If the touchbar doesn't take off, will it become a liability?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by SamVilde, Jun 14, 2017.

  1. SamVilde macrumors regular

    SamVilde

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    #1
    I've been on the fence about which computer to get, but I'm getting closer - now mostly waiting on the 'back to school' deals.

    I would like the tbMBP, because better processor, ports on each side, and touch ID. I'm ambivalent about the touchbar, but willing to get Better Touch Tool and figure out how to make it work for me.

    But I plan on keeping this computer for 6+ years, and the lack of mention of touchbar development during WWDC, no mention of touchbar in the discussion of High Sierra, no mention of a touchbar on a standalone keyboard makes me wonder ... is Apple not committed to the technology? And if Apple doesn't make use of the touchbar, and doesn't expand it to other models, will it just become an unsuported waste of space - in which case ... five years from now, will we wish we had those buttons back?

    I guess no one can predict the answer, but the discussion might be helpful.
     
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

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    Nov 23, 2011
    #2
    Look at the history for Apple stuff. They release a feature people hate or are reluctant to embrace as it's very different. But Apple stick with it and people eventually adapt. Developers eventually adapt because they don't really have a choice. It sucks in some ways but generally it pushes tech forward.

    Touchbar will be developed. Honestly, it will be. Dropping PPC, dropping PPC emulation, dropping optical drive, dropping legacy ports... don't take a lack of WWDC Touchbar as a sign of incoming doom. They had a lot to cover.

    If there would be any sign of incoming doom, you'd have seen a non-touchbar 15" MBP released. Remember how people had the same concerns when the Retina display was first released as very few developers optimised for it? It seems ridiculous looking back, but that was the case.

    It's merely a small matter of time. Trust me, in just a couple of years, your fears of TB support will be unfounded. :)
     
  3. theluggage macrumors 68030

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    #3
    Lets take the worst-case scenario: in 2019 Apple "shows courage" and releases new Mac Pros without the touchbar. Third party software gradually drops support so you just get left with basic function key/system setting and touchID functionality. Odds are, Apple will continue to support that much in new Mac OS releases until the pre-2019 MBPs go "obsolete" in 2026. If you're really unlucky, Apple repeat the 32 bit EFI debacle and axe it a year or two earlier than that, so your machine is stuck on the 2024 version of Mac OS for the last couple of years of its life - something that could happen anyway for other reasons (my 2011 MBP is stuck on Mavericks because of a USB3 PCIe card, ScreenRecycler and an old copy of PS Elements). Or maybe High Sierra will be hailed as the next Snow Leopard and you won't want to change...

    The alternative is that you buy a non-TB MBP with only two ports and a restrictive 15W processor which you outgrow after 3 years.

    I certainly don't find the touchbar a compelling reason to buy a MBP - but I don't see it as a dealbreaker either. The lack of touchbar on the new Magic keyboard may be down to problems with implementing TouchID securely on a Bluetooth device (not a feature you want to knock out on a Friday!).
     
  4. omihek macrumors regular

    omihek

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    #4
    Everyone I know complained about the new Macbook Pro w/Touchbar when Apple announced it. Then those same people absolutely LOVED it when they bought it. Apple doesn't just throw features at the wall to see what will stick; they decide what to do and go with it even if everybody hates them for it. People eventually get on board, and I predict you'll be just fine getting it and having Touchbar support for at least 6 years.
     
  5. smirking macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    Get the tbMBP then. If you're planning on keeping it for 6 years, it's a good idea to veer toward the higher end of the spectrum and I see no reason why you can't keep this for 6+ years unless you're doing some serious video or advanced processing work.

    I'm not a tb fan. I absolutely hated it at first, but after some use, I'm just indifferent. Occasionally I find it annoying and occasionally it does something useful. I mostly use my laptop with an external keyboard and monitor anyway so it was never going to be a huge thing either way for me.

    If you absolutely hated it, you could always just use an external keyboard.
     
  6. funman895 macrumors member

    funman895

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    #6
    I'm currently deciding between a 2017 ntb MBP and a 2016 refurb tb MBP with exactly the same specs (RAM, SSD) but different graphics (640 vs 550) and CPU. Could you elaborate on the difference between the 15W CPU in the ntb MBP in comparison to the higher TDP CPU in the 2016 tb MBP?
     
  7. kohlson macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 23, 2010
    #7
    I don't think Apple will abandon TB. At some point the extra silicon required to make this work will be incorporated into other parts, so the cost will be reduced. Maybe incorporate into iPhone? Their own ARM-powered MBP? Who knows. But I think something hold TB adoption back is it's available only on a small number of devices. ISVs detest this. Once it can be inexpensively incorporated into external keyboards or other devices, then adoption will improve, and so will innovation. But I don't think it's going away.
     
