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"
Related Forum: MacBook Pro

Top Rated Comments

Mac Fly (film) Avatar
58 months ago
Apple tests before releasing. MR forum members review before testing.
Score: 125 Votes (Like | Disagree)
2457248 Avatar
58 months ago
whereas a touch bar on a laptop makes perfect sense :confused:
Score: 88 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jclardy Avatar
58 months ago
Schiller has seen the surface studio, right?
Score: 77 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pier Avatar
58 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
58 months ago
Phil, allow me to introduce you to someone.

Score: 62 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BWhaler Avatar
58 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 watch ecg

Apple Watch Likely to Gain Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose, and Blood Alcohol Monitoring

Monday May 3, 2021 4:03 am PDT by
The Apple Watch may gain the ability to measure blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood alcohol levels, according to newly-revealed information about one of Apple's chosen business partners. Apple has been revealed to be the largest customer of the British electronics start-up Rockley Photonics, The Telegraph reports. Rockley Photonics has developed non-invasive optical sensors for...
tile sticker e1570533758981

Tile CEO: 'We Welcome Competition From Apple, But We Think It Needs to Be Fair'

Tuesday May 4, 2021 9:51 am PDT by
Just after Apple announced its AirTags, Tile CEO CJ Prober relayed his concerns about competing with Apple in the tracking space, and said that Tile would ask Congress to investigate Apple's business practices specific to Find My and item trackers. Prober this week did an interview with Bloomberg, where he further expanded on Tile's complaints about Apple and why he feels that Tile is...
facebook instargram updated att prompt 1

Facebook and Instagram Ask Users to Enable App Tracking in Order to Keep Services 'Free of Charge'

Sunday May 2, 2021 1:22 pm PDT by
As a way to convince users to enable tracking across other apps and websites, Facebook is deploying the tactic of telling users that they must enable tracking as part of the App Tracking Transparency framework in iOS 14.5 if they want to help keep Facebook and Instagram "free of charge." App Tracking Transparency or ATT is the newest privacy feature to come to iPhone and iPad devices as part ...
fortnite apple logo 2

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney Admits App Store's 30% Cut Is Similar to Consoles, Would Have Accepted Special Deal With Apple

Tuesday May 4, 2021 1:54 pm PDT by
Apple's legal battle with Epic Games is continuing on, and during the second day of the trial, Epic Games' CEO Tim Sweeney continued his testimony against Apple. Sweeney was grilled by Apple's lawyers, and made several points seemingly favorable to Apple. In addition to mentioning how he prefers Apple's iPhone and values Apple's privacy policies that he's aiming to dismantle, Sweeney...
Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature 1

Mini-LED Display Production Improving for Redesigned MacBook Pro Models Later This Year

Monday May 3, 2021 8:33 am PDT by
Apple supplier TSMT, a key vendor involved in the production of mini-LED displays in the newly announced 12.9-inch iPad Pro, has been able to address technical challenges for the production of mini-LED displays to be used in the upcoming 14 and 16-inch redesigned MacBook Pro models. As reported by DigiTimes, TSMT had initially been facing production constraints with the circuit board and...
signal instagram ads3

Signal Shares the Instagram Ads Facebook Doesn't Want You to See

Wednesday May 5, 2021 1:29 am PDT by
Encrypted messaging app Signal has had a series of Instagram ads blocked from the social media platform, after it attempted to show users how much data the Facebook-owned company collects about them and how it's used to push targeted ads. In a blog post, Signal described how it generated the ads to show users why they were seeing them, simply by declaring upfront the information that the...
Foldable iPhone 2023 Feature Yellow

Kuo: Apple to Launch 8-Inch Foldable iPhone in 2023

Sunday May 2, 2021 8:43 pm PDT by
Apple is working to launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was seen by MacRumors. Based on our latest industry survey, we forecast that Apple will likely launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023, with SDC as the exclusive display supplier and Samsung Foundry...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.5.1 With Fixes for App Tracking Transparency Bug, WebKit Security Issues

Monday May 3, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.5.1, minor security updates that come just a week after the release of the iOS 14.5 update. There is also a companion watchOS 7.4.1 update for Apple Watch and an iOS 12.5.3 update for older iPhone and iPad devices that don't support Apple's latest operating system versions. According to Apple's release notes, the update fixes a bug with App Tracking...
airtags teardown tile mat galaxy smarttag

iFixit Shares AirTag Teardown Revealing 'Impressively Compact' Design Compared to Tile Mate and Galaxy SmartTag

Sunday May 2, 2021 4:54 am PDT by
iFixit has shared the first of its two-part series in tearing down Apple's AirTag item tracker, revealing that Apple had to make impressive design decisions to achieve its small design, including rethinking the speaker layout. For comparison, iFixit compared Apple's AirTag to the Tile Mate and the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag. Compared to the competition, AirTag is the smallest in size, with the...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Brydge's 12.9-Inch iPad Pro Keyboard With Trackpad

Tuesday May 4, 2021 11:48 am PDT by
Brydge has been making keyboards for Apple's iPads for years now, and the newest model, the Brydge 12.9 MAX+, is compatible with the third, fourth, and fifth-generation iPad Pro models, so it works even with the new mini-LED iPad Pro. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. In our latest YouTube video, we checked out the new Brydge 12.9 MAX+ to see if it's a viable...