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Although touch screen technology has been around for a long time, it became mainstream when Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007. So, why doesn’t Apple add that tech to their own MacBook lineup? There are many logical reasons for keeping MacBooks touch-free, including control scheme, precision, and user comfort.
Hi, I’m Devansh. I’ve always noticed that with every MacBook refresh, “Why haven’t they added a touch screen yet?” is a question that pops up every single time. In this article, I’ll walk you through the three main reasons why and then answer some common questions.
Apple has brilliant touch screen functionality in most of their devices, so why don’t they just slap one on the MacBook? If you often wonder about this, keep reading!
Top 3 Reasons Why MacBooks are Touch-Free
Many people feel like MacBooks having touch-sensitive displays is the next logical step. But there are many reasons why this isn’t such a great idea. Let’s discuss the three main ones.
Direct vs. Indirect Control
In an interview, John Ternus, Apple’s SVP of hardware engineering, said: “We make the world’s best touch computer on an iPad. It’s totally optimized for that. And the Mac is totally optimized for indirect input. We haven’t really felt a reason to change that.”
In a nutshell, what he means is that MacBooks have been left touch-free because they are designed for indirect input. On the other hand, the iPad has been designed for direct input.
I know recent improvements both in the hardware and software side of things have slimmed the differences between the two. But still, they both have a distinct purchase incentive.
Lift your hand and look at the finger you use most on a touchscreen device. It’s probably a bit fat and round, isn’t it? And what’s a mouse or trackpad like? It’s precise and accurate.
Precision is the significant difference between a mouse pointer and a finger. As a result, a user interface that works properly with a mouse doesn’t work well with a finger, and one that works well with a finger removes the need for the preciseness of a mouse.
As Craig Federighi, the SVP of software engineering at Apple, said in 2016, “Grafting touch on something that fundamentally was designed around a precise pointer really compromises the experience.”
Also Read: MacBook Pro Trackpad Not Working
“We’ve done tons of user testing on this, and it turns out it doesn’t work. Touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical. It gives a great demo, but after a short period of time, you start to fatigue, and after an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off. It doesn’t work, it’s ergonomically terrible.” These are the words of Steve Jobs from back in 2010.
In 2018, Craig Federighi said something similar:
We really feel that the ergonomics of using a Mac are that your hands are rested on a surface, and that lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do.
Even though this might seem pretty mundane, it’s a huge factor in everyday life. For proof, just ask any friend who owns a Windows laptop with a touch screen. They’ve probably only used it a couple of times—a scroll here, a tap there, maybe. Of course, this depends on their specific use case, but you get the point.
Here are some common questions related to MacBook touch screens and other features.
Will Apple Introduce Face ID to MacBooks?
This is yet another question many Apple fans have. I’ll let Tom Boger, VP of Mac and iPad product marketing at Apple, answer it for you: “Touch ID is more convenient on a laptop since your hands are already on the keyboard.” So, it’s unlikely that they’ll add it anytime soon.
Is it Possible to Add Touch Sensitivity with an External Modification?
A now-obsolete device named AirBar set out to do just this, but it didn’t catch on. Besides buying a Modbook, many with technical expertise have tried their hand at modifying their MacBooks to add touch sensitivity. For example, Mac Address added an Espresso Screen to a 13-inch MacBook Pro. It’s worth trying out, but at your own risk.
Is Touch Bar Worth it in 2022?
Apple has already tried adding a touch screen to a MacBook: the Touch Bar. Introduced in 2016, it’s a 60-pixel-high OLED display strip running across the top of the keyboard and provides contextual controls depending on the app you use. But since they essentially discontinued it in 2021, it’s obvious that it didn’t take off with users and developers.
Everybody’s seen all those crazy, futuristic concepts for MacBooks and other Apple products. Even if these concepts rarely ever come to fruition, it’s exciting to get a glimpse of what could lie ahead in tech. But do you think touch functionality on a MacBook falls into a ‘futuristic’ category, or is it just the next logical step?
There are many ways to look at it. If you just notice how similar the iPad and MacBook have become recently, a hybrid, all-in-one device seems to be right around the corner. On the other side of the coin, considering all the points I just mentioned—control, precision, and user comfort—it also seems unlikely.
We’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out. For now, if you want to add touchscreen functionality to your MacBook, you have a few options. You can opt for a MacBook model with a Touch Bar, connect an external display, or pair your MacBook with your iPad using Universal Control.
What do you think the future of the MacBook holds? Please share your innovative ideas and concepts with me in the comments!About Devansh Kamdar