Is the Touch Bar a gimmick?
41 Comments

  • Flip - 11 months ago

    I would pay money to not have a touchbar... its TERRIBLE!

    moments of pain:
    - volume adjusting
    - ugly childish emoji's while i'm working / typing serious mails etc
    - next song, first you need to touch the mini small arrow...
    - brightness adjusting

    i thought that i could adjust it, personalize is, but you can;t, not enough. If you haven;t bought the macbook yet, please don't. You'll have countless moments of frustration.

  • Oliver - 1 year ago

    Although the touchbar can be annoying for some people I rather enjoy the way it allowed me to transition from Windows to Mac as I didn't know many of the key shortcuts and the touchbar made it for me personally easier to navigate without knowing some of the shortcuts that can get complex at times.

  • G. 't Hooft - 1 year ago

    The touch bar a gimmick? That’s much too kind. It’s an awful mistake. Please produce a Mac without it. Only the fingerprint button is a functional one.The number of times my little finger accidentally touched the bar, slowing me down considerably, is countless, and I fail to train my typing such a way that it does not happen. And today I stumbled into another major design error. While talking in a Zoom meeting my telephone went, and some unasked for app made it ring inside my Mac as well. I couldn’t reach the phone and the touch bar was the only access I had at the moment to shut off the sound. But during the zoom conference the touch bar didn’t function. I want a computer where, at any time, you can shut off the sound.
    HELP ME, PLEASE DISABLE MY TOUCHBAR, PUT SOUND AND OTHER FUNCTIONS SOMEWHERE ELSE PLEASE.

  • Lee - 2 years ago

    You poll is missing an option for Won't ever have a Macbook with a touchbar!. And I own a lot of Apple products. I love the quality and durability, but there have been way too many design blunders: the touchbar, the missing ports (including the headphone jack), the notch, the awful keyboard, removing a normal size phone from the mix, camera lens that protrude beyond the surface of phones and pads ( a lot of battery could have been added to prevent that), the weird cylindrical computer, and I am sure there are plenty more in the software realm. I have a feeling Jobs would have nixed many of the non-useful innovations.

  • Ben - 2 years ago

    Calling the Touch Bar a gimmick is being way too kind. It's more like a torture device. I knew that many users didn't like the Touch Bar, but when I bought my $4K+ computer, I thought that I just would not use the Touch Bar. Or maybe it could be configured to be like a normal function key row. But the slightest accidental touch sets the thing off. And what happens does depend on the context, the program in use, so it is full of surprises. I certainly wouldn't have bought the machine if I knew how bad the Touch Bar was. I just would have bought the best Mac laptop without a Touch Bar that I could get. We are well into 2019 and Apple is doubling/tripling down on it, so I guess that some big shot's ego is involved. Or maybe Marques de Sade runs the Mac division.

  • Jeff - 2 years ago

    I was skeptical of the touch bar's usefulness and after almost a year of daily use I am only recently starting to appreciate it. It replaces a line of function keys, escape, volume, brightness, keyboard brightness, etc. I don't think that those functions are any less available in their current form on the new touch bar. But for a long time that's all I used the touch bar for, the same way I had used the function keys.

    It wasn't until I was using affinity photo and doing some brush work that I appreciated the touch bar for the first time. As I retouched the photo (I don't do a lot of this, so I don't have a real workflow already in place) anyway, as I used the brush there was a slider on the touch bar for the brush size! So incredibly useful to 'slide' the brush bigger or small as I worked with it. I could use both of my hands with very intuitive motions.!

    I since have started paying more attention to the new, innovative, sometimes unexpected things that show up on the touch bar. More and more programs are starting to use it. Or maybe I'm just starting to notice them. VSCode, Logic Pro... imessages with emoji's to choose. I think the touch bar still deserves a chance and maybe a larger exposure... why not have a let the desktop users get familiar with the new possibilities as well by offering a desktop keyboard with the touch bar built in? I still think it has a lot of potential and I now would miss it if it wasn't a feature on future models.

  • Drath - 2 years ago

    Never owned a mac in my life, but i had an HP dv6000 with a touch panel. I fell in love with it ever since i found that volume bar is not only clickable, but also swipeable. It was really a godsend for my hyperacusis, and i really miss it.

    Was it a gimmick? Yes, probably. But the next time i go shopping for a laptop, i will surely consider buying a mac, just for touchbar alone.

  • Zeeshan Liaqat - 3 years ago

    Currently, I'm rocking early 2011 13-inch MacBook Pro... and I use illustrator a lot on that app I use "esc" escape key a lot and I'm wondering how much it will affect me as I'm planning to buy a new MacBook Pro. But currently most of the time I am using an external keyboard with an external display. But the new MacBook Pro display will be much better than my external 1080p display. Sometimes I wish It had a physical escape key.

