In a recent interview with CNET (opens in new tab), Apple’s Chief Design Officer, Jony Ive, has said that the Touch Bar which features in Apple’s redesigned Macbook Pro laptop line is “just the beginning of a very interesting direction” for Apple.
Last week, Apple revealed its redesigned MacBook Pro and its new input feature, the Touch Bar. Sitting at the top of the keyboard where we’re used to seeing the function keys, the Touch Bar is a slim multitouch OLED display which displays a changing menu of settings and buttons depending on what app is being used.
In his interview Ive reveals that the inclusion of the Touch Bar was borne from a desire to “recognise the value” of both traditional keyboards and more modern touch inputs, to have something “contextually specific and adaptable” as well as “mechanical and fixed.”
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It seems like a fairly straightforward idea, but according to Ive the Touch Bar is the result of two years of development which was originally exploring the idea of “larger, haptic-rich trackpads.”
Considering Apple has never shown interest in bringing multitouch displays to its MacBook Pro line before, the Touch Bar is an interesting design move and it’s “one of a number of designs” Ive says his team spent a great deal of time exploring.
As far as full multitouch displays are concerned, we probably shouldn’t expect to see them feature in the MacBook Pro lineup any time soon. Ive revealed that though Apple explored the feature many years ago, it “just didn’t feel that [the Mac] was the right place for that.”
The interview is an interesting insight into the thought that goes into each change in design in Apple’s products. Though Ive says that his team isn’t afraid to change familiar designs, they have to remember that the design must then be productized. So they’ll only push changes if it’s taking the product “to a better place.”
Though it's a simple addition to the MacBook Pro (relative to the rumors of full touchscreens and detachable keyboards, anyway) the Touch Bar could prove to be a convenient option for users and it'll be interesting to see where Ive and his team plan to take it.