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Making the Touch Bar useful by abandoning Apple guidelines (vas3k.com)
677 points by sneks 18 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 460 comments

The biggest problem with touchbar is that Apple intentionally made non-touchbar model inferior in terms of hardware and the amount of USB-C ports to make sure ppl buy touchbar. This is truly infuriating and I'm sure, was done for purely marketing reasons.

I'd buy a non-touchbar model if it had the same hardware as a touchbar model in a heartbeat.

Agreed; they've intentionally nerfed the normal keyboard models - if I was an Apple user that'd infuriate me no end. To call the range "Pro" is a lie.

The biggest problem I see with it is Apple's hate of developers who touch type. Surely there's enough room on that unit to include both the function row and a touch bar? If so, it'd be pretty neat to have for presenting misc information. (It looks nice enough!)

Lenovo tried something similar with their 2014 X1 Carbon (I have gen 1, would like to upgrade to latest). Not anywhere as nice looking as the MBP's touch bar, but equal in that they messed up something good. https://www.laptopmag.com/articles/thinkpad-x1-carbon-2014-s...

Fortunately Lenovo saw the errors of their ways and quickly reverted to what I would say is the all-superior layout of the current model (i.e. the one that went before).

I touch type, and I've never touch typed a function key.

I had to (briefly) use a touchbar Mac while running Visual Studio for debugging and the lack of buttons made it an excruciatingly painful process. I never before thought I touch typed function keys, but I actually did.

You got me on lack of precision - you don't need to be touch typing for physical FN keys to be useful.

I realise that whilst just about everything else I do on the keyboard is proper touch (based from F-J), I have to move my whole hands to use the FN keys. I will nevertheless hit F5, F9 etc for compiling / break points / step debugging without looking down at the keyboard.

I on the other hand do not touch type (very well), and regularly touch type function keys (F5-F12 while debugging).

Every time I debug, for the past 25 years.

This doesn't mean everyone else follows the same pattern.

To be fair, Apple's F keys aren't even touch-typist friendly because there's no grouping.

I'm listening to music all day. Changing the volume and skipping tracks without looking is great to keep the flow going.

You know where the F-keys are due to experience, and also the sound control is right next to the power button. If you don't use them a lot, you look at your keyboard, but for infrequent usage that's OK since it does not occur a lot. Non-issue, and bad example. I use expose, sound & brightness control most and I can use them all blindly. Just like I can use Esc blindly. Controlling music or changing keyboard brightness I have to look but I don't use these a lot. And with that being said I seem to get pretty good at getting to pause/play key without looking.

And the ESC key?

If you aren't accessing the volume control or screen brightness keys without looking down then you're not really a touch typist :)

You are not a real touch typist, if you don't write with butterflies.

Or if you don't listen to music. Or if you use a desk where you don't ever have to adjust the screen brightness.

I never realized all of the complexity that developers were required to deal with.

It's not that infuriating, since you gave them your money anyway. And a lot of it.

You warmly, and strongly screamed "do that again please" with a big heart shape.

The thing is, you:

   A. can scream money for nerfed hardware with F-keys
   B. can scream money for nerfed TB with serious hardware
   C. can't scream money for F-keys with serious hardware
   D. can't scream money for TB with nerfed hardware
This means I'm currently stuck in a non-choice because either of A or B is lacking, as this is C that I want (or possibly B, but without the shitty guidelines, as demonstrated by TFA). D would have been a great way to show confidence in the TB from Apple. So maybe it's about reducing the SKU count, but it seriously feels like it's combined with a manipulative ploy, which is definitely eroding the trust of people that love Macs, and that is what's really infuriating.

E. Don't buy Apple.

You'll spend much less, and won't be supporting practices you don't approve of.

This is not very useful advice, kind of similar to "just use Linux" when people complain about some issue they have with Windows.

For many, dropping macOS would be a much larger disruption than having less usable F-keys. That does not mean we can't complain about it.

There are plenty of other hardware manufacturers out there. One of the practices you might not wish to support is an OS being tied to a specific hardware vendor.

If you don't like the hardware you shouldn't be buying it.

> One of the practices you might not wish to support is an OS being tied to a specific hardware vendor.

Which is literally the reason why OSX is that good/stable.

I feel like the "stable" part of things has been eroding away lately. I've been very disappointed with Apple over the past few OS rollouts. The new FS went flawlessly but there have been so many fit and finish bugs, I feel like Microsoft is making it.

>> High Sierra bug where empty password gives you root

>> High Sierra patch released, breaks file sharing

>> High Sierra patch re-enables passwordless root access on certain machines

> stable

I hear it's not very good/stable now, but running a Hackintosh system of Snow Leopard - Yosemite on various hardware worked pretty well. And that's without them trying to optimize it (I guess).

so you're saying that apple has many people in a bind, many of those willingly. that's not a good negotiating position for them.

It is a crummy situation indeed. In my case for example, I am just hoping that the next generation will fix the keyboard issues and being lucky that 4 years old work computer works fine.

Or if you work with mobile apps, unable to do your job.

> This is not very useful advice, kind of similar to "just use Linux" when people complain about some issue they have with Windows.

Given that we don't know whether or not you can live with non-Apple hardware, I think it's reasonable to at least float the idea.

> For many, dropping macOS would be a much larger disruption than having less usable F-keys.

It's worth it, trust me. I dropped it almost twenty years ago, and I've never looked back. My computers are less expensive, more powerful & more flexible. My computing environment is customised to my needs, not those of some generic 20-something in Cupertino. If I want to, I can dig deep in the guts of my system and fix bugs or add features. Or I can hire someone to do it for me. Or I can just rely on the work of others (which is ultimately what Apple's customers have to do anyway: rely on Apple to fix & extend — and as their recent spate of crippling security bugs indicates, they haven't been doing a great job).

I think that comparing the operating systems of today based on how they worked 20 years ago is a bit of a stretch.

I bought my first Mac in 2009 (still kicking and alive) because I was tired of tinkering with Linux (I have abandoned Windows years before). I do look back at these systems every day at work so I do know quite well how my life would be if I really had to use them for everything.

Just one example of why I like macOS - it has a copy/paste shortcut that really does work everywhere. From Vim running in a console to my vector based drawing program of choice, out of the box.

> I think that comparing the operating systems of today based on how they worked 20 years ago is a bit of a stretch.

My family, friends & colleagues all use Apple computers & phones, so I believe that I've had pretty good exposure to them. There are a few things which macOS does better (system-wide copy/paste is clearly one), but overall I stand by what I wrote. Linux is great, and I don't thinking I'm missing anything by avoid Windows & macOS.

And give up the only good desktop operating system, retina screens and the only usable touchpad in laptops.

Give up the only usable trackpad if you move away.

Endure an objectively terrible keyboard with a massive failure rate if you stay.

(Ironically my £3K touchbar MBP return key failed to register a press right on cue when typing this comment)

The new keyboards drive me nuts, too. Old ones were 100x better. How did they not notice how quickly and crappily the keys turned to degraded mushstate? Never left the clean room?

But it had to be thin and light!

The new keyboard is usable for me but is absolutely worse than the old models.

You need to catch up. That was true, and a line I often repeated, five years ago. It couldn't be further from the truth today.

High-density ("retina") screens are a standard feature in high-end laptops. Asserting that it's an Apple exclusive feature proves your ignorance.

Many companies now make good touchpads, probably better because they actually have a physical click, which Apple has removed.

Many companies make much better keyboards today, while Apple makes worse. Even my Lenovo Yoga's keyboard, which retracts into the body of the laptop, is better than what Apple offers.

Operating systems are more subjective, but consider whether you really think and operating system whose developers have entirely abandoned it for the better part of a decade is really likely to be the best.

> retina screens and the only usable touchpad in laptops

I mean I don't have a side in this convo. But if you are gonna put up a argument at least make it not sound fanboyish.

Plenty of laptops with similar ppi (what makes retina...retina) and plenty with good touchpads.

Many reasons to choose different laptops including Apples, but those you listed the competitors have themselves. Apple just markets their retina displays as 'special' when its all about pixel density and most laptops have moved in the direction of offering comparable ppi.

> I mean I don't have a side in this convo. But if you are gonna put up a argument at least make it not sound fanboyish.

> Plenty of laptops with similar ppi (what makes retina...retina) and plenty with good touchpads.

If you're going to put up an argument at least make it sound informed. The best trackpads I've used in any other laptop manufacturer was "acceptable", and that's Microsoft's. Plenty with good touchpads? Not even remotely close.

As for retina displays, plenty of laptops with higher PPI, also plenty of laptops with scaling issues up the ass.

Sounds like you never used a Surface Book. The OS is closer to Linux than macOS thanks to WSL, the screen is truly stunning and the touchpad on-par with MacBooks.

No, they don't sell them where I live. Also I remember the 90's and never will support Microsoft willingly.

Personally, I hate the touchpad on my MBP - I find I have to press the buttons too hard, even with the sensitivity up to the max. Literally gives me sore fingers.

You might consider turning on "Tap to click" in your Trackpad settings. Instead of pressing anything, you can just lightly tap a finger anywhere on the pad to send a click. There's another option for a two-fingered tap to count as a right-click.

I'm getting an annoying amount of spurious clicks even using press-to-click. I dread to think what tap would be like.

Equally annoying is when the palm rejection kicks in because I'm trying to press too close to an edge or something, and the lack of tactile feedback makes it feel like i just stubbed my finger.

I've never seen a spurious click with press to click, but I am still on a 2015 MBP.

I'll give that a try!

I think all the things you just said are opinions, because I am existing in a non-MBP world and am happier for it, and am sad whenever I am forced to use one at work because I left my lenovo at home or whatever.

Keyboard-nub-mouse-thing for life! How do MBP users survive without it? ;P

And have even crappier hardware (thinkpads with screen resolution and disk sizes of last decade, not much cheaper, anyone?) with Win 10 preinstalled...

Dell XPS 13 has build quality comparable if not better than MacBooks, comes with Linux preinstalled, and has an optional high resolution QHD+ screen.


I tried that for half a year, and it has some issues:

- Linux applications have a lot of trouble with the HiDPI screen

- Coil whine

- Shitty battery life

- Shitty touchpad

So as whatever is Apple doing is annoying faddy bullshit, it's still the better option, especially considering the XPS 13 cost as much or more than MBP.

I'm using my XPS13 for like a year now.

> - Linux applications have a lot of trouble with the HiDPI screen

Honestly haven't noticed a single thing.

> - Coil whine

None of that.

> - Shitty battery life

What's shitty? It lasts 5 hours of me working with VMs. I don't think expecting more is reasonable. It's much less laggy than my collegue's MBP, which leads me to assume that Mac just throttles the CPU down to achieve longer battery life? I don't want that.

> - Shitty touchpad

Not at all. It works nicely. Much better than most touchpads I've used.

And as an added bonus, it doesn't get burning hot to the touch when doing actual work on it. Nor does it sound like it's about to take off. And it was like 1.5K EUR vs 3K EUR for a macbook pro.

>> Linux applications have a lot of trouble with the HiDPI screen

> Honestly haven't noticed a single thing.

I've got a coworker sitting right next to me with a HiDPI main + non-HiDPI secondary screen. X or Wayland, it's a thousand cuts of hell: set native resolution and render scaling to 200% and you get some (most) apps at 200% on the non-HiDPI screen. Drag an app from HiDPI to non-HiDPI and notice how the overflow is wrongly scaled. There's no way to render at 200% on a non-native resolution then downsample to native, you have to set a non-native resolution, upsampled by the GPU/panel, which results in a useless blurry mess.

> it doesn't get burning hot to the touch when doing actual work on it. Nor does it sound like it's about to take off.

Early '13 and mid '14 13" rMBP here, VMs don't lag, slightly warm, but in no way "burning hot". Early '13 is dead silent thanks to dual fan design, mid '14 slightly less so, and only when I peg all cores for long enough.

> I've got a coworker sitting right next to me with a HiDPI main + non-HiDPI secondary screen. X or Wayland, it's a thousand cuts of hell: set native resolution and render scaling to 200% and you get some (most) apps at 200% on the non-HiDPI screen.

I have quite literally both sides of this problem on my Windows laptop at work. Either the 4K display on the laptop renders everything really tiny, or the 1080p displays make everything huge. I haven't found a decent solution, so I just end up using the 4K display only for Conemu because it's the only thing that doesn't render in some goofy way. Even then, the toolbar icons for it are tiny, and any windows it spawns (e.g. warning that I'm about to paste something with newlines) have tiny icons.

I stick to 1440p displays at home for now. Those work great with everything.

I had a lot of issues with my XPS on Windows, particularly Swing apps.

One handy feature you can use though is to place a manifest file [1] next to the exe with a bit of XML in it tellings Windows to render it at a bigger scale.

1. https://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/054c1d49-9f24...

I was trapped in HiDPI hell for a while as well, especially because I was dual-screened with a 4k monitor.

The world became a better place when I swapped ubuntu for Debian and Unity for Gnome. Shit just works now...

Yea, I did have to set scaling at 200%, and tweak font scaling once. But it's been set and forget.

Well, I'm not really sure what to say other than that I don't have any of those issues. Sitting here right now with my HiDPI XPS13 screen and a regular HDMI monitor. Things look good and I have no scaling issues. Haven't messed with any of the settings, it's just an Ubuntu install with i3.

I don't know any specific macbook models as I'm not an apple user and there is like no visual distinction between them. All I know is that I have two coworkers who use macbooks, and theirs are incredibly loud & warm.

> it doesn't get burning hot to the touch when doing actual work on it

The latest generation of Macs definitely run cool, fwiw. I've never once noticed the heat

I don't understand why this was downvoted. This has been consistently my experience whenever I tried switching to a non-Mac notebook. On paper the specifications look great, but in practice the hardware configuration is better tested for Macs and everything just works smoother.

Same here. Mine has an idiotically loud coil whine and sometimes fails to go to sleep(the screen switches off but the computers stays on, resulting in a scorching hot laptop when you pull it out of your bag). The touchpad is horrendous, frequently jumping the cursor when you click on it. I've had the motherboard replaced 3(!!!!) times now, and all of those issues are still present, and from what I heard they are not exclusive to just one generation of the XPS - it's almost like Dell engineers can't make a small laptop without coil whine.


hennsen 17 days ago [flagged]

I wonder why people downvote posts who wonder why people downvote posts in which others state personal experiences...

"Please don't comment about the voting on comments. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading." [0]

0: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

I think people feel like they need to do something to try to stop a “bad behavior.”

My guess is that it’s more effective to simply upvote a comment that is getting downvoted “unjustly” in your opinion. At least that’s what I’ve started doing. Even when it isn’t a comment I would normally upvote.

It‘s easier to change bad behavior if someone clearly states what that is.

My use of „crappy“ in the very first comment? Did that hurt someones feelings because they love their non-Mac system? That i state i think most other hardware is bad?

I dont know, unless I’m told...

Then there should be a recommendation too that people should write a comment what they don’t like instead of just voting to help people understand what they did wrong. Like this it feels like downvoting is simply abused to push down opinions some don’t like.

