Craig Federighi Says Touch Bar on New MacBook Pro Has 'So Much Potential' For Developers

YouTube tech reviewer Marques Brownlee has shared an exclusive interview with Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi. The pair chatted about the new MacBook Pro and its customizable Touch Bar, which Federighi said is "going to be great" and has "so much potential" for developers.

touch_bar_hero
Touch Bar is a Multi-Touch strip of glass that replaces the standard row of function keys on the new MacBook Pros, providing users with system-level and app-specific controls that contextually change. For example, when a user types text in a document, the Touch Bar might include controls for adjusting the font face and size.

MacBook Pro users can interact with the Touch Bar using gestures. Tapping activates a control, such as a button, or selects an item, such as an emoji. Touching and holding initiates a secondary action on a control, such as a button. Panning moves an element, such as a slider of photos or emojis, from side-to-side.


The questions and answers below were edited slightly for clarity and brevity.

"Why now? Why 2016 for us to arrive at the Touch Bar?"

A lot of it came together in terms of the technology being just right to really pull this off in this kind of form factor — such as Touch ID and the quality of the display. We wanted it to feel just completely native to the keyboard and completely real — and be so responsive. We were able to take so much that we've learned in the hardware for iOS devices — and even so much of the security model of iOS, like for Touch ID — and incorporate some of our custom silicon to make it happen. A lot of things had to come together to make this possible. It’s exciting to finally have it out.

"Similar to Touch ID in the iPhone, Touch Bar will get better with time, right? What are you most looking forward to seeing, maybe in a year from now, when we have these and developers get their hands on it? What kind of stuff should we expect to see?"

What's been really awesome is that we've brought some developers in over the past month — and we just showed a small subset of the ones that had come in and already started doing work — and they have a lot of great ideas. Look at djay Pro. It's so exciting when we develop a product and we have a vision of what we can do with it with our apps. We know inherently this is a device with so much potential because it's just a versatile Multi-Touch display. When you get it in the hands of these developers and it's like, "we didn't think of that, but that's just awesome."

I’m really excited about what we've seen so far. I think, of course, a lot of people will do buttons and sliders, but I think there will be this next wave where people say, "hey, this is like custom hardware." You can create the control that supports the best mechanic for whatever it is you want to do in your app, whether that's a game doing something really novel or music, which is so awesome for those kind of real-time capabilities. It's going to be great, but I'm really excited about how fast it's already happening. I think day one, you get one of these, and it's going to be great.

touch_bar_labeled
Apple's newly published design guidelines refer to the Touch Bar as an extension of the keyboard and trackpad, not the display. Apple does not want developers to include display alerts, messages, scrolling content, or static content in their Touch Bar extensions, but rather controls that resemble the appearance of the physical keyboard keys in terms of size and color.

Although technically it’s 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 shouldn’t display alerts, messages, scrolling content, static content, or anything else that commands the user’s attention or distracts from their work on the main screen.

The guidelines also tell developers not to include functions solely in the Touch Bar to ensure backwards compatibility with older Macs. There must always be a way to perform tasks using the keyboard or trackpad. Apple also tells developers not to use Touch Bar for well-known keyboard shortcuts such as find, select all, deselect, copy, cut, paste, undo, redo, new, save, close, print, and quit.

Top Rated Comments

dixido Avatar
64 months ago
The possibilities are endless...
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Acidsplat Avatar
64 months ago
Wonder if it's too little too late.
I haven't seen this much negative feedback on a Mac portable since the original MacBook Air.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HJM.NL Avatar
64 months ago
I haven't tried it myself and although it looks nice, I think its an ergonomic disaster. You go from the trackpad (blindly) to the touch bar (you have to look), use it... look at the screen if it's okay and over and over again... Can't believe Apple comes up with such an ergonomic disaster like this. They really don't get it and are out of ideas. Did this really took 4 years to develop :eek:.

Same for photo's. I don't get the double functions with the trackpad. Multitouch on the trackpad is ergonomic logical in my opinion (you can keep your eyes on the screen and naturally perform certain tasks on the trackpad).

