Apple brings about the end of the physical Function key with MacBook Pro Touch Bar

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited October 2016
In Apple's latest round of removal of traditional features on computers, the company has eradicated conventional Function keys, and has replaced them with a Retina, multi-touch Touch Bar.




At today's "hello again" event, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller revealed the new Touch Bar as part of the renovations to Apple's new MacBook Pro line.

As part of the reveal, Schiller lamented the older Function key array in a eulogy. Noting that they were introduced in the IBM 3270 mainframe terminal in 1971, Schiller noted that modern users don't really use them for anything, with most of them having been re-purposed for media control and other infrequently used commands.




The Touch Bar is developer-customizable, and contextually displays menus and other features, including invocation of a conventional Function key lineup, if necessary.

The removal of the Function keys has also enabled Apple to implement Touch ID, without another case penetration. The sensor is embedded in the upper right of the Touch Bar with a Sapphire lens, and a secure enclave implementation with Apple's new T1 chipset.




Users can also perform a fast user switch using Touch ID -- all it needs to invoke is a registered user to touch the Touch Bar's sensor, and macOS identifies the user, and authenticates based on the pre-registered fingerprint alone.

The Touch Bar can be customized in the Finder to implement control strip-based commands, and other user commands, such as screen capture, can be added to the bar as well. Other customizations in-app appear to be dependent on developers' implementation.

Features similar to iOS's text prediction in Messages has been implemented in macOS on the Touch Bar, as well as emoji entry. Other features demonstrated as implemented on the Touch Bar are application selection, scrubbing through media, and other playback controls.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 48
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,460member
    The Lenovo Carbon lost the physical function keys a couple years ago and added an adaptive touch bar across the top.  Not as nice as Apples but they were there before Apple.
    afrodri
  • Reply 2 of 48
    icoco3 said:
    ... Not as nice as Apples but they were there before Apple.
    Ditto for MP3 players and Tablets existing before Apple entered the market.  Those didn't turn out too badly for Apple.
    mike1uraharajony0lolliverwatto_cobraBluntiosenthusiast
  • Reply 3 of 48
    And yet the base model MBP still has the function keys...  You might want to change the title of this article.
    manfrommarstokyojimudachar
  • Reply 4 of 48
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,521member
    icoco3 said:
    The Lenovo Carbon lost the physical function keys a couple years ago and added an adaptive touch bar across the top.  Not as nice as Apples but they were there before Apple.
    .Hats off to Lenovo, then.

    As demonstrated today, it's as significant a user interface breakthrough as the mouse and the finger, neither of which Apple invented either.

    It's all in the execution, including the software and the integration with developers. Let's hope Lenovo and the other PC makers can keep up.
    anantksundaramicoco3mike1magman1979jony0lolliver
  • Reply 5 of 48
    I like how it is the end of the physical function keys.... Well except the two notebook models that still have them. :) Hopefully they will put out a Thunderbolt Keyboard with the Touch Bar. Would like one on our iMac. This may well be the end of the Mac Pro. That shot with the two 5K displays and the peripherals looked very much like what they did with the Mac Pro and the 4K displays.
    tokyojimulolliver
  • Reply 6 of 48
    I just got back from Apple's website. The new MBP 15" still maxes out at 16GB RAM. Arrrgggghg!!!!

    I refuse to upgrade until they give me 32GB, minimum!
    repressthisewtheckmanafrodri
  • Reply 7 of 48
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,521member
     sog35 said:
    So we needed a whole event for a simple gimmick on a keyboard and new TV app?

    This is Tim Cook's Apple.

    Spent more time on Social issues and sharing pictures than innovative products.

    I'm SICK of Cook wasting valuable time on social issues. Dude needs to resign and be the CEO of Red Cross.
    Sog, you are absolutely right. You ARE sick. You're textbook ADD, hyperactive, and too low-brow to understand what we all saw together today.

    What we saw was the introduction of a new user interface that will revolutionize the way professionals use computers. They just obsolesced the desktop and you didn't even notice. The hand is quicker than the eye Sog, and your eyes are tied to a brain that does not see things coming, only flashy little distractions from the tidepool of crap that flows around you. You really ought to shut up, like everyone but a few fellow magpie-brains are telling you here.
    edited October 2016 mr omike1emoellerrepressthistokyojimuafrodrileviRayz2016magman1979tmay
  • Reply 8 of 48
    netroxnetrox Posts: 818member
    hmlongco said:
    I just got back from Apple's website. The new MBP 15" still maxes out at 16GB RAM. Arrrgggghg!!!!