We use these XPSes and the current MBPs here. I do not recommend the QHD screens on a 13", if you ever flip Linux to text mode it is just about unreadable, and I think only MacOS handles HiDPI elegantly. Ubuntu needs a lot of tweaks to be usable.

I also agree that the trackpads are very poor, and that's still one of Apple's main strengths. Although quite why the trackpad needs to be quite so enormous on the current models is a mystery to me, so many people catch it when typing.

> if you ever flip Linux to text mode it is just about unreadable

    setfont sun12x22
[0]: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Fonts#Console_fonts

I just tried this on an Ubuntu machine and sun12x22 doesn't exist. After some poking around and reading the linked wiki page, I found that Lat2-VGA32x16 (case-sensitive) produced a readable display. Given that running `setfont` on its own errors with `Cannot find default font`, I wonder if the default Ubuntu install neglects some things.

Thanks, I'll try this. Could have used it yesterday when I had to recover an XPS via the TTY...

I actually prefer QHD screen since it looks great with 2x scaling (and I don't really care about text mode which is only useful for recovery). I have no problems with HiDPI or touchpad after upgrading from the ancient 16.04 LTS that comes preinstalled. I hope that the next edition would come with 18.04 LTS which should offer a much better user experience out of the box.

I've tried the alpha on a Acer Surface-esque tablet with a HiDPI screen and agree 18.04 is much, much better out of the box - scaling was set sensibly and usably on first boot. Very much looking forward to the release.

I can't say anything about Linux on XPS 13 because I didn't tried it, but for build quality... that's questionable. In my small company we have horrible failure rate with XPS 13 (seven of eight had some problems, from failing fans and SSDs to 'it just died on me'). Macs are much better in that regard. And the price between these two is comparable.

Tried Dell once and didn’t like it. Dont remember exactly why. Plus the service to return the unsatisfying product was complicated. Last time i checked there was still something missing in the xps linux system so it wasn’t an option and i decided to leave Linux as main OS after 20 years. MacOS is not better in general, mainly it just has different annoyances e.g. less open and configurable - but therefore not changing things i got used to so fast as Ubuntu and the various graphical desktop suites (yes the superspecial tabbed window managers are more stable, but i dont like them) which seem to try new stuff i don’t need and like with every release.

I‘m based in Germany by the way, so my choice of products here might be different...

This is what I use, and as far as I can tell it's better than a MacBook in just about every way.

It’s a matter of taste i guess.

Unless you tell more about what you like in the one and what not in the other it’s hard to get a value from your experience report.

You know you set the price right when people are angry at you, but they buy it anyway.

Not necessarily. Apple could offer the non-TB model for the same price and features as TB, and have more happy customers. Instead, they have people delaying purchases, desperately searching for alternatives to these infernal machines, and generally having second that's about staying with the decaying Apple ecosystem..

Well, my comment wasn't meant to justify them refusing to put a decent keyboard on a performance machine. Just meant to comment on the general reality that if people are ticked off about the price but still buying, most of the time that's a good thing.

There are countless examples where it isn't true.

Not only is it inferior, but it runs hotter. I found out the hard way it only has one fan instead of two. I sold my previous Macbook in disgust for a variety of reasons including still accidentally pressing touchbar buttons a year after use. Anyway my tests showed that it ran about 3-4 degrees C hotter at the keyboard doing the same tasks and after some research found out the missing extra fan is why.

Thanks for the feedback. I was suspecting something as such when looking at TDP and teardowns but could not find a single review talking about this. FWIW I have a early '13 rMBP at home from before they moved to single fan (late '13) and it's definitely better at keeping things in check under load at a decent volume than my work-provided mid '14.

Don't forget the huge price hike "because of the touchbar" that included the non-touchbar model.

That's their "because we know you'll buy it anyway" factor.

I know I’m just one guy, but I was planning on an upgrade before they released it and I did not, in fact, buy it anyway.

I would also be in the market for a new Macbook Pro, but their touch bar is dissuading me... The other thing I'm waiting for is 32 GB of RAM.

I guess I'll keep using my 15" MBP (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014) for now... If it breaks before they fix their MBP lineup, I'll see if I can buy a 2015 version ( https://marco.org/2017/11/14/best-laptop-ever ). Or I'll look at Thinkpads.

Same, I went back to Linux on a thinkpad instead.

I'm still happy with that move.

Good. :) The touch bar would be why - as opposed to price, right?

I have been using exclusivly Apple computers for about 25 years. I have been an iOS developer for about 8 of those. The Mac Pro debacle is a whole different rant, but there were three factors related to their new laptops (many other complaints related to developer support, tooling, and so on. again, different rant) that made me decide to stop purchasing my computers from Apple and transition away from iOS development.

First, they introduced the touchbar, which is a feature that is clearly not designed for me (programmer, vim, etc.). In fact it isn't just useless for me; it interferes with the way I work.

Second, using the touchbar as justification, they raised the price to nearly $3000 if you want a 15" screen and a 500G hard drive. Upgrading every 3 or 4 years becomes incredibly expensive.

And third, they deliberately crippled the non-touchbar version of the macbook and will not let you spec it high enough to be competitive with the touchbar versions. You can't even get it with a dedicated graphics card. If the touchbar is so compelling then it should be a feature people choose. Intentionally crippling the machine to force people into an upsell is just maddening. Especially when I'm a developer that contributes to their ecosystem and what they're trying to upsell is completely irrelevant to me.

Not only am I no longer in their target market; they won't even accommodate my needs.

Pretty much same boat. I'm still on a pre-touchbar MB Pro, and it's hard to imagine any circumstances under which I'd buy another Apple machine (maybe if I needed to do native iOS work for some reason). I've held off buying another MB largely because switching habits/software to another OS always seems like something I'd like to shelve. I've managed to keep my current ageing machine viable by offloading increasing amounts of work to AWS, Linode, Raspberry Pis, etc. But this won't go on for ever, and Apple's current laptop line is completely irrelevant to me.

I read you, and I'd think what you describe is a very common scenario among serious devs. I don't understand Apple's thoughts process at all here.

How Apple has destroyed their high end product (at least as far as devs is concerned) is baffling to me, as the rest of the design is exquisite - at least if you could get use to the short key travel. The 4:3 display is especially a highlight, and so is the unibody with that titanium colour.

I develop on a new, non-touch MBP. Even though it's a basic model, I struggled to believe the price of the unit when compared to a high end Dell XPS 15 or X1 Carbon. I would have preferred the (much) faster touchbar model, as I just use it with an external keyboard/mouse anyway.

(I'll give Apple bonus points for forcing me to boot into OSX before rebooting with Bootcamp to Windows 10 to get CPU virtualisation / Docker enabled.)

I'm getting near two years past refresh date on my work laptop. The touchpad is getting pretty funny, but I've not upgraded because of the bar and the approximately one acre that the new touchpad takes up, like they want me to hit it mistakenly while typing...

the touchbar adds to price, so if it's price it might be the touchbar.

> price hike "because of the touchbar"

To be fair it's not the TB itself that bumps the price but the addition of a second TB controller and a beefier CPU.

I would buy the one without the Touch Bar, even if it cost more!

I would almost assume that if they ever make a new model without the touch bar, there would be no price reduction for it.

In the same boat as you. Had the money ready to buy a maxed out mbp to replace my 2009 mbp. Ended up buying a maxed out 2013 model for $800 instead.

Between that and the keyboard issues, yeah, there's a reason I haven't picked up a new Mac in awhile.

Beyond infuriating, we buy them as developer machines here. Most of the staff loathe the TB so we bought another batch without them. I was stunned by the compromised specs. Even upping the CPU and RAM couldn't make them exactly equivalent to the base TB model. And only 2, very close together, USB-C ports is just flipping the bird. Plug in the power lead and just try to sneak a non-Apple (i.e. affordable) C->A adapter into the port.

Apple's hardware is just a total farce.

I was certain I was going to buy the 2016 Macbook Pro. I had an aging 2011 Macbook Air that badly needed to be replaced.

Loss of MagSafe, carrying around a dongle, Touchbar—In the end it just added too much complexity to my life that I didn't need.

I decided to purchase an iMac instead. For everyone else I hope Apple produces a decent non-Touchbar model this year.

They won't. Apple's history has never been to back down but to pursue the money spinning features.

Power users have begged for a desktop between the iMac and the Mac Pro for years. Apple has totally ignored them.

It's a rare counter-example, but Apple released the iPhone SE for those of us who are happily living in the past. I wish they had more "SE" products.

They sold the SE alongside the existing model, just like they sell the non-TB 13" MBP alongside the TB model, and just like the SE, the hardware is lower spec.

To me that was the surprising part about the SE: they actually used the same CPU and camera as in the premium model (6s). Other parts like the TouchID sensor and selfie cam are lower spec, but on the whole it doesn't seem like an artificially limited product to me.

Apple recently released the iMac Pro, which is exactly that though

Not so much. Given that the Mac Pro has been neglected for years and still uses the same hardware it was released with, I'm of the opinion that Apple have lost interest in it and intend to kill it off. Apple engineers even admitted they backed themselves into a corner with the Mac Pro's design, as it is totally incapable of taking newer, larger GPUs, mostly for thermal reasons cramming them into the small chassis.

The iMac Pro (the similarities in the name are probably deliberate) will then take over in the same slot, with the difference that you already have the built-in screen that you have to pay for. Whether this is an advantage or not depends on your studio setup. If nothing else, the starting price of the iMac Pro is significantly (25%-ish?) more than the machine that /should/ be higher level than it.

The iMac Pro has proprietary SSDs, and although the RAM is still upgradeable, it requires almost complete disassembly of the machine to get to it. It's a step backwards from the current iMac in this regard, ostensibly because the cooling vents got in the way. The GPU is built in, despite being the component most likely to become obsolete the fastest, and although upgrades are possible through an eGPU box, that means you won't be able to use the built-in screen for output.

The model desired to slot in between the iMac and Mac Pro would have been a PowerMac G3/4-style tower with user-upgradeable components - CPU, optical drive (for those who need things like BR discs), GPU etc. Apple's attitude is that you should spec your machine at the time of ordering, no later. They offer no upgrades to their proprietary SSDs after purchase (although third parties do, but that probably voids the warranty).

So no, I would argue the iMac Pro is not the middle slot we've been hoping for :(

Sometimes you need an unattended Mac powerhouse (CI, render farm...). Racking in† a Mac Pro is immensely easier than an iMac Pro, for which use case the screen is useless.

† in a real, makeshift, or conceptual rack.

15" has no "new" hardware. the 15" non-touchbar model is the old one, without usb-c and old processor.

There's a 13" new one without touchbar.

As others have pointed out, the 13" max specs are inferior to the 15" max specs.

True, but its 13" non-touchbar max specs are same as touchbar 13". So the comparison isn't really fair.

The touch bar 13" has 4 Thunderbolt ports and Intel Iris 650 graphics, compared to the non-touch bar with 2 ports and Intel Iris 640.

Adding on: the touchbar 13" has 3x3 MIMO wifi (supporting up to 1300Mbps), while the non-touchbar one only has 2x2 MIMO wifi (going up to 867Mbps).

Oh, that really IS spiteful.

Ha ha, I was happy it had 2 ports — considered briefly the MacBook Air until I realized it had only 1 port.

The Macbook Air still has two USB ports. Perhaps you meant the Macbook?

Yes, thank you.

I bought a 15" MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar today. It doesn't have any usb c ports but neither did my old MacBook Air, so I don't care. Maybe I am a dinosaur.

I persuaded management to buy a pair of older Retina MBPs in our latest batch of non-TB machines. Sure enough, a colleague expressed interest, switched and was much, much happier with the 3-year-old hardware than the gimmicky brand-new machine.

And FFS, the number of USB-C adapters I need to keep on hand is a joke, at least you can plug things directly into a Retina without a dongle!!

I wonder how hard (easy) it would be to swap the parts between them, given that these are (mostly) still PCs, and determined people have done some pretty amazing things to other pieces of Apple hardware:


Don't wonder, see for yourself:



Not a lot has changed in the past few years. Macbook Pros are NOT easy to mod/change or swap parts. This is very clearly the intention of Apple.

> Not a lot has changed in the past few years. Macbook Pros are NOT easy to mod/change or swap parts. This is very clearly the intention of Apple.

I don't think they've done it on purpose, this is just how it has ended up because of other priorities. I think their priority is tight packaging - across every hardware line they have, doing that well has allowed them to ship more hardware features (and/or more battery life) in a smaller package that anyone else. Designing in user servicability would get in the way of this.

They may be happy that not being able to swap parts is a side effect of this, but it'snot the priority.

Yeah, and then there's the Fujitsu Lifebook U93x. As thin and light (920g) as the MacBook (non-Pro), with comparable battery life.

But: 15W TDP CPU; RAM&SSD not soldered; USBA, USBC, HDMI, SD, SmartCard and even Ethernet(!).

Or the HP Elite X2 1012. Surface-class tablet/convertible with similar specs, but...well, 10/10 on iFixit.

Sure, those devices may have other issues (that trackpad on the Lifebook...), but tight packaging is not an excuse for unmoddability.

Macbook Pros are NOT easy to mod/change or swap parts. This is very clearly the intention of Apple.

Of course, but that hasn't completely stopped determined people from trying (and succeeding) --- look at the link I posted to where someone added a headphone jack back to an iPhone.

As long as the dimensions are vaguely compatible, the guts of the touchbar model might fit into the non-touchbar case. Some machining and creativity required.

The only downside is the cost (unless you somehow find salvage parts), but someone who really wanted to could do it.

> Some machining and creativity required.

And high stress tolerance. I mean, if - per recent HN thread - people obsess over putting a CPU into their PC because it feels like breaking a piece of expensive electronics, I can only imagine what a Macbook owner feels when applying a lathe to their prized possession...

I have to agree on one point here. Even though I'm quite comfortable with machine tools, both manual and CNC, I'd be terrified to chuck up a laptop in a lathe.

The worst part is that their SSDs use proprietary interfaces, and the TB ones even drop that and have the chips soldered to the logic board. That's just spiteful.

Just you wait for the class-action lawsuit when people's logic boards start failing and there is zero hope of pulling any data off the dead drive.

Me too. Insanely frustrating.

I get what you're saying, but that doesn't seem like a problem with touchbar, rather the advantage of it..

How can you think that? "Screwing over your customers" is a problem.

That's still a problem with Apple as a company, not the touchbar itself.

I have the MacBook Pro 2017 edition and this is by far the worst upgrade I've experienced for such a high-end, luxury item.

It's all USB-C. Virtually nobody else supports USB-C, not even Apple. Oh, you want HDMI? €100 please.

I also have an iPhone 8 which is on the Lightning connector. The audio jack is gone and guess what, there's no Lightning connector on the MacBook, so you'll need 2 pairs of headsets or an adapter.

The glowing logo is gone. And the Touch Bar is a clusterfuck. In an ironic touch, the default Touch Bar setup shows the Siri button at all times. I guess if you have multiple clusterfucks you make them link to one another.

