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Apple's New MacBook Pro Touch Bar Is Awesome, But Is It Useful?

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Apple took a step forward with the new MacBook Pro in terms of performance, form factor and features, but beyond those, the most eye-catching addition is arguably the Touch Bar.

For the uninitiated, the tiny strip is seated right above the keyboard, taking the place of the function keys, which a lot of users probably won't sorely miss.

Judging even from just the name alone, it's a long and narrow touch-screen that can offer set after set of different shortcuts and functions for the sake of convenience.

As everyone can imagine, it's a pretty awesome feature, but is it really useful?

What Exactly Does The Touch Bar Do?

Customizable, dynamic and flexible, the Touch Bar is capable of adapting to whatever app is running on the MacBook Pro.

For instance, when a photo slideshow is on the screen, it can be used to select pictures. That means there's no need to pull up controls, which could get in the way of the images, to browse a collection.

More than that, it gives users the option to open a new tab and whatnot when on Safari, access to music controls when on iTunes or a selection of emoji when typing out an email.

Without a doubt, that sounds nifty on paper. However, it might not come in handy at all.

For starters, most users don't even look at the keyboard when they're typing away and using commands. Going over the Touch Bar will presumably cause them to take a short pause on what they're doing to look at it and choose a function they want to execute, as Matt Rosoff of Business Insider points out.

On top of that, there's no tactile feedback too, so relying on muscle memory for efficiency may lead to clumsy mistakes more often than not.

Could A Touch-Capable MacBook Pro Have Been Better?

Just like other manufacturers, Apple could have just equipped some MacBook Pro units with a touch-screen and put in a feature that's like the Touch Bar somewhere there, not to mention that it may have been cheaper to take the costs of adding in a touch strip out of the equation.

What's more, a touch-screen brings a lot to the table when it comes to functions, including zooming in and out with fingers, tapping and dragging windows and many others while keeping one's view straight as opposed to looking down.

So why didn't the Cupertino brand go in that direction or somewhere similar? Well, Chief Design Officer Jony Ive explained the company's vision to CNET.

"Doing something that's different is actually relatively easy and relatively fast, and that's tempting. We take a very different approach in that we genuinely want to make something that's better," he told the technology news website.

Which MacBook Pro Models Have The Touch Bar: Is The Extra Cost Worth It?

The 13-inch MacBook Pro without the Touch Bar — and Touch ID, for anyone wondering — will hold customers back by $1,499, while the variant that sports the two features starts at $1,799 and goes all the way to $1,999. To put two and two together, it looks like having those tools cost $300, but that's not without a couple of upgrades here and there.

On the other hand, the new 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with the Touch Bar and Touch ID, starting at $2,399 and topping at $2,799.

The Bottom Line

Just to be clear, no one will really know for sure about whether or not the Touch Bar will be useful until it goes through real-world situations extensively. If anything, it gives the new MacBook Pro a lot more to offer than before.

Do you think the touch-capable strip will improve your Mac experience? Feel free to drop by our comments section below and let us know.

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