  8. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

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    #8
    I don't think the lack of a wireless keyboard with Touch Bar or lack of mention of Touch Bar in the Keynote is a sign of any kind of trend or retreat. I think it falls into, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

    WWDC Keynote traditionally runs two hours, and this one ran longer than that, and even so, there was a fair amount that wasn't said about a lot of things. The primary task is to give developers their marching orders for the year ahead - pushing the new, major technologies they want to see incorporated in this fall's software releases. The only reason to devote time to a pre-existing technology is because there are major changes/improvements. TouchBar is too young for 2.0, and as it's hardware-specific and there's little hardware out there that has it... it had to be pretty far down the priority list.

    As to introducing a wireless keyboard with Touch Bar? Consider the premium one pays for the Touch Bar-equipped MBPs; $300 buys you the Touch Bar, a faster CPU, and two more USB-C/TB3 ports. I'd estimate that Touch Bar is $200 of that $300. How many people would buy a $299 wireless keyboard? As much as I'd like to have a Magic Keyboard with Touch Bar, I expect I'll have to wait a year or two more for the premium to come down.
     
  9. twinlight macrumors 6502

    twinlight

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    Sep 4, 2016
    #9
    299 for a TouchID equipped touchbar keyboard would have been cheap. If it really is that important I guess you can keep using the laptops touchbar when needed. Phone/Watch combo for unlocking your laptop or desktop without TB..

    I have used normal keyboards for 30 years. I would survive without it but would not buy a MacBook today without it.
     
  10. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #10
    If it doesn't take off, we'll see it quietly disappear from its use. As it stands right now, we're only seeing it being used on two laptop models. I expect to see it rolled out more widely, i.e., on the MacBook, iMac keyboards etc. If not, it will be hard to get developers to support a feature that is only on a fraction of computers.
     
  11. theluggage macrumors 68030

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    #11
    The non-TB MacBook pro 13"s have 15W processors, the TB ones have 28W processors and run at faster clock speeds (the main cause of the higher wattage).

    The 2017 tb is easily going to out-perform the 2017 ntb, although it will probably have worse battery life. (Those were the two I assumed the thread starter was comparing).

    The 2016 tb versus 2017 ntb is harder to call, since one of the main improvements is better performance at low power, the difference in clock speeds is smaller, and the graphics have been improved. The 2017 ntb might well give the 2016 tb a run for its money.

    You can go google specifications and benchmarks (golden rule: "i5" and "i7" labels don't really tell you much unless you're comparing processors of the same power rating and generation).

    However, if CPU power was your main requirement, you'd be looking at the 15" models with their 45W quad-core processors. The biggest deal with the non-tb models is whether two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports (one of which you'll need for charging unless you buy a dock) fits your needs, or if you're going to need a shedload of docks and dongles to support your lifestyle. Your mileage may vary.
     
  12. Fishrrman macrumors G4

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #12
    keys wrote:
    "But Apple stick with it and people eventually adapt."

    As with SCSI?
    As with Firewire?
    As with thunderbolt (at least for hard drives)?

    Whether the touchbar will succeed or not, depends on how useful it actually becomes to Mac users in real life.

    I've only used it on MBPro's on display, I bought a 2015 MBPro without the touchbar (of course).
    It has visual appeal, no doubt about that. But, for simple tasks (such as adjusting the volume), I find the "old" fkeys faster to use.

    Consider what you need to do to adjust the volume with the touchbar:
    1. touch the volume icon, then...
    2. move the slider to the left or right

    Without the touchbar:
    Touch the "volume up" or "volume down" fkeys ONCE until the desired sound level is achieved.

    Which is actually faster and more intuitive?
     
  13. jerwin macrumors 65816

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    #13
    My thoughts exactly.
     
  14. smirking macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    It's an extra step, but on the other hand, there are some benefits to the tb that I do indeed enjoy. One of my favorites is video timeline control from the touchbar.

    I'm mostly indifferent about the touchbar, but the volume thing is small potatoes. It's one step forward and one step back for me right now, but I do see some potential for some very cool uses as with the video timeline control so as long as it's an even tradeoff between pro and con for me right now, I'm willing to keep with the experiment... though if you gave me the option of a cheaper MBP without the tb, I can't honestly say I wouldn't buy that one instead.
     
