Touch Bar Mac Book Pro Reviews Are In

The review embargo for the new MacBook Pros just dropped. Let’s see what people have to say.

Jason Snell at Six Colors was impressed with the personality present in Apple’s design:

But what really surprised me were the animations. The Touch Bar is an animated interface through and through. Items don’t just fade in and out, but also slide smoothly back and forth. The arrow pointing from the Touch Bar to the Touch ID sensor during a request for an unlock grows and shrinks, practically begging you to put your finger down. There’s a lot more personality here than I expected.

Apple’s best products have some whimsy baked in.

Christina Warren thinks the Touch Bar needs some time to mature:

In the end, real story with the MacBook Pro is the Touch Bar. It’s somewhat useful, but it’s still so undersupported for apps beyond Apple’s that, at least for right now, the Touch Bar is not reason enough to get a new MacBook Pro. Particularly if you’re already satisfied with the performance of your existing machine. If you need a new MacBook Pro and you can’t wait for the Kaby Lake refreshes already rumored, the benefits of the internal specs matched with the cool-factor of the Touch Bar make this a good Mac. For everyone else this is a gimmick on a very good, way too expensive laptop.

I think that’s fair. Apple’s apps have an unfair advantage right now, but I expect the utility of the Touch Bar will only get better as it sees wider adoption.

However, as Jacob Kastrenakes at The Verge points out, even Apple’s apps need some work:

The Touch Bar gets worse when Apple tries to do too much with it. In Pages, for example, the Touch Bar displays at least five types of buttons: one that slides out with a keyboard, one that pops up new formatting options, two that drill down into scrollable menus, one that drills down into a static menu, and several more that are just toggles.

I wasn’t shocked to read that Apple’s first-party applications aren’t fully consistent. Many of Apple’s apps have their own teams — sometimes in remote locations — and I can imagine they approached things all slightly differently. Hell, Logic isn’t even supported yet, while Final Cut Pro has rich support already.

All of these reviews have a slightly different take on the Touch Bar. According to an interview with Steven Levy, Apple’s Phil Schiller was expecting that:

We care about the feedback but we know that the fundamental difference on where their opinions are coming is between those who had a chance to use it and those who haven’t. There are people who want us to innovate faster and when we do there’s people who say, ‘Whoa, whoa, you’re going too fast.’ That’s just a balance in the world.

There’s always something for a critic to beat up on anybody’s notebook, because you have to make choices. I know our team made very smart choices and this is the best notebook that can be made with the greatest technology.

I haven’t used it yet, but my gut says the Touch Bar has the potential to add a lot to the Mac experience. It’s important to remember that this is the first step. Once third-party developers get to spend time with it, and once the hardware is available to desktop users then it will have the opportunity to truly change how we interact with our Macs.

It’s going to take some time for the dust to settle.

Until then, it seems like a nice addition to the more expensive MacBook Pros. Mine doesn’t have it, and I think I am okay with my choice … for now.