I still have the 2015 at home. I think that was the best MacBook Pro made thus far and looking at the differences I'm now contemplating a move to a Linux laptop — not the same polish, but it won't be this expensive either and I won't feel bad about supporting a company that's getting increasingly hostile towards work laptops and touch typists.

I feel like USB-C is on the rise. Nintendo Switch uses it and there's a whole bunch of new android phones starting to use come with it. I bet in a year or two, most new devices (e-book readers, phones, tablets) are going to be USB-C, probably with Apple (ironically) being the only exception. It's neat to be able to charge my Switch from my MacBook charger and vice versa (though the Switch charger barely charges the MacBook)

I don't mind so much being part of the forefront here. It's a pain to dongle, but that's the price of progress, dammit!

Careful with the USB-C on the Switch as its current implementation is not compliant. (Still agree its adoption is on the rise).



This seems to be one of the problems with USB-C implementations, barely any of them seem truly compliant? I remember this comment from a week ago[0]:

> In watching the evolution of USB-C over the last few years, it seems like it's extremely hard to implement correctly with the huge number of modes, alternate modes, and power delivery in the spec. > When you connect two USB-C devices today, you have almost no idea what is actually going to happen, which device is the master, and which way power will flow.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16706803

I'm with you. I had a 2017 15" Macbook Pro for work reasons, and just gave it back. I was not sorry. My list of reasons: worst keyboard on Macbook, since like ever. Useless touchbar that just annoyed me more than anything else - was never useful. USB-C is great, but guess how many times I've had to leap across the room because there's no more magsafe and smash my self into the floor in order to avoid the laptop doing it, hmmkkay.. bit of a devolution, I reckon.

I'm very happy with my 2015 MBP though, and will just push it through this particular iteration of upgrades for another year or so.. that is, assuming the thermal paste survives, lol, curse you Apple!

> I still have the 2015 at home. I think that was the best MacBook Pro made thus far

I recently purchased a new non-touch-bar MacBook Pro and I find it to be the best machine I've ever owned -- super reliable, fast, all the ports, incredible 12 hour battery life, even with all day coding in either Java or C++, the magsafe adapter, and all quite reasonably priced too. I hope Apple considers keeping these in their lineup.

i was thinking about doing the same until i read this comment https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16761389

I don't know how many fans mine has but it's never been too hot, certainly never something I thought was unacceptable.

If you are doing multithreaded machine learning or some long running intensive tasks across all cores (which few applications do but developers often do), then the fan does kick in and you can hear it. Not really been a problem for me though.

Please note I am not excusing their practice, their inter connection between products from a hardware perspective is damn low at this point and seems to indicate poor coordination.

that out of the way, their airpods work well across all Apple products I own. used for output only their battery life is good for most of my work between get up and walk around sessions. they have been sufficient for me to nearly stop using corded headsets.

with regards to touch bar and their keyboards. I end up with replacement keyboards for my desktops as I want separate volume/mute and screen brightness controls.

> so you'll need 2 pairs of headsets or an adapter


> Oh, you want HDMI? €100 please.

More like €25: https://www.amazon.co.uk/StarTech-com-USB-HDMI-Adapter-Thund...

That one only does 4k at 30 Hz (acceptable to some, not relevant if you're connecting a FHD display). But others -- even cheaper ones, in fact -- seem to do 4k at 60Hz (HDMI 2.0).

Apple really should be including an HDMI 2.0 adapter with every USB-C only laptop. Instead they're selling an HDMI 1.4 adapter for $69. Kind of insulting.

Not that other manufacturers are better. Dell's new XPS 13 is USB-C only and I'm sure there's no adapter in the box. They sell a "mini-dock" which includes Ethernet and VGA (!) in addition to HDMI (indeterminate version) for $59.

The Touchbar has been mostly a dud for me, and I don't miss it when using my older MBP. I have customized by touch bar to include my favorite actions such as locking the screen, but it is otherwise static.

My 2 biggest issues are:

- It turns off after 1 min of inactivity, and find it infuriating that I have to wake it up by before using it. Effectively making everything 2 interactions away.

- No haptic feedback. Even having the trackpad click would be useful, since it can be felt throughout the Macbook.

"It turns off after 1 min of inactivity" Oh wow I didn't know that, I've been kinda leaning on the "it might actually be pretty cool/useful" side of this touchbar thing, but now I'm squarely in the "it's totally useless" camp. What were they thinking?

Whats great is when seemingly intelligent apps adopt the Touchbar koolaid, such as .. iTerm. So yeah, now I'm greated with the very nice side-effect of having a massive row of blinking crud all over my vision, just because iTerm wants to show me what command is running, what keys I could use to kill the process, blink back to the shell, oh .. another app is running in the shell, better update the touchbar ..

Man, its just .. like .. such an 80's feeling.

That's the first thing I disabled in iTerm. Also for all IDEs I just go to settings and make them display traditional function keys on the Touch Bar.

None of it can fix the horrible keyboard though.

Does remind one of those keyboard overlays for Wordstar/ Wordperfect/ Lotus 1-2-3/ etc.

If those overlays would jump off the keyboard if you didn't stroke them every 59 seconds.

At least, you can disable it.

Well it's essentially running it's own processor and display.

It'd have to time out because otherwise it would eat even more of your battery than it already does.

You'd think it doesn't use that much, given it's a mostly black oled and the co-processor is from the apple watch. But, that one turns off after a little while too so nothing new there.

The key here is that it's oled: given that it's mostly static as the user above says, it would get pretty bad burn in if it was always on

> No haptic feedback

HapticKey fixed this for me: https://github.com/niw/HapticKey

It turns off? I had no idea.

I'd been waiting for them to release this laptop, but ended up going with a lightly used Mid 2015 after Apple announced the specs and price. It was just a misfit for my needs especially after trying the keyboard. The powering-down of the TouchBar sounds like a horrible user experience.

Primary reason it turns off is because its oled, and leaving it on would cause burn-in.

It's almost as if they shouldn't have made with with OLED

It is as if they shouldn’t have released it in the first place.

It is as if the only thing you should run on it is Electric Sheep.


Sounds like a great application for an e-ink display. No burn-in, low power, and can always emit as much light as the keys on the keyboard do (by front-illuminating the bar when the keyboard backlight is on).

The 2014 ThinkPad X1 Carbon had an e-ink touch strip instead of an F-row (exactly like the MBP does). It didn’t work very well: poor display contrast, hard to see in bright daylight, can’t feel for keys, slow response time, etc. They switched back to real keys for the 2015 model release.

...that’s why Apple’s adoption of it surprised me the most: I saw how it on the ThinkPad added no value, and while Apple has greater integration and will undoubtedly encourage third-party devs to use it - it will still be too fiddly and complicated.

I think Apple’s too proud to kill it off in just one project cycle - but I can’t see Apple’s management justifying continued investment of time into maintaining it. The fact they didn’t include it in their latest desktop keyboard (for a Pro users no-less!) says something.

> hard to see in bright daylight

Huh? One of the defining features of e-ink is that it's easier to read in bright light, compared to a regular screen...

It had a smooth plastic window over it without any matte-finish or anti-reflective coating. Couple that with how the keyboard area is often in the shade made it hard to see.

I owned one of those X1 Carbons and that was absolutely not e-ink. It was merely some LED lights over a touch surface. All the possible configurations were physically cut out; you couldn't display arbitrary stuff on it. Even for what it did do, it sucked, and made the entire layout more awkward.

E-inks respond too slow for good touch feedback though so you'd want to have it be clicky or vibrate or something, which adds a moving part.

I thought so too but the Pebble Time had snappy, colorful animations[1] that looked really good, and changed my perception completely on what is possible with e-ink.

With regards to touch feedback, MacBooks come with a pretty hefty “haptic engine” already so it should be possible.

[1] https://youtu.be/v-vP9D062aM

>I thought so too but the Pebble Time had snappy, colorful animations[1] that looked really good, and changed my perception completely on what is possible with e-ink.

Except they didn't use e-ink. Pebble used transreflective LCD's. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transflective_liquid-crystal_d...

I see. The confusion on my part is that they used the term "e-paper" which I've now learned is an umbrella term including e-ink and any other technology that works to electronically replace paper.

Based on cursory research I believe the most important aspect of the LCD used on the Pebble time is that it's a "Memory in Pixel" or "Memory LCD"[1] – a technology specifically built for screens that may show the same thing for a sustained period of time.

Memory in Pixel seems to be a feasible alternative to e-ink if you want a low-power display that tends to show the same thing for extended periods of time. And it would probably work well for the use case of Apple's Touch Bar (assuming you can get a good pixel density with this technology).

[1] https://www.sharpsma.com/sharp-memory-lcd-technology and https://www.sharpsma.com/products?sharpCategory=Memory%20LCD

Pretty neat. Thanks for this comment, I didn't know about the memory in pixel.

Vibration could be added via a speaker, not exactly a moving part. This is how Apple's current vibration scheme works, at any rate.

Not entirely accurate, the Force Touch device uses a linear motor to accelerate a small mass to 'thump' into its housing. In principle it's similar to a speaker, but in implementation it's very different (a speaker voice cone never intentionally impacts its housing, for example).

*Taptic Engine, I think I meant

Do eink displays have decent pixel density yet? The last time I used an eink was in 2012 and looked terrible by modern standards

They do, the newest e-ink Kindles have 300ppi screens which puts them close to iPhone/iPad Retina display density.

Most e-readers were only 167ppi in 2012, with 212ppi just starting to hit the market in premium models.

Whatever the reason is, it leads to a poor user experience.

I started remapping the Caps Lock key to the Escape command when I got my tbMBP, and now it's the very first thing I do on every single computer I start using, touch bar or not. MacOS even now offers this as a 1st party option in system preferences, it works phenomenally. I even love, at a visceral level, the balanced symmetry of ESC and ENTER being opposite each other.

You can make the Caps Lock key even more useful by turning it into a "Hyper" modifier (Command+Ctrl+Option+Shift) when it is held down (great for system-wide shortcuts in Hammerspoon[0], since application shortcuts that use all four modifiers are very rare) but acts like pressing "Escape" when it is tapped.

This is easily done with Karabiner Elements[1] and a simple rule[2] you import and enable.

[0] http://www.hammerspoon.org

[1] https://github.com/tekezo/Karabiner-Elements

[2] https://pqrs.org/osx/karabiner/complex_modifications/#caps_l...

Do you happen to know how to do that on a linux machine running X? I'm afraid to dive back into the xkb rule hell-hole to figure it out myself.

setxkbmap -option 'caps:ctrl_modifier'

handles part of it and

xcape -e 'Caps_Lock=Escape'

does the rest. xcape is in the ubuntu repos, for fedora there's a copr (dawid/xcape).

Thanks, I'll check out xcape.

you don't need xcape as others have suggested, setxkbmap -option caps:escape does it with just xkbmap.

Try xcape

If you're a Vimmer this is invaluable. ctrl-c and esc feel terrible after that.

I get bye with capslock remapped as control and using ctrl-[, which is the pinky of each hand and requires minimal movement. Control in general is useful for everything, escape not as often.

Ctrl-C is another option that works the same as Escape and is easier to activate with one hand.

Not quite. If you want to append or insert characters using blockwise visual mode in vim, it won't work with Ctrl-C. It will work with Ctrl-[ or Esc.

That's true for the default behaviour. Ctrl-C also won't call autocommands (like InsertLeave).

But - you can always map <C-c> to <ESC>, so that it'll work exactly the same.

I both knew this and read the post I was responding to, which also brings this up as an option. I commented about Ctrl-[ because it was the last previously-unmentioned option.

My bad. I didn't even catch that "ctrl-c" was mentioned in the parent!

I'm hesitant to do this for portability reasons, but it really would be a great method. Instead, I have some stuff in my .vimrc, which is a lot easier to port over than a key-remap.

I use "imap zz <ESC>" . ZZ is already save and quit so it feels quit natural.

> I started remapping the Caps Lock key to the Escape command

I could't care less about this, but...

> even love, at a visceral level, the balanced symmetry of ESC and ENTER being opposite each other.

now that you mentioned it, I absolutely HAVE to do it!

Same, but I always remap Caps Lock to Control since I use the emacs keybindings. Using other people's laptops is really disorienting now, but worth it :)

I’m a non-tech savvy person who happens to work in tech. I find the touch bar very useful.

This is what I believe: the touchbar is for people like me... people who never learned to use the F keys, people who aren’t obsessive about shortcuts but appreciate them when discovered. In short, it’s for the 90% of software users that float between general public and pro users. It works.

> In short, it’s for the 90% of software users that float between general public and pro users. It works.

Then they should have not called it a “MacBook pro” there is nothing “pro” about touch bar, it’s something useless that I have to pay extra for and I don’t need it at all.

The only time I touch my Touch Bar is to hit the Escape key.

Because I use vi.

Because I am a professional and theoretically the target audience of $3,000 premium quality laptops.

I just remapped caps lock to esc and my woes (and left pinky pain) went away.

Every professional vi/vim user I know does not use the Escape key.

How do they escape input mode?

By mapping escape to the otherwise useless caps lock key

Well, due to a bug in a specific version of vi, holding the space-bar for a few seconds causes the laptop to overheat. I bought an external thermometer that connects via USB, and I have a daemon that monitors it to notice the overheating and send the ESC key to the application.

Look. I thought it was funny too, but at least put a link so you're not just stealing the joke.



I remap the sequence 'j-k' to esc. It provides really fast exiting of insert mode and leaves you on the home row to navigate after.

C-c. Easier for some reason.

Ctrl+c is technically not quite the same as Esc: it doesn't trigger InsertLeave autocmds, and doesn't finish abbreviations. But as long as you don't have those you'll be fine.

I haven't tried it on a Mac, because I normally use a PC, but there Ctrl+[ is equivalent to Esc and saves reaching upwards (some PC laptops have badly placed Esc too.) I've been using Ctrl+[ ever since I discovered it.

Don’t you attach a keyboard and monitor for your daily work anyways?

The MBP keyboard buttons aren’t too great for typing all day every day.

Which is another part of the problem in marketing an extremely expensive device for Professional users...

Same pretty much. Got a mac because it's Unix, awesome hardware, good battery life and never fails to sleep and wake.

Don't care about the touchbar and it's never bothered me.

Uh, no? I mean, the software you write _may_ be the reason, but it's in no way implied by the fact that you're a "vi user", I've ran fairly large pieces of software from old MacBooks with little problem, though _yes_, I did some data mining stuff that would kill the poor little things - but not every "vi user" ever does that. In the largest deployment I've worked with even Vi would be ran via SSH on a remote VM.

It's when you bring out Photoshop or (gasp!) Blender or Unity, or doing something else that requires serious memory, when things start getting dicey. It's a specific sort of professional they mean, otherwise almost every employed person would fit.

Funny that you need a $3000 laptop to run vi. Funny in a sad way.

Just because they work in vi as their text editor does not mean they do not run other software on the same laptop. There are fields of software development where performance of your development environment matters.

The $3000 laptop runs the VMs that execute the software that's being built and configured using vi.

Emacs believer here, but the same applies: it's not the editor, it's the supporting software. Like local instances of the project you're working on. Compilers. Web browsers. More web browsers in various team working crap you might need to be using (though I stick to using web versions of stuff like Slack; downloading them as apps is just pure waste of memory and compute). Videoconferencing for remote work. Etc.