I understand the pricing. Numbers of Apple's iPads are down for years, by upping the price for the notebooks, they hope to sell more iPads. With this pace of innovation they'll sell less from both.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Leo90 Avatar
64 months ago
Apple starts reminding me Microsoft and Sony of 00's sitting in its throne neglecting all the innovation that's been happening in the industry and simply adding minimal functional innovation to their product lineup. I love my 2016 MacBook as it is a great computer overall but I wish Apple would be brave enough to start thinking outside of the box. What about higher integration between iOS and MacOS? What about augmented reality potentials? I am sorry Federighi, this touchbar looks interesting but you can see straight away it is a gimmick, it is not ergonomic to work with, there will be a point the user will just grab a mouse and do all those tasks quicker. Dont try to fool us with "developers" talk now, this is not iOS, this is macOS, the same OS whose App Store is pretty much dead. I really enjoy Apple products, but somehow I start feeling they are becoming overhyped this day and I cant simply justify spending 2k pounds like this for an additional touchbar and a few improvements. I want Apple to start focusing on their products again and not only sales pitch and marketing.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
colbertnation Avatar
64 months ago
Poor Craig. It feels like him and Phil are the last of the SJ bred senior execs who actually want to innovate and push the boundaries. But they're held back by Timmy's penny pinching ******** and Jony's idiotic quest for an invisibly thin Apple device.

The way Craig says in his first answer, that they've been working on this for years.. to me it sounds like "FFS, Timmy finally let us get this out."
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
garirry Avatar
64 months ago
And so much potential for money.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple california streaming event

Apple Event Announced: 'California Streaming' on September 14 With iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7 Expected

Tuesday September 7, 2021 9:03 am PDT by
Apple today announced that it will be holding a special event on Tuesday, September 14 at 10:00 a.m. The event will take place at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with WWDC and last year's fall events, this new event will be held digitally with no members of the media invited to attend in person. Apple will likely provide pre-taped segments for...
iphone 12 colors 2021

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived in October 2020 in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone...
studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
maroon5memories

Apple Collaborates With Maroon 5 to Add 'Memories' Song to Photos App

Wednesday September 25, 2019 12:02 pm PDT by
Apple has teamed up with Maroon 5 to add the group's new song "Memories" to the Memories feature in the Photos app, allowing it to be used for photo slide show creations, reports Billboard. "Memories" will be available as a soundtrack option for a limited time and it is available to iPhone and iPad users running the latest iOS 13 and iPadOS software. Memories in the Photos app are created ...
affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
Top Stories 75 Thumbnail

Top Stories: Last-Minute iPhone 13 Rumors, Apple Announces App Store Changes, and More

Saturday September 4, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
The finish line is in sight! Apple's annual iPhone event is likely just a week or so away and all eyes will be on the company as it unveils the next version of its most popular product line. With any luck, we'll also see the next-generation Apple Watch and perhaps even some new AirPods. Other news this week saw Apple making some more changes to its App Store policies in response to a...
Top Stories 74 Thumbnail

Top Stories: iPhone 13 Nears Launch, Larger Apple Watch?, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini Rumors

Saturday August 28, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
August is rapidly drawing to close, which means Apple's annual iPhone launch event is right around the corner. iPhone 13 and Apple Watch Series 7 rumors are continuing to circulate, and we're also hearing about Mac updates likely coming a bit later. Apple is also finishing up work on its upcoming software updates like iOS 15, with some late-addition features starting to go live in beta while ...
iPhone 13 Wi Fi 6E feature update

Wi-Fi 6E Explained: What It Could Mean for iPhone 13 and Beyond

Monday August 2, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 is widely expected to come with Wi-Fi 6E capabilities, and while it may seem rather nuanced to the average consumer, with only improved speeds and being "up to date" in the realm of Wi-Fi technology, it's actually a fairly significant improvement, laying the groundwork for much of what we know the future holds. To truly understand Wi-Fi 6E, MacRumors sat down for an exclusive...