Apple Expected to Kill the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar This Year

Apple is expected to drop the Touch Bar from its upcoming MacBook Pro models and use physical function keys in its place, according to new reports from Ming-Chi Kuo and Mark Gurman.

touch bar close up

The Touch Bar is an OLED touchscreen strip positioned above the keyboard, providing users with customizable controls, ranging from traditional function keys to app-specific shortcuts and features. A popular example of the Touch Bar's capabilities the display of a row of emojis when composing a message in the Messages app.

In a note to investors seen by MacRumors, reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that two new 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models will omit the Touch Bar entirely, with Apple instead returning to physical function keys. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has stopped short of saying that the Touch Bar will be removed this year. Instead, Gurman states that Apple has "tested" versions of the MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar, implying that it may choose to remove it.

Apple described the Touch Bar as "revolutionary" and "groundbreaking" when it was first introduced on the 2016 MacBook Pro:

"The Touch Bar places controls right at the user's fingertips and adapts when using the system or apps like Mail, Finder, Calendar, Numbers, GarageBand, Final Cut Pro X, and many more, including third-party apps," Apple said in 2016. "For example, the Touch Bar can show Tabs and Favorites in Safari, enable easy access to emoji in Messages, provide a simple way to edit images or scrub through videos in Photos and so much more."

The Touch Bar went on to be a divisive feature among users, with some decrying the lack of physical controls for functions such as volume or brightness. Apple already made a slight concession by re-introducing a physical Esc key on the latest 13-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models after users complained about the virtual Esc key on the Touch Bar from previous models.

Kuo expects the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models to launch in the third quarter of 2021, which begins in late June. The updated machines are speculated to feature Apple Silicon chips, new designs, displays, more ports, and the return of MagSafe charging. For more on what to expect from these new MacBook Pro models, see our "Everything We Know" guide.

Related Roundup: 14 & 16" MacBook Pro
Related Forum: MacBook Pro

Popular Stories

dewey airtag

Report Highlights Danger of Using AirTags for Tracking Dogs

Monday January 30, 2023 1:45 pm PST by
AirTags may be a convenient way for tracking dogs that might get off leash or otherwise lost, but there are dangers associated with the practice, as outlined by a report from The Wall Street Journal. At 1.26 inches in diameter, AirTags are able to fit easily on a dog's collar, but that size also makes the tracking devices small enough to swallow, at least for a medium to large-sized dog, and ...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Five New iOS Features Coming to Your iPhone Later This Year

Tuesday January 31, 2023 11:58 am PST by
Apple has previously announced several upcoming iOS features that are expected to be added to the iPhone this year. Some of the features could be introduced with iOS 16.4, which should enter beta testing soon, while others will arrive later in the year. Below, we have recapped five new iOS features that are expected to launch in 2023, such as an Apple Pay Later financing option for purchases ...
Apple Silicon Teal Feature

The Next Big Apple Silicon Device May Not Be a Mac or iPad

Wednesday February 1, 2023 3:57 am PST by
Apple's next device with an Apple silicon chip may not be a Mac or an iPad, but rather an advanced external display, according to recent reports. The display, which is rumored to arrive this year, is expected to sit somewhere between the $1,599 Studio Display and the $4,999 Pro Display XDR – but more exact information about the device's positioning and price point is as yet unknown. While ...
Multi Display CarPlay 1

Apple Launching All-New CarPlay Experience Later This Year With These 5 Features

Sunday January 29, 2023 10:15 am PST by
In June 2022, Apple previewed the next generation of CarPlay, promising deeper integration with vehicle functions like A/C and FM radio, support for multiple displays across the dashboard, personalization options, and more. Apple says the first vehicles with support for the next-generation CarPlay experience will be announced in late 2023, with committed automakers including Acura, Audi,...
MKBHD HomePod 2 White Ring Stain

New HomePod Can Still Stain Some Wooden Surfaces

Tuesday January 31, 2023 8:29 am PST by
When the original HomePod launched in 2018, it was discovered that the speaker can leave white rings on some wooden surfaces. Now, well-known YouTuber Marques Brownlee has confirmed that the issue persists to a lesser extent with the new HomePod. In a side-by-side test, he showed that the white second-generation HomePod left a white ring on the wooden surface that he placed the speaker on,...
HomePod 2 White and Midnight Feature Purple Blue

Apple Explains Why HomePod Was Released Again, Wi-Fi 4 Limitation, and More

Thursday February 2, 2023 7:57 am PST by
Apple's VP of hardware engineering Matthew Costello and product marketing employee Alice Chan recently spoke with Men's Journal and TechCrunch about the new second-generation HomePod in wide-ranging interviews about the smart speaker. Apple discontinued the original full-size HomePod in March 2021 after multiple reports indicated that sales of the speaker were lackluster, but Chan told Men's ...