Having to "touch" a completely different surface to press escape sounds absolutely awful. Unless there's a way to swap escape for a real key that you don't need I would consider that machine defective.

Ctrl+[ is more ergonomic anyways. After I started using that, I realized how much I hated using Esc for anything.

There's a builtin toggle to map the capslock key to escape.

Not that that makes the touchbar good, but at least you can remove a useless key in favor of a useful one.

Capslock isn't entirely useless. I have mapped my capslock key to control but I still have access to it via a function key and do use it occasionally. Why do you think capslock is useless?

Because on the very rare occasion in which I want to capitalize more than one word, I can either hold shift, use tab-completion, or highlight in my editor and switch case.

The "Pro" in "MacBook Pro" has never meant "developers, exclusively developers, and nobody but developers".

As far as I'm aware, Apple doesn't and hasn't ever explicitly targeted its higher-end models at developers. They just happen to have been good developer machines, and so developers confused that for "I am explicitly the target market of this".

Please enlighten me, what's "Pro" about the touch bar?

The vast majority of working professionals have not memorised what the F-keys do in arbitrary situations. (If you don't believe this, you've never worked in as a consultant for a wide variety of companies in a wide variety of professional fields.)

Not only do people not know what the F-keys do, but they have no ability to determine what an F-key might do in any given situation.

Not so with the touch bar. The touch bar will do what the touch bar indicates it will do, which is displayed on the touch bar itself.

As best I am aware, many of the F-keys have no specific use outside development applications. About the only two that get used in widespread applications are F1 and F5. IDEs make good use of them for debugging, but that's about it.

Other 'Professional' software such as video editing or music production usually sticks to key combos rather than F-keys. This is traditionally why the F-key row is used for things like brightness or volume, and why Macs use these as the default function.

I don’t know recently but in my experience it’s absolutely false. In the ERPs or other enterprisy software they HAD to press the F-keys to do anything. If they could do it 20 years ago I simply can’t believe that suddenly humanity has devolved and it’s unable to use function keys today.

i’m sure that humanity has the ability to learn to use he escape keys, just like i’m sure you have the ability to learn to farm your own food. that doesn’t mean you should have to do it to get things done though

computers have gotten easier and learning what F5 does is not in the realm of necessary things that people should have to know to operate their work device

The touchbar still fails even for folks who don’t memorize function keys.

If you are not memorizing the keys, then you will need to look down at the touchbar to figure out where to tap to do what you want to do.

If you need to be looking anyways, why is it better to look at the top of the keyboard, instead of the screen where your eyes are normally located?

Replicating a touchbar style strip on the screen is a much better option than anything on the touchbar.

> The vast majority of working professionals have not memorised what the F-keys do in arbitrary situations. (If you don't believe this, you've never worked in as a consultant for a wide variety of companies in a wide variety of professional fields.)

That's actually pretty sad (and should be remedied with some education, starting with emphasizing the fact that tools have a learning curve and you're supposed to follow it). I mean, look at non-professionals working with computers daily, like e.g. shop clerks. They have every possible shortcut used in their sales/inventory management software in muscle memory.

Think about all of the ways creative professionals augment their computers for touch-based interactions: jog wheels, sliders, drawing tablets. The touch bar is a good way to make some of those interactions more portable.

it's too small for the vast majority of things that creative professionals require.

I am a creative professional - there's lots of stuff that can credibly be done on the touch bar. Just because a tool isn't suited for every possible use case doesn't mean it isn't still a useful tool.

Yes I have thought about it, and I do think "thinking about it" brings me tons of cool ideas about what you can do with it.

But the problem is, there's a huge difference between a cool idea and actual execution, just like Apple's Newton flopped but decades later iPhone succeeded.

I use Ableton pro to make music, I use final cut to make video. I'm pretty sure I fall into the "creative class" of people you're referring to, but I never use any of the touchbar features that ship with the apps unless I'm forced to. It's much faster to use keyboard shortcuts, and I'm sure most "pro" users are already much better with the shortcuts that they don't need the touchbar features.

I'm not saying the idea is bad. It's just a horrible execution.

Since you say you're a creative professional, let me ask you, do you actually use any of these features and think these really improved your life significantly? I'm not talking about imagination, i'm talking about actual product. In my case it's much more of a trouble than any real benefit.

I bounced into a guy that has his independent music label and creates music too, and he loves the thing, finds it freaking genius for the direct interaction and enhanced discoverability in his tools. He's definitely "Pro", but not tech-savvy.

The ability to have functions available to any piece of software that make that software more convenient for professionals who use those functions every day. Scrubbing a video or timeline in Final Cut, for example, is not possible with Fn keys but makes my job infinitely easier for editing.

Developers recommend friends and family on computer hardware purchases. We've seen it before: a company starts out (over)designing for a market segment that includes influencers, gets successful off the back of proselytization, decides to shift focus to the larger, more lucrative consumer market, and takes a big hit as the influencers move elsewhere.

Except, again, as far as I'm aware Apple has never marketed the MacBook Pro by running around Ballmer-style and screaming "Developers! Developers! Developers!"

They just made a good laptop, and developers used it because it was a good laptop. If anything, developers bought and used Apple's laptops in spite of shortcomings (as developer machines) which have been present for at least the twelve years that have elapsed since I first used one.

Meanwhile, I'm writing this comment on a 15" MBP with Touch Bar, and I use it as my primary dev laptop. And... well, it's still a good laptop. I would be less happy and less productive using one of the "equivalent" PC builds (regardless of whether running Windows or Linux) people always recommend. And I know that because I switched to Macs from one of those "equivalents" (a Thinkpad running Linux).

Add in that the people who are complaining about how this is the death of Apple are almost always posting while clearly indicating they've never actually used a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, and I don't put this down to Apple somehow "shifting away" from "influencers". I put it down as the same kind of foaming-at-the-mouth hate that every Apple product in history has attracted, due to those products committing the unforgivable sin of being Apple products. Company seems to've survived that.

And for what it's worth, the Touch Bar took some getting used to, but now it's fine. Some apps do useful things with it. Some apps don't. About what I expected.

"Pro" doesn't stand for "professional developer," it just stands for "professional." Professional includes designers, executives--anyone using the laptop for work.

Pro doesn't even imply computer power user. It just means the opposite of home/personal.

I never said it stands for "professional developer". I am also pretty sure any "professional" designer knows their shortcuts and does not need to look at the touch bar, nevermind the executive. How are executives going to use a touch bar in a useful way? Adding emojis in their email conversation?

I disagree completely. The Touch Bar is invaluable for me in Final Cut and the tools I use for development also use the Touch Bar. I like iTerms use of the Touch Bar. Just because it doesn't work for you doesn't mean it doesn't work for other "pros".

This is it, I rarely use the TouchBar except for esc and mute.

My partner on the other hand enjoys using it and is always looking to see what the current app displays.

I see it as a way to expose useful items that usually buried in the menus. Non-technical people like this

I’m pretty technical, use a ton of keyboard shortcuts, and I’ve found it incredibly useful. Apps that take advantage of the touch bar have actually showed me new features in the applications I’m using. And I completely agree about this middle ground user who wants a solid computer, is above average technical, but not inclined to dig into the shortcuts of their system.

I’m a savvy person in tech and I love the touch bar because it makes me not have to use a mouse or leave the home row much. When there is a prompt I can tap it on the touch bar . If I want to edit pictures I can use it to go through pictures individually. I can rotate them easily too. I have RSI and it makes my wrists hurt less. Also the touchid feature is awesome which makes me type less.

Also, it makes it easy to discover features for apps that support it .

I suppose I am a “pro” user and I like the touch bar. Do I love it? No, but I appreciate the customizability of it. This is something which is pretty rare in Apple’s ecosystem.

My issue is that it isn't customizable enough. Like:

* I can't customize what's shown on the touchbar when the screen is locked.

* I can't pin ESC and the volume/mute keys to their respective (previous physical) positions and let apps use the remaining area in between

* I can't have it default to my custom layout by default but have the Fn key show app-specific widgets, or have certain apps show app specific widgets (like you can have certain apps show the F-keys).

* I can't have it show my custom layout by default but show pop-up dialog buttons when appropriate.

Exactly. It should be the spotlight of a non-pro laptop. Make a 13" Macbook with touch bar and keep the MBPs touchbar-free.

> I’m a non-tech savvy person who happens to work in tech. I find the touch bar very useful.

I know a LOT of people who are not tech savvy and still could write without looking at their keyboard. (p.s. there were devices who had a keyboard before computers even existed and people learned to use them without looking every second at the typewriter/keyboard)

So basically the touch bar basically removes that flow completly

I am really "worried" about two features coming out of Apple the past few years: The touch bar mentioned here and the "3D touch" feature of the iPhone 7+.

These are "obviously" bad interaction designs yet they come out of a company having almost infinite resources when it comes to design. What is going on here?

Is it the marketing department taking over? Is it "we have created this chip and now we have to use it somewhere otherwise the money is lost"? Is it particular individuals whoes silly ideas are promoted beyond their merits like the anecdote that the paper clip got in Windows because the project was run by Bill Gates' wife?

Have you actually used 3D touch? Because I use it just about every day, so much so that it's one of the biggest things I miss when using phones that don't have it. It also isn't touted as a major selling point anymore -- it just quietly exists, serving an extremely useful purpose as a better "right click" for touch screens.

The touch bar I agree is major marketing hype.

Have you seen non-technical people using their devices, particularly older people? Every button press they make is a force touch and if that doesn't do what's expected they'll press harder. It's hard enough getting them not to long press or double click and now the company known for making things easy to use is making things even more confusing for lay people.

They stopped caring about those people when they dropped skeuomorphic design. They expect their users to have some experience with phones.

The number of "non-technical" people is only shrinking every single day. Why would they continue to design hardware for everyone just to cater to a constantly shrinking minority demographic?

It's not shrinking and it's the majority demographic.

I'd say it's growing in fact, younger people growing up with the internals of their devices more hidden from them than ever, they will have less technical literacy than their older peers.

3D touch isn't supported on the iPhone SE or on any iPads. Given that it's not supported across the iOS hardware line, it's not assigned any essential functionality.

I expect that it'll play a larger role after the next major redesign of iOS in a couple years.

They've started faking 3D Touch on iPads - see e.g. the new control center, which will respond mostly the same as it does on a modern iPhone if you use a similar "force touch" action (even though you're really just holding it for n milliseconds).

I'm betting on a force-sensitive iPad sooner than later, probably the next-gen iPad Pro.

Can't you just detect force, because the surface of the touch increases slightly, due to your skin being flexible? Seems like a feature you could emulate anyway.

I'd imagine that would result in a slew of false triggers, because one can slightly vary the angle or pressure of their touch without intending to invoke any kind of secondary action. One of the reasons I like the implementation of 3D Touch versus e.g. long press on Android is that it's a deliberate, positive input.

But, to the parent's point, right-clicking is never (and should never) be assigned any essential functionality. Everyone agrees that the hockey-puck mice were terrible but their initial goal was admirable, IMO - new users should always be able to find commands with a single click of a button or in a menu. More advanced users could do a secondary click for quicker access to commonly used features. That seems like a great design paradigm to follow for any alternate clicking.

It can be useful and still be terrible interaction design - it's uses are entirely lacking in discoverability

Something can lack obvious discoverability and still be good interaction design. In fact, I'd argue it's beneficial in this case, since it's generally an advanced/power user feature.

Right-click on Mac laptop has the same non-discoverability.

I'd argue force touch is more discoverable because it's very common for new users to press hard enough to accidentally activate it. Then you kind of play around for a few second until you realize how to do it intentionally.

A couple Macbook users I know have never once right-clicked and are amazed at how handy it is once demonstrated to them.

What do you use it for?

Number one thing I use it for is on the keyboard. While typing, you see a mistake you did or need to change something. Press hard on the keyboard (on the iphone) and you get a cursor you can drag around, as if the keyboard becomes a trackpad.

Guess it's just me, but I find the regular text selection tool a lot quicker and more intuitive. Also, I wonder how many people that haven't read about it somewhere know the feature even exists.

BTW, I have 3d touch on, just don't ever use it. It's on because I'm preparing myself for the inevitable future of variable force touch gestures.

You mean holding the touch for a second and then manually moving the markers?

Yes. And on a similar topic, I find the loupe effect a lot more intuitive than the android bottom of cursor handle too

Better than android, likely, but I seriously can't edit a word file due to this. A mouse/trackpad is so much better than ios.

Android let's you touch & drag the spacebar for this - thing is, it works just fine on my cheap old phone, no pressure-touch required.

android doesn’t however do the drag selection like ios does:

hard press keyboard to get a cursor ->

drag around keyboard to place cursor ->

hard press on word to start selection ->

drag around keyboard to place end of selection

it’s a phenomenal way to select text, and everyone i know that i show it to uses it every day from them on. it’s not discoverable, but DAMN it’s handy

I'm not sure I understand. To drag select text on android I just long press on text and drag my finger. It leaves little control points on each side to adjust to the character level (otherwise generally snaps to whole words). The first two steps seem unnecessary - why not just press on the word to start with?

Because pressing on words involves taking your finger off the keyboard, and the text is anyways often too small to be precise. You can fix it with the control bars on the sides, but it's more finicky and more interaction and requires you to move your hands.

But the description already included

> hard press on word to start selection ->

Perhaps I misunderstood though - is this hard press when the cursor is on the word.

I guess I just don't really see the problem it solves, it's just moving my thumb over the text I want rather than three distinct actions just to start the selection. Then I guess two more to change the selection and end the selection process? Whereas to select text I just long press -> move. Or for one word, long press.

Precision seems fine as I test it here, and if I want sub-word selections (rare) then adjustments seem like a reasonable approach. If the selection on iOS snaps to words anyway (second force press selects whole word?) you'd need this on both platforms.

I don't really understand how the android approach requires more interaction. Press & drag is surely less interaction than press (get cursor), drag (position cursor), press (select word), drag (move cursor), press (finish selection).

The only selections I generally want without moving "off" the keyboard is deletions, and that's accomplished just by dragging from the backspace.

flashlight and camera on iPhone X homescreen. 3D touch on music in the control center for more controls.

I'be yet to discover a single use case where it might be useful. And it's nightmare on laptops

3D Touch on the keyboard to move the cursor or make text selections

This could be accomplished just as well with long taps.

I was a heavy force touch user, but I did not miss it on Android. Oreo even shows it's possible to have jump lists without force touch (gasp!) which was really the only particularly useful feature.

Here's the top things I use force touch for -

- Moving the cursor

- Opening Incognito mode for Safari

- Requesting Desktop version of a site.

- Turning on/off tethering from the control center

- Setting brightness on the flashlight

I use most of these without the force touch :)

Some of them are not even force touch, but a long press :)

And funnily enough the most useful feature for the control center, turning Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off, are not even available there.

So all in all force touch is next to useless (and it's nearly impossible to discover what it will do or not do in different situations)

3D Touch is a great way to move a cursor around in text you're writing. Just push in anywhere on the keyboard until it pops, then slide you finger to move the cursor.