  15. SamVilde thread starter macrumors regular

    SamVilde

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    #15
    Mostly it doesn't seem very useful, but there have been times these past 8 months when I've thought "if I had the touchbar, I would use it now." It comes as part of the most modern and capable computer Apple is selling, so that's the one I'll get.

    I just hope they maintain support for it, because having a computer with neither functioning touchbar (if they stop including it as a functioning space going forward) nor buttons sounds like trouble.
     
  16. jerwin macrumors 65816

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    Jun 13, 2015
    #16
    I think a stand alone touchbar keyboard would be helpful-- if only to expose more programmers to the possibilities of the new interface.
     
  17. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    #17
    Yes, exactly! If Apple wants the TouchBar to take off, it's going to have to be a lot more prevalent.
     
  18. theluggage macrumors 68030

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    #18
    Well, that was dealt a blow by the release of new Magic keyboards without touchbars (although that might have been held up while they sort out how to do touchID securely) but then it was also a mistake to use a user interface feature as a product discriminator (i.e. the low-end MBP and 12" MB should have it if they want uptake). However, they've done the same thing with the Pencil and force touch on iOS (I guess there may be technical issues implementing force touch on iPad-sized screens?)

    I'd suggest an iOS app that linked to the Mac and rolled up a touchbar, notification area, a pen digitiser for MacOS and "remote unlock" - with a suitably designed stand to sit your iDevice behind your keyboard. of course, that would reduce the stampede :)-)) of people buying MBPs to get at the touchbar - but if there's going to be no other touchbar implementation on desktops...?
     
  19. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

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    #19
    This is very much user-dependent and application-dependent. I remember the derision heaped upon Mac and Windows, back in the '80s (you probably do, too). After all, aren't CTRL+C, CTRL+V, CTRL+B, etc. faster and easier than using a mouse, to touch-typists who know those commands?

    Yet selecting blocks of text can be much easier with a mouse than a keyboard (especially if that block is not a complete word, sentence, or paragraph). So I select text with my right (mouse) hand, and then perform those common keystroke commands with my left. Each of us finds the tools and workflow that work best for us, as individuals.

    As a former audio engineer (and active photographer), I very much do appreciate the difference between having an ever-present visual indication of a slider's position, vs. seeing that indication only after I press a function key. If having a slider present in the on-screen UI makes sense (as it does in just about every photography, graphics, and audio app, among others), it makes even more sense to have it on the Touch Bar, where you can reach for it with a single finger, rather than move the mouse, click, and drag.

    Assuming you're a former user of SCSI... Would you seriously go back to the huge connectors and fat, inflexible cables required for external SCSI drives, or to external drive enclosures large enough to accommodate those connectors? If a serial interface comes along that can supplant a parallel port... manufacturers are going to prefer it - serial is always cheaper to implement than parallel. And if Intel comes along with a superior, high speed serial data interface that promised adoption by both PC and Mac makers (and hence, greater availability of third-party hardware), and would be capable of replacing both the Firewire and Mini DisplayPort... it might seem advisable to move on.

    Technology inexorably moves on. It's not a new phenomenon, it's the history of civilization. Adapting to change can be tiring, especially if you've been adapting throughout a long career and lifespan, but that's life.
     
  20. SamVilde thread starter macrumors regular

    SamVilde

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    #20
    And if it doesn't take off, what happens?
    If it doesn't take off, will a future OS come along where we'll have to change the volume or access the launch pad by manipulating the mouse, and won't even have the fall back of the function keys?

    Or if it doesn't take off, will other companies not build in improved function?
     
  21. BornAgainMac macrumors 603

    BornAgainMac

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    #21
    Maybe the entire keyboard will be one massive touchbar that just so happens to run iOS apps.
     
  22. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    Sep 21, 2010
    #22
    It becomes forgotten, irrelevant, and dies a slow death. Apple eventually removes MacOS support for it when MacOS reaches a version that's not supported on the last Mac model that included a TouchBar.

    Some Linux nuts keep it alive for the another 14 more years, until eventually it's just Bob and Jo maintaining it for the last 32 people still using it, but Jo is sick of Bob's crap so she drops it too.
     
  23. jerwin macrumors 65816

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    #23
    In the future, PC users will spend hundreds of dollars on new video cards. We'll spend hundreds of dollars on new keyboards
     
  24. krause734 macrumors 6502

    krause734

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    #24
    The future of the Macbook Pro is a dual iPad Pro clamshell. Let that sink in fellas.
     
  25. epca12 macrumors regular

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    #25
    If there was both a function row and touch bar, I can't imagine people complaining. I love it inside apps but it can get cramped when you have to have system controls on there, many of which one would prefer physical feedback for
     

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