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Touch Bar Update After WWDC

  1. The MacBook Pro Touch Bar: Long-Term Review Part 1
  2. The MacBook Pro Touch Bar: Long Term Review Part 2
  3. Novelty MacBook Pro Touch Bar Apps – RANKED
  4. Five MacBook Pro Dongles That Make Me Sad
  5. Touch Bar Update After WWDC
  6. BetterTouchTool and the Redemption of the Touch Bar

This year’s World Wide Developer Conference was chock full of announcements. We saw new hardware signaling Apple making moves into both VR and machine learning in very serious way. The iPad Pro made moves into making it a more full featured computer. And Apple announced it’s long rumored Amazon Echo competitor.

But in the seemingly endless onslaught of announcements, there didn’t seem to be any specific updates or news on the Touch Bar. Released about six-months ago as “a revolutionary new way to use your Mac“, I was expecting to get something out of the event. Perhaps a roll out of the Touch Bar to the desktop keyboards. Maybe some statistics about how many developers have adopted the new interface. But instead, we got nothing…

Touch Bar Bandwagon

Well, not quite nothing. Apple did announce an update to Garage Band that does support the Touch Bar. I’m not a huge Garage Band user. I mostly use it to throw together drum loops to annoy my friends and family. But those kind of creative apps clearly lean into the Touch Bar’s strength. For example, in the basic multitrack screen, the Touch Bar gives you handy controls for EQ, levels, and compression.

This avoids having to dig through settings, saves you a few mouse clicks, and let’s you play with the sound a little more in real time. As expected for a core Apple software product, there are a number of different interface options. From simple playback controls:

To actually controlling the bevy of software instruments that come packed in:

But none of these seems like it will fundamentally change the way I use the app. If anything, I wish I could track the drum pad functions onto the touchpad instead, since that can measure pressure for velocity. Seems way more useful than having to manually set it on the Touch Bar.

In Search of News

But that was about the only application highlighted as having Touch Bar support. The only other mention I found of it is a session called “Advanced Touch Bar“, for developers at the event.

The session number is also my birthday, did they make session just for me?

Granted, the Touch Bar is six-months old at this point. Apple may be holding out on a major update or rollout until it’s had more time on the market. But based on the lack of interest at WWDC, I’m very skeptical this is anything more than a sop to people who want a touch screen Mac. If Apple keeps this a fragmented user interface, dedicated to only a subset of their PCs, it’ll join the iPod Hi-Fi and Ping in the dustbin of products.

About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.

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