New MacBook Pro Touch Bar is Powered by watchOS

When Microsoft released the touchscreen-friendly Windows 8 about four years ago, just about every PC manufacturer started making computers with displays that featured the technology. But not Apple. When it came to touch screens for desktops and laptops, Apple CEO Tim Cook once famously called Windows PC vendors “confused.” 

Now, Apple has finally began to gravitate towards touch for its PCs, albeit not in the way most people would have imagined.

macbook-pro-touch-bar

The Cupertino, California firm’s new MacBook Pro includes a new slim touchscreen strip that sits just above the keyboard. This area, called the Touch Bar, is meant to replace the traditional row of function keys. Interestingly enough, this Touch Bar runs on a modified version on watchOS, which in itself is a modified version of iOS. As such, the Touch Bar runs independently of iOS (via BGR).

As the Touch Bar integrates the Touch ID fingerprint sensor for Apple Pay purchases, it needs to securely protect your payment information. This is done by using an ARM processor, Apple’s T1 to be exact, and most likely some variation of the S1 processor found inside the Apple Watch.

The front-facing camera on the new MacBook Pro is also linked to the T1 processor for security reasons.

These discoveries, first reported on by developer Steven Troughton-Smith, bring forth a couple of interesting points. First, it seems as if Apple is playing with the idea of making iOS and macOS work together on a Mac. Second, it shows that the company is experimenting with ARM processors on Macs, despite the fact that the chips are running only specific functions, not the computer itself.

Anyone excited to test out the Touch Bar?

World-traveling, tech-savvy, music-producing writer obsessed with all things Apple, video games, and the finer things in life, e.g. mezcal and tacos. When I'm not writing for IIC I'm exploring new places, eating new foods, and generally trying to be a decent human.

  • Z S

    I’ll certainly miss MagSafe and I’m not fussy on having to have dongles for everything (HDMI, USB-A, SD cards, etc), but USB-C is the future, so might as well push it hard.

    Doubt the PC world will ever do the same, though. I still see laptops with VGA ports!

  • Quattro

    I have doubts about the long term acceptance of the touch bar. And, no, not because I’m apposed to change. But because it eliminates the intuitive purpose of the keyboard. Keyboards are intended for muscle memory, whereas monitors are intended for interactive response. It’s just more efficient that way. When the function key area keeps changing with different apps, and even within different functions of a given app, frustration of hitting the wrong “key” and having to, not only look, but focus on, the keyboard will inevitably become a huge issue.

    And scrolling through itty-bitty thumbnails while trying to do some professional work in Photoshop?! come on, get serious.