I use this all the time; it's much more precise than the old direct touch way to move the cursor.

I’ve always used iPhones and had no idea this feature existed. Thanks.

I don't want to digress into why 3D touch is bad design. But you are sort of pointing it out right there. Everything has to be learned. There is no natural metaphor or "affordance" that guides how it is supposed to be used. It changes from device to device, from application to application.

I am pretty sure that Apple had plenty of design people (or just people with common sense) pointing out the flaws of the touch bar and 3D touch. Yet these big expensive projects are put forward. What drives that?

3D Touch is like keyboard shortcuts or Terminal on the Mac. You don't need them to use the platform productively, but power users may appreciate the efficiencies they enable.

A lot of people think that, if a feature or function is not immediately obvious to a new user, Apple did a bad job with that design.

But actually there is no way to build a powerful piece of technology and have it all be obvious. Trying to do that has resulted in a lot of really bad design over the years.

What product designers need to do is curate features--make the basic elements of interaction obvious, so regular folks can use the platform in the most common ways without too much thought. Then provide powerful tools for more sophisticated users--but by necessity they will be harder to discover.

Yeah, the person above didn't know about 3D Touch, but the point is that they have already been using the iPhone just fine without it! It is an enhancement, not a core function.

I'm sure there are other 3D Touch interactions that I don't know about, but that's fine. The iPhone is super powerful and it would be very hard (and probably pointless) to try to learn all the power features and little tricks.

This is exactly the thinking behind it and I'm so glad to see someone that gets it. It's one of the reasons why Windows is so hard for people to use, even when they use it regularly for their jobs. So much of the core functionality isn't discoverable because it's hidden behind right-clicks and ribbon menus. 3D Touch and the Touch Bar are for users that are already comfortable with the core where they can use that technology for efficiencies and additions.

the same argument has been applied to voice assistants, but that doesn’t stop them being incredibly handy

I feel like 3D Touch is very much right-clicking for phones; useful when you know it's there, but the vast majority of people don't know it's there.

Right clicking on desktop brings up a contextual menu - useful. In the case of 3D touch in apps it frequently just directly performs an action, which is worse for understanding what's happening.

Do it a second time to perform selection.

I’m both delighted and angry.

Delighted because this just turned force touch from a super annoying feature that makes it a lot harder to click-hold into an extremely useful tool.

Angry because Apple totally failed to communicate the feature to me in all the years I’ve had iPhones.

holy shit. Best thing I learned today.

The fact that people that frequent HN complain about something does not make it an obviously bad idea. Most of the developer complaints about the touchbar are about losing the hardware function and escape keys (which depending on how you use your laptop can be a bad trade off). Outside of that audience (and for those that code most of the time using an external keyboard) it’s actually pretty great. I say this based both on my experience for the past 18 months as well as from observing others (primarily non-developers).

Most “civilian” users of MacBooks don’t even know that you have to turn on the function keys, System Preferences, you want them to work as function keys. Or rather, the fn key toggles between the function keys and the default media controls that are mapped to them. The OS setting determines which is the default, and which is secondary.

I don’t even mess with the keyboard on my MBP, unless I’m actually mobile. Even then, I often drag along my preferred input devices.

It’s very hard to guage the relative weight of these different potential target markets. But, really, I’m dumbfounded at how many people I know don’t even know that the function keys are a thing!

This seems to be the cases with Windows 10, also.

I agree and find it so weird to hear so many people complaining on here and I am a developer. I never liked the function keys and never cared for them specifically because you have to memorize the functions for each numbered key and then, once you do, you're tied to that specific piece of software. If you ever want to try something new, you're stuck memorizing a completely different set of key mappings. To me, the Touch Bar is incredibly useful and, if I really need to do some work where I absolutely need function keys, I can just plug in a regular keyboard.

No one I know complains about the Touch Bar except people on Reddit and HN and I know tons of people with the new laptops. I also don't understand the hate for the new keyboards but that's a whole other rabbit hole to go down.

So if developers are not (a part of) the target audience for a "Pro" branded device, then who are?

I’ve been using the 2016 MacBook TouchBar for little over a year now and feel the same pains as mentioned in the article:

> As a machine, MacBook Pro is great. But not because of the Touch Bar. Touch Bar is an inflamed appendix, the same dumb shit as Siri. If Apple had implemented it as an additional row and not the F-keys replacement, everyone would forget about it in a couple of days.

At least Siri doesn’t get in the way of productivity.

> Once again. I hate sliders on Touch Bar. Changing them to buttons was the first thing I did. Now I can tap them blindly. Guess, even my stress level significantly dropped when I stopped trying to put the sliders in the desired position. It was same to adjusting hot water in a shower — you're never gonna get it without burning yourself.

Those sliders are the worst, now requiring TWO high precision taps, while looking at the keyboard, to tweak the volume. I find myself reaching for the physical volume controls on my headset more often.

> Starting from MacOS High Sierra Play/Pause button globally controls the system sounds. It is not a problem on iPhone, but on Mac it controls every ad that pop-up with more priority than Spotify. You tap the button and don't understand, why it doesn't stop the music. Thanks, Apple. Very convinient.

Unreliable play/pause button, very annoying.

> Imagine, you want to drag a picture to a browser to upload. You click the Finder, but instead opening a new window at the same screen, it carries you away somewhere. Just because there's another Finder window opened there. And it's fucking impossible to fix that with standard MacOS tools.

Not related to the TouchBar, but I don’t understand why Apple won’t improve on the Spaces feature. Why does it force me to use one space for an app.

You may already know this but you can just tap and hold on one of the brightness or volume buttons and just slide the way you want and the button morphs into a slider. I find it is much quicker and more accurate to use the sliders on the touch bar as a result of this. You don’t even need to pause after the tap with your finger down, just tap and slide your finger around and the slider is there.

> You may already know this but you can just tap and hold on one of the brightness or volume buttons and just slide the way you want and the button morphs into a slider.

Yes, this is actually one of the few things I actively like about the touch bar.

I love that Apple is trying something new with laptops, but sadly it's been mostly a dud for me too. I'd take Face ID + a T2 chip (like iMac Pro) any day. The fundamental problem is you don't tend to look at the keyboard when you're using a computer; there isn't enough incentive to do so, so it always feels a bit like a chore to use.

I think there's a kernel of a good idea here, but the current implementation isn't it.

Edit: Reading this article, I've realized all I really want from the touch bar is a permanent Dock. The Dock is important enough to always be on your screen, and it'd be really useful to have at a touch.

> You may already know this but you can just tap and hold on one of the brightness or volume buttons and just slide the way you want and the button morphs into a slider.

This is a nice shortcut for adjusting the volume. However compared with non-TouchBar keyboards, adjusting the volume now requires you to look at the keyboard and precisely slide your finger around on the TouchBar. Whereas on the non-TouchBar you could rely on finger memory to instantly and without disruption from looking at the keyboard adjust the volume.

> Not related to the TouchBar, but I don’t understand why Apple won’t improve on the Spaces feature. Why does it force me to use one space for an app.

I'm thinking I might be misunderstanding this part, but here's a few tips for you:

* Open Mission Control however you invoke it, top right corner there's a + button for adding a new Desktop. You can drag any windows you like into the new desktop or even force an entire app or multiple apps into that particular desktop.

* Hold down the fullscreen button in the title bar of any window, you'll have the option of dragging it to the left or the right. All the windows in the current desktop will go into expose on the other side and you can select one of them to take up the other half of the display. I use this for Mail and Calendar, or two browser windows, or sometimes a text window to take notes and whatever I'm reading on the other side.

Maybe I misunderstood you after all, but if I didn't, then I hope this helped.

The fact that these features are so undiscoverable proves the point, I think. The split view management in particular is clunky as hell even when you do know how to use it, as you can't edit the view once it's been created... only tear it down. Whether it's hiding the other desktop thumbnails until you hover, or the fact that fullscreened apps always become the last space (instead of just the next one), there are loads of little things that would be trivial to fix or at least provide preferences for, hidden or not, like in the old OS X days. But new Apple seems to be infected with the same "we know better" and "everything has to work the same for everyone" authoritarian UI design that makes Android such a pain in the rear too.

I miss the Apple that did things like letting you right click a document's title bar to access its parent folders, or letting you drag that icon right off the window to manipulate it. They used to understand the principle of direct representation and manipulation. Not a single new OS X feature has made it worth upgrading in recent years.

>The fact that these features are so undiscoverable proves the point, I think.

Why? These aren't features that your average, every day pro users would ever need. You're complaining about discoverability for an advanced feature that maybe 10 or 20% of the user base will use.

> I miss the Apple that did things like letting you right click a document's title bar to access its parent folders, or letting you drag that icon right off the window to manipulate it. They used to understand the principle of direct representation and manipulation. Not a single new OS X feature has made it worth upgrading in recent years.

I actually stuck with Snow Leopard on my personal (not work) laptop for many years, and well, I did a fair amount of work on it too so obviously it was good enough, before I upgraded to Sierra when I bought a new laptop, so I completely get where you're coming from on this.

That said, when we stop nitpicking every detail to death there's still a fair amount of flexibility in the OS, the window management now is light years ahead of where it was on Snow Leopard and the improvements that have accumulated over time while individually not a big deal, make for a really nice package. It was worth upgrading from Snow Leopard even though I was overall pretty happy with it.

Here's another little improvement that Apple made over the years. I am also a long-time Firefox user and one of the more irritating missing features of Firefox has been the lack of Dictionary panel support. In pretty much any Cocoa app you could look up a word from Dictionary.app in any content view and it would show in a nice panel. Not so with Firefox, because while theoretically possible to support, their priorities have always been elsewhere. Mac OS X integration just isn't a high priority for them, and I can live with that. I had an add-on that filled the gap, it didn't support the panel either, but it would send the word over to Dictionary.app which was good enough.

Turns out that at some point after Apple introduced multitouch trackpads they also added the ability to three-finger tap any word in any app and look it up, and it turns out that in spite of Firefox not really supporting the Dictionary panel, this will work just fine in Firefox. You just don't have it in the context menu.

The Services menu will also work just fine in Firefox now, you just don't have access to it from the Context menu (which also would have replaced my add-on just fine had I noticed this sooner).

There is a lot of depth and history to Mac OS X. Apple really only shows off and advertises the newest features, and there is no real user manual for anything, not one that is particularly useful. Apple could write one themselves and provide it free of charge in iBooks pushing delta updates whenever they update the operating system, but the system as a whole is much more flexible than you give it credit for and still retains those little features like being able to right click a document title and get the directory list. You can actually use a dark-themed menu bar now and create Tags in the Finder, and they haven't taken anything out like the Graphite Aqua color scheme I've always preferred.

Yeah they kind of shot themselves in the foot ditching the Software Update utility in favor of App Store updates, and the Mac App Store is trash that I avoid, but on the whole I would say Mac OS X today is much more useful to me than Mac OS X 10 years ago, even as the number of unique apps I've used has dwindled down to about nine or so, three of which are cross platform and all of which are replaceable. I could honestly replace my whole operating system with any BSD, 9front or MINIX at this point without losing anything too substantial, but I would lose a lot of the small touches and refinements that have built up over the years that I'm used to and comfortable with and there's no sign of those going away.

> I'm thinking I might be misunderstanding this part, but here's a few tips for you (...)

Thanks, I'm aware of these features. I was typing on my iPad in this small (non-resizable) comment field so was a bit short in explanation here. What I meant is that whenever I'm working inside a space, I don't want any other Space to interfere. So when I cmd+tab to an application, or click it in the dock, I want that app to open in the current Space, possibly spawning a new window.

But the inverse as well, say I have two Spaces each with a Safari window. When I cmd+tab to Safari, I want to open the most-recent used window (possibly switching Spaces), instead of opening the window on the current Space.

> Hold down the fullscreen button in the title bar of any window, you'll have the option of dragging it to the left or the right.

While a nice new feature, when working on my 27" iMac this isn't very useful to me. I usually switch between ~5 apps and having two full-screen doesn't fit my mental model. Maybe I still need to get used to it.

Ah, that makes sense. Actually this is part of the reason I don't use more Spaces than I do now, I have two Desktops usually and the rest are all various fullscreen and split-screen spaces.

I think ideal for me would be:

1. If I am in a Desktop space (i.e. nothing is fullscreen), then ⌘⇥ ought to remain within the current space unless the app I am switching to is pinned to a particular space or the only instance of it is fullscreen. Switching to Firefox when the only extant window is on my other desktop should switch to the app without switching to my other Desktop space, that way I can open a fresh window. Clicking an http:// link should open a new window in the current space. Switching to NetNewsWire though should take me to the fullscreen app, for it is always fullscreen in its own space.

The reason for this is the whole point of Spaces for me is content separation. A web browser or file browser is a general purpose tool, I might have multiple windows of each open pointed to different resources related to different projects. I want to maintain that separation, and if I want to change what I'm working on, then I can do so through Mission Control without ⌘⇥ taking me out of Space I'm in. I want it to be an app switcher, not a Space switcher.

2. If I am in a fullscreen space, then ⌘⇥ should go to the most recent window of that app that I was looking at. If I was looking at a Firefox window in Desktop 2 and I have 3 fullscreen windows of Firefox and 5 more open windows in Desktop 1, then ⌘⇥ ⌘⇥ ⌘⇥ should toggle between that window, the fullscreen app, and then back to that window again.

#2 actually happens though, but #1 does not unless I keep a (often blank) Firefox window on all of my desktops, and then I have to do the same for each app that I would want that behavior. That is to say, Spaces needs some work, but for the most part apps that you click on in the Dock should launch in the Space you are in unless you have them pinned to a specific Space.

> While a nice new feature, when working on my 27" iMac this isn't very useful to me. I usually switch between ~5 apps and having two full-screen doesn't fit my mental model. Maybe I still need to get used to it.

It isn't for everyone, which is fine. Having my Mail and Calendar open side-by-side was something I picked up from a friend. He has the same setup except he has a multiple monitor setup with Mail and Calendar occupying the screen of his laptop. There's much to be said for not trying to incorporate each thing that exists on your system into your work if you simply have no place for it. It will be there if you need it.

Other comments have already addressed the fact that you don't have to tap twice to control your volume, but:

> Not related to the TouchBar, but I don’t understand why Apple won’t improve on the Spaces feature. Why does it force me to use one space for an app.

Uhh, it doesn't? You can put multiple apps in a space.

You can slide on top of the volume/brightness control without the need to tap twice.

I’ve been living with a touchbar machine for about two months now, and the only useful thing about it for me is the touchid spot.

Escape, slow as hell. Brushing the touchbar and bringing up the man app on some random argument, useless and annoying.

It’s gotten a lot better now that I’ve switched it from context to function keys, and am using an external keyboard 95% of the time.

It’s really my third favorite laptop to use in the house, behind a 2012 MBA and a Thinkpad t410.

I can live with all of the half-baked features of the latest MBPs (I have one for work, my home one is much older) but the false recognition of the overly large touchpad drives me crazy.