    I refuse to upgrade until they give me 32GB, minimum!
    RAM is not as important as you think it is. The SSD is so fast, it can do a lot of RAM-like performance when RAM is short. The Mac memory management takes everything into consideration. When Intel comes out with its 3DXPoint storage, the RAM demands will dramatically drop as well because it would be just as fast as RAM.
    repressthismagman1979jony0lolliverpulseimagesiosenthusiast
  • Reply 9 of 48
    You can still only get the new 15" MacBook Pro with only 16GB of RAM?!?! WTF!! This should of been 32GB at least!
    repressthisentropys
  • Reply 10 of 48
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,521member
    I like how it is the end of the physical function keys.... Well except the two notebook models that still have them. Hopefully they will put out a Thunderbolt Keyboard with the Touch Bar. Would like one on our iMac. This may well be the end of the Mac Pro. That shot with the two 5K displays and the peripherals looked very much like what they did with the Mac Pro and the 4K displays.
    Exactly. Portables are becoming powerful enough to serve as desktops. They may bring out monitors that keep the iMac design going, and smart keyboads that do what the laptops do, withoout the display attached.

    I think the hold-up on large displays is in the oxide backplanes mated to 4 and 5K LCDs. Still difficult to produce, obviously. 
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 11 of 48
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,939member
    icoco3 said:
    The Lenovo Carbon lost the physical function keys a couple years ago and added an adaptive touch bar across the top.  Not as nice as Apples but they were there before Apple.
    And yet, not too many people seem to have ever heard of it. It's not about being first. It's about being better. Ask Samsung.
    edited October 2016 magman1979lolliverwatto_cobraBluntpulseimages
  • Reply 12 of 48
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,521member
    You can still only get the new 15" MacBook Pro with only 16GB of RAM?!?! WTF!! This should of been 32GB at least!
    You're too tied to spec myths. Apple knows what they're doing. That should be your first assumption. 

    For details, see netrox's post above.
    magman1979lolliverpulseimages
  • Reply 13 of 48

    So the top of the line 15" is $4299 and still only has 16GB of RAM.  

  • Reply 14 of 48
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,521member

    So the top of the line 15" is $4299 and still only has 16GB of RAM.  

    See netrox's post above. Got an argument based on reason?
    magman1979lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 48
    Important question: does the Touch Bar integrate haptic feedback, like the iPhone 7?

    Personally, I find haptics crucial for proper touch screen UX.
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 16 of 48
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,460member
    flaneur said:
    icoco3 said:
    The Lenovo Carbon lost the physical function keys a couple years ago and added an adaptive touch bar across the top.  Not as nice as Apples but they were there before Apple.
    .Hats off to Lenovo, then.

    As demonstrated today, it's as significant a user interface breakthrough as the mouse and the finger, neither of which Apple invented either.

    It's all in the execution, including the software and the integration with developers. Let's hope Lenovo and the other PC makers can keep up.
    My comment centered more on the headline for the article though...
  • Reply 17 of 48
    hmlongco said:
    I just got back from Apple's website. The new MBP 15" still maxes out at 16GB RAM. Arrrgggghg!!!!

    I refuse to upgrade until they give me 32GB, minimum!
    I'm currently running 48 GB for my work. Where are the machines for the real pros Apple?!?
  • Reply 18 of 48
    netrox said:
    RAM is not as important as you think it is. The SSD is so fast, it can do a lot of RAM-like performance when RAM is short. The Mac memory management takes everything into consideration. When Intel comes out with its 3DXPoint storage, the RAM demands will dramatically drop as well because it would be just as fast as RAM.
    Actually, it does matter. I have an SSD as my primary drive, and when I only had 24GB, my machine would slow to a crawl when I pushed it hard. Upgrading to 48 GB solved the problem. (I'm not using the whole 48, more like 36 GB of it.)
  • Reply 19 of 48
    I expected a One More Thing: A Magic Keyboard with Touch Bar. For al those iMac, Mac Pro and docked MB users.
  • Reply 20 of 48
    afrodriafrodri Posts: 190member
    netrox said:
    hmlongco said:
    I just got back from Apple's website. The new MBP 15" still maxes out at 16GB RAM. Arrrgggghg!!!!

    I refuse to upgrade until they give me 32GB, minimum!
    RAM is not as important as you think it is. The SSD is so fast, it can do a lot of RAM-like performance when RAM is short. The Mac memory management takes everything into consideration. When Intel comes out with its 3DXPoint storage, the RAM demands will dramatically drop as well because it would be just as fast as RAM.
    Your use case is not universal. Some people use their laptops to run multiple VMs, do rendering, or run simulations which can use a lot of memory. And though an SSD is very fast compared to a spinning hard drive, the latency on a good SSD is still in the tens to hundreds of microseconds while DRAM is in the tens of NANOseconds – i.e. 3-4 orders of magnitude faster. If you have a memory intensive application going out to the SSD can kill performance.
    ewtheckman
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