The latest M1-based MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro laptops have been attracting plenty of positive reviews in recent weeks, but the next upgrade to come to Apple's laptops might not be so substantial: the arrival of Force Touch on the Touch Bar.
Patently Apple has spotted an Apple patent describing the new technology, suggesting that the strip that runs atop the keyboard on the MacBook Pros might become a bit more versatile in future editions of the laptop.
Force Touch essentially registers the amount of pressure applied to a touchscreen, as well as the touch itself. The technology has previously been added to, and then taken away from, the iPhone and the Apple Watch.
Exactly how the technology would be used on the Touch Bar remains to be seen – it might just be a way of eliminating accidental presses, which would be welcome to any MacBook Pro users who have inadvertently launched Siri while trying to hit the Delete key.
Using the Force
The Touch Bar was introduced to the MacBook Pro line back in 2016, and while it hasn't been a huge hit with users, it can come in handy for certain features – volume adjustments, controlling media playback, accessing app tools, and so on.
Presumably if Force Touch gets added, then longer and harder presses on the Touch Bar will open up extra options, as they used to do on older Apple Watch and iPhone models. We'll have to see how Apple and third-party developments might choose to implement it.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is expected to be updated with Apple silicon at some point next year, perhaps with an M1X chip inside. It could conceivably also be the first Apple laptop to feature the Force Touch-enabled Touch Bar as well.
As always with patents though, this is no guarantee that the feature will actually ship in an actual product: while patent applications give us a good indication of what companies are experimenting with, not every idea ultimately ends up being used.