It's bad enough that I have to disable tap-to-click (which I greatly preferred - much more elegant) and it still mis-clicks if I rest my hands on it.

I used to think the MBP trackpads were a cut above everything else - now they're too big and the palm rejection is not good enough.

I'm glad to hear other people have issues with the enormous trackpad. The number of times I incorrectly type my password in has increased like 10x on the new MBP. Unfortunately I can't use Touch ID to login due to an employer policy.

> It's bad enough that I have to disable tap-to-click

The crazy thing is that the "full" click is entirely simulated. I don't use MBPs anymore but the only place I had to turn off that feature was there as well.

I <3 this trackpad. But ya no tap to click.

It really is a useless gimmick. Even when limiting it to the standard brightness, volume, etc. controls, I find myself accidentally touching it and triggering some unwanted function. I really hope Apple abandons it or at the very least, offers a MBP with top of the line specs and standard function keys.

And even touch ID would have been a lot better to use if it was on one of the bottom-row buttons (e.g. cmd or option) instead.

Have you considered making your caps lock key an escape key? That’s been my game plan when I’m obligated to upgrade. Honestly, though I’ve held off for two years because I don’t know that I’ll be able to live with this.

No, because it’s already mapped to control. And that is Important, as its primary muscle memory. Escape shortcuts are less important. They still trip me up, but less often.

Ya the touchbar stupid, that track pad tho.. only laptop i've ever been totally fine using without a mouse. Hard to go back to other laptops after using that.

Plus the touchbar, though stupid and useless, does at least succeed in making all the other laptops look old and crappy now.

I refuse to buy the new MBPs for corporate use. Just keep buying the older model. The new one is an unmitigated, overreaching, disaster. Oh and BTW, if Apple discontinues the older MBP, I will NEVER buy a MBP with a Touch Bar. Utterly ridiculous. I look forward to reading about what a stupid technology blunder this was years from now in a listicle of tech mistakes.

And don't get me started about removing the glowing apple logo on the back of the screen. No reason for it -- now the back of the MBP looks just as shitty and cheap as every other craptop on the market.

Found the choice of mirror material awful, looks like the surface of a child's plastic play mirror you'd find in a dollar store.

>No reason for it

Not true. The new MacBook screens are LED backlit. The shining Apple would show through the display if they kept it and it literally offers nothing of value except a visual and a battery drain.

> Oh and BTW, if Apple discontinues the older MBP, I will NEVER buy a MBP with a Touch Bar.

Aren't they already discontinued? I can't find them except (very rarely) in the refurbished store.

They are on the main page, you just have to scroll down. Its not obvious its a non-touch bar variant: https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-mac/macbook-pro?product=MJLQ2...

Ah ok, it seems like the option's only available for the 15-inch model though. I'm sadly not used to that form factor.

No thank god they still offer it - I just got one for my new workplace.

As far as I'm concerned, the Touch Bar is not useful and will never be useful. I need the physical tactile ESC and F-keys back.

There isn't even an option to make it emulate a standard keyboard row of ESC & F-Keys permanently (with the alternative functionality when you hit Fn, like on a Magic Keyboard).

This "feature" alone has sealed the fate of Apple computer hardware for me. I will not buy another Mac until it has a full developer-level set of features and a full keyboard, one that doesn't cost $700 and five days to repair when it keeps breaking.

I literally don't use my MacBook Pros anymore (one personal, one work) without an external keyboard except when simply impossible. I will literally put a magic keyboard on top of the internal keyboard when that is the only option I have.

Somebody should build a row of physical ESC+F-Keys that you could stick to your touchbar, + software fix that would make the touchbar display the appropriate keys. Kind of like those analog controllers you can stick to a smartphone.

You can have static ESC+F keys. They brought that back in a recent-ish update.

Look under keyboard preferences. You can set the default display for "control strip"

The big problem I see is that my laptop is hooked up to a display half the time, lid closed. It wouldn’t be useful for showing anything that isn’t also on the main display. And it can’t have a set of bar-only controls (if Apple were serious about that use, they would have released an external keyboard with Touch Bar by now).

Which is why Apple tends to put non-required controls in the Touch Bar. It's a nice thing to have, but not every Mac has one, so they have to put shortcuts there rather than new features.

If you have an iPad, you can use duet to simulate the touchbar on the bottom of the display. This makes it all the more useful if you're using your iPad to see chat messages or monitor the status of a terminal since it also takes advantage of the touchscreen

Yes, surely; Apple already had superior touch devices supporting Handoff, etc. It would have made way more sense to extend Handoff and let the larger, more capable touch screens of iOS devices interact with Macs.

This, I'm currently in the market for a new macbook and considering the tb model. I tried it in the store, it doesn't bother me as much as it should considering i'm a vim user and it does offer some nice contextual features. But I use my laptop mostly docked. So in order to benefit from the touchbar and incorporate it into my workflow I really need a external keyboard with the same feature. Otherwise I'm just adjusting my workflow all the time in relation to where I sit and I'd then rather just ignore the touchbar and stick with shortcuts.

exactly, if they had a USB keyboard (please, no pointless wireless battery powered nonsense) with TouchBar I might even try it out

it would be bigger so they could keep the 'real' Esc key etc and avoid most of the problems people encountered

...and sadly, Apple will never admit the mistake, and give us back the nice keyboard of the 2013 model. All in the quest to save a millimeter or two of height.

My Late 2013 15" MBP is starting to fall apart in its old age - its battery is broken, its feet are starting to come off, it's got a ding in the display... it's just barely sufferable, but not for much longer. At this point, I don't see myself replacing it with a Mac. There's nothing compelling about these Touchbar machines.

However, I'd buy this same machine again if they updated the processor (maybe one of those six core i9s that Intel just rolled out) and bumped the RAM to at least 32GB. More local storage would be nice-to-have, but these days I just don't have much locally on my laptop - it's all on NASes/Desktops. I don't care at all about Thunderbolt and probably can go another 5 years without caring too much about USB-C given how slow peripheral redesign cycles are now. So that's it. That's the only two (or three) upgrades I'd care about. All of the rest would be superfluous to me.

Sadly, I don't see that happening. I'll probably break down and replace the battery in this machine and try my damnest to ride this machine out of the decade...

Replace parts. It’s surprisingly affordable. I got my top case, battery, and display changed through a combination of defect repairs and just paying out to go the extra mile for 500 bucks. Machine feels brand new. Still plenty fast. Everything I touch is shiny again.

> and bumped the RAM to at least 32GB

You'll probably have to wait for Cannon Lake to do that; they're previously said they're not interested in using non-LP RAM in these.

from the article :

> the Touch Bar still remains the useless shit and there is no hope Apple will fix it.

> As a machine, MacBook Pro is great. But not because of the Touch Bar. Touch Bar is an inflamed appendix, the same dumb shit as Siri. If Apple had implemented it as an additional row and not the F-keys replacement, everyone would forget about it in a couple of days.

> The reason is simple — that's how you see your laptop 99% of the time:

This is exactly how I feel about the Touch Bar.

If it had been an additional row I would not have minded. I don't dislike sliders to change the volume and I would prefer to see track title there than as notification (notifications create a pavlovian response where I think they are alert for something important, so it is very unpleasant for me to see one popping up for play music).

However, since it is taking away the functions key that I use all the time and replace them with a screen, I strongly prefer using my 2015 MBP over the more recent one.

"If it had been an additional row I would not have minded."

Exactly. I would have configured it to be blank, stay off, and remain off. Give me my physical ESC and F-keys.

I only want my ESC back, F-keys are not needed on macOS. They should have made the TouchBar smaller and kept ESC

To use the OS; indeed

For some software like Intellij IDEs, function keys are used very often. Since that where I spend 90% of my time on my work MBP; it makes the Touch Bar very painful.

ESC is still my top button there; but just getting it back would not be enough for me.

I think we are going to look back on this as a dark age of human interfaces.

too much touch, not enough tactile

Will need to wait until the year 2375 for the next renaissance: https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/memoryalpha/images/5/54/...

iOS is bringing back tactility with the latest iPhones--Taptic Engine is pretty cool

I definitely disagree. I think we're at a great balancing point with touchscreen laptops, the keyboards aren't perfect but they get the job done, and the touchscreen augments that wonderfully. Phones are inherently limited by size, and while I miss physical keyboards, the flexibility of on-screen keyboards more than makes up for it.

tbh I don't really understand why that's needed... I still think milestone2 was best phone ever made control-wise. Great construction, solid keyboard... shame things like that are not made anymore

I always find it amusing how developers flock to MacOS saying things like "you don't need to configure it like Linux; it just works", and then there are articles like this containing myriads of workarounds for its problems :b This is cool, though. I'm somewhat envious of the shiny thing. The conky screenshots are fun, since this is quite reminiscent of it, except done somewhat usefully. It's a shame that it's tied to a little laptop keyboard that you definitely shouldn't be using full time if you value your wrists and your spine, but, it's a start.

(Now, please please please don't do all of your programming on a MacBook).

The difference is that this is a highly subjective "problem".

I actually love the touch bar. I'm not in love with esc and f-keys not being physical but lots of the other stuff it does is pretty great. Like, the brightness and volume sliders he hates so much? I love them. Greatly prefer them over buttons. I've been developing on MacBooks for about 7 years now and I do almost no system configuration at all besides installing requisite apps. So yeah, I do love that developing on a Mac doesn't require me to configure it.

My takeaway is that most people probably DON'T do all that much configuring of their systems. But they aren't writing blog posts about how much they love their touch bars because there's no meat to that. It's not a useful article to write. But for people who do dislike the touch bar, this article is super useful to them.

Same. Ever since I’ve found the “hold slidebar<volume|brightness>”+slide shortcut this has gotten even better. You press <volume>, slide left or right in one go and You’ve adjusted it better than you could have previously.

Prior to the touchbar I simply wouldn’t use the Fn buttons ever. Now I actually use them.

Before the Touch Bar, you could always use modifier keys in combination with volume keys for continuous (rather than discrete) volume adjustments. Except it was on the screen, with a huge volume display, using volume keys you could feel with your fingers, taking up less keyboard space overall.

shift + option +volume up / down for those who are curious

It seems that every system is going to have parts that don't "work" when spread to enough people with different ideas of what works for them. Whether or not the touch bar met its goals, it seems obvious it was never added to appeal to developers. I think a lot of devs think of macbooks as machines for developers because they see a lot of their peers using them, but I suspect "developers" as a group have historically been a tiny percentage of Apple's customer base.

I find comments like these amusing.

First, you don't need to spend hours configuring the Touch Bar for it to be a functional machine, like you would trying to run Linux on a laptop... But some people do, because it's there. The Touch Bar works just fine without this article.

Second, having a myriad of workarounds for its problems is a positive not a negative. Everything has problems; I'll take the platform that has a myriad of workarounds over the one that has a handful.

Be my guest to use something else for all of your programming. I'll keep using my MacBook Pro.

Heh, I'm mostly bitter because most of the places I've interviewed at lately just give everyone a Macbook Pro and that's the end of it, and I'm sick of cursing at their window manager and then running Linux on the things. (Missing webcam driver makes me grumpy when the XPS 13 I normally use supports everything perfectly).

Anyway, I don't mean to rag on anyone's preferred OS. More just taking an opportunity to grumble pointlessly about a particular unconvincing argument people like to use for it. (Unfortunately, that argument is convincing for the people who buy the hardware I have to put up with at work).

Also to remind people about ergonomics, because we mustn't forget these things. Please don't be too drawn to the shiny touchbar, it is still attached to a keyboard which encourages squishy hand position and which is attached to a screen that is not at eye level.

I totally get that, but in a lot of cases it is easier to use MacOS than to run Linux (like not having to worry about hardware drivers pretty much at all).

Also, those are characteristics of laptops... Not specifically Macs... And I do need a mobile computer...

Just like you don't need to spend hours trying to run Linux on a laptop. I'd say 20 minutes is enough in general, depending on how you install it. Quicker when using a fast network connection, slower when you first have to get a distribution.

But wait, this is not all you get, there is more. You can choose which desktop you want to run, you can install application software at the same moment, you can either start working or start tinkering, whatever fills your need or desire.

One thing you generally do not have to do: start tinkering around to get a working Escape key. OK, I said generally, those who bought a computer without one may have no other choice than to join the article writer in his quest for sanity.

Did I mention all this comes for free?

In 20 minutes I've got all the hardware drivers installed? Do they even exist/work on my machine's specific hardware? Where do I even find them? I get to choose a desktop and a distro to run? I guess I also make those choices in 20 minutes?

Did I mention this all comes without official support for a lot of commonly used software (Adobe Suite, Office Suite, etc)?

Probably not a good idea to try to make the argument that it's somehow easier to run Linux on some generic laptop than it is to run MacOS on a Mac...

Also... Being able to install software while doing other things is not a unique thing in 2018...

Also... The escape key works just fine out of the box. I can open my MacBook's box for the first time and be working in less than 20 minutes (and that's being very generous). That's simply not something you're doing with Linux.

Yes, as long as the laptop is one with good support - Thinkpads, HP's business machines, etc - you won't have to fiddle with device drivers. As to "where even to find them" the answer is you don't need to look as they'll be installed with your distribution unless you're using 'odd' hardware. In the latter case you will have to go looking so the choice is simple: either use known-supported hardware (a large and varied group) or accept the challenge. Given that you don't seem to like tinkering with device drivers and such you'd just use a Thinkpad and be done with it.

As to whether you'll find commercial software (which seems to be what you're after) to your liking depends on what business you're in. If you're doing video production, animation, software development or engineering the chances of finding something are higher than when you're in graphic design. Do mind though that the non-commercial alternatives (e.g. Inkscape, Krita, etc) are often on par with the commercial offerings.

And yes... I actually do make the argument that running Linux is easier than running MacOS on a Mac. I don't say running it 'on a generic laptop' is easier, as said the choice is yours. I can install it anytime, any place where I have access to the 'net or happen to carry a USB stick with a distribution, on any supported hardware. I can run it as a live distribution on other hardware. I can run it on a Raspberry Pi, on a laptop, a server, you get the picture.

Try it for yourself, it actually works on Apple hardware. Don't believe what you hear from those who feel they need to defend their decision to invest in other platforms.

I mean, the OP gave a real world example of the lack of drivers...

Doesn't having to write several paragraphs qualifying your previous statement make you question your position? Choosing the right hardware, being in the right industry, etc...

I'm also not just "[believing] what I hear". I've used Linux (and do pretty much everyday in some form) on multiple primary machines, and I also currently use my Mac.

> I get to choose a desktop and a distro to run? I guess I also make those choices in 20 minutes?

Most of the time you choose a distro and desktop that fits you and then install for rest of the time. And in 2018 driver support is generally quite solid.

The default touch bar was pretty useless to me, mostly because the buttons keep moving around on every app and I never remember what it can do. But a few tweaks and it's useful again:

In System Preferences > Touchbar I manually added all the applications I normally use into the "always show Fn keys" mode, so now the touchbar basically always shows Esc and the Fn keys.