  • Andrew - 3 years ago

    I never understood all the hate. Its not the best thing since sliced bread, and perhaps "not as efficient" for the few things that F keys previously did, but I like it. I have used it since Dec '16, and now find myself wishing it had more support. Touch ID is great, as is the ability to customize it. Why not customize it further to show your 10-day weather forecast, stock ticker, mail/chat indicator, etc? Could the volume and brightness sliders be improved to be single touch & slide combined? Perhaps I should dust off my coding skills...

  • Linh - 3 years ago

    Obviously you don't use it enough to find its usefulness. For whatever you said in the article, it's not Apple's or the touch bar's fault. You can always customize the bar and remove the Siri button for some other useful ones such as screenshot. For the volume control, instead of pressing and change, you can tap and drag the button for a quick 1-touch swipe gesture.

    I've been using the touch bar on my Late 2016 MBP until now and I think it's a great tool. Of course you have to actively utilize the tool you have and it might not be for everyone, but so far, I've been enjoying it.

  • Leon - 3 years ago

    Honestly, I'd pay 100€ extra to not have the touch bar. Because of a bug on my machine that hasn't been fixed in two years now, I can't switch between the app controls and the control strip (the arrow disappears after a few uses), so I can't really use the features at all. And since I can't configure it to not automatically switch back to app controls whenever I switch apps or desktops (just why?) I wouldn't use it even without the bug. On top of that, why can't we have one-click volume and brightness controls in the app controls for those of us (me) who don't like the sliders?

    All that alongside the utterly frustrating dust issues with the keyboard (currently my shift key, i key, and 8 key are all acting up at the same time), the lack of proper feedback from the keys because apparently shaving off another mm was more important than making a good computer, and the problematically oversized track pad on the 15" MBPs that registers a click whenever I rest my hands, make this the single most annoying computer to use that I've ever had. And what was the reason for axing HDMI again?

    Please Apple, just give us the 2012-2015 design back! I'll pay 300€ extra just to get a usable keyboard, track pad and none of that junk above the keyboard.

  • Dave Miller - 3 years ago

    I have been an Apple user for over 30 years, have owned portables ranging from the PowerBook 100 all the way through the current generation top of the line MacBook Pro. I am a software engineer with more than a couple of degrees from an excellent school win a great reputation in CS - and let me tell you: I am hard pressed to find an Apple “innovation” worse than the touch bar. The Newton was years ahead of its time, and we weren’t ready. The eMate tried to be ahead of its time, but components hadn’t been made cheap enough yet. The Apple III, ok... MAYBE the Apple III - but honestly, the Touchbar offers me a clunky, kitchie-for-the-first-five-minutes experience that quickly becomes an impediment to doing things normally on my laptop.

    Like the author, I find myself inadvertently adjusting sound volume or brightness when trying to hit only those keys at the top of the keyboard. Not to say it has happened yet, but when the touchbar hangs, how am I supposed to bring up the force quit dialog without a physical escape key. BetterTouchTool: I’ve been a paying supporter for YEARS, and yes, I have some “cool” widgets running on the TB, but solely for the reason that I’m trying very hard to avoid the thing at all costs.

    There is no innovation here - unlike the Apple Newton, the touchbar is BEHIND the times. A contextual HID that can change based on the context of the currently running application? YOU HAVE THE WHOLE DISPLAY TO WORK WITH, and Windows has been touch-screen savvy for quite some time. Instead, we need developers to write custom code just to deal with the TB, something that exists only on the high end laptops.

    Wouldn’t you expect Apple to roll out a stand-alone keyboard with the same feature? You would, if you were going to push for its ultimate inevitability (like the lack of floppy and optical drives Apple made happen starting in 1998 with the iMac G3). You wanna know what’s here to stay: KEYBOARDS. There has even been a renaissance in keyboards: people have gone back to mechanical keyboards with loud, tactile, clicks switches in them.

    There’s no edge to a key on a glass touchscreen - which may explain the accidental touches the author and I have encountered - and regardless: it’s just a dumb idea. We’ve seen the patent for a full-on capacitive touch replacement for the portable keyboard from Apple - and my only hope is that this is the first test to see what the appetite would be, as it has obviously failed.

    Take a page from the rest of the world, Apple: keyboards are physical, fixed, and tactile. I might change my mind in 10-15 years if my kids grow up learning how to type on an iPad/iPhone virtual keyboard - not on an Apple ADB keyboard like I did, not like the Underwood typewriter my parents did. Until then, Jonny and Tim: please suck it up and just make full-on touchscreen displays, leave the keyboard out of it.

