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Apple really wants developers to take the Touch Bar seriously

As we are sure most of you already heard, Apple finally brought an arguably overdue refresh to its Mac Pro laptop lineup on Thursday. It consists of a trio of new laptops, two in the 13-inch and on in the 15-inch form factor. All of them are more powerful and significantly thinner then their predecessors, have better screens, improved touchpads and lets call it a “different” approach to the keyboard and I/O, now entirely made of Type-C ports.

However, all that was totally overshadowed by the introduction of the Touch Bar – Apple’s new touch-screen strip, that courageously sits above the keyboard (yes, we do think it fits, since the Escape and Function keys are now completely tactile-free) and promises to revolutionize and totally change more than a few familiar workflows.

Regardless of your or our personal opinion on the new tech and the respective willingness to look at the keyboard, rather than the screen in order to take advantage of some of the new Apple magic, we can’t straight up deny that the input does open up the possibility for more than a few interesting implementations and concepts. A few such definitely caught our eye during the unveiling.

However, if you are a developer, anxious to get your hands on the new MacBook Pro and start playing around with the API’s, be warned that Apple has already stated loud an clear it wants you to play nice and play safe. Cupertino has a design guideline for using Touch Bar in the proper Apple-sanctioned way on its website and its tone is borderline scolding all throughout.

It is almost as if Apple realized a bit too late that it had given developers and tech-savvy users what is essentially a second screen that if used in anything short of an “all-business” serious manner could definitely undermine the whole “Pro” tier essence of the product. To put things into perspective, Apple explicitly states things like:


Use the Touch Bar as an extension of the keyboard and trackpad, not as a display. Although technically its a screen, the Touch Bar functions as an input device, not a secondary display. The user may glance at the Touch Bar to locate or use a control, but their primary focus is the main screen. The Touch Bar shouldnt display alerts, messages, scrolling content, static content, or anything else that commands the users attention or distracts from their work on the main screen.
Strive to match the look of the physical keyboard.
Avoid using the Touch Bar for tasks associated with well-known keyboard shortcuts.
Avoid mirroring Touch Bar interactions on the main screen.

There are a few other points as well, which you can check out at the source link. However, it seems Cupertino can’t decide exactly how it envisions the usefulness and implementation of the Touch Bar, but is already pretty determined that it is no place to have unsanctioned fun.

Since this is a design guideline and definitely not set in stone or enforced by Apple in any way, we are sure more than a few “bad apples” (horrible pun intended) will definitely go out of their way to fit an entire browser or GUI inside the tiny strip, or simply an endless looping Nyan Cat animation from end to end. But, hey, its your Touch Bar and if that’s what you want from it, we don’t believe anybody should ever stop you.

Source | Via