Then, add Apptivate to tie each Fn key to my most used apps (F1 = Finder, F2 = Slack, F3 = Chrome, F4 = Sublime, etc), and I can easily switch among my most used applications. It's not quite touch-typeable like with hardware fn keys, but close enough.

I briefly looked around for a utility but didn't find one, but basically my goal is this: a static touch bar that never changes, which switches to or launches a set of specified apps. Is that possible?

I went out of my way to buy a 2016 macbook without the touchbar as my new machine. I have a macbook pro with touchbar as my work machine and I hate it. The build quality is garbage, the keyboard is a huge step down, and the touchbar is incredibly fucking annoying. Why would they take away quick access to critical functionality like display brightness and volume?

The touch bar is absolutely atrocious, and shows that Apple is either completely out of touch or doesn't give a crap about it's users. There is absolutely no reason to force those who want the latest hardware with a dedicated graphics card to have that touchbar keyboard. They could've offered the touchbar keyboard alongside standard keyboard models, giving users the option to choose what keyboard they want while also giving Apple valuable A/B testing data to see what the public prefers.

I really hope another company out there makes a superior laptop. Apple has too much of a monopoly on the dev laptop market, and they clearly don't have the competency to be trusted with it.

Even with the bad parts the Macbook pro is still the most capable all-rounder available - it's durable, the build quality is excellent, the hardware is (apart from memory) as good as you can get in any portable laptop...

It's really sad that Lenovo for some reason refuses to make laptops that actually match the macbooks; they are either huge or lack a proper GPU. And others just aren't of comparable build quality in the first place.

From the little that I've looked at the Microsoft Surface, I've been impressed. Almost looks and feels like a Macbook Pro.

Biggest advantage Macbooks have had until now in my opinion is the trackpad. Shouldn't be that tough for competitors to match.

This is where things get very awkward, I find, because those of us who say 'the older generation was better' are frequently derided by those who adopt the newer with comparisons to being dinosaurs or luddites. The answer is that we're neither - we just want devices that are usable.

Apple seem to be going out of their way to break the usability of their devices. All the Touch Bar seems to do (and the Apple guidelines themselves demand, which this article deliberately tears up) is replicate keyboard shortcuts. Things that most existing users have by now memorised. It creates a distraction and makes it harder to interact with your computer.

It's not just hardware, but software too - one thing that really stuck out at me in this article is this:

>Starting from MacOS High Sierra Play/Pause button globally controls the system sounds. It is not a problem on iPhone, but on Mac it controls every ad that pop-up with more priority than Spotify. You tap the button and don't understand, why it doesn't stop the music. Thanks, Apple. Very convinient.

Why would you do that? On every platform, the media keys control the current media player application. Opening it up to a web browser too is asking for exactly this kind of trouble - breaking the usability of media applications by something completely unrelated hooking into previous functionality.

The best reasoning I can come up with is the iPad. It's often touted that even your great-grandmother can pick up an iPad and learn to use email, Facebook and search for things online. That same person would panic (I know my grandmother does) if you ask her to try using a laptop. It seems like they're trying to market these phenominally expensive machines to a small subset in the hopes of turning them into a new market, at the great expense of their existing user base. Rather than an already heavily-marked-up iPad, they would reap the profits from even greater markup on their laptops, which the target market would use for exactly the same things as the tablet, but with a considerably greater repair bill when the cat accidentally knocks it off the table...

I got a 2014 Retina machine this year. That's usable. It has buttons. It has ports. It does exactly what it appears it will do. People would happily call me a dinosaur for rejecting the current lineup and getting one of these instead. Thankfully, I could not care less.

To me, the touch bar is a deal-breaker.

Here is what they could have done:

Right hand side: a regular power button that doubles as finger-print.

Left hand side: a regular esc key.

Replace F keys with a touch oled screen.

I could actually live with that.

I bought a Dell XPS for less than half the price and better specs. No regrets.

Apple hardware isn't that amazing, and even if it is, who cares. "Build quality" is just an excuse to spend more money on a luxury designer laptop that is becoming more and more hostile to its end users.

I dont need a thinner laptop or a dumb touch bar or a"minimalist" os design. I need decent Docker impl and ports to plug my phone and monitor into and to not spend $3k on a computer with mediocre specs.

The OS everyone loves to harp on about isn't as revolutionary as people like to pretend. Windows has better Docker support and that is a huge win in my book. Also windows doesn't make me enter payment info when I'm trying to install tools I need to compile my code.

For a few years I worked for a consulting firm. The laptop I chose was a $500 Lenovo with a decent processor and 1080p screen. I bought 32 gigs of RAM and an SSD and upgraded it. The cost of a comparable Mac is laughable.

Installed Linux on it. Used it for years, never had any issues, even with external monitors. The thing is still running to this day, though now I have it sitting under my TV as a media PC.


> I decided to steal this feature and make the "coffee break" button. It locks the laptop and switches the screen off.

Ctrl+cmd+q = lock screen. Display will dim/sleep shortly after that. (Found this out myself not too long ago, I think because of HN).

Incidentally, I just switched the touch bar to the standard function key display with fn switching to the buttons just like the keyboards of old. I found I almost never look at the touch bar and there's absolutely nothing I found that it added that I couldn't already do with the old setup. I hate that the escape key is no longer where it used to be (fully left-aligned). I also hate on the new keyboards that the left and right arrow keys are so big. I use the space on the smaller keys of my old keyboard as a tactile indicator of where my hands are (perhaps it's finally time for vim?).

Even though the author doesn't like Hot Corners, I use Hot Corners willingly to enable screen saver & lock. It's built in to the OS and works fine as long as you don't habitually move your cursor to the corner(s).

Ctrl-Cmd-Q does nothing for me on my tbMBP using the external Magic Keyboard (because I refuse to use the ESC-less, painful, loud internal keyboard) on macOS 10.12.

I believe this is a High Sierra addition.

It's also a stock button you can add to the touchbar...

Or just install bettertouchtool and use any gesture to lock screen - my fave is the five-finger click (I use CTRL-Shift-Eject if in clamshell mode).

Touch Bar had made me consider abandoning MacBooks altogether and move to Linux.

I took this exact path, and so far I'm quite happy with it. I used a touch bar MBP 13" for over a year, hated it, and came to the realization that I was no longer in the target group for these machines, or OS X, and couldn't really rely on any future updates not making things even worse.

I decided I'd rather have a larger degree of control over the machine I use for work, so I took the plunge and installed Linux on a ThinkPad. It took some tinkering, but I don't really miss anything from my Mac now. Also, I can finally run a proper tiling window manager!

Thanks, I have been dreading the upcoming time when my pre-touchbar macbook pro is too old and I will check out these tips when it does.

One bit of feedback:

> RAM usage: Useless. In modern OS it's always nearly 100%. That's natural.

A good ram usage indicator is still really useful, and along with cpu and network usage it's one of the first things I install on any machine.

The issue is that your indicator needs to show you not just "how much is used vs free", which is indeed useless. It needs to show you the breakdown of wired, active, and inactive memory. This makes it clear when some app is starting to blow up and consume a huge amount.

I use https://member.ipmu.jp/yuji.tachikawa/MenuMetersElCapitan/

I use gkrellm, and set the three memory krells option. The "usage" is memory actually used for application memory. The other krells mark how much cache and buffers are allocated. htop does something similar, green is application usage, blue is buffer usage and yellow/orange is filesystem cache (at least, as far as I know, I might be wrong)

edit: on linux. I would assume Mac and even windows have enough granularity to distinguish.

> This makes it clear when some app is starting to blow up and consume a huge amount.

And how often does that actually happen anymore, really? Yes, Chrome and friends are memory hogs, but a constant RAM indicator? If a MacBook (or any other device for that matter) starts swapping, you'll know right away.

Multiple times a week. And yes, Chrome and the Chrome-devilspawn (Slack) are frequently to blame, but are not the only bad actors.

I use iStat Menus for that stuff. Working without various monitors seems to me a lot like doing without speedometers and gas gauges.

> And how often does that actually happen anymore, really

Pretty often, especially if you open an app that decides to allocate a lot of memory very quickly (Xcode, VirtualBox) or when you switch to an app that causes a lot of memory to be swapped in.

But if I just started up one of those apps, I'm wanting (and expecting) it to allocate a lot of memory because that's what those apps do. So I don't really see what actionable information an always-visible meter does for me. But I don’t begrudge those who like them!

> And how often does that actually happen anymore, really?

Every few weeks to a few times a week depending what I'm working on/with.

> If a MacBook (or any other device for that matter) starts swapping, you'll know right away.

1. not necessarily, SSDs make swapping way less problematic than it used to be

2. ideally you want to nip the problematic process before it locks up the entire machine

The only thing genuinely useful on the touchbar is the fingerprint reader, after you enable the PAM module. Well technically the reader isn't part of the touchbar, so I guess that doesn't count now that I think about it.

I dislike the fingerprint reader and don't use it on my tbMBP. Someone could physically force me to use the fingerprint reader, or might just cut off my finger to use it, which is even worse.

I wish macOS had a built in TOTP system.

> Someone could physically force me to use the fingerprint reader, or might just cut off my finger to use it, which is even worse.

If that’s your threat model, move to a safer country. No authentication system in this class will protect against coercion and for 99.999999% of people the risk is much lower than the risk of not locking their device.

I don't like using fingerprints because my fingerprint is literally left on the reader. Anybody with a scotch tape can get a copy of my fingerprint left on the reader or the screen. That's like writing down your password on a post-it on your monitor. Anybody dedicated enough can then make a fake finger that can log in.

Not that I'm worried about someone pulling this spy operation on me but if my laptop is lost or stolen, I won't have the peace of mind.

Ubikey has a free U2F PAM module! And I've seen a PAM module got TOTP, I think someone demod it for ssh logins!

I’ll install this plugin and pay $5 just to avoid tapping the dot durn brightness buttons by accident or instead of escape. Happens many times every day. Even though I’m trying not to. Can’t remove it from the touch bar.

The structure of this article is weird. I just gave up reading it because it was too annoying to keep up. Or is it just me?

No. Both the writing style and the page breaks lead the reader to think the article has "finished" several times before it ends. While I completely agree with a lot of this article's recommendations, it's funny that an article criticizing Apple's design would be designed so poorly itself.

I wonder if haptics will ever be good enough that we'll have a purely touchscreen keyboard that doesn't suck.

> a purely touchscreen keyboard that doesn't suck

Many people would consider an iPhone keyboard to be this…

You can pry my model m from my cold dead fingers. Haptics is no substitute for actual physical feedback.

Have you tried pressing the home button on iPhone 7 or 8, or clicking a trackpad on a recent MacBook Pro?

Yes. Still, you can pry my mechanical keyboard from my cold, dead hands.

The home button on the new iphones feels _weird_, almost as if there's this strange, unnatural delay to the click actually occurring. For something that purports to be "just like real life" it does a poor job.

The click on the mbp trackpads is not too bad though.

Huh I actually thinks home button is pretty much not recognizable that its not a hardware one. My wife couldn’t even believe me.

for serious typing, replacing a physical keyboard? no way. You really need good haptic feedback for touch typing.

Counter point: I have a 2017 Pro with the Touch Bar, and it's pretty nice. I got used to the escape key in a couple of days, and I've found that it tends to keep me away from the trackpad more. Some of the UI on it is great – trimming clips in Quicktime feels lovely, and scoping searches in Dash. Some of it isn't as useful, like tab switching in Safari, but I never find that it gets in the way at all.

Honestly I'm not sure what problems people are generally having with it.

We are touch typists ;)

Seriously though, I don't look at my keyboard and therefore have no idea what is on touchbar at any moment. I am not offended as some by its existence, but I also don't find it useful except touchid bit.

They missed a much simpler solution that will solve the issue. A nice cheap roll of electrical tape. Cover that sucker up and never look back.

They should make the touchbar have tactile feedback so you can feel where the areas begin and end.

Then tbh they could just fix the areas to make it cheaper, so it's always say 15 equally sized tactile button areas.

And further, they could really just skip the dynamic display bit and just put fixed labels on them such as F1...F12 and let the user remember what button does what.

Oh wait

If some interesting we write alternative btt with the same functional and more battery frendly https://github.com/Toxblh/MTMR

It's really amazing how little insight Apple showed with their latest moves.

They removed all ports, replaced keyboard with a noisy one that stops working unless you clean it daily, reduced battery life to make the thing a few millimeters thinner.

The touchbar is the worst part: a solution in search for a problem.

So sad.

I was upset about the touch bar because of the esc key since I am a heavy vim user. Then someone recommended I switch my esc and caps lock keys, now it doesn't bug me anymore. The caps lock key is in a much more convenient position for the esc function anyways.

What annoys me is that this esc capslock swapping option only shows up on macs with touch bar. If I should get used to it I need it on all of my machines.

That's not true, it started showing up in Sierra when the MBP's with touchbar were released. But every mac gets the option.

Source: I also made the switch to capslock-as-esc when I got the TB MBP and it made me decide to switch the keyboard on my other two macs as well.

I use it swapped on my 2015 macbook pro with no touch bar. I'll never go back.

Sadly, I already have a different key mapped there. I, too, have resorted to always having an external keyboard handy.

Slightly off topic. But I always hated AppleScript. I first started trying to play with it in 1992 with System 7 and it always fell in the uncanny valley of being almost a natural language but not really. What’s strange is that I did like HyperTalk with Hypercard

These days you can use JavaScript for anything that has an AppleScript interface, and you can use automation (either language) from a shell script. For applications that support it, automation is pretty nice.

I actually like using the sliders for changing brightness and volume. Although you nailed it, the new media play/pause functionality is absolute garbage.

I've been meaning to get the status line from Atom and have it displayed in the touchbar.

The Touch Bar is great for one reason: I can put a Do Not Disturb button right on my keyboard to silence the damn OS update notifications when it occasionally ignores my Do Not Disturb settings.

Anti-feature vs. anti-feature!

Reading this, I realised another fatal flaw in the Touch Bar: if you're using a laptop stand with an external keyboard & mouse (as one would do in an office or at home), then having to reach out and hit the Touch Bar would be a huge annoyance, and might even knock the laptop off of its stand.

What with this, the mouse which cannot be used while charging, removing the headphone jack, AirPods &c., one wonders if Apple computers are made to be actually used or just win design awards.

I agree with this article. The Touch Bar is a useless gimmick. Not only that, but it removed the actually useful Esc and F-Keys. Oh, and it made MacBook Pros more expensive.

I admire the author for finding ways to make the Touch Bar somewhat useful, but to me it's just too much work and just reminds me how stupid and ill conceived it is. When you remove useful things and replace them with useless crap, it will make people angry. Don't get me started with the port situation.

> What else do we have? Ubuntu? To use Photoshop in Wine? To watch Plasma crashes like in good old days? No, thanks.

The best experience I've had is Fedora with Gnome. Red Hat employs many developers working on desktop Linux, and most of them are working on Fedora.

That being said, you'll have a better time with macOS if Photoshop is one of your requirements.

I've used BetterTouchTool to create named touchbar buttons for some of the functions I use semi-frequently in Jet brains IDEs. Things where I don't have the keyboard shortcuts memorized. So I have "Declaration", "Find Usages", "Rename", etc... I find that quite useful.

