What the Touchbar Means for iOS and OSX App Users

November 9, 2016 - 2 minutes read

There’s been talk of iOS and OSX merging into a single operating system for some time now. Many iPhone app developers here in NYC believed that the new Macbook might offer a clue as to if and when it would finally happen.

The release of the new Macbookdidn’t disappoint, and the “touch bar” at the top of the keyboard has quickly eclipsed the disappearing headphone jack to become this year’s most talked-about Apple hardware design decision.

What’s really interesting about this choice is the way it flies in the face of what Windows is doing with the Surface Pro, and ignoring the slow-growing tablet market entirely. That’s a good thing, as many designers feared the company might jump on board the tablet-combo train at the expense of power desktop features important to technical users. Doing so could also have ballooned the already steep price for Macbooks, as touch-sensitive screens don’t come cheap, and even the excellent job Microsoft has done with theirs leaves a little to be desired, and don’t approach anything near the level of precision and usability artists and designers expect from dedicated surfaces like those produced by Wacom.

That said, touch ability on a desktop machine is still a big step for Apple, and points to the likely future for the merging of “mobile” iOS products and “stationary” desktop products — thoughtful design that encourages connectivity within the Apple ecosystem. For iOS app developers, it’s the best we could hope for.

More than anything, the touch bar points to the fact that Apple is still experimenting — keeping shoulder to shoulder in the race with Google, who has been rapidly gaining on the tech company with their advances in Android, the Pixel phone, and general creative design endeavors.

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