  • Sebweyn - 3 years ago

    I’ve come to actually like the TB. I have it on my work computer and before they purchased the laptop I tried in vain to get a non TB model. Unfortunately that one was “backordered” and so I got the TB.

    First couple weeks I hated it, citing a lot of the same problems in the article. I never use Siri for Mac so I took that button out immediately and replaced with the Play/Pause. I still occasionally hit it when I’m reaching up which is annoying but tolerable.

    I really like the volume adjustment (mashing physician keys repeatedly seems tedious now, plus the slider lets you move much faster). Having the Fn key display the media keys satisfactorily solved that issue. I like random little helpful buttons (the “I” in iTerm that brings up man page and the display options when I connect to a projector come to mind). And the Esc key turned out to be a nonissue from Day 1.

    The biggest plus is TouchID, which makes 1Password a breeze. I’ve also found it faster and more reliable than Apple Watch unlock. Honestly, it’s so nice to have (and so clunky on my personal laptop not to have) that I would pay the premium for that or FaceID almost with no hesitation. [As an aside, I think the cost of the TB and TouchID comes largely from the fact that those run on a little iOS computer, so having just TouchID/FaceID would still cost more whether or not the actual OLED bar is included. Apple should still absorb the cost IMO but they won’t.]

    Finally, at the risk of invalidating my whole comment, I much prefer the new keyboard to the old one so I use that and the TB even when connected to external monitors all day. That being said, I’m not worried about a sticky key because work will have to deal with the laptop being out of commission.

    Anyway, long story short, I prefer the new keyboard and TB over old keyboard without TB.

  • J - 3 years ago

    I think calling it a gimmick is being nice. They need to get rid of it. The lackluster keyboard with the insult to injury of that touchbar is killing my desire for a MacBook. Forcing me to deal with it to have the higher specced devices plainly sucks.

  • Arnold - 3 years ago

    I own one, and like Marcus said before me one of the most annoying things is not being able to use it without actually having to look at it - so I don't ever have the problem of the volume keys not being visible. I also disabled the Siri button because I was having the same stupid problem everybody else had. Like Chris said you need to get better touch tool.

  • Mario pace - 3 years ago

    It is zero value

  • Doug - 3 years ago

    I’m starting to come to the following conclusion:
    1) If you’re in a new app and don’t know the features it provides, then the Touch Bar provides a pretty great experience for discovery.
    2) In the situation above, it’s only really useful if it’s an app that you interact with using the keyboard for the majority of its functionality
    3) If either of the statements above are true, then the Touch Bar isn’t much use and could be described as a gimmick
    All this goes to say, that it would be best suited in the entry level machines, and not the high end machines.

    Also, it should be noted that whilst I haven’t done it in a long time now, the only times I’ve ever accidentally tried touching the screen of a MacBook were after heavily interacting with the Touch Bar. Which to me, really made it feel like this is the wrong solution to the problem of providing touch based input on a device.

  • Alain - 3 years ago

    Not a gimmick but helpful. I do use TB quite a lot for classical apps and nothing much different compared with similar keyboard. For other apps, it shows additional functions and give more fun than the traditional keyboard. I am not looking for a speedy work on my MBP every hour like those who apparently need to work in a hurry (why?) but to do what I do with quality, efficiency and also with Fun.... and Apple allows to work like this (not from a PC!).
    I agree with the fact that TB is not 100% a tool we use but in general I try to optimise my working time and learn new features and functions that Apple have offered with this TB.

  • Alain - 3 years ago

    Not a gimmick but helpful. I do use TB quite a lot for classical apps and nothing much different compared with similar keyboard. For other apps, it shows additional functions and give more fun than the traditional keyboard. I am not looking for a speedy work on my MBP every hour like those who apparently need to work in a hurry (why?) but to do what I do with quality, efficiency and also with Fun.... and Apple allows to work like this (not from a PC!).
    I agree with the fact that TB is not 100% a tool we use but in general I try to optimise my working time and learn new features and functions that Apple have offered with this TB.

  • John - 3 years ago

    With BetterTouchTool you can completely customise it per app and then it's super helpful. Otherwise, not so much.

  • Bruce - 3 years ago

    The lack of a physical escape key keeps me from upgrading my 2004 15" mbpr.

  • John Clinkard - 3 years ago

    I have a late 2016 Macbook pro - (it is my 3red . It is on a stand attached to two 4k monitors. I use a wireless keyboard and a wireless mouse all the time.I use my computer every day and I can count the number of times I have used the Touch Bar on one hand. If it were on a wireless keyboard (I use a logitech 760 with I can connect to 3 devices) I might find it useful - right now the touch bar is decoration

  • Mike - 3 years ago

    I don't care if Apple wants to offer the touch bar but make the damn thing optional even on the highest end configuration!

