Phil Schiller Says Apple Tested and Rejected Touch Screen Macs, Finding It 'Absurd' on a Desktop

Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, recently continued the company's stance against turning its desktop and laptop devices into touch screen-enabled computers, which some customers believe could be advantageous additions to the macOS platform. With the new addition of the "Touch Bar" on the MacBook Pro line, seen by some as a potential step towards a full-on Mac touch screen, many Apple executives have come out saying this isn't the case.

Speaking with Backchannel, Schiller has now stated that a multi-touch display on a MacBook "wouldn't be enough," because it would begin a divide between MacBook and iMac. But, if the company implemented the same touch screen on a desktop it would "become absurd," due to the iMac's main source of user interaction -- the keyboard and mouse or trackpad -- residing too far away from where users would raise their hand to interact with the screen. Ultimately, Schiller said this line of thought is "lowest common denominator thinking."

phil-schiller

“We think of the whole platform,” he says. “If we were to do Multi-Touch on the screen of the notebook, that wouldn’t be enough — then the desktop wouldn’t work that way.” And touch on the desktop, he says, would be a disaster. “Can you imagine a 27-inch iMac where you have to reach over the air to try to touch and do things? That becomes absurd.” He also explains that such a move would mean totally redesigning the menu bar for fingers, in a way that would ruin the experience for those using pointer devices like the touch or mouse. “You can’t optimize for both,” he says. “It’s the lowest common denominator thinking.”

All the same, Schiller confirmed that Apple has tried out touch screens on a Mac in its labs over the last few years and the company "absolutely come away with the belief that it isn't the right thing to do," he said. "Our instincts were correct.” When asked whether the Touch Bar was the beginning of a larger influence by iOS on the macOS platform, Schiller said this was not the case.

When I suggested that this might be only the latest in a number of mobile innovations moving to the Mac, in an overall annexation of the Macintosh platform, Schiller pushed back, hard. “Its implementation is pure Mac,” he said. “The thought and vision from the very beginning was not at all, ‘How do we put iOS in the Mac?’ It was entirely, ‘How to you use the [iOS] technology to make a better Mac experience?’”

In regards to the MacBook Pro's switch to Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, and the subsequent frustration by some users who fear needing to purchase and keep track of many dongles, Schiller said that “we’re absolutely more sure than ever that we’ve done the right thing,” because of the standard that USB-C is set to become. For context regarding the amount of cables available, MacRumors recently collected some USB-C adapters and dongles available from Apple and third-party accessory makers into a roundup.

Ultimately, Schiller said that the "fundamental difference" between the MacBook Pro's naysayers and fans is divided between those who have not yet interacted with the laptop, and those who have. Thankfully, many more will be able to get a chance to use the MacBook Pro and Touch Bar as the first round of shipments have begun arriving to pre-order customers today.

Related Roundups: MacBook Pro 13", MacBook Pro 16"

Top Rated Comments

Mac Fly (film) Avatar
53 months ago
Apple tests before releasing. MR forum members review before testing.
Score: 125 Votes (Like | Disagree)
2457248 Avatar
53 months ago
whereas a touch bar on a laptop makes perfect sense :confused:
Score: 88 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jclardy Avatar
53 months ago
Schiller has seen the surface studio, right?
Score: 77 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pier Avatar
53 months ago
Can you imagine a 27-inch iMac where you have to reach over the air to try to touch and do things? That becomes absurd.

Which is why you just need to move the screen so that it is more accessible like Microsoft did.
Score: 66 Votes (Like | Disagree)
webbuzz Avatar
53 months ago
Phil, allow me to introduce you to someone.

Score: 62 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BWhaler Avatar
53 months ago
Microsoft found the same thing, so they created the ability for the screen to move into a position natural for touch and interacting with content.
Score: 52 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple briefcase

AppleCare Memo Hints at Potential Hardware Announcement Next Tuesday

Thursday December 3, 2020 9:12 am PST by
Following a busy fall season in which Apple hosted three events in as many months, the company may have one more product announcement in store this year. In an internal memo this week, obtained by MacRumors from a reliable source, Apple informed service providers that it has AppleCare-related changes planned for Tuesday, December 8 at approximately 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time. Specifically, Apple ...
iphone11colorswhitebg

