How long have people been wondering if Apple would ever build a Mac with a touch screen? Well, the question has been on some folks’ minds for at least eight years. (I know because that’s when Steve Jobs told me that adding touch to Macs didn’t make sense.) And it currently provides fodder for Microsoft’s Surface Book ads.
But the best way to think about Apple’s new 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pro models, which dump function keys in favor of the Touch Bar, is that they’re the company’s first touch-screen Macs. It’s just that the touch screen in question is supplementary to the main display and positioned where your fingers already spend most of their time.
In 2010, Jobs said that conventional touch screens are “ergonomically terrible” and that “your arm wants to fall off” after extended use of one. The Touch Bar integrates touch input into Macs without requiring Apple to backtrack on that stance. Which means it’s classic Apple—a new feature that’s both unique and a response to an industry trend.