  • franco - 3 years ago

    My guess, with this touchbar Apple is doing a test run for a future full touch Keyboard they are working on.

  • krafty - 3 years ago

    Should be "yes, and I've TRIED IT" or "haven't tried it" instead of "own it".

    I can't help but think of the owners who say it's a gimmick as suckers and the non-owners as intelligent consumers.

  • Josh - 3 years ago

    As someone who’s worked on the laptops, I can’t find a use for it. TouchID is okay, but a PITA when replacing the logic board. In short and long term testing, it’s just worthless. I share the sentiments of the article. It’s a gimmick. Bring back the function keys so I can turn the volume down with my brightness off and playing music. I know where those keys are in the dark without the backlight on. Apple, lay to rest this literal worthless piece of tech.

  • -hh - 3 years ago

    Chose "Yes (though I don't own a machine with it)", but what that doesn't make clear is that I did my research and decided that it wasn't value-added, so I bought the 13" MBP without the touchbar

    Overall, the fact that the TB technology has been out now for two (2) years and there's still not an Apple 'external' keyboard that one can go buy with an iMac (or whatever) illustrates that it just hasn't been a well thought out piece of technology for incorporation into workflows.

    -hh

  • Moose - 3 years ago

    I’d agree it’s a gimmick all the way...however there is one brilliant feature that may still make it valuable. Scrubbing through video, specifically ads. Even when ads don’t give you an option to skip, the Touch Bar will allow you to scroll to the end hense skipping it. I love that!

  • Denton Shanks - 3 years ago

    It may be one baby step for a future full screen keyboard, but i've never really used it on my MBP.

  • bliss - 3 years ago

    I would have like to see them slide the keyboard forward a little bit, then add the touch bar above the row of F-Keys.

  • Greg D - 3 years ago

    I use a MBP for work and I'm in IT. I constantly have issues where the touch bar screen goes blank and I need the ESC key. Also I'm on my 3rd MBP because it several hardware issues. So I'm less than impressed.

  • JJ - 3 years ago

    I like the Touch Bar in that it adds an additional set of "analog" style control that you can use at the same time as the trackpad (there already are external devices for this purpose- jog dials for Logic for example).
    BUT, I think Apple should've added it ABOVE the function row instead of in place of it. That way people could get their contextual buttons and an additional control surface, but not remove any existing function (or esc key). And as has been said, adoption has been harmed by not having it on desktop keyboards so it becomes more of a guaranteed-to-be-there function of Macs. I mean not even the $5000+ iMac Pro gets one. Wha?

  • Arvid - 3 years ago

    I think developers also do not use it in a way that makes sense. Why put functions up there that already have a keyboard shortcut. It’s quicker to just press on the keyboard rather than reaching for the Touch Bar …

  • Stig - 3 years ago

    I too use my MBP mostly as a desk-based machine, parked off to the left. I rarely use the touch bar (and feel like a 70s Wakeman-esque prog-rock keyboarderist, so would have voted it as a gimmick. However, put the touch bar on my wired keyboard and I would definitely use it.
    C'mon Apple, get innovating (with a purpose).

  • Marcus - 3 years ago

    The biggest problem for me is using the touchbar without looking at it... which you can surely do with buttons, but with a touch control, well, good luck!

    I'm waiting for a machine with the same specs, but no touchbar, not some tunned down version of it without the touchbar, what a pain in the butt.

  • Dylanio - 3 years ago

    I have plenty of friends who regularly use Final Cut and Logic and say that can’t imagine life without the Touch Bar now, seems to be well suited for some pro apps

  • Robert - 3 years ago

    I never was a big function key user. For me having volume, brightness, the PIP front and center when I want a video on top is pretty cool. These are usually two to three steps to complete. It basically adds function to a set of keys that aren’t used much.

  • Bob - 3 years ago

    The only time I like the Touch Bar is when I am running a Keynote presentation and it shows the next few slides on it. Otherwise it is an annoyance. I miss the ESC key and the launchpad key.

  • Noah Turner - 3 years ago

    As a graphic designer the Touch Bar is indespinsable now. Illustrator’s shortcuts streamlined my workflow significantly and now I cannot move to a keyboard without my quick access to clipping masks and grouping settings.

  • Tomas - 3 years ago

    I own a MacBook Pro with a TouchPad and the false Siris and ESC are really annoying.

    Having said that, I can see the potential, especially for younger users. I am 49 and have been working with normal keyboards for decades but this TouchPad has many tricks that younger folks will have time to explore. For example: "if we are not trying our new house but I still believe in a way to do the work of it and then it was never even heard from you in my name."

  • Chris - 3 years ago

    You need to get Better Touch Tool.....

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