Apple Launches iPhone 11 Display Module Replacement Program

Friday December 4, 2020 3:22 pm PST by
Apple today launched a new display replacement program for iPhone 11 devices to address a problem that cases a "small percentage" of iPhone 11 displays to stop responding to touch. Apple says that affected devices were manufactured between November 2019 and May 2020, and if there are touch issues, the iPhone 11 models could have a problem with the display module. Those with iPhone 11...
matte black macbook pro colorware

Apple Researching a Matte Black Finish for MacBooks

Friday December 4, 2020 9:04 am PST by
Apple has filed a patent application for an intense light-absorbant matte black finish for a range of products, including the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and MacBook (via Patently Apple). Image via ColorWare The patent application, filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is titled "Anodized Part Having a Matte Black Appearance," and outlines the characteristics of the finish and...
homepod mini amazon echo size

$99 Speaker Showdown: HomePod Mini vs. Amazon Echo and Google Nest Audio

Wednesday December 2, 2020 3:12 pm PST by
Apple recently released the HomePod mini, a new $99 version of the original HomePod that's smaller, cuter, and, most importantly, competitively priced. At $99, the HomePod mini can better compete with affordable smart speakers from companies like Google and Amazon. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The HomePod mini has been praised for its high-quality sound at its...
wristcam design

$299 'Wristcam' Adds a Pair of Cameras to Your Apple Watch

Thursday December 3, 2020 9:32 am PST by
The Apple Watch has never included a camera, likely due to battery life and space concerns. A new Apple Watch product aims to address that lack by introducing a wrist-worn camera that works with the Apple Watch. The Apple-certified Wristcam attaches to the Apple Watch in the form of a band that adds a rather large camera set to the top of the Apple Watch. It's quite thick and bulky, but can...
iphone 12 5g

Multiple iPhone 12 Users Report Sudden Drops in 5G and LTE Cellular Coverage

Thursday December 3, 2020 1:18 am PST by
Since Apple launched the iPhone 12 in October, an increasing number of users of the new smartphone have been reporting persistent drops in cellular coverage. Multiple reports of dropped 5G and LTE connectivity have appeared on Reddit, on Apple's support forums, and on the MacRumors forums, with many people suffering issues when walking or in transit and some seeing the same problem when...
iOS 14

Apple Releases Third Betas of iOS 14.3 and iPadOS 14.3 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Wednesday December 2, 2020 10:04 am PST by
Apple today seeded the third betas of upcoming iOS 14.3 and iPadOS 14.3 updates to developers for testing purposes, two weeks after releasing the second betas and a month after the launch of iOS and iPadOS 14.2. iOS and iPadOS 14.3 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper developer profile has been installed. The iOS 14.3 update brings the...
16 inch MBP Mini Led

Kuo: Two Redesigned MacBook Pros in 2021 and New MacBook Air in 2022, All With Apple Silicon and Mini-LED Displays

Wednesday December 2, 2020 5:46 am PST by
Apple plans to release two redesigned MacBook Pros in 2021 and a new MacBook Air in 2022, all with mini-LED displays and Apple Silicon chips, according to TFI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a research note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that two new MacBook Pro models equipped with an all-new form factor design are expected to launch in 2021, and a new "affordable"...
satechi magnetic charger

Satechi Debuts Magnetic Wireless Charger for iPhone 12 Models

Friday December 4, 2020 8:00 am PST by
Satechi today announced a new USB-C Magnetic Wireless Charging Cable, which is a new wireless charging option for Apple's iPhone 12 models. Designed to work with the magnets built into the iPhone 12 lineup, the Magnetic Wireless Charging Cable adheres to the back of an iPhone much like Apple's MagSafe charger. The Magnetic Wireless Charging Cable works attaches to an iPhone 12 with a...
magsafe duo design

Hands-On With Apple's New MagSafe Duo Charger for iPhone 12 and Apple Watch

Thursday December 3, 2020 2:49 pm PST by
Apple on Tuesday finally released the MagSafe Duo Charger, which is a $129 charger that combines an iPhone 12 MagSafe charger with an Apple Watch charging puck. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We picked up one of the new MagSafe Duo chargers to see if it's worth Apple's super high asking price. Apple first introduced the MagSafe Duo alongside the new iPhone 12...