresh. Apple has taken the wraps off their new and improved MacBook Pros and there are a ton of new features to drool over.

See what’s new with the MacBook Pro line.

I’m personally very excited about this launch, especially the OLED TouchBar, I can’t help but ask, why has Apple STILL refrained from introducing a touchscreen MacBook? Here are a few theories/reasons.

Apple doesn’t think touch has a home in macOS.

In multiple interviews, including a very recent one with CNET, you can find Apple Executives talking about how macOS isn’t designed to be used as a touch interface. It is meant to be operated with mouse and key. Apple has also made great strides in treating the multi-touch trackpad, now enlarged with the 2016 refresh, like a touch experience for Macs. So, instead of directly touching the screen, you get a similar experience with the trackpad.

Some would argue this point and say that using a finger to immediately touch what you want on the screen is a quicker, more intuitive interaction than having to mouse over to a window or an app before clicking.

Apple has put too much time and effort in creating synergy between Mac and iOS.

iPad Pro MacBook

It seems like with every major iOS launch and macOS update comes more ways for the two platforms to work side by side. Apple has made it clear, though, the two will never merge like you might find with Windows’ desktop and tablet modes. First came Handoff with OS X Yosemite, allowing you to start an activity on one device, and finish it on another. So you can start writing an email on your iPad, then finish on your mac.

More recently, Apple has introduced the Universal Clipboard with the same basic premise. Copy text on one device and paste it on another. These are a just a couple of examples, in addition to their cloud services, of how Apple has continued to introduce more ways for the two platforms to work in synergy, but not as one. Introducing a touchscreen MacBook could jeopardize the work they have already put in place.

Apple doesn’t believe in convertibles.

iPad Pro Smart Keyboard Apple.com

Last year, Tim Cook famously stated that the iPad Pro could replace PCs and confidently asked the rhetorical question “[…]why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?” This question was met with much backlash from the some of the Mac community who then began to wonder if Apple was no longer vested in their notebook line.

Cook went on to later call the Microsoft Surface Book a “diluted” product that tries to be a notebook and tablet but succeeds at being neither. This leads us to the conclusion that Apple strongly believes convertibles are not an experience that their consumers are interested in – the perfect contrast to where the rest of the industry is headed.

Apple is waiting for the right moment.

Apple Watch Series 2

There’s no question that Apple has a reputation of waiting for technology to prove useful and popular in the market before jumping in and taking it to another level. This is quite evident with their recent move to USB-C in the 12″ MacBook, along with various products such as the Apple Watch (announced 2 years after the first Pebble watch, and 1 year after Android Wear hit the market,) the Apple Pencil which built upon the foundation set in place by other bluetooth styluses (styli?) and various software implementations such as split-view mode arriving with OS X El Capitan, and Siri arriving in macOS Sierra (after Cortana was introduced in Windows 10.)

While this is all theory and speculation, Apple could still be holding back touch to ensure that the market will stick with this trend and that consumers will continue to buy and use notebooks with touch functionality. If this is true, it’s safe to say that Apple’s touchscreen MacBook will take the technology a bit further when they are ready to take that dive. Maybe we’ll see 3D Touch implemented – who knows?

Final Thoughts

Now that Apple has introduced the TouchBar, which you can read more about here, it will be interesting to see if the demand for a touchscreen MacBook tapers off, and if the new feature will prove useful in practical applications. Apple’s biggest argument seems to be that touch just isn’t a good fit on a notebook and that it will distract from the user experience. But, is that not what will happen with the TouchBar? Instead of reaching forward to touch the screen, keeping focus on the content, users will now be looking away from the content to hunt for a shortcut on the TouchBar. This could create that same, if not worse, distraction from the task. PCs that have touch functionality, such as the XPS line and HP Spectre x360, seem to have generally positive reviews with consumers, so why wouldn’t Apple want to cash in on this?

What are your thoughts on the new TouchBar feature? Do you think this a “good enough” step toward a touchscreen MackBook? Is that something you are even interested in? Let us know in the comments below!