Few of us would disagree with this statement: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Does that mean that “functionality is in the eye of the user?” Again, the answer is an unqualified yes (unless the user is a doofus).
It may seem that most of our gadgets these days have user friendly functionality, but along with utility comes features that many, or at least, some, might consider gimmicks. Can you think of a few gimmicks? Here’s one. Apple’s Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro.
Here’s the deal with the much-maligned Touch Bar on 13-inch and 15-inch Macs. It’s a utility that works as advertised but does not work for everyone. Personally, I think Touch Bar is a good idea, but like anything new, it takes awhile to make it a routine.
Touch Bar replaced the Mac’s keyboard function keys. Unlike function keys, Touch Bar is context sensitive and can be used differently depending upon which Mac app is frontmost on the screen. Or, not used at all. I’ve been a Mac user for more than 20 years and just never got around to using the function keys.
I use Touch Bar. Why?
It works. The bar itself is a 2170-x-60 pixel touchscreen display. It’s an input device. Touch it and it performs specific functions– far more than the F-key function keys. In essence, Touch Bar is a dynamic strip of keys, but like the keyboard on iPhone and iPad, it is not confined to the physical limitations of a plastic keyboard.
The right side of Touch Bar is the Control Strip which does function like the normal MacBook function keys and displays options for system volume, screen, media playback, and so on. The main section of Touch Bar is application specific; which means apps can use it define their own keyboard shortcuts or add utility. It can even display QuickType keyboard key word suggestions– similar to those found on iOS keyboards.
How is that not a good thing? How is it a gimmick? It. Is. Not. Think of Touch Bar as touch controls which add functions to the app on the screen.
The problem with Touch Bar is not the gimmicky consideration, but the learning curve. Every app has a different Touch Bar utility, and that means you have to learn something new; that takes time and effort.
Gimmick? Of course not. Useful? Far more than the old F-key function keys.
What about Touch ID? That shows up at the other end of the Touch Bar and works much like it did on older, non-iPhone X iPhones and iPads. Touch ID seems doomed on iOS devices which have already moved on to Face ID. I expect Face ID to show up on future Mac models. So, what of the Touch Bar? Touch ID or not, this is not a gimmick. It’s a utility that is there if you want it, not if you don’t.
What’s not to like?