I'm pretty happy with Caps Lock remapped as Escape key.

I think it's super useful to do this with any keyboard if you use vim.

Is the "Call Jony Ive" in the header picture a subtle stab at Apple? If so, well done.

That actually seems pretty useful. On that row I only use escape and f12 (quake-style terminal) without the fn-button (with which I control volume and brightness). The occasional keyboard macro recording and replaying in emacs I can just as well bind to something else.

It forever puzzles me, how come modern keyboards don't have dedicate buttons for COPY and PASTE. Average user or pro, we use the silly combination of two keys much more often than maybe 5 other least used dedicated keys, ON TOP of the F keys.

Why is a two key combination silly? Only normal typing characters need to have a dedicated key. For everything else there are control keys. Some of those control keys I use far more frequently than copy and paste, believe it or not.

The biggest problem with the TouchBar is that it's inaccessible inside my closed laptop. I need to it to be on the external keyboard where I can use it when I'm working.

Does anyone actually work with their laptop on their lap?

I do when I work from home. I stay more focused than at my desk for some reason. Although I guess it isn't directly on my lap, typically it's on a thin, firm pillow that's on my lap.

I absolutely loved this. Might be the lateness of the hour here, but I actually giggled when I got to the "Fine, I'm gonna code my own BetterTouchTool. With blackjack!" bit.

This article makes me really glad I custom-configured the most powerful Macbook Pro possible that didn't have the Touch Bar.

I find it amusing that they label the product that removes the actual touch buttons, a touch bar.

I use BetterTouchTool to remap § to ESC on touchbar MBRO. It solves any ESC problems.

You can do that with a simple terminal command as well, btw.


I would have bought a Macbook Pro last winter, but given the abomination that is the Touchbar, I refused to buy one. If the next iteration of the Macbook Pro doesn't get rid of it, I'm going to just get a Windows laptop instead.

Go buy a Windows laptop instead. I don't think Apple is going to do away with it.

I wish every ui would just show the the same buttons

How do you use a computer without function keys?

Normally? The only program I use regularly which needs function keys is htop. The only other I can think of is gitk, and I try to avoid that thing.

MacOS/OSX doesn't really have a history of using function keys, so pretty much the only software which does is stuff which was "ported" from other unices where relying on function keys is more standard.

Xcode (a macOS exclusive) uses function keys by default (for debugging). Cross-platform apps (not just ports) very commonly use F keys (eg. JetBrains stuff).

Easily. Even as a full time software developer (full stack, SQL Server, C#, Typescript) I barely use the function keys. Everything's bound to chords I can easily hit without moving my hands.

Of course, your set can be completely different, we all have our preferences and there's nothing wrong with that.

It's a good question, you made me think about how rarely do I touch that upper row of buttons on my MBP. Mostly I'm in a web browser or in terminal & vim, so I never end up using the function keys at all. What a waste.

I do it every day. The function keys to me always hid functionality, and I never found it easy to discover what they did. Usually there was another, and better documented way to do whatever they did anyway.

How about abandoning the Touch Bar instead?

Apple should ditch it entirely, or at least make it optional on all MacBook Pro models.

I'm sure I don't matter to Apple anymore, but the touchbar is the reason I haven't upgraded my laptop yet.

I enjoy having an Apple laptop to complement my Windows and Linux desktops, but if the touchpad doesn't go away by the time I decide not to wait any longer, I'll probably grab something else. Maybe a Chromebook with a replacement OS, maybe an Ubuntu or Fedora laptop. Probably not Windows as it's mainly for games and hobby game development for me. But whatever it is, it won't have a touchbar.

You know they sell a version without touchbar right?

Only in the smaller lower performance bracket models. They do not make a 15 inch macbook pro without a touchbar.

EDIT: In fact I didn't realize that it's significantly different spec wise to the 13 inch with touch bar. Only going to a 2.5Ghz base clock speed on the non-touch bar. And this is with only intel integrated graphics and a dual core cpu only, compared to the 15 inch models. This can be a big deal for anyone who wants to do even basic video editing or many other content creation type activities.


Huh, I just assumed it was the same specs just without touchbar. That blows.

With half the ports and a lower-powered CPU though, and not at all if you want 15"

Agreed. It might bring some marginal convenience but overall feels like a gimmick. I'd rather just have a normal keyboard with an Esc key.

If only they would have kept the powe button, that could double a finger print reader, ant the esc button. I wouldn’t mind the oled screen I place of the f-keys.

If anything it should be build into the trackpad/expand the track bad the full width?

I've seen some fan renders where the trackpad is being used with the apple pencil, definitely something I could see apple doing.

I generally dislike Apple products, but holy shit, AppleScript is awesome! We NEED this on Linux!

> Things got even worse when Apple "reinvented" the Play/Pause button in High Sierra.

Actually, this was introduced midway through macOS Sierra; https://developer.apple.com/documentation/mediaplayer is available in macOS 10.12.1+.

> Buttons rock. It's always faster to tap, not slide.

If you press Fn, the slider will go away and the "normal" function buttons will appear.

> I want to have instant access to Finder, anywhere. Default Touch Bar can't do that. Weird.

Why is this weird? Finder is always in the Dock for every user.

> E.g., the eyedropper tool, to take the hex color code from the screen.

/Application/Utilities/Digital Color Meter.app

> Standard Touch Bar will never support the most useful feature — to display the name of track playing.

Slide out Notification Center.

> Would be cool to display the name of the YouTube video on the Touch Bar, right?

See above.

> You have a script running once in 20 seconds, and praying it won't overload the CPU.

Don't do this. Use AppleScript to watch for changes, instead of polling.

> I decided to steal this feature and make the "coffee break" button. It locks the laptop and switches the screen off.

Press the power button.

Not offense, and I'm sure you enjoy your setup, but I really think it would do you well to learn a bit more about why your computer was designed that way rather than writing a rant online and spending time making it "just right".

EDIT: it looks like this comment is pretty controversial, since it's flip-flopping between ±5 points rapidly. Let me give a more detailed response.

Personally, I don't have a computer with a Touch Bar. I have, however, used one a borrowed one for a couple days. Personally, I would be fine switching (there are other issues with the MacBook Pro that are preventing me, but that's a story for another day).

I don't use the function keys that often, so I don't feel as if I'm "losing out" on them. Many of the supposed grievances that I normally hear are easily solvable ("oh, I didn't know I could control the volume slider without lifting my finger", "I didn't know I could add sleep to the Touch Bar"). Really, I think the main issue with the Touch Bar is people view it as a second screen rather than an extra set of controls as it's supposed to be. The Touch Bar is meant as a place to have surface extra controls that would be nice to have at your fingertips; what it is not is a place to show you data or be a Dock or menu bar or Notification Center or Activity Monitor. Why? Because you're not always looking down at it. There's no point putting any significant information there.

That being said, Touch Bar is not perfect, of course. It's a nice idea, but it could be improved if it provided more tactile feedback (e.g. haptic feedback, some sort of dynamic change in texture). And given that it's new, Apple's guidelines, while good, may end up changing as real-world usage influences them. Overall, though, I feel that much of the Touch Bar criticism is based on knee-jerk reactions or issues that are not difficult to resolve. Yes, there are some deeper issues, as I've outlined above, but I think the concept as a whole is interesting.

> If you press Fn, the slider will go away and the "normal" function buttons will appear.

So, something that used to be a simple that could be done from muscle memory is now either (a) a slider that requires change of focus or (b) a multi-key combination which is totally the same thing as the thing you miss, and in summary, everything is fine.

> I really think it would do you well to learn a bit more about why your computer was designed that way

Maybe this highlights Apple's ostensible vs true value pitch these days:

Ostensible: "You aren't going to have to think about it too much because it just works."

Actual: "learn a bit more about why your computer was designed that way and we're sure you'll find that any complaints and frustrations are actually just wrong"

> So, something that used to be a simple that could be done from muscle memory is now either (a) a slider that requires change of focus or (b) a multi-key combination which is totally the same thing as the thing you miss, and in summary, everything is fine.

No. I only suggested the buttons because the author of this post thought that the slider was "bad". I don't buy their reasoning; you don't even have to look down to see the slider's progress because macOS will mirror it smack-dab in the middle of your display.

I really think that the author's complaints show that they really haven't been using macOS the way it's normally used. The Touch Bar is not your Notification Center. It's not your menu bar. It's not your Dock. It has a very clear purpose, and I feel that the author is just trying to give Touch Bar functionality that they wished it had because they just don't know about the other built-in features. My guess is that they haven't really used macOS (i.e. they're coming from another OS, and are used to what that provides), but take this with a grain of salt because I have no evidence to back it up.

> you don't even have to look down to see the slider's progress because macOS will mirror it smack-dab in the middle of your display.

Progress isn't the issue. Input is. To operate a slider, your pointer/finger needs to be where the handle is. The location of the handle is variable. The touchbar could potentially handle this smoothly by displaying sliders in such that they always appear with the handle underneath the finger, but this is not the behavior the touchbar was displaying when I tested it out -- sliders opened out to the side of the target you tap to open it, which means you then have to move your finger to the location of the handle, which requires a visual reorientation.

And none of this is an improvement on quick taps with well-defined change increments for stuff like adjusting brightness and volume. Not to mention the value of tactile feedback.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the issue I'm talking about: Apple has solved these problems; it just hasn't done a great job spreading it.

> To operate a slider, your pointer/finger needs to be where the handle is. The location of the handle is variable. The touchbar could potentially handle this smoothly by displaying sliders in such that they always appear with the handle underneath the finger, but this is not the behavior the touchbar was displaying when I tested it out -- sliders opened out to the side of the target you tap to open it, which means you then have to move your finger to the location of the handle, which requires a visual reorientation.

The location of the slider actually does not change, interestingly. What actually happens is the touch target for the slider changes to include your original tap point when you tap it, even if it shifts visually. This means all you have to do is slide, and this works even from the original location.


This is an improvement over the choice I thought they'd made, but it's an improvement in utility alone, and also even more of a headscratcher of a choice when it comes to the UI. It means they realized you want the handle right where the touchdown happens, so they can't plead ignorance, but they chose to have the in-touchbar visualization the user is interacting with appear elsewhere. It's not just non-obvious and therefore a failure of spreading the news, it's actually misdirection. Not having any visual feedback in the touchbar at all would have been better UX. As you pointed out earlier, the screen does fine for independent visualizations.

Interesting, it's got a lot in common with one of the complaints around the escape key -- the actual touchable area is different than the outlined area (which is positioned farther in from the keyboard than it's historically been).

Laptops have long had a display surface and a touch surface. If marrying them is worth experimenting with, getting the visual feedback connected with touches correctly is a crucial idea.

> Press the power button.

Where is this power button? I've been searching for it since I got this laptop.

Edit: Wow thanks, don't know how I missed that.

Lol Apple made it impossible to understand how to turn on and off the laptop and removed the startup sound leaving you with zero feedback when you start the laptop for an eternity.

Awesome work.

> Apple made it impossible to understand how to turn on and off the laptop

Open the lid.

> leaving you with zero feedback when you start the laptop for an eternity

1. Startup doesn't take long.

2. There's a progress bar when booting.

You should be able to press the Touch ID button.

The Touch-ID pad is also the power button when pressed down.

The TouchID sensor is the power button.

> supposed grievances

> knee-jerk reactions

Anyone who doesn't like the Touch Bar is ipso facto deluded and/or irrational. Fantastic.

My main means of input to my computers is touch-typing on a keyboard. I never look at it (I already have a peripheral for looking at: a screen!). Replacing an entire row of keys with a miniature screen would represent a fairly profound change to how I operate a machine I use for 5-8 hours day, for no benefit.

Furthermore the application I use for 50-70% of that time is IntelliJ Idea, with tweaked default keybindings. I probably hit F keys hundreds of times a day. I would need to either do some substantial keybinding remapping, or start using part of my keyboard as a mini-screen.

I don't either like or dislike the Touch Bar. I just have no interest in it, as it makes the new MB Pros quite irrelevant to my professional requirements.

> Anyone who doesn't like the Touch Bar is ipso facto deluded and/or irrational. Fantastic.

You're putting words in my mouth. The root issue is just a lack of information; there's nothing wrong with the people themselves as you're trying to claim.

> My main means of input to my computers is touch-typing on a keyboard. I never look at it (I already have a peripheral for looking at: a screen!).

I agree, partially. When you're using the keyboard you're not looking at it, and for the most part that's also true for the Touch Bar. When you're doing something with the function keys or escape, you don't have to look down, since those are always in the right place. Even some with dialogs fit into this category. You do, however, look down when you're trying to perform some annoying operation that the Touch Bar surfaces easily.

> Furthermore the application I use for 50-70% of that time is IntelliJ Idea, with tweaked default keybindings. I probably hit F keys hundreds of times a day. I would need to either do some substantial keybinding remapping, or start using part of my keyboard as a mini-screen.

I'd make the argument that using the function keys as shortcuts is not the idiomatic way to use macOS, which relies heavily on the modifiers at the bottom of the keyboard, but I get that this is a weak argument since it requires you to change your behavior. Ideally Idea would just ship with nice shortcuts…

> I don't either like or dislike the Touch Bar.

My comment may have come off as a resounding plaudit for the Touch Bar; it is nothing but. I'm also not completely sold on it; I really think it needs to be improved so that it's more useful. However, I do think it's an interesting direction to go in, and as it currently stands, I'm slightly in favor of having it instead of function keys.

> Press the power button.

In older macbooks I've used, this also would put the system into suspend mode. That's fine, but it would also disconnect any terminals on remote systems because the system would no longer be on. Is this still the case or has that changed recently? For a coffee break button I wouldn't want to have to reconnect to everything I was working on before, or have to worry about any long running processes (say ML training, copying a file, etc.) that were going on when i'm just walking away for two minutes to fill my water up.

Does ^⌘Q do what you want? How about customizing the Touch Bar to have the "lock" function key in it?

> Don't do this. Use AppleScript to watch for changes, instead of polling.

Could you provide more info about this, or even better, an actionable code example?

I'm on mobile, so I can't write code for you (plus, the code is going to be ugly since it relies on a C framework). However, I can give you some pointers; one, you'll need to create some sort of app, since it will need to continuously run with a run loop. You'll want to look into the Accessibility/OSA APIs and register an AXObserver.

cyberpunk linux desktop in 2007? What a newb.

Best part of the touch bar is emojis....in some applications like Evernote

I'd rather just buy decent hardware to begin with and not gimmicky crap like a 1280x80 pixel screen jammed onto an arm chip on a laptop. Nope. I heard its especially fun if you have to reinstall - you need both firmwares or the machine goes in frowny mac mode.

I'd much rather put time in a decent Linux desktop. You don't need neuromancer-syle cyberpunk interfaces to make a really nice Linux system. And you can pretty much do whatever you want, rather than have to break Apple's "standards" for something that doesn't resemble brushed aluminum dogshit.

(psst, look at username. I'm even somewhat OK with Windows, given some of my 3d design workflow is there. My last job was a linux shop with Macs.. Hated the macs every second.)

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