Chuq Von Rospach it may not be a household name for you, but it certainly has some influence on products that you use (or at least read about) every day – after all, this is a former Apple employee who is now busy writing about various aspects of the technological world and the Apple on your personal blog.
Last Saturday, Chuq wrote a very interesting text talking about the Touch Bar, the presence of Touch ID on the Mac and the future of these technologies; the repercussion was so great that, today, the writer published a second article expanding his opinions and even talking about the future of the Apple computers themselves. Although his predictions are not entirely in line with what Apple has in mind for the Mac, his questions are a great fuel for reflection and discussion.
Basically, Chuq begins his first text describing his experiences when exchanging his 13 ″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (mid-2016) for an iMac with Retina 5K screen. According to the writer, the interactive bar above the keyboard was not so much needed in the transition – most felt, for him, was the lack of Touch ID; still, its absence was mitigated by the feature of unlocking the Mac by the proximity of the Apple Watch.
This led Chuq to a question: what is the reason for the Touch Bar? If it were a staple item on a Mac, it would certainly be included quickly across the board; the way it is, available only on specific MacBook Pro models, it seems to be just a whim of Apple that will be reasonably ignored by the developers, precisely because it is present on such a small number of machines.
One theory is particularly interesting:
It seems to me that Apple fell in love with the technology behind the Touch Bar system – which, if you see it, is an impressive piece of engineering – and hoped that we would all fall in love with it too. The problem is: Apple rarely sells things to us based solely on legal technologies, it sells us based on stories of how this technology will solve our problems; and at the moment, the problems that the Touch Bar solves are very few and rare.
Therefore, Chuq theorizes that Apple needs to take one of two paths: expand the Touch Bar to the entire line of Macs, increasing its adoption so that it eventually becomes an intrinsic part of the macOS usage experience; or, alternatively, acknowledge that the experiment has failed and give users the option to buy any Mac without the feature – after all, he said, it’s not fair that fans of the 15 ″ MacBook Pro need to spend more than they should just because Apple doesn’t give them the option to buy one of these machines without the interactive bar.
In the second text, published today, Chuq expands his opinions especially to the Touch ID side. As is well known, the Apple digital sensor is part of a highly complex system, called the Secure Enclave, which even has its own processor for user safety. Because of this, the operation of creating a wireless keyboard with Touch Bar / Touch ID would involve an extra, possibly complicated, engineering step – after all, this wireless connection between the keyboard and the Mac would have to have enhanced security to handle the biometric user information.
Chuq, however, thinks the prospect of a Touch ID keyboard is unrealistic and that the fingerprint technology itself will not survive long at Apple. He takes as an argument the rumored (and, let’s face it, practically confirmed) 3D facial recognition system that will equip the next iPhone: according to the writer, Touch ID is simply a “transitional” technology that Apple adopted while it hadn’t its facial reading system on tricks and that, eventually, all the company’s products will be equipped with this new feature.
On Macs, specifically, it would be much easier to implement and could be located at the edges of the screen instead of on the keyboard. This would eliminate the need for a wireless keyboard with Secure Enclave – the entire Mac security system would remain on the device’s body, releasing the Touch Bar from this burden and making it more flexible. So, according to Chuq, in the end, it is just a case of Apple waiting until its true biometric technology reaches the world before it can expand the use of the Touch Bar.
As he himself states:
I still think the Touch Bar has a lot of good points, but it needs to be available across the entire line of Macs for developers to invest in it and make it what it can be. But if Apple launched a keyboard with Touch Bar and Touch ID, and a year later replaced it with infrared sensors and a new keyboard with Touch Bar but without Touch ID, it would confuse users, complicate their own lives and that of developers, that would be supporting a transitional technology for a year.
Personally, I find Chuq’s points very convincing. And you, what do you think?