And here's the most interesting part: if you have media playing in a browser tab, and Safari isn't even in the foreground, you can still play, pause, or scrub by clicking the media control button. In the Safari web browser, you'll see tiny webpage thumbnails in the middle.
Many times, though, they are indistinguishable, so you can't really tell which tab is which. You can quickly move between tabs by sliding your finger over these tiny thumbnails. For people using Apple's Photos app, I can imagine scrubbing through photos with a similar glide of the finger could be useful. If you open the Calculator, commonly-used arithmetic symbols like addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, and percentage occupy the Touch Bar.
I got used to tapping on the Touch Bar when doing long calculations. The first gripe I have with the Touch Bar is its default brightness—it feels low when you're sitting underneath a bright light source. To make matters worse, the matte finish makes content even harder to see in such lighting conditions.
Unfortunately, there's still no way to change the Touch Bar brightness, despite it being released several years ago. The next problem is that the Touch Bar goes to sleep if you don't use the trackpad or keyboard for roughly a minute. Meaning, the computer display timeout and the Touch Bar display timeout aren't synced. Remember how I loved seeing the time elapsed or time remaining counters during full-screen video playback?
Well, if you're watching a video past a minute, the Touch Bar isn't helpful in showing you that information unless you touch the trackpad. As of today, there is no way to change the Touch Bar screen timeout either. Most importantly, barring the niche use cases I talked about above, the Touch Bar in its current form does not dramatically improve the usability of a Mac. For example, when using Finder, you'll see a shortcut for Quick Look.
The problem is that Quick Look is faster to access by simply hitting the space bar rather than raising your index finger towards the Touch Bar. For Apple's own apps, the Touch Bar just ends up showing elements that are either a familiar keyboard shortcut away or easily visible on the computer display.
For example, when manipulating images in Preview , you're presented with the Rotate Left and Rotate Right shortcuts, among others. The keyboard autocorrect suggestions are probably the most pointless feature on the Touch Bar. When you type, you're typically looking at the screen, not underneath. There's almost never a time when you'll comprehend those autocorrect suggestions to be able to use them. The only silver lining?
Finally, depending on which version MacBook you're using, there's some re-training required when using the Esc key. On the current MacBook Pro inch model, the Esc key is a dedicated key, whereas on models prior to it, the Esc key is a virtual button in the leftmost corner of the Touch Bar. Even for repetitive tasks, like changing the screen brightness or volume, you have to look at the virtual buttons before using them—something you didn't have to do with the tactile nature of physical keys in the past.
The Touch Bar experience has not been entirely a bug-free one for me. And although I've faced only a couple of freezes up to now, others have reported more frequent occurrences of buggy behavior. Since the Touch Bar is software based, and it's used to control useful functions like volume, brightness, and media playback, a Touch Bar crash can put certain aspects of macOS completely out of reach.
Currently, Apple sells three models of the MacBook Pro. Only one of them the inch model includes the Touch Bar, whereas the inch and inch models have the familiar physical function keys instead. I can confidently say that the Touch Bar is not a reason to avoid the inch model, it looks cool and can be customized to your liking. You'll get the hang of it in due time.
However, if you were hoping that the Touch Bar will drastically improve your workflow, then I'm afraid you'll be left disappointed. In its current form, it's a cool, experimental feature at best. If you're looking to use the traditional key functionality instead of the Touch Bar functionality adapting to each app, you can use the default key setup. Most of us have learned to use keyboards a certain way, though laptop users adapted to the use of a trackpad, as well as its usual location on MacBooks.
But the fact is, during daily use, our hands are rarely near where the Touch Bar was. In addition, the combination of typing and touch control was just awkward to use for some, further putting them off the technology. The awkwardness of the Touch Bar was especially bothersome in its early years. Before MacBook Pro users got used to the placement of it, many ran into issues with accidentally brushing the Touch Bar while typing something on the upper half of the keyboard.
The result was often a nuisance, causing website refreshes and the closing of files. The idea of volume controls on the Touch Bar was interesting, but that too turned out to be rather finicky when compared to a regular keyboard and mouse. Ultimately, many people sought ways to disable the Touch Bar rather than trying to adapt to it.
This limited its reach, and as a result, likely curbed its potential quite a bit. At its release, the Touch Bar seemed like a fancy, shiny new gadget that many were eager to try. The end result remains the same — Apple was led to the decision to ax it. It is replaced by a row of physical keys that blend well with the keyboard. Although it may be missed by some, it seems that the removal of the Touch Bar will likely end up being less controversial than its introduction.
You can still get it on the inch MacBook Pro that Apple still sells. But one thing is for sure — Apple is not likely to bring it back anytime soon. Ford recalls over half a million vehicles over safety issues.
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