Thoughts on Apple’s MacBook Pro OLED touch strip

“Putting a little more iOS in macOS, Apple intends introducing a MacBook Pro equipped with a responsive OLED function control strip, according to Bloomberg,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld. “As described, the new OLED strip replaces the Function control strip you find on current MacBook Pros. What makes the strip interesting is that it will change the keys available to you to reflect the context, so if you are in a movie-editing app you may be presented with a different set of Function keys than you’ll find in iTunes, and these will change again if you enter a different app.”

“The report also claims Touch ID support in these machines. This will enable Apple Pay, online payments and support for third party apps supporting Touch ID authorization,” Evans writes. “Will Apple create API’s to enable Mac support for such features ported over from iOS? Not only this, but is Apple planning to introduce Touch ID support across every Mac, if so, how? (Apple Watch may be one way to enable such features through older Macs).”

“The report adds: ‘The display also allows Apple to add new buttons via software updates rather than through more expensive, slower hardware refreshes,'” Evans writes. “This rather begs the question of what kind of additional control elements the company intends deploying in Macs (A Siri key, for example?)”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We would expect Apple to provide developers with API access to such a touch strip, so developers can make app-specific use of that input area. And, yes, a Siri softkey would be a welcome addition.

These Mac notebooks are going to be very desirable!


  1. I definitely applaud Apple for introducing something new and original (and potentially useful) into the long-overdue MBP update. While I assume they will open the touch bar up to third party developers, I’m guessing adoption will be slow and spotty, like Force Touch on iOS, which makes for a disappointing experience.

      1. User-definable keyboard shortcuts are built into Mac OS and into certain applications I use lots, like Excel and BBEdit. That functionality allows me to really fly when working with a full-sized keyboard. The only drawback is trying to recall my assignments of command-shift-Fn3, and similar scrinchers after a long drought away from the keyboard. Displaying text or icons solves that memory problem.

        Come to think of it, the emergence of the Graphical User Interface solved an almost identical problem of trying to remember commands and their syntax in DOS and other command-line interfaces. There were cheat sheets taped all over the desk and monitor to help with that—inelegant, at best.

  2. In the late 1970s, HP used softkeys in their desktop computers. Instead of the labels on the keys changing, the bottom of the screen would remind users what the functions did. Of course, it’s more elegant to have the key labels change and it saves screen space, but this idea is certainly not new.

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