The Touch Bar’s Future

I was exchanging emails with a reader about the lack of meaningful Touch Bar improvements in High Sierra over the weekend, and this morning, saw this on Twitter from Michael Lopp:

I don’t have any major problems with the Touch Bar on my MacBook Pro; I just don’t find it all that useful. I type too quickly for the Quick Type to keep up in a helpful manner, and many apps I use don’t offer much in custom shortcuts. In apps that do, I am so hardwired into keyboard shortcuts, I can’t be bothered to move my hands from the keyboard to tap a glowing button.

It’s not all bad, mind you. I love the emoji picker, and I think for users who aren’t use to keyboard shortcuts, the Touch Bar is a big win. But as a pro Mac user using a pro Mac notebook, I find a bit underwhelming.

I — like most users — love Touch ID on the Mac. It’s fast, widely supported by the operating system, and of course, by apps like 1Password. There’s no evidence to support that Apple would ship Touch ID without the the Touch Bar, as both technologies rely on the tiny Apple Watch-like computer (complete with Secure Enclave) buried inside my laptop. That’s a bummer, as I think biometric login is the future.

Of course, if Face ID is coming to Macs at some point, the need for Touch ID will diminish. As I outlined in that post, there is evidence that the iMac Pro could be the first iMac to ship with Face ID, but it doesn’t come with a Touch Bar on its custom space gray keyboard. Once Touch ID is gone, will the Touch Bar go with it?

Backing away from the Touch Bar would be a bitter pill for Apple to swallow, but every hardware release where it stays contained to the MacBook Pro, I can’t help but wonder. High Sierra’s lack of major update to how the system and apps can use it makes me wonder even more. Is the Touch Bar going to end up just a weird blip?